The Mighty Steam Engine

Amicus Ink. Sept. 2019. 24p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781681522371.
K-Gr 3– This book celebrates all that is magical about steam engines. The text is written in the style of the rhyming, cumulative classic “This is the House that Jack Built.” Starting with the wheels and moving to the boiler, young readers will learn how a steam engine works in a way that is clear and accessible. Possibly unfamiliar terms such as piston and crank pin are clearly explained and the repetition will help readers understand the mechanical processes. Vocabulary words are written in bright bold colors, providing emphasis within the rest of the text. Cutaway diagrams allow readers to see the inner workings of the train. The illustrations celebrate Americana, presenting steam train travel as incredibly charming. The bright red train gives off soft cottony puffs of steam as it meanders through green pastoral landscapes and seaside vistas (complete with a classic lighthouse). The train’s occupants are clearly visible. One elderly gentleman is snapping photographs, has an apple for a snack, and then settles in for a nap. The engineer enjoys a cup of coffee while keeping the train on schedule. The literary elements in the text, including rhyming and wonderful examples of onomatopoeia, make this an excellent title for classroom libraries. At the end of the book, an author’s note shares a brief history of steam train travel in the United States. The note also explains reverse engineering as a tool to understand how things work, hopefully inspiring further exploration in the future.
VERDICT While the lovely illustrations and clever text will appeal to a general audience, train enthusiasts will be particularly captivated.

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