Train off the Rails with Kody and Dot by Robert Von Goeben

Train off the Rails with Kody and Dot

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Two colleagues find a new appreciation for their delivery jobs in this illustrated children’s tale of teddy bears and trains by a writer and toy company founder.

Kody and Dot of 2 Bears Delivery Service handle boxes around the same loop of train tracks every day. But following this route all the time takes its toll, and though they have their work appropriately divided—Kody navigates while Dot drives—they start feeling a bit bored with their occupations. Is what they’re doing really important? One day, on their twisty daily path along the loop, Dot takes a bump too fast, and the train jumps right off the tracks. After a moment of worry—“Where will we go / And how will we ever get home?” Kody asks—Dot convinces Kody that this is their opportunity to change their rhythms and explore new territory. Unconcerned with normal physics, the two bears set off on their train without bothering about tracks, driving across the countryside and making an exciting discovery: their boxes are traveling all over the world on all types of vehicles. Finding a new enthusiasm for their labors, the bears return home, but with a fervent inspiration to travel the globe and add to Kody’s map (“Kody and Dot now see their world / in a much more wonderful way”). With the Green Toys logo on the cover and the train that Dot drives, it’s unsurprising that some of this cuddly cute story feels a bit like a toy tie-in. The packages that the bears transport are never explicitly called toy boxes, but it’s easy to imagine they are, and many of the tale’s vehicles match playthings in the Green Toys catalog. The tie-in nature and improbable train locomotion aside, the story works as a way for two disenchanted bears to discover just how important their labors are—and devise a solution to their daily humdrums. Von Goeben’s (Ballparks, 2004, etc.) rhyming text scans well, though the stanzas are not printed where the normal breaks would be. Yamada’s (The Noisy Garage, 2016, etc.) sweet illustrations border on the saccharine, but young toy lovers should fall for the adorable bear conductors, and preschoolers who love picture books about vehicles should be thrilled with all the different types featured here.

An excellent rhyming story that shows how seeing more of the world can help individuals realize their own importance.

Publisher: Green Toys
Program: Kirkus Indie
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