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Trouble on the Tracks Hardcover – August, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mallat's (Brave Bear) engaging artwork, rendered in permanent marker and colored pencil, keeps this clever caper rolling at a brisk clip. As passengers scurry to board a train, the engineer remarks, "I hope we don't run into trouble today." Given the title, readers know in advance that there surely is trouble ahead, but will be surprised and amused to discover exactly what kind. After viewing a bucolic scene as the train passes a farmhouse whose friendly residents wave cheerfully, kids flip the page to find the startling image of two enormous yellow eyes staring out against a black background. This is a close-up of Trouble, the cat of the boy who is playing with his toy train, now derailed by the curious pet. Youngsters will eagerly flip back to search for the sometimes subtle textual ("All aboard! Next stop, Black Paw Crossing!") and visual clues (even the cover, on close inspection, offers a hint at what is to come). Mallat's brief, understated narrative leaves ample room for readers' own interpretation of what is real and imagined. Though on subsequent readings they'll know what kind of trouble to expect, kids will happily climb aboard this train for repeat excursions. Ages 3-7.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

reS-Gr 2-A passenger train is leaving the station. The engineer checks his engine and the conductor gives the all-clear signal as a few last-minute riders climb aboard. The train rolls forward through fields and villages. Suddenly, there is trouble, two huge amber eyes fill a double-page spread, and cars are overturned. Yes, the train is a model trundling along the playroom floor and Trouble is a cat who enjoys causing derailments. The child engineer and his toy finally appear in their true relative sizes as the train is laid back on the tracks, and the tumbled little forest is also righted. The cat pads away. The fun for her is over. The page-filling illustrations stand out in deep rich colors. The toylike look of the conductor and the passengers nevertheless seems real enough until the secret is revealed. Children who lose themselves in the world of play will enjoy this happy depiction of a favorite game.

Ruth Semrau, Upshur County Public Library, Gilmer, TX

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Hardcover: 24 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company (August 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802787711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802787712
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.9 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,607,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"All aboard! Next stop, Black Paw Crossing!" The engineer makes his final train check, a few last minute passengers climb aboard, the conductor gives the all-clear and we're off. The train pulls away from the station and begins its journey across the countryside. Oh Oh...looks like there's trouble ahead on the tracks. That's Trouble with a capital T, because Trouble is the "engineer's" cat. A cat who likes to "upend" trees, "trample" houses and "derail" TOY trains..... Kathy Mallat has authored a charming picture book with a clever twist that will delight and amuse your little engineer. Her spare, simple text takes a backseat to the beautifully bold and colorful artwork that really tells the story and youngsters will love poring over all the marvelous detail in each picture. Trouble On The Tracks is just right for pre-schoolers and emerging readers and is a story all young train lovers will want to read again and again.
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Format: Hardcover
Even the cover is deceiving.

We see a big black and red locomotive steams towards a dark tunnel, but as "Trouble" gradually reveals, all is not as it seems in this cleverly surprising book. There are sly hints about the real setting, but adults and kids alike will be distracted by Kathy Mallat's bright colors, and tricked by her slyly composed text and detailed but deceptive pictures. Kathy Mallat opens with low perspective pictures of people boarding a train, the conductor shouting: "All aboard! Next stop, Black Cat Crossing."

The train "rumbles through villages where faces are familiar." It speeds along under the engineer's watchful eye, until he spots "trouble" ahead. Soon, the figures watching the train seem unusually static and their faces look indistinct. Many of them point upwards, striking a similar pose--as if they all came from the same mold. Still, it's not enough to give away the surprise, or that there even is a surprise--until the next page, where two large golden eyes stare out at us from a black face, and the engineer yells, "Oh no, Trouble on the tracks." (Note that it's capital "T," Trouble--as in a name...)

Finally, after the train is partially derailed, and trees have fallen (and we begin wondering, "What kind of a book IS this, anyway?), Mallat introduces Trouble the Cat, a cat owned by the "engineer" who constructed the toy train and its realistic-looking town. Mallat changes to human-level perspective, and we seet the black cat dwarfing the train set; suddenly, we notice that the people are posed on barely visible, translucent stands.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this for my nephew. He is almost 4 years old and he LOVES trains! He has also developed a love of reading. I bought this book used and he loved it immediately. He looks through it whether we read it to him or not because he enjoys the pictures and can almost recite it after reading it so much. Great gift for train loving toddlers!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We borrowed this first from the library and my son, then 18 months, loved it. We ended up buying it and he continues to enjoy the story and artwork. It is a clever story, and we happen to have both a train table and a cat, so we often find ourselves saying "oh no, Trouble on the tracks!" Because of the story, I am optimistic it will grow with my son as there are clever references that will make more sense as he masters language, but for now he enjoys the simple story and of course, trains.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many of the storybooks I read to my own kids, or to classes, actually bore me thoroughly. What a delight it was to open a kid book, and turn to a page that actually shocked me for a minute, and caused me to immediately turn back to the beginning, surprised at myself for missing all those clues. I love this one, both for the simple story, and for the incredible artwork. Well done, Ms Mallat!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got this book for the art unit about trains I teach my K's. The story is a bit thin, but I love cats and so do the kids. We talk about trains, toy trains and scale. The cover art is fun to talk about too--at first they do not realize what the "tunnel" is. Wish I had an elmo to really do the book justice.
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