A passenger train travels to the city overnight in this rhyming picture book.
On a wordless opening page, a young rider, seated near their teddy, looks out the window as the train travels in the dark. The train (pulled by a Dreyfuss Hudson steam locomotive) takes off, and then rhythmic words chug along: “Train ride! / Bump-bump. / Chug-chug. Slow. / Faster. Faster. / Off we go.” The following double-page spread introduces the refrain: “Night train, night train, hold-on-tight train.” Burleigh replicates the initial meter on the next page as the rider takes in their surroundings. As with the other verses, the refrain changes slightly along with the scenery. The visual structure—two full-page panels bordered by white followed by a double-page spread—repeats in sync with the rhythm of the text. Together, the words and pictures help this train run smoothly. One by one, isolated colors (black, red, blue, etc.) pop into the night world, highlighted in the color of the type that spells out the color’s name and in some feature in the illustration. Some of the instances of color are quite subtle (for instance, the text’s “big blue window” is actually quite small, as it’s viewed from a distance), but, at the same time, such details add to the value of the nightscape. Minor’s black-and-white graphite illustrations intimately capture the shadows and shapes of the train’s night ride, ending in a beautiful full-color double-page spread as night turns to day and the ride is completed, the child and their mother, both white, alighting on the platform.
A nostalgic, Depression-era nocturne for train lovers. (illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)