“The classic tale from beloved children’s book author Margaret Wise Brown is given a fresh look but loses its storyline.”
Readers follow the cross country journey of two trains, a sleek, modern bullet train and a traditional steam engine train. The two trains journey west across long steel tracks as they puff and chug through a variety of settings: over a bridge, through a tunnel, and up a mountainside. In one of the few instances of rhyming in the story, they also “got white and furry” though “still in a hurry” as they travel through a snowstorm. There are reflective notes, like “Look down that long steel track / where you and I must go; / that long steel track and strong cross bars, / before we travel home,” though the text is changed to refer to an “old man singing in the West” rather than “a black man singing in the West.” Pizzoli’s illustrations are playful and abstract, created using custom rubber stamps. While modern and fun, they also greatly change a reader’s understanding of the story from the original 1949 illustrations by two-time Caldecott Medalists Leo and Diane Dillon, which parallel an actual train’s journey and a toy train’s journey. In Pizzoli’s depiction, the story seems lacking in a substantive storyline, making it an actual but confusing, almost pointless journey of an old and a new train to the West that Pizzoli terminates in the middle of a desert.
Margaret Wise Brown is one of the most popular children’s authors of all
time; her classic Goodnight Moon (HarperFestival), illustrated by Clement
Hurd, has sold more than 24 million copies, and her books—including Big Red Barn (Harper Festival), The Runaway Bunny (HarperCollins), and The Golden Egg Book (Simon &amp;amp; Schuster)—have been in print for over 50 years. Several generations have grown up with her timeless stories and her influence has been felt around the world. (Bio via Sterling Fall 2018 Catalog.)
Greg Pizzoli is an author, an illustrator, and a printmaker. His picture books include The Watermelon Seed; Good Night Owl; Tricky Vic; and North, South, East, West, which was also written by Margaret Wise Brown. When not traveling on trains, he can be found at home in Philadelphia with his wife, their dog, and two cats. Visit him at www.gregpizzoli.com.
for Ed Emberley
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The artist used custom-made rubber stamps and Adobe Photoshop to create the illustrations for this book.