cover image Trains


Lynn Curlee, . . S&S/Atheneum, $19.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-4848-3

As in previous works (Brooklyn Bridge ; Skyscraper ), Curlee illuminates a single subject—this time trains—with stunning, clean-lined illustrations and informative narration. He opens with a romantic reminiscence about the mighty engines that rumbled through his North Carolina hometown. “We listened to the rhythmic clickety-clack of their steel wheels against the rails and the plaintive echoes of their whistles dying away as the trains sped through the night.” Launching into a chronological account of the evolution of the “iron horse,” subsequent pages highlight major developments in (mostly American) railroad history, from the first steam engines to run on rails to the high-speed trains of Europe and Asia. Flatly styled and employing limited color palettes, several of Curlee's acrylic paintings will impress and awe readers with ground-up perspectives of trains set against broad expanses of sky or mountain ranges and sometimes put into historical context with people in the foreground. The author leaves readers to ponder whether modern trains, more efficient than their predecessors, may offer “a highway into the future” for a nation “built by the railroads.” All ages. (May)