THE BEST TRAIN SET EVER by Pat Hutchins

THE BEST TRAIN SET EVER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hutchins' three holiday bundles of family happiness are almost swamped in the general rush of good feeling. On Peter's birthday, though no one in the family can afford the train set he's been dreaming of, his parents secretly spend their $10.00 on the engine (""It would be a start""), brother Tony independently buys the track with his $8.00 savings (""It's a start""), and the three younger ones sneak out separately and return with the coach, caboose, and fiat car. Their mutual surprise when the whole train is assembled makes for a happy ending to be sure, but it's obviously been in the works ever since the buying chain was set in motion. The second piece, on Halloween, follows a too-similar line, with each brother and sister giving undecided Maria a leftover piece of his or her costume and Maria finally putting them all together to form a prize-winning ostrich. Then, as if suddenly aware of the drift, Hutchins throws a last-minute curve in the Christmas story, where the whole family comes down with measles just in time to cancel the long-anticipated visit from their out-of-town relatives. There's a moment of gloom--but then, in summer, ""they had the best Fourth-of-July Christmas Party ever."" The family's very likable but unidealized appearance does make them a lot easier to relate to, and no doubt many will want to identify.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1978
Publisher: Greenwillow