Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Philip Booth
Illustrator:   Bagram Ibatoulline 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Candlewick, 2013   ISBN: 978-0763666644

A train is coming and the striped crossing bar has come down. We have to wait until the train passes, a captive audience to this spectacle of moving steel, clacking wheels, and rolling cars. The small boys and girls who are watching experience a feeling of wonder and delight, for there is so much to see and imagine.

There are boxcars with different labels printed on their sides, each one of which tells us where the car is from. There are cars carrying automobiles, steel piping, coke, and coal. One even contains live cows that are traveling from Santa Fe. As we watch and imagine where the cars came from, and where they are going, we can count, on and on and on: "fifty-nine, sixty," "eighty-eight" and "ninety-seven." Until, at last, we see the caboose.

Using words and rhythm to great effect to capture the movement of the train, Philip Booth captures the wonder and excitement the children feel as they watch the train go by. We feel as if we too are there, watching the great machine clatter past.

The artist presents this extraordinary experience from many points of view, many perspectives and angles, and through the eyes of many different watchers. He and the author have turned a simple event into a remarkable one full of promise and pleasure, and we are reminded of how exciting watching trains go by can be. This unique book will delight fans of trains, and it will also charm illustration connoisseurs, for Bagram Ibatoulline has truly created a work of art.