written by Susanna Leonard Hill
illustrated by Ana Martin Larranaga
Take a ride on a freight train with the engineer. Look inside the freight cars, open and close the crossing gates, turn the signal lights red or green, and switch the track with Switchman Jack just in time to avoid trouble! What a great ride, and every page has fun things to do!
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The title says it all. This is one of Hill and Larranaga’s series of sculpted-edged, transportation-themed board books. It takes its ninety-seven freight cars full of animals, toys, fruit, and lumber safely from an eastern railroad yard cross-country to its final western destination. Along its route, the engine must stop for a crossing gate and barely avoids a head-on crash when Switchman Jack almost forgets to switch tracks for a passenger train, but all is well that ends well. The flaps are absolutely basic paper engineering, but manage to hide a few surprises, while the softly rounded forms of Larranaga’s politically-correct mixture of little people are comforting. Meanwhile, Hill’s rhymed text chugs the train forward. Alas, the red caboose no longer exists in modern railroading, so for that old homey feeling toddlers will have to make do with the girl engineer’s ginger cat.