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Down by the Station Paperback – October 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152167900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152167905
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 10.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Down by the station, early in the morning," before any visitors arrive, who exactly is riding that zoo train? Hop aboard and find out! See the elephant calf waving good-bye to Mommy and Daddy. And there's a pink flamingo chick, ready to ride. Who's this sleepy black-and-white cub? Still wrapped in a blanket, the panda isn't quite awake yet. The train chugs merrily along, picking up baby animal passengers. But beware! There's danger in the pond beside the tracks. Will the seal pup and baby penguin escape from the circling crocodiles?

Will Hillenbrand, illustrator of Counting Crocodiles and The House That Drac Built, has always been curious about what goes on in a zoo before opening hours. Adapting a traditional children's song, Hillenbrand depicts his charming vision, and presents a parallel journey of a school bus approaching the zoo while the train is making its rounds. Children, as diverse as the chicks and cubs and kits, bound out of the bus to seesaw with the elephant and play kickball with the seal. And the napping panda? He's found his match in a blanket-toting boy. "Puff, puff, toot, toot, off we go!" Basic song notation is included in the back for budding musicians. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"This whimsical interpretation of a familiar song offers preschoolers a ticket to ride on an enjoyable excursion through a children's zoo," PW wrote. Each new animal passenger adds to the cumulative refrain, "building up a symphonic chorus that begs for audience participation." Ages 3-7. (Oct.)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Will Hillenbrand has illustrated many beloved picture books, including "Kiss the Cow by Phyllis Root"; "Smash! Mash! Crash! There Goes the Trash!" by Barbara Odanka; and "What a Treasure!" by Jane Hillenbrand. He also wrote and illustrated another Christmas story, "Asleep in the Stable". Will enjoys visiting classrooms to talk about the creative process involved in making a picture book. He lives with his wife, Jane, and their son, Ian, in Terrace Park, Ohio.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 28 customer reviews
My 3 year old loves this book.
J. Olszewski
The illustrations and details are inspirational.
K. McMillan
You can read it and you can sing it.
Richard Levy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is by far my 2 year old son's favorite book and he has lots of them. Whenever it's time to read to him he says "toot toot" and I know that means he wants to have this book read to him, sometimes several times in a row. The illustrations are wonderful, and there is all sorts of stuff going on if you look closely. An all around great, fun book, I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is based on the song "Down by the Station" that I remember singing as a child. The words are fun (with words like "puff, puff, toot, toot, thrump, thrump") and tell of a train picking up all sorts of animal passengers. The illustrations are fun, showing what appear to be Mom and Dad animals sending their children on the train to the zoo.
I would recommend this for children ages 2-5, especially. They will like the repetitive text and the fun noises of the train, as well as the colorful illustrations.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My 3 year old is crazy about this book! The story (tune) is easy for him to sing along with, and the pictures are adorable. They really tell the story. There is so much detail to the pictures that we can spend lots of time on each page - "do you see where the balloon went this time?" "what is the elephant doing now?". I also absolutely love it that there are very diverse children in the book - even a little girl in a wheelchair. This is now one of my regular "gift" books for all new babies, too.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My 2 1/2 year old LOVES this book...and so do I! It is so great to curl up with this book and spend some time singing the song (complete with wonderful animal noises) while looking at the cheery illustrations. The loving animal families as well as the children of all colors, shapes and sizes (even one in a wheel chair) lead to fun discussions as we read. My five year old loves it too!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By aa-Pam TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Did you ever wonder who rides the train early in the morning, before the zoo opens?" [from flyleaf]

Well the answer is a variety of fun baby animals who carry on in the silliest way. And this nice little book captures it all. With warm, colorful art and a catchy rhyme, it can't help but draw in young children by showing them how every day the train comes and picks up all the baby animals to get them into place before the kids arrive at the zoo.

[Someone mentioned in a previous review that this made them sad. That it seemed as if the babies were being taken from their parents. We think they misunderstood however, because it seems pretty clear to us (LOL) that the train is merely going around the zoo grounds in the morning, picking up the animal babies just like the school bus pick ups human children in the morning returning them home in the evening. ]

The first on the little train is the lady zookeeper with her pet monkey and bird (we are pretty sure it's a penguin). After that the train proceeds to pickup a variety of baby animals: elephant, flamingo, panda, tiger, seal, and kangaroo.

And all the time that the zoo train is picking up the animal babies, a school bus is bringing human babies to the zoo. In fact, the last pages show the children and the animals playing together. The zookeeper and the teacher are holding a jump rope while a girl and a joey are jumping.

Four Stars. Great fun. I like that they label each animal baby appropriately as cub, pup, or joey, etc. There is lots for parents and children to look at, and it is a good opportunity to use the repetitive text for a little memory practice.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone whose read books to children knows the power of a catchy song melody to interest and involve a child in the story. I've always loved reading aloud books that feature song lyrics for precisely this reason--it allows me to get the maximum interest without the effort that can go into a more text-driven read. Many people will already be familiar with some version of Down By the Station. It's a catchy and simple tune that shouldn't be too hard to pick up, even for parents without much of a singing voice.

Some of Will Hillenbrand's wordings may differ from the version you know, but the book itself is a charming romp through the zoo as the conductor picks up baby animals from all over the grounds and brings them ultimately to the petting zoo at the end of the story, where the children all enter in to play with them. Older kids will be able to name the animals before you sing the names. As the list of sounds increases, I tend to add some kind of hand motion for each sound, so as to increase audience participation. So for instance, "puff, puff" gets clenched hands opening up like a small puff of air being released, and "toot, toot" gets the action a hand pulling on a chain for the horn. You can make up your own motions for each sound, or not as you choose.

The artwork is bright and colorful and cartoon-style, though the images themselves have a softness to them that allows this to also work well for a baby book. The amount of detail in these pictures will probably make the illustrations harder for a group to see, and may not interest a younger toddler as much, but the song lyrics and the fact that this is a train book usually make up for that.
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