Saturday, November 17, 2007

Choo choo

Jack's train obsession started about 2 months ago. It seemed to come out of the blue -- we visited places with trains before, like the Discovery Museum, and rode the train at Tilden and Fairyland, and he enjoyed all that, but he wasn't overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Then I suppose it was kismet; we rode the Little Puffer at the San Francisco Zoo and he came home crazy about trains.

For about a month we visited the Zoo at least once a week (we bought a membership) so Jack could get his train riding fix. At home, we've procured Brio train tracks and engines from toy stores and EBAY. We bought some train books and were lucky enough to get some passed down from a Glen Park parent. So we are really set up now.

The older train books have charming illustrations and often slightly annoying text. "The Little Engine That Could," (Amazon info: ISBN: 978-0448431147) one of my mom's favorite books from childhood, goes on and on and about the dolls getting all teary and the children in the town who will be deprived of spinach and lollypops, but once the blue engine gets going, it arrives too fast at the top -- that should be the interesting part! Plus, there is a scary clown (of course Jack loves him).

"The Caboose Who Got Loose" (ISBN: 0395148057) has a wonderful flowing text and cute illustrations, but I don't know what to make of the story. The caboose doesn't like being at the back of train and sitting in the smoky trainyard, so when she breaks off the train, flies off the track and gets stuck between two spruce trees she's happy. Maybe it's the no one ever finds her part, it makes me think of "Into the Wild," or other poor hikers lost in the wilderness.

"Tootle" (ISBN: 0307020975) is about an engine in training who misbehaves, jumping off the tracks to play in fields of flowers. The chief engineer trainer and the townspeople band together to show Tootie the error of his ways. Is this really a message to conform?

Some newer books mostly skip moralizing altogether, and either feature stories light on content and heavy on rhymes, or drift way into fantasy. We all like "The Goodnight Train," (info at Amazon: ISBN 978-0152054366) with sweet illustrations of children in beds flying along the train tracks. I actually started calling it Naptime Train so I could more easily read it at naptime, so Jack calls it that as well now.

Other volumes in our library:
"Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo" (Amazon info: ISBN: 978-0786807604)
"I Love Trains" (Amazon info: ISBN: 978-0064436670
"I've Been Working on the Railroad" (Amazon info: ISBN: 978-1931722117)
"The Big Book of Trains" (Amazon info: ISBN: 978-0789434364)
"Dinosaur Train" (Amazon info: ISBN: 978-0060292454)
"Two Little Trains" (Amazon info: ISBN: 978-0064435680)
"Trains" (Amazon info: ISBN: 978-0744512236)
"Chugga Chugga Choo Choo" ISBN: 978-0786807604
"Clickety Clack" ISBN: 978-0140568295
"The Little Red Caboose" (ISBN: 0307021521)
"Animal Train" (ISBN: 0689848382)
"Puff Puff Chugga Chugga" (ISBN: 0689839863)
"Train Song" (ISBN: 0690047266)

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