cover image It's Funny Where Ben's Train Takes Him

It's Funny Where Ben's Train Takes Him

Robert Burleigh, Joanna Yardley. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-531-30106-7

A boy draws a train one night right before bedtime, then climbs aboard for a ""magical ride."" In his imagination he crosses mountains and rivers, through cities and towns, until he arrives at his final destination, a whistlestop called ""In-My-Bed,"" where ""filled with travels,/ And train-wheel hums,/ He'll dream train dreams/ Till morning comes."" Burleigh's (Flight) excursion travels a well-worn track. The rhymed couplets never rise above the pedestrian, and the refrain (""It's funny where Ben's train takes him"") quickly becomes a tiresome interruption. Yardley's (The Bracelet) watercolors intersperse fantasy and reality somewhat erratically; a few nice touches, such as the star motif on Ben's pajamas echoed on the train's coal car, are overshadowed by the overall stock approach (a ""track"" created in crayon by the boy repeatedly intersects a realistic rendering of the rails; the fully realized engine chugs onto a patchwork countryside that turns out to be the quilt on Ben's bed). Contrary to the title, readers won't find much humor here. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)