cover image The Banshee Train

The Banshee Train

Odds Bodkin. Clarion Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-69426-8

Eeriness and danger permeate the watercolors illustrating this spectral tale by professional storyteller Bodkin. Sparse, unfussy language quickly creates an air of scary credibility, but it is Rose who brings the nuances--silent, snowy landscapes; menacing skies--that richly compensate for the loss of a performer's voice and for the occasional gaps in the narrative. Traveling through a heavy Colorado rainstorm in the spring of 1929, the engineer and fireman of Train No. 1 see a train barreling behind them. When they try to speed to safety, their train is inexplicably shut down. The other train zooms right through them, carrying ghostly passengers and a banshee--a supernatural presence whose shriek foretells death. But this particular banshee has prevented the deaths of everyone aboard Train No. 1. She has halted the train's approach to a collapsed bridge, washed out by the storm--just as it had been 20 years ago when another train plunged catastrophically into the river below. Spooky in content and presentation, this story should send a few shivers down little spines. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)