Jacey’s Epic Love of Picture Books: #23!

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Steam Train, Dream Train, by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld.

Kids love trains (and cars, and trucks, and ponies) because kids love to move.

Kids hate bedtime because bedtime means you have to stop moving.

Ergo, a bedtime book about a dream train is the perfect thing.

And the book itself is every bit as good as the concept.

The art is retro-flavoured, a seeming nod to the classic bedtime books of yore, but it very much has its own identity. The colours are soothing and lovely (everything looks painted over in twilight), while the animals loading the train are expressive and exhuberant. Which I’m sure the still-energetic kids hearing this before bed will appreciate, even if sleep does inevitably win out in the end!

The text is gently rhythmic, with the occasional fun clang! — exactly what you would expect a “dream train” to sound like. If you’ve ever heard a train at night, that’s honestly what the prose here reminds me of.

Through the darkness, clickety-clack…
coming closer, down the track…
hold your breath so you can hear
huffing, chuffing drawing near.

A whistle blares out in the night:
a mighty engine–
wondrous sight!

See?

All in all, I think this book is the perfect bedtime compromise. Sleepy kids will love it. Still-very-awake kids will love it. Parents won’t want to shoot themselves reading it over and over. (Hopefully.) Boys will love it. Girls will love it. (Yes, girls can like trains and boys can like cute animals.)

And most importantly, it shows kids that bedtime doesn’t just mean putting all of your adventures on hold.

It can mean the start of a whole new adventure unto itself. :)

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