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MY FREIGHT TRAIN by Michael  Rex


by Michael Rex & illustrated by Michael Rex

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-8050-6682-9
Publisher: Henry Holt

Trains are one of those items that exert an intrinsic fascination, like campfires and ocean waves or Rex’s earlier subjects in My Fire Engine (1999) and My Race Car (2000). They’re even more amazing when you know exactly what they do, and that’s why Rex’s paint-box-bright, easy-to-understand picture book works. An African-American boy is playing with his electric train set when he has an out-of-body experience, becoming the engineer of a freight train. He explains what the different cars carry: gondola cars and piggyback cars, flatcars and livestock cars, and the ever-wonderful caboose. He goes on to tell what the cargo will be used for: gravel to make roads, the furniture and appliances will go to the department store, pipes are destined for construction projects, and the piggybacked trailers are hitched to trucks for additional shipping. And it is nice to imagine that those cows and chickens are headed for homes at farms rather than the slaughter yard. The amount of activity on each page keeps the story vibrant and though the text has a measure of dryness—“The ice cream and bologna are also unloaded. They will go to the supermarket”—everything makes perfect sense. (Picture book. 3-6)