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Trainstop Hardcover – April 7, 2008
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From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2—In this wordless picture book, illustrations done in watercolor, gouache, and ink present the fanciful story of a child's train trip. A girl and her parents board a subway that travels aboveground through a cityscape and then plunges into a tunnel. When the train again emerges into the light, the window suddenly reveals a view of a green countryside with houses and a windmill in the distance. A man wearing striped pants and holding a straw hat brings the train to a halt with a long, bannerlike flag. The child disembarks and is welcomed by a group of miniature people. They lead her to a tree where a plane and its presumed pilot are entangled. With help from a little person, the youngster rescues both the plane and pilot. Waving good-bye, she returns to the train and eventually disembarks with her parents at their urban home. The pilot and a friend fly to her building, giving the girl a gift to commemorate her adventure. The plot of the narrative illustrations is easy to follow. The artwork varies in size from six panels per page to full spreads. The characters' facial features are kept to a minimum, but the placement of dot eyes, dot noses, and line mouths clearly presents their emotions. Lehman's simple fantasy offers a positive lesson on helping others that will stretch readers' imaginations.—Lynn K. Vanca, Akron-Summit County Public Library, Richfield, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
As in previous picture books, including the Caldecott Honor Book The Red Book (2004), Lehman’s spare, inviting artwork tells a wordless story about a child’s daydream. Panels in shifting sizes show a little girl boarding a train with her parents and gazing out the windows at a gray city. After the train enters a tunnel, and the windows darken, the girl’s imagination fills in the view. Suddenly, a summer meadow appears, the train makes a stop, and the girl disembarks into a crowd of Lilliputian folk, who lead her to a pint-size aviator lodged, along with his glider, in a small tree. The girl rescues the tiny fellow and returns to the train, leaving the green world behind. Back in the city, she follows her parents home, but a surprise visit from her miniature friends continues her whimsical dream. Once again, Lehman’s spacious, boldly outlined pictures tell a deceptively simple story that demands repeated visits as it seemlessly captures a child’s joyful wandering between reality and imagined play. Preschool-Grade 2. --Gillian Engberg
Top customer reviews
This was a lovely and quirky, and completely wordless story. The illustrations convey the realistic train journey and the subtle-but-fanciful land where the traveling girl finds herself during the train's unexpected stop.
This was a fun bit of storytelling that worked well without dialogue and without any explanation beyond the events depicted in the illustrations.
As a bilingual parent, I have a hard time finding a book that can be read in both languages. Bilingual books usually do not have a story - the words simply describe the pictures - which becomes dull for the reader and the child. Translations of popular books and fairy tales vary in quality, and tend to favor a translator's regional language as opposed to standard (particularly for Spanish books).
Wordless books like Trainstop provide a great alternative to reading the same story in multiple languages. Relatives and caregivers who don't speak a child's stronger language will enjoy reading Trainstop because they can tell the story in their own language without the awkwardness that often arises when a child prefers a story's original version as opposed to the translation.
Out in front of her townhouse, standing in her stone yard, she looks up and sees the rescued pilot and a co-pilot flying toward her. They come with a gift of thanks, a small seedling for an apple tree that is planted in the crack in her stone yard. As a parting shot the girl sits on her stoop admiring her now-grown tree while all over the city other trees have begun sprouting up, no doubt from kindred daydreaming souls looking to return nature to the cities.
Lehman set herself an impossible bar with The Red Book a few years back and, unfairly perhaps, everything since has been measured against that amazing snake-eating-its-tale fantasy. If the impression -- mine at least -- was that her subsequent books (Museum Trip, Rainstorm) were increasingly weaker attempts to capture lighting in a bottle, Trainstop manages to stand apart from the others, on its own and with very sturdy legs. As with her previous books Lehman mines the theme of a child's daydream world, but here the idea of an fantasy taking place while the rest of the world sleeps, coupled with the message of bringing nature back to the cities, is perhaps the strongest, most direct message delivered yet. Where in previous books the children imagine or discover worlds for their own purposes and keeping, Trainstop gives us a child looking to share her fantasy with the world. It's almost a subtle environmental message, a quiet Lorax making a last call on those with eyes and ears enough to still listen.
For those unfamiliar with Lehman's work, the book is as wordless as her previous books, filled with the same thick-outlined ligne claire illustrations that are her trademark. Probably the simplest of her picture books to date, but no less engaging. I think what I'd really like to see is what Lehman can do with the long-form: graphic novels. Her sense of pacing, her imagination, I think make her an ideal candidate for an extended fantasy romp a la Sara Varon's Robot Dreams or, on a more picture book level, Regis Faller's The Adventures of Polo.