May 12 – National Train Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-trains-don't-sleep-cover

About the Holiday

There’s something about trains with their click-clack rhythm and plaintive whistle that endears this mode of transportation to adults and kids. Today’s holiday honors all the mystery and romance of train travel while also remembering the history of the railroad and its importance to the development of the United States. The holiday was once sponsored by Amtrak, but train lovers across the country are keeping it on track. To celebrate, visit a train or transportation museum, take a short trip on your local commuter rail, or even plan a vacation trip by train. 

Trains Don’t Sleep

Written by Andria Rosenbaum | Illustrated by Deirdre Gill

 

In the darkened forest cut by train tracks, the train approaches. Its headlight shines and its wheels “rumbling, grumbling, screech and squeal.” Without stopping the train continues “puffing, chuffing, never yawning. / Climbing hills as day is dawning.” It never sleeps but hurries on to each station on its route, picking up passengers from small towns and big cities and letting them ride to their destination.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-trains-don't-sleep-humming

Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

But there are other trains on the rails that stay up all night too. Trains that “tow / Freight and flat cars in a row.” Chugging through forests and deep canyons, freight trains pull tenders, reefers, logging cars, hoppers, boxcars, and auto racks through tunnels and over bridges and “sky-high” trestles, never once being “afraid of heights.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-trains-don't-sleep-canyon

Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

Through all kinds of weather, “in rain or snow, / trains will trudge and go, Go, GO!” When cars and trucks are stuck in jams, trains zip past. “Trains don’t sleep—they need to lead. / Roaring, rushing, gaining speed.” Trains don’t stop at traffic lights, but make cars wait as they go by. The circus train is always welcome with its cars filled with tents and animals and performers.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-trains-don't-sleep-passengers

Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

As afternoon softens to dusk, the train’s light begins to shine. “Trekking toward the setting sun, / Trains are always on the run.” But as the moon rises and night settles in, “the wheels will whisper / Shush, shush, shush.” The station glows with cozy light as travelers come and go, ready to ride or go home to bed. Then it’s time to leave the station behind because “Trains don’t sleep—they roll away, / Racing toward a brand new day.”

An illustrated look at different kinds of trains and train cars follows the text.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-trains-don't-sleep-city-station

Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

Andria Rosenbaum’s lovely story is part tribute, part lullaby as it takes readers on a lyrical journey cross country on passenger and freight trains. Her refrain “trains don’t sleep,” focusing on the dependability of trains as they chug along day and night over all terrain and in all weather, can also be read as a homage to a parent or caregiver’s love which, likewise, “never sleeps.” Rosenbaum’s sparkling rhymes beautifully convey the dichotomy of a train’s movement that seems to thunder through the daylight hours while slipping tranquilly through the night.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-trains-don't-sleep-station

Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

Deirdre Gill’s gorgeous illustrations depict locomotives with tender affection and all the excitement train travel offers. Gill’s use of various perspectives—from a train’s approach from afar to its accepting passengers at the station to an aerial view as it snakes along winding tracks—provides all the mystery, majesty, and pleasure that this favorite mode of transportation provides. Throughout, Gill’s color palette and choices of scene, architecture, automobiles, and even clothing fuse the past and present to create a fully realized look at our love of trains.

Delightful from beginning to end, Trains Don’t Sleep is a heartfelt and heartening story for bedtime or story time, and would be a favorite of train lovers and any child with a bit of wanderlust in their soul.

Ages 4 – 7

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0544380745

Discover more about Andria Rosenbaum and her books on her website

To learn more about Deirdre Gill, her books and her art, visit her website.

National Train Day Activity
celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-train-dot-to-dotRiding the Rails Dot to Dot

 

Taking a trip by train long distance can be fun—especially if you travel overnight in a sleeper car! Instead of counting sheep, count and follow the numbers in this printable Riding the Rails Dot to Dot.

Picture Book Review

April 5 – National Read a Road Map Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-me-and-my-cars-cover

About the Holiday

Today, we celebrate the maps that get us from one place to another whether it’s around town, during visits to new cities, or while crossing the country on vacation. Did you know that the first road map was designed by Scottsman John Ogliby in 1675? As “His Majesty’s Cosmographer and Geographic Printer,” Ogilby drew up the Britannia atlas that incorporated innovations in measurement that set the standard for modern maps. Instead of using the local mile, Ogilby employed the standard mile of 1,760 yards. He also created the one-inch-to-the-mile scale. Of course, nowadays maps are more likely to be accessed on your phone or in your car, but there’s still something a little magical about unfolding a paper map and unfolding an adventure!

Me and My Cars

By Liesbet Slegers

 

It’s safe to say that in every little one’s life there is at least one vehicle that gets them excited. Whether it’s the family car for trips to the park or nap-inducing comfort, huge trucks, fast trains, or siren-blaring emergency vehicles, these wheeled wonders set kids’ eyes sparkling. Me and My Cars offers an invitation to the youngest readers as a child asks: “Want to come for a ride?”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-me-and-my-cars-ride-along

Copyright Liesbet Slegers, 2018, courtesy of Clavis.

First up is a ride in the back seat of the car where the tyke and Daddy are all buckled up and heading out for a fun day. Next, the little one gets to watch out the big window of the bus and say “hello!” to passersby. There’s a jeep! It’s specially made to drive “over rough and bumpy roads. The big tires help.” Vacations don’t get much cozier than traveling in a mobile camper. You might even call it a “little house on wheels.”

Ding! Ding! Ding! It’s the ice cream truck! Let’s go get a treat! Now it’s back into the car. “Honk! Honk!” A moving van says hi as the little one and Dad pass by. The truck is “big and long. Lots of furniture fits inside.” They also see a tanker that “carries milk from the farm to the store.” Milk! Yum! And look! A car transporter! It’s hauling five cars. Can you count them?

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-me-and-my-cars-help

Copyright Liesbet Slegers, 2018, courtesy of Clavis.

There are also cars to help people like an ambulance, a police car, a police van, and a fire engine. “The fire engine has a ladder and two hoses. The firefighters put out the fire.” When a car gets a flat tire, a tow truck pulls it to the repair shop. There are lots of vehicles to help people get work done too. On the farm, a tractor carries hay. To get rid of trash, a “garbage collectors put trash bags in the back” of the garbage truck. “Crunch! Now the trash is compacted.” There are also street sweepers, bulldozers, excavators, dump trucks, and crane trucks that are so strong they can pick up “a heavy piece of concrete.”

But if you like speed, your favorite vehicle is probably a racecar. “The racecar is very fast! Watch it go!” Formula 1 racecars go ‘round and ‘round a track. Which one “do you think will win the race?”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-me-and-my-cars-work

Copyright Liesbet Slegers, 2018, courtesy of Clavis.

Little ones will be captivated by Liesbet Slegers’ beautifully created Me and My Cars in which twenty-five vehicles are introduced and described with two engaging sentences that invite readers to join the child narrator in a fun learning adventure. The book is divided into three sections: vehicles for riding in, those for helping, and others for working. Slegers’ text is wonderful not only for learning about cars and trucks but for early language development as well.

The full sentences model sentence structure important for young learners while the details of the vehicle’s uses, sounds, size, and actions teach kids new vocabulary words and give them a sense of the inside and outside of the cars and trucks presented. Each vehicle is given a boldly-colored two-page spread that first depicts the particular vehicle and then shows it and the people who drive it in action.

A first choice for babies and toddlers as a gift or an addition to home, preschool, kindergarten, and daycare bookshelves, Me and My Cars is also a terrific take-along for outdoor activities and for places where waiting can be expected.

Ages 1 – 5

Clavis, 2018 | ISBN 978-1605373997

Discover more about Liesbet Slegers and her books on her website.

Read a Road Map Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-car-coloring-page

Take a Ride! Coloring Pages

 

Riding in a car or truck can be an adventure! Have fun with these printable coloring pages!

Car Coloring Page | Truck Coloring Page | Taxi Coloring Page

Picture Book Review

January 3 – Festival of Sleep Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-trains-don't-sleep-cover

About the Holiday

I don’t know about you, but I could use a little extra sleep! But in this go, go, go world, it’s often hard to stop…relax…sleep. Getting enough sleep is vital to our wellbeing, however. Without the proper amount of rest, we’re more susceptible to illness, our work suffers, we’re not as alert when driving, and our mood can be a little…well…cranky. If you’re not getting enough sleep, today’s holiday encourages you to rethink your routines, make sure your mattress, pillow, and bedroom is comfortable, and put a priority on this also-important part of the day.

Trains Don’t Sleep

Written by Andria Rosenbaum | Illustrated by Deirdre Gill

 

In the darkened forest cut by train tracks, the train approaches. Its headlight shines and its wheels “rumbling, grumbling, screech and squeal.” Without stopping the train continues “puffing, chuffing, never yawning. / Climbing hills as day is dawning.” It never sleeps but hurries on to each station on its route, picking up passengers from small towns and big cities and letting them ride to their destination.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-trains-don't-sleep-humming

Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

But there are other trains on the rails that stay up all night too. Trains that “tow / Freight and flat cars in a row.” Chugging through forests and deep canyons, freight trains pull tenders, reefers, logging cars, hoppers, boxcars, and auto racks through tunnels and over bridges and “sky-high” trestles, never once being “afraid of heights.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-trains-don't-sleep-canyon

Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

Through all kinds of weather, “in rain or snow, / trains will trudge and go, Go, GO!” When cars and trucks are stuck in jams, trains zip past. “Trains don’t sleep—they need to lead. / Roaring, rushing, gaining speed.” Trains don’t stop at traffic lights, but make cars wait as they go by. The circus train is always welcome with its cars filled with tents and animals and performers.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-trains-don't-sleep-passengers

Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

As afternoon softens to dusk, the train’s light begins to shine. “Trekking toward the setting sun, / Trains are always on the run.” But as the moon rises and night settles in, “the wheels will whisper / Shush, shush, shush.” The station glows with cozy light as travelers come and go, ready to ride or go home to bed. Then it’s time to leave the station behind because “Trains don’t sleep—they roll away, / Racing toward a brand new day.”

An illustrated look at different kinds of trains and train cars follows the text.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-trains-don't-sleep-city-station

Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

Andria Rosenbaum’s lovely story is part tribute, part lullaby as it takes readers on a lyrical journey cross country on passenger and freight trains. Her refrain “trains don’t sleep,” focusing on the dependability of trains as they chug along day and night over all terrain and in all weather, can also be read as a homage to a parent or caregiver’s love which, likewise, “never sleeps.” Rosenbaum’s sparkling rhymes beautifully convey the dichotomy of a train’s movement that seems to thunder through the daylight hours while slipping tranquilly through the night.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-trains-don't-sleep-station

Image copyright Deirdre Gill, 2017, text copyright Andria Rosenbaum. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young People.

Deirdre Gill’s gorgeous illustrations depict locomotives with tender affection and all the excitement train travel offers. Gill’s use of various perspectives—from a train’s approach from afar to its accepting passengers at the station to an aerial view as it snakes along winding tracks—provides all the mystery, majesty, and pleasure that this favorite mode of transportation provides. Throughout, Gill’s color palette and choices of scene, architecture, automobiles, and even clothing fuse the past and present to create a fully realized look at our love of trains.

Delightful from beginning to end, Trains Don’t Sleep is a heartfelt and heartening story for bedtime or story time, and would be a favorite of train lovers and any child with a bit of wanderlust in their soul.

Ages 4 – 7

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0544380745

Discover more about Andria Rosenbaum and her books on her website

To learn more about Deirdre Gill, her books and her art, visit her website.

Festival of Sleep Day Activity


celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-train-dot-to-dot
Riding the Rails Dot to Dot

 

Taking a trip by train long distance can be fun—especially if you travel overnight in a sleeper car! Instead of counting sheep, count and follow the numbers in this printable Riding the Rails Dot to Dot.

Picture Book Review

December 7 – International Civil Aviation Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-amazing-airplanes-cover

About the Holiday

This United Nations-sponsored observance was established to raise worldwide awareness of the importance of civil aviation between cities and countries to their social and economic development. Every five years a theme is chosen under which agencies work to advance the global rapid transit network to the benefit of all. The theme for the years 2015 – 2018 is “Working Together to Ensure No Country is Left Behind.” If you are an aviation buff, spend a little time today introducing your hobby to a child!

 Amazing Airplanes

Written by Tony Mitton | Illustrated by Ant Parker

 

“An airplane’s amazing / for it travels through the sky, / above the clouds for miles and miles, / so very fast and high.” Where do you start a trip by airplane? At the airport! First you go inside the terminal to check in, show your ticket, and leave your luggage. While you wait at the gate, the ground crew weigh the passengers’ bags and load them into the cargo hold at the bottom of the plane.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-amazing-airplanes-ground-crew

Image copyright Ant Parker, 2002, text copyright Tony Mitton, 2002. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

When your flight is called, you’ll take the walkway connecting the plane to the terminal. Once inside the plane, you find your seat. In the flight deck the pilot and co-pilot are ready to “do their jobs. / They both know how to fly the plane / with all its dials and knobs.” Before taking off, the pilot radios the Control Tower to make sure the runway is clear.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-amazing-airplanes-flight-deck

Image copyright Ant Parker, 2002, text copyright Tony Mitton, 2002. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

When everything is ready and the plane is just about to leave, “by intercom the captain on the flight deck says hello. / You have to do your seat belt up before the plane can go.” Then that big and heavy plane races down the runway and soars into the sky. How can it do this and fly among the clouds? “Its wings hold big jet engines / which are loud and very strong. / They suck in air and blow it through / to whoosh the plane along.” Then when the plane is going fast enough, the air is moving quickly too. “It pushes up beneath the wings / and makes the whole plane lift.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-amazing-airplanes-take-off

Image copyright Ant Parker, 2002, text copyright Tony Mitton, 2002. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Once the plane is in the air, the flight attendants come by with drinks and snacks, and you can watch a movie in your seat. When the plane has reached its destination, the pilot radios the Control Tower to see if it is safe to land. Then “there’s a bumpy, rumbling sound— / the wheels are making contact, / and the plane is on the ground.”

When the door opens you gather your things and leave the plane, full of smiles. It’s fun to visit new exciting places, to “fly for miles and miles.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-amazing-airplanes-deplaning

Image copyright Ant Parker, 2002, text copyright Tony Mitton, 2002. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

On the final page, the parts of an airplane and the control tower are described in more detail.

Tony Mitton’s engaging rhymes introduce young readers to the various steps in plane travel and parts of an airplane in language that is accurate while maintaining a child’s sense of wonder and fun in this mode of travel. The mini-lesson in aerodynamics will intrigue little ones with a mechanical or engineering mind and may spur an interest in more exploration.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-amazing-airplanes-snack-cart

Image copyright Ant Parker, 2002, text copyright Tony Mitton, 2002. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Ant Parker’s bright and cheerful illustrations that follow a group of animals on their flight are full of the kinds of realistic details that young travel and airplane enthusiasts will want to linger over. The traveling friends watch as their luggage is wheeled out to the tarmac, allowing kids to see the ground crew load the bags into the cargo hold. The flight deck with its myriad “dials and knobs” is drawn from a perspective that allows readers to see the whole cockpit while also showing the control tower in the background. The wings are depicted with their various panels and supporting the engines, while the cabin and refreshment carts are also portrayed with realistic touches.  

For children enthralled by airplanes and transportation or who are taking their first flight, Amazing Airplanes makes a first-rate choice for home bookshelves or as a take-along in a carry-on bag for in-flight reading.

Ages 2 – 5

Kingfisher Publishing, Macmillian, 2017 Board Book Edition | ISBN 978-0753473702 (Paperback ISBN 978-0753459157; Hardcover ISBN 978-0753454039)

To learn more about Tony Mitton and his books, visit his website.

View a gallery of artwork by Ant Parker on his website.

International Civil Aviation Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-airplane-parts-word-search-puzzle

Got a Plane to Catch Word Search Puzzle

 

When you’re flying, do you think of all the parts of the plane you’re in? Find all twenty plane-related words in this printable Got a Plane to Catch Word Search Puzzle. Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review

November 18 – It’s Picture Book Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-bobby-cover-2

About the Holiday

Picture Book Month is a great time to introduce young readers to new books as well as those adult readers enjoyed as a child. One idea would be to  organize a Picture Book Party with family and friends where each person brought the book that was their childhood favorite to share. If you’re starting to think about holiday gifts, there’s no better present than a picture book. It really is a gift you open again and again! Today’s book offers little ones a fun and definitely hands-on way to interact with reading.

Let’s Go, Bobby! 

By Ruth Wielockx

 

Bobby loves to travel! And Bobby is pretty proficient with all kinds of vehicles, so he really gets around. The fantastic part is that little readers can follow along on each of Bobby’s trips! Look! Bobby is going to ride his bike up and down the mountains. He has his shiny red bike, his sturdy helmet, and a route all picked out. Are you ready to ride along? Bobby’s peddling and peddling and just about to climb the first mountain. Get your finger ready, you and Bobby are about to zip zig-zag-zig-zag over the tall peaks.

Next Bobby wants to take his scooter into town—right to the fountain in the central square. But why do they call it a square when it’s so fun to coast wheeee… round and round and round to the fountain? Get your finger out again, set it in the track and….wheeee! Round and round and round we go again!

You’re going to love the next one! Bobby has gotten out his Go-Kart! Okay! It’s time to weave in and out around the colored flags. Don’t let your finger go off-course! Wow! Great job! Bobby had fun too! Leaving land behind, Bobby is ready to set sail “on the waves of the wild sea. Will you sail along?” Oooh! Riding the waves is amazing! They’re so huge!

From the ocean to the train tracks! Bobby is now an engineer of tidy blue engine. All Aboard! Let’s chug down those tracks clickety-clack! Point and lead where you’d like Bobby to go! Enough of being on land! Bobby’s ready to fly! You too? Make puffy, white loop-de-loops in the bright blue sky—one…two…three! Feeling a little woozy? Maybe a helicopter ride is more your thing. Fortunately, “Bobby flies his helicopter over town.” There are “so many bright lights!” Come along!

Take off straight up then make a right over the tall apartment building. Take ‘er down to check out the smaller building next door, and up, up, up to trace the skyscrapers before descending again to land. Now, Bobby knows what you’ve been waiting for! Meet him at the race track and take some laps around the figure-eight track! How fast can your finger go?

Racing is fun, “but what Bobby likes best is to fly in a rocket to the moon. Three, two, one…. Will you travel along?” How many times can you circle the glowing full moon? After all this traveling, it’s time for sleeping. “Bobby dreams about exciting adventures all night. Will you dream along?”

Ruth Wielockx has created a unique hands-on board book for little travel enthusiasts that allows them to follow along an indented track. Every two-page spread introduces Bobby and his vehicle on the left side and his route on the right. The rectangular, oversized format gives plenty of room for the track, inviting kids to zig-zag, circle, weave, and chug along over and over. Wielockx’s bright, bold images, spare of extraneous detail, put the focus on the shapes and intricacies of the tracks, offering plenty to discuss about height, speed, up and down, forward and backward, alternate routes, and even upside down and right-side up. Children will love seeing each vehicle and Bobby dressed appropriately for every job he takes on. The final spread invites kids to wonder if it’s real or all a dream and start the trip again.

With its inviting interactivity, Let’s Go, Bobby! is a wonderful book for kids who love cars, trains, planes, and other modes of transportation. The indented tracks provide the kind of fun that will make the book a favorite. Let’s Go, Bobby! is also an excellent take-along book for outdoor activities and waiting times and would make a welcome gift.

Ages 2 and up

Clavis Publishing, 2017 | ISBN 978-1605373614

Discover more about Ruth Wielockz and her books on her website.

Picture Book Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-easy-zoo-vehicle-coloring-page

Let’s Go! Coloring Pages

 

Little ones love to go, go, go! Here are two printable easy coloring pages to enjoy on the way!

Helpful Ambulance Coloring Page | Giraffe on the Go Coloring Page

May 13 – National Train Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-traveling-by-train-cover

About the Holiday

It’s hard not to love the train. With its storied past and iconic whistle, train travel is imprinted in our minds as a fun, efficient way to get from here to there and back again. Today’s holiday was established to commemorate the May, 1869 completion of the transcontinental railroad, a feat that united America as nothing else had done. Suddenly, distances didn’t seem as far, and those seeking a new life out West or wanting to visit family back East had a safe, quick way of spanning the miles.

Traveling By Train: a Want to Know the World Book

Written by Pierre Winters | Illustrated by Tineke Meirink

 

Sam loves playing with his train set and is excited to be going on a real train ride. At the station, he loves all the hustle and bustle of people getting off and on trains. When his train pulls up, he “quickly gets in and looks for a place to sit. The train is about to depart! Are you coming too?” Train lovers will definitely want to get “aaall aboard” this tour of all things railroad related.

The first stop is a quick look at trains old and new. Kids learn about steam trains and how they worked by burning coal. Next up readers discover diesel trains before moving on to today’s electric and high-speed trains, which are “really fast. They sometimes drive nearly two hundred miles per hour. That’s three times faster than a car on the highway.” Where are these trains? Everywhere! Trains provide transportation all over the world and come in all shapes and sizes. There are trains that carry people, freight trains that “transport goods,” subway trains that move people from place to place in big cities, and even trains that travel through an underwater tunnel between England and France.

celebrate-pictue-books-picture-book-review-traveling-by-train-signal

Image copyright Tineke Meirink, text copyright Pierre Winters. Courtesy of Clavis Publishing

All of these trains require an engineer to drive them; a signaller, who “sets the switches and makes all the traffic lights turn green or red; a conductor who helps passengers get on and off and checks their tickets; and maintenance workers who “make sure the trains and tracks are in good shape.”

But what about the trains themselves? Readers can go inside a carriage where they see the seats, the luggage rack, the doors between cars, the bathroom, and even the roof and undercarriage. Want to ride? Kids learn all about buying a ticket and how important it is to get to the station on time so they don’t miss the train.

Of course, there are many kinds of trains, depending on where they go and what they are used for. Passenger trains that travel long distances requiring a multi-day trip have “bedrooms, restaurants, and little shops. They are like hotels on wheels!” In some countries the trains can get so crowded that people hang off the sides or ride on the roof. In Japan some very modern trains don’t have a driver. “A computer knows exactly when everyone has gotten on and where the station is. Other trains don’t even use wheels anymore. Thanks to very powerful magnets, they float just above the ground!”

celebrate-pictue-books-picture-book-review-traveling-by-train-modern-station

Image copyright Tineke Meirink, text copyright Pierre Winters. Courtesy of Clavis Publishing

Train stations are growing more and more modern. Some are made entirely of glass, and buying tickets and checking on arrivals and departures are all computerized. The biggest trains station in the world is in America, in New York City. It has forty-four platforms and sixty-seven tracks.

Readers will love the double fold-out spread in the center of the book that takes them into the midst of a busy station where trains wait on the tracks, ready to carry passengers on new and thrilling journeys. Following the text, train-related activities continue the fun. They include a poem, step-by-step instructions for drawing a train, directions for making a conductor’s whistle, matching games, and a mini-quiz.

Pierre Winters’ easy-to-understand, yet engaging text invites kids to explore one of the world’s most-used and best-loved methods of travel. Interesting facts presented in a conversational style will entice children to keep chugging through this well-conceived book and will pique their interest in traveling by train themselves.

Tineke Meirink’s bright, colorful illustrations offer readers close-up views of trains, inside and out, as well as the station control center and lively stations full of passengers and those waiting to meet them. Children will want to linger over the double-page spread to catch all the action and details.

For children who love trains or those taking their first trip, Traveling by Train is a wonderful introduction for young adventurers.

Ages 4 and up

Clavis Publishing, 2017 | ISBN 978-1605373409

National Train Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-all-aboard-train-word-search

All Aboard! Word Search Puzzle

 

Traveling by train is such fun! Get on board this printable All Aboard! Word Search Puzzle and find the 21 train-related words! Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

March 6 – International Ideas Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-secret-subway

About the Holiday

The onset of spring with its  wide-open sunny days seems to beckon to us to open our minds to all sorts of new possibilities. International Ideas Month also invites would-be inventors and clever folk alike to think differently and pay attention to your brainstorms. You never know – there may be a book, a work of art, a new invention, or a solution to a need inside you just waiting to be let out! 

The Secret Subway

Written by Shana Corey | Illustrated by Red Nose Studio (Chris Sickels)

 

In the 1860s the streets of New York were…well, not to put too fine a point on it…disgusting. Made of cobblestone and filled with trash, waste, horse manure, dust, dirt, and throngs of people, the roads made for rough travel. Many people had ideas about what could be done to make the streets safer and cleaner. Some thought a moving sidewalk would work, others talked about double-decker roads or an elevated train system. But while there was a lot of talk, nothing ever got done.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-secret-subway-city

Image copyright Chris Sickles, courtesy of rednosestudio.com

Alfred Ely Beach, however, peered down from his high office room and studied the street below him. Alfred Beach was a thinker, a publisher, and an inventor. He put his clever mind to work and came up with a solution. He envisioned a train powered by an enormous fan that would travel underground. “People would get where they needed to go as if by magic!” he thought. He couldn’t wait to start building. There was just one problem—he didn’t own the streets. And getting permission to dig them up would be hard. “So Beach hatched a sneaky plan. He would propose building an underground tube to carry mail instead.” As he had imagined, no one objected to this project when he proposed it—not even Boss Tweed, who unofficially ran the city.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-secret-subway-designing

Image copyright Chris Sickles, courtesy of rednosestudio.com

Given the okay, Beach rented the basement of Devlin’s Clothing Store. Every day he sent in workers to dig and every night wagons took away the debris. For 58 days and nights Beach’s men tunneled under the city, moving forward 8 feet each day. At last the tunnel was finished. It was 8 feet across and 294 feet long—large enough to hold a train full of people.

Beach then decorated the basement to be a beautiful, welcoming waiting room. Gaslight lamps and paintings dotted the walls, flowers added color, and a grandfather clock rang out the time. There was even a fountain with goldfish, a man playing a grand piano, and a delicious lunch. When everything was ready, Beach invited reporters, government officials, and distinguished citizens to join him on February 26, 1876 at the “Beach Pneumatic Transit Company.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-secret-subway-designing

Image copyright Chris Sickles, courtesy of rednosestudio.com

That first day Alfred Beach’s guests only admired the train, but they gave it glowing praise. Soon Beach opened his train to the public. With a WHOOSH from a gigantic fan, the train zipped down the track and then back again. “Beach’s train was a SENSATION! All winter while wagons slipped and slid on the slushy streets above, people poured into Devlin’s for the twenty-five-cent ride.”

While riders loved it, some people objected. Shop keepers didn’t want potential buyers underground. Property owners were afraid the digging would hurt their buildings, and some felt Beach wanted too much power. Even Boss Tweed no longer supported it since some of his friends had their own ideas on building a subway. When the governor of New York refused to let Beach expand his train, the project came to a halt.

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Image copyright Chris Sickles, courtesy of rednosestudio.com

The idea didn’t die, however, and “many years later drilling could be heard once again under the streets of New York City” as a train system powered with electricity was being built. Diggers discovered many unusual things buried under the city. Perhaps the most surprising was a brick wall behind which stood a little railroad car rusting in its tracks, a memorial to innovation and the future.

Alfred Ely Beach was one clever man, and Shana Corey tells his story with historical perspective, wit, and suspense. Corey’s language crackles with evocative alliteration, stealth, and action. Kids will be excited to learn of the intrigue and imagination that led to this remarkable snippet of America’s history.

Fans of Claymation will love Chris Sickels’ multimedia artwork that combines sculpted characters, specially built props, photographs, and illustration. Sickels’ characters are nothing short of astounding. Their period clothing, hairstyles, and expressive faces lend an engaging and realistic dimension to the vintage scenes. Sickels cleverly depicts early New York City and people’s alternative ideas to the traffic problem with sketched in schemetics. His use of color and lighting sets the perfect tone for this highly entertaining and educational picture book. Kids will want to linger over each page to catch all the details of The Secret Subway.

For kids interested in transportation, history, inventions, and claymation and other arts, The Secret Subway would be a wonderful addition to their home library.

Ages 4 – 10

Schwartz & Wade, Random House Kids, 2016 | ISBN 978-0375870712

Discover more about Shana Corey and her books for kids on her website!

You will be amazed by the art, books, and animation by Chris Sickels on his Red Nose Studio website!

This Secret Subway book trailer is just the ticket!

International Ideas Month Activity

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Chris Sickels’ Secret Subway

Chris Sickels of Red Nose Studio invites you to build your own Secret Subway with this printable play set, complete with Alfred Ely Beach and a passenger! Click here to download your printable Secret Subway Activity!

Build a Super Subway Car

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Every day, millions of people all over the world travel to work, school, and other activities by subway. Here’s an easy and fun way to build your own subway train from recycled materials. You can make just one car or make a few and connect them to create a long train worthy of any big city!

Supplies

  • Printable Subway Car Template
  • Medium or long toothpaste box
  • Silver paint
  • Glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Paint the toothpaste box with the silver paint, let dry
  2. Cut out the windows, doors, and stripe templates
  3. Trim the stripes to fit your box
  4. To make the little sign near the door, trim a small aquare from one of the stripes
  5. Glue the templates to the box

Picture Book Review