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Two Little Trains Paperback – September 23, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Two-time Caldecott Medalists Leo and Diane Dillon (Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears and Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions) have joined their ingenious artwork with the magic of Margaret Wise Brown's words. Brown, beloved author of Goodnight Moon, wrote Two Little Trains more than 50 years ago. Now a new generation of the youngest readers will be filled with wonder at this timeless story with its splendid new illustrations.

Two trains are heading west. One is streamlined, the other small and old. On their parallel journeys, the trains encounter rivers, hills, snow, and dust storms, but neither is thwarted. But look closer and see that these two trains, though similar in many ways, have a surprising difference: one is the real thing, traversing the countryside, and the other is a toy, making its way across rug fringe "tracks," along the edge of a bathtub, through a tunnel made from a book, and past a broom and dust pan. Brown's brilliant yet simple text and the Dillons' clever and striking pictures, will serve as inspiration to many flights of fancy in young readers' minds. Truly exquisite. (Ages 3 to 6) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Two-time Caldecott Medalists Leo and Diane Dillon team up with Margaret Wise Brown in Two Little Trains, first published in 1949. Right from the cover, the sleek, horizontal illustrations chronicle the parallel journeys of the titular trains: a toy train wrapped in a gift box waits on the platform next to a massive modern train. "One little train was a streamlined train,/ Puff, Puff, Puff to the West./ One little train was a little old train,/ Chug, Chug, Chug going West." In one spread, the trains look down at the "deep dark river." The streamlined train races across a purple bridge while, opposite, the toy train crawls along the edge of a bathtub, the purple soap and tub basin connecting the tub scene to that of the locomotive.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - Kindergarten
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reissue edition (September 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064435687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064435680
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I became a children's librarian there were certain kid obsessions I was expecting. I expected kids to request books about dinosaurs, and unicorns, and magic. What I didn't expect was the overwhelming amount of books requested regarding trains. I thought the love of trains was long past and that kids would have forgotten their shiny chugging ways. But with the popularity of things like "The Polar Express" and "Harry Potter", trains are getting rediscovered all the time. That means any book, picture or otherwise, that capitalizes on this is going to be a hit. There is an abudance of poorly written train fare out there. Then you stumble across something like Margaret Wise Brown's, "Two Little Trains" which was recently reillustrated by the talented Leo and Diane Dillon. It's not only well-written but remarkably beautiful. Any and every young train enthusiast should pluck it up forthwith.

Unlike many picture books, the story told by this one begins on the cover. As we look at this book we see a beautiful sleek silver train resting in a station. Beside it, alongside the track, sit two packed bags and a wrapped present of a toy train. By the time you read the title page the present has been opened (presumably by small hands) and the little train sits silently on the floor awaiting play. Then the words begin. "Two little trains went down the track/ Two little trains went West". On the left hand page sits the grand old silvery sleek train, gearing up to leave the station. On the right hand page you can just barely make out the little toy train as it sits beneath a kitchen chair, readying itself for its journey as well. As the big adult train travels through the countryside, the little toy train does the same, only on a much smaller scale.
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Format: Hardcover
This sweet and innocent book weaves the parallel stories of two "little" trains, one real and one a toy. There isn't really a story here, just the moving poem which draws parallels between the real and the toy train -- illustrated with vintage simplicity, in muted colours, by the Dillons.
The trains travel up hills and through tunnels, but always with their goal in mind. The toy train's mission is just as important as the big one, and though "professional" reviewers have quibbled with the absence of a child pushing the toy, I see that as a plus -- when a child plays trains, he is not the engineer or a passenger, but the unseen "deus ex machina."
I suspect this is one of those books that I enjoy more than my kids (5 and 6); they didn't quite "get it", at first, and though my son is interested in trains, this book isn't really about trains in the sense that he enjoys. Though the parallels might be lost on younger children, that age group would probably respond better to the images of trains and scenery -- real and domestic -- that are so eloquently depicted in this book.
ALSO...If your kids like this book, check out Burl Ives' album, "A Twinkle in your Eye," which has a lovely sung/spoken version of this book's verse:
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I borrowed this book from our Public Library for my 2-year old train lover (he picked it out for the cover and illustrations), and we both liked it so much that I purchased it on Amazon. The words are simple and rhythmic and tell a simple story of traveling across the country to the west coast. The beautiful pastel illustrations flesh out the words magnificently. They are rich with things to look at, yet very soft and calming at the same time. The parallels presented in the pictures with each left/right spread are wonderfully engaging. For example, I love the real train going through a rainstorm while the toy train runs past the shower in the bathroom!

Unlike some of the other reviewers, I believe even young (2 and up) children can understand the parallels between the two train's journeys, even without coaching from their reading partner. "Look, Mommie, the shower is like rain for the toy train!" It is a wonderful vehicle to help children think creatively.
For adults, there are even more rewarding subtleties. For example, if you look at the cover, you note the toy train is wrapped in a gift box sitting atop the luggage on the train platform in front of the real train. The title pages show the box unwrapped before the story begins. In the last two pages of the book, the real train reaches its destination, and the toy train is seen on the floor approaching the bed of a sleeping child. I interepreted this as representing that someone who loved the child - a traveling parent, relative, family friend, etc. - had traveled on the real train to the child's home and brought the toy train as a present for the child.
The two trains cross mountains and rivers, go through dark tunnels, rain and snow storms, and travel long distances to reach their destinations.
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Format: Hardcover
"Two little trains went down the track. Two little trains went west." So begins Margaret Wise Brown's story. One train is new and streamlined, the other old and slow, as they both make their way west, across rivers and hills, through rain and snow..... Ms Brown's gentle text is quiet and soothing and takes on the rhythm and cadence of a moving train. Her simple story is beautifully complimented by Leo and Diane Dillon's clever and detailed illustrations. Each two page spread shows the new powerful train on the left page, traveling across the country and the old toy train on the right, traveling through the house on its own imaginary journey. As the new train crosses a bridge over the river, the toy train chugs along the rim of the bathtub. As the new train climbs a mountain, the toy train climbs the stair railing. And, as the new train passes through a rain shower, water from the bathroom showerhead rains down on the old train... Though written in 1949, the text and artwork are as innovative and inspiring today as they were over fifty years ago. Perfect for pre-schoolers, Two Little Trains is sure to become a family favorite and like Ms Brown's classic, Goodnight Moon, a must read at bedtime.
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