Two Little Trains by Margaret Wise Brown. il by Leo and Diane Dillon.
HarperCollins Publishers: NY, 2001.
Text copyright 1949.

I just happened to see this book at the library recently. The striking and imaginative illustrations are great! Meaning has been added by the Dillons in that their illustrations creatively parallel a streamlined train with a toy train. Household objects are used to mimic the travel of a train going west, as a child would play. The book is newer than I expected, illustrated in a retro style.

I browsed to see if I could find anything about the 1949 book. Only that the original had two trains-one driven by a boy engineer and the other by a girl engineer. I also found that there are mixed reviews. Some people love this book, and others not. Likely, the ones more impressed have boys.

Margaret Wise Brown's story is a poem, a song in the rhythm of a train chugging along. It's simple, meant for reading to toddlers. It's also old school, from a time when repetition and memorization were the norm. Many young children love the repetition. With repeated readings, children would have been encouraged to say the words, promoting vocabulary development. Verbal vocabulary is the foundation for expression and reading. Even so, the Dillons added so much more with their interpretation. The poem and illustrations combined are a story that is fun and pleasant for listening.

I enjoyed reading about Margaret Wise Brown at She was of my grandmother's generation and died before I was born, and yet, some of her stories are still favorites. A plus for me is that she was a Maine author, living on Vinalhaven.

I waited to post this review, because I wanted to see the 1949 book first. My library has a copy. That book is nothing special. The illustrations are childish and add nothing to it. The Dillons' book is a much better version, showing just how much difference the illustrations can make.

related-railroads, trains, using imagination, creativity
RL=1st, read aloud to toddlers-K

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