How will a little engine fare on his first trip on the main line?
Little Choo decides he wants to be called Big Choo when he and Papa Pufferbelly head out for a ride on the rails that will send him onto the main line for the first time. Papa cheers him on at every step, with illustrations depicting the anthropomorphic trains zipping through landscapes that Shaskan’s endnote says were inspired by his study of Virginia Lee Burton’s illustrations. His style, particularly in the visual characterization of the trains, is more cartoonish then Burton’s, and the trains’ lime-green faces do not seem particularly Burton-esque, but certain graphic elements such as twisting roads and rails and patterned beams of light do recall her work. Another train story, Watty Piper’s The Little Engine That Could, comes to mind when Big Choo derails, though Shaskan’s protagonist initially shows little of that archetypal character’s can-do spirit. But Papa Pufferbelly is there to offer encouragement, and soon Big Choo is literally and figuratively “back on track” and ready to climb a mountain before heading back home. Plenty of “chug”s and “choo”s printed in prominent display type invite readers to chime in.
Little train enthusiasts will be ready for an “All aboard!” for storytime. (Picture book. 3-5)