COOPER, Elisha. Train. illus. by author. 40p. glossary. Scholastic/Orchard. Oct. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-38495-7.
PreS-Gr 2–Starting at a city terminal, Cooper takes readers on a commuter train that clatters out of a metropolis. At a suburban stop, the perspective shifts to a larger passenger train traveling between cities, jumps to a freight train slowly creeping across the Great Plains, then an overnight train, and finally a sleek high-speed train. The artist’s characteristic muted watercolor and pencil illustrations are sketchlike yet very detailed. Transitions between busy cityscapes and serene panoramic vistas, outsides of stations and insides of train cars, and the refrain of “passengers off, passengers on” perfectly capture the feeling of riding the rails. No “choo-choo” noises here–“As the train leaves, it sounds like the da dum da dum of a beating heart. Then silence.” Through the richness of the prose, not only the sounds but also the smells of the trains come to life–“grease and rust and burnt toast.” As the author’s note reveals, Cooper mixed many real-life details with a few fictional ones, such as a futuristic San Francisco depot at the end of the story. The longer text and somewhat stylized illustrations make the book most suitable for a one-on-one perusal with sophisticated young train aficionados but it is a wonderful foray into the “train books” category and a distinguished addition to most collections.–Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY