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Comment: This book has already been well loved by someone else and that love shows. It MIGHT have highlighting, underlining, be missing a dust jacket, or SLIGHT water damage, but over-all it's still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Choo Choo Paperback – April 25, 1988

4.7 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Told in rhythmic prose, with many sound effects. Illustrated with amusing, vigorous drawings in black and white." Wilson Children's Catalog

From the Back Cover

The story of a beautiful little locomotive all black and shiny. She pulls trains from the city to the country, and back again, in a very proper and dutiful and wholly humdrum manner. At least she does till one surprising day when she suddenly says to herself: 'I am tired of pulling all these heavy coaches. I would go much faster and easier by myself; then all the people would stop, and look at me, just me, and they would say: 'What a smart little engine! What a fast little engine! What a beautiful little engine! Just watch her go by herself!' So Choo Choo does go by herself, and the story of how she runs away and of her exciting adventures makes one of the most captivating books imaginable. --This text refers to the School & Library Binding edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: AD530L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (April 25, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395479428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395479421
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 7.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 14, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Another masterpiece by Virginia Lee Burton, equal to her other books, The Little House, Katy and the Big Snow or Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. The story of a rebellious little engine that isn't content and wants to show off, runs away and ultimately learns an important lesson. Does this sound like anyone you know? The author skillfully and carefully weaves a story that incorporates many topics of interest and importance to small children, such as travel, time, distance, trouble, responsibility, duty, etc., within the context of a story about a train. The illustrations are masterful and were prepared by the author herself. As with her other books, she is writing to her own small children, which adds to the richness, depth, sensitivity and focus of the story. The book were prepared during the 1940s, during what was undoubtedly a simpler and more straighforward era of traditional values which I believe in and want to teach my children. The beauty of the story is that is it simple, yet deep and complicated at the same time. There are many opportunities for discussion with your children. As you can tell, I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Great book and illustrations. My son and I love reading Choo Choo, Mike Muligan, and The Old House. He wants them read over and over and he's only two. They'll be great books later on when he begins to read.
You can't find these in bookstores! They're the best.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like other reviewers, my son loves this book and learned it by heart. We love the artistic style, and my son has given particular attention, over and over, to the lovingly drawn portrait of (what I presume to be) the author's son playing with trains at the front of the book. The language used in the story is a bit dated, but that's OK.

I suppose what grates on me, after dozens of readings of this book, is the core lesson that it is better to keep your head down and do your assigned job rather than pursue your dreams. This lesson is reinforced at the end of the book, when Choo Choo happily announces that [SPOILERS follow] she will never run away again and will go back to hauling passengers and mail like she is supposed to. If you look at the entire story arc, Choo Choo vainly dreams of seeing the big city and becoming famous, and runs away to pursue this dream. She runs into trouble when she is overwhelmed by the bigness of the city, then gets lost in the wilderness and literally runs out of steam, where she sits forlorn and is only rescued by the engineer and helpers that she ran away from in the beginning. In other words, in the course of the book Choo Choo did not solve a single problem or overcome any obstacles. She tried to achieve something, failed, was "saved" by her operators, and happily agreed that it would be better to never have tried in the first place.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it. It's a short kids' story, and whatever you think of it, this can easily be a teachable moment with your kids one way or the other. It's a quaint reflection of an earlier time when duty and obedience were frequently thought to be one and the same.

But this lesson, reinforced over dozens of readings, continues to give me pause, and I just wanted to flag this for other parents. I've still given it a 5 star rating because, at the end of the day, it's a fun book about trains, with wonderful illustrations, that continues to bring my son joy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I kept coming back to this book, debating on whether or not my 3 year old would be interested in the book given it's length. Well, apparently that was not a concern since this is one of his favorite stories. Although I find it to be a little long, he enjoys the pictures and the storyline. He always finds something to question and that is what I find to be most important in a book-does it inspire him to think? This one does.
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By A Customer on July 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This was one of my son's favorite books...and now I'm buying it for my grandchildren. Besides the hope that they will enjoy it as much, and that he will enjoy sharing it with them...there is a certain delight in wondering how many thousands of times he will have to read it...and does he still have it memorized! A great story with excellent use of language.
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By A Customer on August 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a fast paced yet simple story about a train that ran away. Both of my sons have loved this book and know it by heart. I definately recommend this book for any small child. They will want to hear it over and over.
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Format: Paperback
Virginia Lee Burton, who brought us Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (With CD), brings us a cautionary tale about a little engine who runs away from her job of pulling coaches. Instead, she escapes and sets off on a solo spree across the country, stopping only when she loses her tender and runs out of fuel and water on an abandoned track. Her owners retrieve her from her exhausted solitude, and she decides that since running away "isn't much fun," she will return to her job.

The story is exceptionally well written, with a dramatic pacing that builds to an exciting climax as Choo Choo tears across the countryside. Highly auditory pre-readers will especially enjoy the repetition and sound effects that punctuate the story, giving it a rhythm and sense of excitement. Those who are more visually oriented may be less attracted to it: it is illustrated in old-fashioned black-and-white charcoal, and while some readers may be unimpressed by the lack of "flash" in the artwork, others may be troubled by Choo-Choo's darkly sinister resting place in the woods. Still, even without color, the pictures are full of movement and life. The story is action-packed, and carries the simple message that those who try to escape their responsibilities may find that their "freedom" isn't all they imagined it to be.
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