Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton

How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton, illustrated by John Rocco

Rating: 5 stars

"So you want a pet train?" asks the young boy-narrator.  "Well, of course you do!  Trains make awesome pets--they're fun, playful, and extremely useful.  Luckily for you, this handy guidebook contains everything you need to know to choose, track, and train your very own pet train.  Ready?  Then let's head out and find some trains!"

How can you resist an invitation like that?  I love how, right from the first page, this boy assumes you a) have realized that trains can be pets--and cool ones at that; b) are up for the adventure to find a train for yourself.  By the end of the first page, you're in.  Ready to go find your train.  You've long since forgotten that you once thought that having a train as a pet was a ludicrous notion.

Spend as much time as you can getting to know your train.
Does it like to play fetch?
And so begins a really fun imagination-filled tale of capturing your own train (with careful observation, then sweet luring it over to you, then winning it over with treats and pets in case you're curious).

What do you do with said train once you have it?  Well...lots of things!  You name it, of course, after getting to know it.  (Eaton names two of them after his own sons; I can only imagine their excitement of being in a children's book--my kids would go crazy in a sugar-before-bedtime sort of way.)  You can teach it tricks.  You can take it fishing with you, or take it swimming.

The story is neat and takes your kids on an unexpected, imaginative ride that makes them look around their normal lives and wonder: what else could I make into a pet?  And if a book makes your child wonder a little bit or a whole lot...well, then that's a great book in my book.

Here are some common train names...
But the illustrations!  John Rocco is so fantastic.  He brings to life these huge, heavy locomotives and makes them playful and funny and...just neat.  His trains-as-pets are brought to life, given sweet and kind and caring and even scared expressions on their steel engines in the most creative ways.  It's hard to read this book and not stop and examine the pictures in amazement and appreciation.  He's done our kids such a service here with his own imagination and talent.  (Thanks, John Rocco!)

This is definitely a great book--especially if you're little reader is into trains in just the slightest bit.  And maybe this is the way to persuade your child that they don't really want a puppy...they want a train instead?!

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