cover image The Winter Train

The Winter Train

Susanna Isern, trans. from the Spanish by Jon Brokenbrow, illus. by Ester García. Cuento de Luz (Legato, dist.), $16.95 (24p) ISBN 978-84-15784-84-5

In the imagination of the Spanish writer Isern (The Magic Ball of Wool), all but a few of the animals of the forest migrate in winter: they pack their bags and ride the train from the Northern Forest to the Southern Forest. In spreads that read like friezes, García draws the animals in shades of sepia and ochre, accentuating the soft fuzziness of their coats and the graceful curves of their necks and tails as they wait near the ancient tree that serves as their train station. There’s even an animal unknown in North America—a genet, a carnivorous mammal related to mongoose and civets. Genet is the one who realizes that they’ve left Squirrel behind. “But if we go back, we could get trapped in the snow,” says Beaver. Squirrel is rescued safely and, amid a blizzard, the animals clear the tracks of snow so they can get underway. The tranquil bedtime diversion ends by invoking the Peaceable Kingdom, as predators and prey snuggle together, Squirrel under Eagle’s wing. The story is low-key, but García’s artwork is rich and worthwhile. Ages 3–5. (Nov.)