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Langston's Train Ride Hardcover – October 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Orchard (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439352398
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439352390
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-5–The train that carried Hughes from Ohio to his father's ranch in Mexico is the vehicle that propels both this slice-of-life picture book and the 18-year-old's journey as a poet. As Burleigh describes the moment in his well-crafted, first-person narration, words drifted into the passenger's consciousness as the rhythm of the wheels and the specter of the Mississippi assaulted his senses. The mighty river conjured up ancient African rivers, and by the end of the trip, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" was scrawled on an envelope. Vibrant mixed-media collages will dazzle viewers. Even the shadows pulse with color and pattern. Jenkins has a gift for figural painting and an exciting sense of composition. Layers and reflections add to the dream-like mood of the long ride. Images are pulled from the paintings and screened in simplified form under the text; they appear as reverse silhouettes on backgrounds of brilliant color. The end result is a joyous celebration of the journey and the word. The story of the published piece frames the trip. An introduction and afterword place the piece and the poet in context. Alice Walker's Langston Hughes (HarperCollins, 2002) and Tony Medina's Love to Langston (Lee & Low, 2002) offer complementary information on Langston's life, the latter in poetic form. Worthy of reading in and of itself, Burleigh's book also offers multiple curricular connections from trains, journeys, and writing, to rivers, Harlem, and the black experience.–Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-6. The great Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes wrote one of his most anthologized poems, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," at the age of 18 while on a train to visit his father, who left when Langston was a child. This dramatic picture book focuses on the instant when the young writer scribbled his famous poem on an envelope. In an author's note, Burleigh explains that his aim was to capture "the moment when Hughes came to believe in himself as a writer." But what are Burleigh's sources for picking this particular moment? In Hughes' autobiography The Big Sea (1940), the poet makes clear that he already had "a whole notebook full of poems" by then, so the message seems forced. The appeal here is the poem itself, printed in full, and in Jenkins' beautiful, rhythmic collage illustrations, which capture the changing view through the train window, the dreaming writer in his seat, the sweep of African American history in the poem, and the vital Harlem streets where Hughes' poetry is celebrated. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Over the past 35 years, I have published poems, reviews, essays, many filmstrips and videos, and more than 40 children's picture books.

Born and raised in Chicago, I graduated from DePauw University (Greencastle, Indiana) and later received an MA in humanities from the University of Chicago. I've published books for children since the early 1990s. My books - including numerous unpublished ones! - run a broad gamut, from stories geared for pre-schoolers to survival stories and biographies aimed at seven to eleven-year-olds. My work is wide-ranging because, basically, I'm a generalist by experience - and inclination!

In addition to writing, I paint regularly under the art name Burleigh Kronquist and have shown work in one-person and group shows in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere around the country.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Sack VINE VOICE on May 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a picture book biography of Langston Hughes. It tells us that he got inspiration for his first poem while listening to the sound of a train. He was on the way to visit his father in 1920. He starts to think of all the people who have seen these sights before him and what life might have been like for them. He writes his famous poem on a piece of scrap paper and the rest is history!

The book was written in picture book/ story book form. Although it was a non-fiction book it was fun and easy to read.

We would recommend this book to others who are interested in knowing more about Langston Hughes. This would be helpful to students who might be researching his life for school projects.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gord o' The Books on December 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I won this book at the Dexter Educational Foundation's annual Silent Auction, in February of 2007. It was in a basket of selected favorites of the faculty at Wylie Elementary School (grades 3 and 4). I bought the entire collection for $50, and am enjoying working my way through all the books.

This non-fiction narrative, describing the early life of Langston Hughes, and how he became inspired to write poetry, is a joy to read. Leonard Jenkins' jazz-like artwork blends well with Robert Burleigh's text, which in turn fits the style of Hughes himself.

Two thoughts ran through my mind, as I read it.

First, what a shame it is, when a young person knows that he or she was meant to do something like write poetry, or music, or teach, or create beautiful art; only to be discouraged by other trusted people that urge them to be "reasonable." How much beauty has been lost to the world, because of this?

Second, Hughes' linking of the Mississippi River to other Rivers, particularly the great Congo and Nile, of Africa, and from there to the blood flowing through our own veins, is a stunning reminder of how we all are connected. Rivers provide a wonderful illustration of that insight.

This book should be in every school classroom. I would place it in high schools as well as primary schools. I hope that American teachers use it to encourage children to follow their dreams, and their true life purpose.

I also hope that they can instill in American youth, a sense of pride of their own roots. My surname means, in old German "Little creek." I can look at creeks in a different way now. And we can teach the interconnectivity of all the people in the world. Ultimately, we all drink from the same river. The same blood flows through us all.

Langston Hughes was a great American. Few have ever illuminated our nation as honestly and accurately as he. His recognition of its ugliness is always tempered with love for it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kim on August 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
. . .and it is perfect to read out loud. this book should be in every elementary school library.
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