Braun introduces another pair of machine pals in his latest, following Toot and Pop (2012) and Digger and Tom (2013).
Chug is a hardworking little engine who uses his two cars and his crane to collect and deliver freight. He may not be fast, but he is careful and dependable. Whoosh is a passenger train who sometimes pokes fun at Chug, calling him a slowpoke. Readers follow Chug on his rounds as he goes “into the forest… / past the lake… / and through the tunnel.” He comes to a stop at a junction, where the signal box tells him there’s danger ahead. While the patient engine waits and waits for the light to turn green, the impetuous Whoosh flies by. When a rock slide and a hole in the bridge trap the larger engine, it’s Chug who comes to the rescue, passing the still-red light to methodically remove the rocks and free Whoosh, who promises to pay better attention. Whoosh thanks Chug for being such a good pal, but since their friendship was not established at the beginning, their bond seems a little shallow—the relationship seems mostly to consist of Whoosh’s harping on Chug’s slowness, both before and after the rescue. Braun’s digital illustrations are bright, bold and clean; they combine with the ever-popular subject of trains to grab readers’ attention, but the story within won’t hold it.
This Thomas wannabe is eminently skippable. (Picture book. 3-6)