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Friday, June 13, 2014

How to Train a Train

How to Train a Train
by Jason Carter Eaton; illus. by John Rocco
40 pages; ages 4-8
Candlewick, 2013

theme: pets, imagination

"So you want a pet train? ... Trains make awesome pets - they're fun, playful, and extremely useful." And this book has everything you need to know to choose - and train - the right train for you.

What I like love about this book: It's silly fun, and serious at the same time. If you've ever had a pet, or if you're looking for a pet, then you've already heard the words of advice on choosing the "right" pet. Author Jason Eaton shows the many considerations that go into selecting the perfect train, going so far as to suggest making the call of the wild train:
chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga!

There are suggestions for names for your new pet, advice on bathing it and helping it settle into its new home, and tips on taking it for a walk. There are also some cautions, such as training it to wipe its wheels before running through the kitchen. And there's a must-read note for readers at the back for those wondering about paperwork and the application of local pet ordinances.

Beyond the book: Build a train. All you need are some boxes and glue and markers and maybe a few paper plates. Need ideas? Check here.

Go train-watching. If you have tracks, and a regular train that goes by, go watch it. Count how many engines are pulling, and how many cars it has. Note what kind of cars it's pulling: containers, oil, flatbeds, coal... If there's a train station nearby, even better - you can observe many trains. 

Where do trains go? Check out the route schedules and maps at Amtrak. Learn how to read a timetable. Map tracks around your town.

Hike an abandoned route. Many towns are turning old rails into trails. Take a walk or ride a bike down a rail-trail to get a feel for where the old trains used to go.

If trains are out of the question, adopt a pet rock. Not everyone can adopt a train for a pet. Try something else: a car, a roller skate - even a rock. Hundreds of perfectly-behaved rocks go homeless each year. The advantage of a rock over a train is that they are smaller (some can fit in your pocket) and you can teach them tricks, like "sit" and "stay". You can even decorate them and teach them to fly through the air. 

Today's review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copy provided by publisher.

12 comments:

  1. You had me at the title! What a fun premise of having a train for a pet. I will need to find this book. So clever!

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  2. Love the cover and theme of Rocco's book. Love his stories. I like trains. Kids can ride them at theme parks and see them at large exhibits at local fairs. Great book for kids.

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    1. I still love to ride the trains around zoos I visit...

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  3. This is one of my favorites by John Rocco. You might like Blackout too. Thanks for the creative ideas.

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    1. I haven't read "Blackout" - thanks for reminding me.

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  4. This looks excellent! I'll be checking it out for sure! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. So clever - might have to see if my library has this one! And I love your idea of adopting a pet inanimate object. Thanks!

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    1. I had a pet rock.... I did such a poor job of training it that I had to release it back into the wild.

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  6. Thank you for this wonderful write-up, Sue! And I absolutely love your Beyond the Book ideas.

    Best wishes,
    Jason Carter Eaton

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  7. How fun! I haven't seen this title at my library so shall have to scout it out. Our local trains went on strike yesterday. :((

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    1. I just have this vision of locomotives marching around the Round House carrying picket signs....

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  8. wow! This is very clever. Great imaginative premise! Thank you for sharing.

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