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Down by the Station Hardcover – August 16, 1999
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"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
From Publishers Weekly
Hillenbrand's (The Golden Sandal) whimsical interpretation of a familiar song offers preschoolers a ticket to ride on an enjoyable excursion through a children's zoo. As an engineer makes repeated stops along the tracks, baby animals board a rainbow-tinted train. Each adds his or her own sound to the cumulative refrain: "Puff, puff,/ Toot, toot,/ Off we go!" from "Thrump, thrump" for the elephant calf to "Flip, flop" for the seal pup, building up a symphonic chorus that begs for audience participation. Hillenbrand shapes the simple song into a full-bodied story with a visual narrative populated by characters such as a kangaroo joey that jumps rope and a monkey that rescues a woman in the alligator pond via an upturned umbrella. The artwork foreshadows the creatures to come (e.g., a sign pointing to "Seal Island" appears on the spread before the seal pup's introduction), and the lyrics point up the unusual names of the animal offspring. Softly shaded but brightly colored, Hillenbrand's mixed media illustrations embrace an abundance of droll detail and gently outline landscapes in which the sky gradually changes from the pink hues of early morning to a glorious blue studded with cotton-candy clouds. All aboard for fun. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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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. At the back of the book, the song lyrics and musical score is provided for those who would require or are interested in the melody of the tune. I'd recommend this book for 0-5 year olds and have yet to find a child that doesn't enjoy the book. The library copies are all well loved and need frequent replacing. Mr. Hillenbrand is a master of children's books and many of his creations are available for puchase!
For those who enjoy this story, you may want to also try out books like The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort, and Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow--two song books that are also favorites of mine!
Happy Reading! ^_^ Shanshad
Now at 2, she starts getting more advanced on understanding situation (not just objects) and forming full sentences.
It also teaches about helping other friends who is in trouble, saying good bye to parents to go have fun and play with your friends/go to school (I map it to go to day care), motion (going up and down, long train and shorter school bus), colors, occupation and function (buying ticket for train ride, getting onto the train, engine driver, teacher) and so much more.
On top of that, you can sing the song together with her. Such a fun book.
This book is one of the favorite non "go to sleep book". I am sure this book will keep my daughter entertain for many years to come.
However, just an heads up.....stories that he has illustrated so adorably are not all books that I would ever recommend. Specifically a story called Kiss the Cow authored by Phyllis Root.