From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2–Starting at a city terminal, Cooper takes readers on a commuter train that clatters out of a metropolis. At a suburban stop, the perspective shifts to a larger passenger train traveling between cities, jumps to a freight train slowly creeping across the Great Plains, then an overnight train, and finally a sleek high-speed train. The artist's characteristic muted watercolor and pencil illustrations are sketchlike yet very detailed. Transitions between busy cityscapes and serene panoramic vistas, outsides of stations and insides of train cars, and the refrain of “passengers off, passengers on” perfectly capture the feeling of riding the rails. No “choo-choo” noises here–“As the train leaves, it sounds like the da dum da dum of a beating heart. Then silence.” Through the richness of the prose, not only the sounds but also the smells of the trains come to life–“grease and rust and burnt toast.” As the author's note reveals, Cooper mixed many real-life details with a few fictional ones, such as a futuristic San Francisco depot at the end of the story. The longer text and somewhat stylized illustrations make the book most suitable for a one-on-one perusal with sophisticated young train aficionados but it is a wonderful foray into the “train books” category and a distinguished addition to most collections.–Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Cooper (Homer, 2012) follows several trains going about their daily routine in this exhilarating glimpse of life on the rails. There’s the red-striped Commuter Train pulling out of the station, heading out of the concrete jungle into town after town; as the Commuter Train waits at a station, a larger Passenger Train whooshes past, shuttling passengers between cities; at the rail yard next to Grand Central Station, a Freight Train loads its cargo and sloooowly pulls away; this train ambles past (“As if the train and the clouds were having a race to see which go slower”) an Overnight Train “switchbacking westward” to climb the Rocky Mountains; finally, there’s the High-Speed Train, shaped like a bullet, its sleek nose pointing toward a city skyline. Throughout, there are “Passengers on, passengers off.” Cooper’s languid, rolling language works well with the looseness of the watercolors, which offer spectacular views of trains as seen from a distance as well as interior close-ups of levers and dials. Each new train is introduced dramatically after a page turn, and details of train living, like sleeping and eating on an overnight car, should thrill the intended audience. The front and back matter depict many different people rushing to and fro, and a glossary and a facts section, along with a brief author’s note, conclude. A poetic, beautifully conceived book—it has the right amount of pomp and circumstance to make train travel sound just a little bit glamorous. Grades K-3. --Ann Kelley