Freight Train

by Crews, Donald. (Greenwillow, 1978 ISBN 0688841651. Library Binding, Hardcover, Paperback.) Picture Book. 32 pages. Grades PreK+.
This book was reviewed by Carol Otis Hurst in Teaching K-8 Magazine.


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On an otherwise empty page, we see first a track and then, car by car, a freight train appears. As each car is added, it and its color are identified in the text. When the train is completely assembled, Crews sets it in motion and the colors blur as it picks up speed and rolls through the landscape until it disappears. As the text says, "Going..... Going .... Gone!"

It's hard to describe the book's appeal. It seems simple and rather boring but its very simplicity is deceptive. Crews' use of pattern in the intricate trestle, even in the details of the cars is masterful. His use of white space on which to build first the track and then the train, car by car, makes the book compelling viewing. When the train is set in motion, he uses minimalist techniques to show the tunnel and terrain, contrasting starkly with the intricately detailed trestle. Each addition forces the reader to anticipate the next step. Beautiful in its simplicity, this book deals with color, design and train vocabulary.

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