cover image Mac & Marie & the Train Toss Surprise

Mac & Marie & the Train Toss Surprise

Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard. Four Winds, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-744640-1

As night falls, Mac and Marie wait anxiously alongside the railroad tracks that run behind their house. Their Uncle Clem, a dining-car porter, has promised to throw something from the train's window on its run up from Florida. Although Howard ( Chita's Christmas Tree ) conjures up the evocative romance of railway trains of old and the places they visited, her attempt at suspense as the children wait for the mysterious package misses the mark. This minor incident seems unable to support a book; the already minimal narrative shows signs of strain as the text details every atmospheric night sound and the kids' speculations on the parcel's contents. (In fact, the arrival of the long-awaited bundle may strike youngsters as anticlimactic.) Carter's pencil-and-watercolor illustrations in deep blues ably portray the deepening night, but, like the text, are ultimately somewhat static. The story's big moment--the package hurtling from the train--is rendered in a ``comet-tailed'' close-up that looks more cartoony than dramatic. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)