"All Aboard" Theme of May Book Buzz Picks - The Missourian: Book Buzz News

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"All Aboard" Theme of May Book Buzz Picks

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Posted: Sunday, May 4, 2014 7:21 pm | Updated: 10:22 pm, Sun May 4, 2014.

Clear the way, your bee buddy’s coming through, tooting his horn about his May Book Buzz Picks, a trio of superlative train books. His “All Aboard” theme is sure to keep you on the reading track, eager to take The Bee Line to your library and load up your backpacks with books. Until the next stop, keep “Paging On!”

* * * * * * * * * * *

The railroad crew’s got lots to do in “Steam Train, Dream Train,” by Sherri Duskey Rinker with shades-of-blue-evening-illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld. Put on your pretend and chug along, as a boy slumbers, his toy train at the foot of his bed.

The child dreams that every car his mighty steam engine pulls has a purpose and “each worker knows what to do. Quick! Before it gets too late, start to load up all the freight.” A pack of crazed monkeys pack the boxcar, with hoppin’ help from a bevy of bunnies and a plodding camel, hefting blocks and erector sets.

Down the line, a row of chubby, pink elephants fill their trunks to the brim with pastel paints earmarked for the tankers, while bears and penguins load the refrigerated reefer car with ice cream sundaes, stopping occasionally to chill out with a cone.

Everyone from dinosaurs to kangaroos to giraffes jump a ride on the train too — “Steam train, dream train . . . chhhhh . . . goodnight.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

All hail “Locomotive,” a new Caldecott winner by Brian Floca — feel the earth quake, the vibration in your chest as “the iron horse, the great machine . . . 50 feet and 40 tons” pulls into the station.

It’s 1869, and your mother, sister and you are traveling the newly constructed Union Pacific Line to meet your dad out West. The line extends from Nebraska to Sacramento, turning a journey that once took months into a four-day ride on the rails.

All phases of the journey, including train mechanics, are explored as the engine passes through the Platte River Valley, the Utah Territory and other locales you’ve only read about in newspapers. Along the way, you and yours will dive into chicken stew and antelope chops at railroad restaurants — but hurry — only 20 minutes to eat before it’s back in the train.

Hours are passed, reading, sleeping and playing cards, while your destination draws ever nearer, the engine huffing to pull its load through tunnels and up mountaintop summits. Finally you arrive, happy to be reunited with your dad, all “thanks to the locomotive.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

It’s full steam ahead for “The Boundless,” an adventure complete with sasquatches, circus feats, mechanical puppets and a futuristic train that defies belief.

The Boundless is a wonder, over five miles long, and commandeered by Will’s dad. That leaves the boy time to derail a scheme a bold, bad guy has planned to nab a golden spike locked inside a funeral car carrying the body of a deceased railroad magnate.

Will knows all about the treasure; he was there three years before when the last rail was laid, and the spike was driven into place. In those days, Will and his father, a simple railroad laborer, were poor, but when Will saved the spike from the same bad guy that’s still after it, the railroad magnate rewarded his dad with cash and prestige.

When the Boundless is ready for her first trip West, Will and his father are invited along on the trip that nearly turns deadly, but also offers Will the chance to perform with a circus onboard the train. That’s how he meets Maren, a girl with a gift for tightrope walking.

They join forces and get a key to the funeral car that unlocks the key to happiness for several characters, bad and good, in a book that’s chugga, chugga, choo-choo great. And that’s no clickety-clack.

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