Almost every kind of vehicle has been alphabetized in a picture book. This companion to Alphabet Trucks (2013) chugs along, depending on rhyming text to identify the type and purpose of 26 trains.
The opening verse sets the scene: “tear the ticket. / Load the freight. / Sound the whistle. / Raise the gate.” The book proceeds to present the 26 trains, two to a double-page spread from A to Z, and too few take advantage of the layout to create interesting visual juxtapositions. One spread, in which an elevated train travels on tracks supported by uppercase E’s as a freight train passes below, loaded down with both capital and lowercase F’s, is a pleasingly fanciful exception. While some of the train choices are logical, such as bullet trains, narrow-gauge trains, and snowplow trains, many more are a stretch, relying on specific route or train names and even, in one case (Alaska’s Hurricane Turn), an actual stop, to make up the alphabet. The Leonardo Express, which takes passengers from Rome’s airport to the city, the Xplorer train, which links Sydney to Canberra in Australia, and the Yellow Train, which travels through the Pyrenees, are examples of these. The legend in the back cites the origin of each one, a mix of historical and current trains, such as the Jupiter, which was part of the Golden Spike ceremony in Utah in 1869. The Photoshop illustrations ineffectively employ perspective, so people and scenes are flat in appearance and the trains, blockish in style.
All in all, this alphabet book lacks steam. (Alphabet picture book. 4-7)