cover image Train


Elisha Cooper. Scholastic/Orchard, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-38495-7

Riding the rails from New York City to San Francisco takes on an expansive definition when Cooper (Farm) sounds the “All aboard,” bringing readers on five kinds of trains (commuter, passenger, freight, overnight, and high-speed). To move this transcontinental journey along, Cooper mostly eschews the boarding and exiting process (although he does use a stop in Chicago to portray the soaring neoclassic grandeur of a city station). Instead, he transports his audience from one train to the next as they pass (“As the Commuter Train waits, another train roars past on another track.... A bright blue Passenger Train hurrying between cities”). Cooper’s signature sun-bleached watercolors beautifully convey human achievements and nature’s grandeur through both detail and a range of scale, whether it’s an entire train passing through a rural landscape on a starry night, the control panel in the engineer’s cab, or a comparatively tiny elk. Like Brian Floca’s Locomotive, also out this month, this is more than a tribute to a mode of transport: it’s also a valentine to the sweep of American geography and, in particular, the glory of the Great Plains. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)