cover image My Little Train

My Little Train

Satomi Ichikawa, Philomel, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-25453-6

Toys took to the skies in Ichikawa's Come Fly with Me (2008); here, stuffed animals climb aboard a wooden train that emerges from a tunnel fashioned from stacks of picture books. Each announces where it would like to go (" ‘To the pond,' says a duck. Quack, quack. ‘To the field,' says a sheep. Baa, baa"), and Ichikawa's soft watercolors reveal destinations that are ripped from kids' playtime imaginations. The pond is a fishbowl, a bear's "mountain" consists of pillows on a sofa, and a lamb's "meadow" is a lovely, loose rendition of Monet's Poppy Field in Argenteuil. The sole remaining passenger is a kangaroo that helps rescue the train when it tumbles off a "cliff," before the train returns it safely to its mother's pouch. Ichikawa makes excellent use of varied, skewed perspectives to bring readers into the action, staring down at the train while a monkey swings from a houseplant, or following it into the dark recesses of a pillow tunnel. Repeated animal noises and train sounds encourage readers to lend their voices to this whimsical read-aloud. Ages 3–8. (Nov.)