cover image Hey! Get Off Our Train

Hey! Get Off Our Train

John Burningham. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-517-57638-0

Burningham's latest book is extremely clever in combining words and pictures that are equally innovative. A boy, playing with a toy train in his bedroom, is told by his mother to go to bed. He closes his eyes, and soon is hurtling through the countryside on his train, in the company of his stuffed dog, who has come to life. ``Hey! Get off our train,'' they say to an elephant who climbs on board. The elephant explains that he is trying to escape from someone who wants to cut off his tusks, so they let him stay. The boy and the dog also give sanctuary to other endangered animals, including a seal, a crane, a tiger and a polar bear, as the train travels through different lands. Burningham uses color sparsely and effectively, and his artwork, which incorporates many styles, offers a different effect on almost every page. The story's important, timely message of protection for endangered species is delivered with just enough subtlety and delightful humor. The surprise ending is terrific. Ages 4-9. (Mar.)