cover image Two Little Trains

Two Little Trains

Margaret Wise Brown, illus. by Greg Pizzoli. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-267651-1

“Two little trains/ went down the track,/ two little trains went West.// PUFF PUFF PUFF/ CHUG CHUG CHUG/ two little trains to the West.” The soothing clickity-clack of the late Brown’s verse lulls as effectively as when it first appeared 70 years ago, illustrated first by Jean Charlot, then by Leo and Diane Dillon. This treatment by Geisel Medalist Pizzoli shows the two trains journeying in tandem through tunnels and over bridges. Toylike rubber stamp illustrations offer a grainy, vintage look, the trains’ repeated sounds set in outsize, circus poster–style type. Here, the two trains run on the same track—the “little old” engine first; the newer, “streamlined” train, trailing—each headed across the country’s vast interior through night and day, rain and snow, and hot sun rendered in faded colors. The trains start over a brick bridge crossing a wide river (“Look down/ look down/ below the bridge,/ at the deep dark river going West”), cross mountains and weather, arrive at an ocean full of origami-like fish, and rest at last in a sunbaked city: “They had come to the edge of the West.” Brown’s classic offers a beginner’s map of the country’s geography in a rhythmic journey that can be taken over and over again. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)