cover image The Last Train

The Last Train

Gordon Titcomb, illus. by Wendell Minor, Roaring Brook/Porter, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59643-164-5

"If you close your eyes and listen,/ you can almost hear the sound/ Of those big iron horses/ rolling into town." Based on musician Titcomb's 2005 song, this stunning book both celebrates and eulogizes the golden era of railway travel. Minor's luminous, occasionally almost photographic, paintings portray the adult narrator as a boy, surrounded by a ghostly haze as he walks along the tracks. Without the upbeat strings and tempo of Titcomb's song, his words take on a wistful tone: "My Granddad was a railroad man,/ he drove the trains around,/ My Daddy, he sold tickets/ till they closed the station down." Whether young readers will respond to the elegiac quality of the verse, there's little doubt that railroad aficionados will pore over the crisply rendered railroad memorabilia—stamps, posters, photographs, a ticket punch—and the gleaming images of the locomotives themselves. Effectively evoking the sounds and rhythms of train travel, the lyrics call to mind Steve Goodman's 1970 song "City of New Orleans," recorded famously by Arlo Guthrie, who contributes a foreword to this affectionate and nostalgic tribute. Ages 3–8. (Sept.)