cover image Country Crossing

Country Crossing

Jim Aylesworth. Atheneum Books, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-31580-0

It is a quiet country road, slumbering in the softness of summer moonlight. The peacefulness of the blue night is soon broken by the sputtering of a 1920s-vintage car as it rolls to a stop at a railroad crossing. And then, everything happens at once. The crickets' singing and the owl's hooting are abruptly overpowered by the clanging of the crossing bell, and a far-off whistle picks up volume as a train roars closer. The speeding wheels churn up leaves, sparks fly and smoke billows into the sky. A man and boy get out of the auto to enjoy the spectacle of the train cars hurtling by. The reader is first lulled by the tranquility, then jarred awake, then, just as suddenly, put back into Rand's dreamy country nightscape, as the old car bumps over the tracks and fades away. Rand's nostalgic paintings--rendered primarily in blues and yellows--feature trees dramatically silhouetted against inky skies and bursts of color for the crossing signal and railroad cars. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)