ALL ABOARD! by Mary Lyn Ray
Kirkus Star


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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This fluid locomotive voyage starts rolling even before the title page with a “Choong. Choong. Choong. Choong,” as readers follow the journey of Mr. Barnes, a large purple-suited rabbit, and his travel mate—a young girl. Ray (Red Rubber Boot Day, 2000, etc.) calmly alternates between characters’ actions and striking descriptions: “A city slides by, strung with lights in the night, like a tug of dreams on a river.” The language is rhythmic and rich with auditory treats, but sets a leisurely pace that could lose a young reader’s attention. Fortunately, the art is captivating; oversized pages are filled with striking scenes of countryside and urban landscapes, interesting perspectives, and clever details enough to require repeated explorations. Characters (who are all animals other than the girl) and objects in fuzzy pastels are collaged together within the train cars, creating a cozy potpourri that hits a safe note for inexperienced solo travelers. They’ll watch passengers read, snooze, snack, or just look out the window. It’s the perfect depiction of train travel: everyone “has somewhere to go” and yet is luxuriously suspended in time. The ending, though the reader gets a glimpse of a stuffed rabbit in the little girl’s backpack at the beginning of the story, comes as a delightful surprise that provides a nice punctuation to an otherwise uneventful ride. Mr. Barnes isn’t a tall, dapper fellow after all, but only a stuffed animal. When the girl departs the train and is greeted lovingly by her grandparents, Mr. Barnes again pokes out of her backpack, reminding readers both young and old that a train can take you anywhere your imagination is willing to go. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-316-73507-8
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2002


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