cover image NIGHT TRAIN


Caroline Stutson, , illus. by Katherine Tillotson. . Roaring Brook/Porter, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7613-1598-8

On an overnight train to see Grandma, a boy traveling with his father takes in the sights and sounds. It's a vintage subject, but Stutson (Prairie Primer A to Z) and Tillotson (Nice Try, Tooth Fairy) mine it astutely. Small sensations and experiences are just as important here as big ones, as they so often are for children: mastering the art of carrying a water-filled paper cup down the rocking aisles receives the same weight as the thrill of speeding through countryside and town. Truncated verse suggests the motion of the train: "Back we go/ On rattling floors," Stutson writes after the boy has eaten in the dining car, "Car/ To car/ Through hissing doors." Her spare tone acts as counterpoint to the glowing lighting and dramatic angles of Tillotson's full-bleed pastels. One of the most telling scenes takes place in the dining car, where the boy is shown wondering at the presentation of an exotic, domed entrée; the mirrored surface reflects the server's smiling face. This tribute offers evidence that, when it comes to the romance of train travel, a child's love is here to stay. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)