Rhyming verse chugs along as two children ride a train on a long-distance trip.
Across prairies and through ghost towns, up mountains and past cities, the train takes these two kids to summer camp. Dotlich’s verse and meter are characteristically solid and humorous: “He tips his hat. / You step through the door. / A yap a yawn a burp a snore / There’s people and people and people and…MORE!” But there’s something meandering about this trip. The children board and look around, and then the text veers quickly into a catalog of cargo that doesn’t happen to be on this particular train: foodstuffs, tractors, lumber, rocks and livestock. Alarmingly, a rooster falls out of the cattle car, never to be seen again. This is an exceptionally long train trip, judging from the terrain it traverses, but there is no sense of the passage of time. Lowery’s thick-lined illustrations have a friendly, childlike look, but unfortunately, only Caucasian people seem to be riding this 21st-century train. Possibly the book’s biggest liability, however, is the hand-lettered text, which makes reading aloud and tracking scansion something of a challenge on many spreads.
There are many better train books available; point little engineers in their direction. (Picture book. 3-6)