From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1–From Thomas the Tank Engine to The Little Engine That Could, kids love personified trains, so it's not such a huge chug forward to imagine one as a pet. But how do you select, train, and care for your pet engine? Written as a guidebook for new owners, this amusing title incorporates language usually associated with pet ownership and child rearing. “It's only natural that you'll want to take home all the trains, but don't just grab the first one you see. Take your time and choose one that's right for you.” Juxtaposing sensible tips with the absurdity of a huge pet locomotive creates a text that is at once believable and preposterous. “A warm bath can help calm a nervous train…and few trains can resist a good read-aloud.” But what really makes this concept roar down the track are the entrancing digitally colored illustrations that perfectly capture the expressiveness and playfulness of the pet trains. Whether illustrating the new pet going for a “walk,” performing a trick, or enjoying a playdate with other pet vehicles, the artist has so cleverly incorporated facial features onto the various engines that their distinct personalities shine through, as does the obvious affection children feel for their new pets. Additionally, the large-scale, saturated colors, and comic details of these pictures give young readers a boxcar full to look at and appreciate. From the appealing cover to the final moonlit scene of a boy and his pet steam engine happily chugging down the track, this book is sure to be popular with train and pet lovers alike.–Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* As it turns out, a train is not so very different from a dog—at least in the way you train it. Our young narrator, outfitted in pith helmet and khakis, sets the tone: “So you want a pet train? Well, of course you do!” He begins at the beginning, showing readers how to find trains (“early steam engines pretty much just sit in a museum”); how to capture a train (smoke signals seem to be the best method); and what to name it (a gallery of pictures shows Smokey, Sir Chugsalot, et al.). Once a train gets home, it can be soothed by reading aloud and sent to sleepy town by listening to clickity-clack music. And oh the fun to be had as you teach your new train to fetch or rollover. Eaton’s tongue-in-cheek—and eminently enjoyable—text is matched by Rocco’s smooth and sleek artwork laced with whimsy. A simple sentence like “How does it feel about tunnels and bridges?” results in a cleverly angled spread of a boy pulling his nervous train over a wooden bridge. Despite the human (or is it canine?) sensibility with which the trains are invested, they also seem like real mechanical objects—sturdy, strong, and powerful. Often they’re set against serene skies with blues and golds that could have come from the brush of Maxfield Parrish. This will get kids rolling. Preschool-Grade 2. --Ilene Cooper