Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo by Kevin Lewis, illustrated by Daniel Kirk
This is a brilliant book. If Shakespeare were alive today and wanted to read a contemporary book to a baby, I would hand him this one. No kidding.
I say this because there is unusually clever and clean use of poetic meter in this book-- Kevin Lewis has taken the meter of "chugga chugga choo choo" and made a poem out of it.
"Chugga chugga choo choo" has a falling meter, made of two trochees and a spondee. The English major in me was dying to scan the text, so here it is:
As you can see, the final part of each line is not always a spondee-- in fact, Lewis usually has an unstressed syllable between the two stressed syllables. But you know, when you say "Choooo Choooo" with an extended "ooooo" sound, there is a tiny pause after the first oooo, (almost chew-uh-chew), so it works great that way.
Anyway, I love reading this book. Love love love it. My husband and I will often say lines in call-and-response fashion when we're playing with our daughter... He'll say "whistle blowing," and I'll say "whooo-whooo." Or I'll say "echo calling," and he'll say "whooo-whooo."
The art is vibrant and beautiful, too. The idea is that we're in a little boy's room with his toy train set. The toy train goes under the boy's bed when the text talks about going "into tunnels, underground," and the train goes across his fish tank when the text says "across the river, swift and wide, a bridge goes to the other side." So, there's visual cleverness, too.
And, finally, as you can see from the last spread (above), the book has a bedtime theme, so it fits in that "bedtime story" slot, if you are in need of another.
So, bravo, author and illustrator-- you both get high marks from this editor!