CHOO CHOO, Stay, I Say!! How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton
"IT'S ONLY NATURAL THAT YOU'LL WANT TO TAKE HOME ALL THE TRAINS, BUT DON'T JUST GRAB THE FIRST ONE YOU SEE.
TAKE YOUR TIME AND CHOOSE THE ONE THAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU."
Over the literary ages storybook kids have chosen some weird pets, all right--dragons, giant snakes, crocodiles, dinosaurs. (You know those stories, right?) So it's not too much of a huff puff down the mental track to imagine that a train might be the ideal pet for certain kids. Trains come in all sizes and shapes--hoary old steam engines with cowcatchers up front or sleek, bullet-like monorails. But whatever they look like, they need to be watered, washed, and taught how to behave just like any pet. And for that you need a guide book! Enter Jason Carter Eaton's newest, How to Train a Train (Candlewick Press, 2013).
Eaton opens with some advice about approaching a potential pet train.
"IF YOU BROUGHT SOME COAL WITH YOU, NOW WOULD BE THE TIME TO OFFER IT.
TRY SAYING, 'MY, WHAT A HANDSOME TRAIN YOU ARE!'
WELL DONE! HERE IT COMES!!"
Eaton's helpful train training instructions continue, and in no time the pet train is rolling over, listening to sleepytime train stories, and letting the child ride him. Still, trains can be contrary and there are always silly "train tricks" to be gotten through in the process. But good train owners are empathetic with their charges.
"LEARN TO KNOW YOUR TRAIN. HOW DOES IT FEEL ABOUT BRIDGES AND TUNNELS?"
Eaton's text catches the slightly quaint retro tone of a child's guide to pet care as he puts his young would-be train owners through their paces, with much assistance from the detailed and dramatic artwork of notable illustrator John Rocco, whose sturdy and comic pictures give this wry fantasy substance and humor. Rocco shows his pet train tracking up the carpet with coal dust, an anxious engine getting a soothing warm bath at the water stop, and a sympathetic child pulling his nervous-Nellie steam engine over a trestle above an intimidating gorge. Combining the concept of trains and pets is a novel approach, and Rocco's many humorous touches throughout make this whimsical takeoff on pet ownership a trainload of fun that will be scheduling a lot of storytime return trips.