Big Choo

illus. by Stephen Shaskan. 40p. Scholastic. Feb. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545708579.
PreS-K—With a clear artistic and imaginative nod to Virginia Lee Burton's picture books, Shaskan's adorable tale centers a young talking engine, Choo, learning to ride the rails with his father, Papa Pufferbelly. Choo is riding confidently as he rolls off the loop and switches to the main line, rolls over a bridge, hauls freight, and charges up a mountain—until his wheels slip! When Choo derails, Papa assures him that he is brave, fast, strong, and smart, and not to let "a little tumble ruin [his] big day." Choo tries again and makes it to the top of the mountain. The digital art uses bold, bright colors to create lyrical landscapes and bring the trains to life with animated facial expressions. The high-energy story line has clear read-aloud appeal and the encouraging message of overcoming obstacles is one that will resonate positively with young listeners.
VERDICT A modern book with a classic feel. This is a perfect choice for a preschool storytime, and a must-buy for libraries where trains, railway stories, and Thomas the Tank Engine are in demand.

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