One of my sons was a "Chuffy" fan when he was young, and in nearly all families I've found that someone is a train lover, too. The New York Times Children's book editor, George Woods, was fascinated by trains and at the time of his death had an ABC of Trains book partially in manuscript.
Even though I can't review "Chuffy" (long out of print) and the alphabet book, there are some new books about trains that I think will delight train fanciers. Three are picture books for young children and the last is a pop-up book just right for older readers who will appreciate three-dimensional paper art.ADRIANA & THE MAGIC CLOCKWORK TRAIN by Tannis Vernon. (1990, Crown. $12.95)
When Adriana uses her birthday money to buy an old wind-up train, Daddy promises to help fix it up. But during the night Adriana, with the help of many toys, paints and repairs the engine, the cars and the caboose.
Adriana's tenacity and the bears and Dutch dolls make this a special story, since no adult, particularly the snobbish baby sitter, had a hand in the train restoration. This is truly a story of magic and the soft color washes add to the mystery of the birthday surprise.
STEAM TRAIN RIDE by Evelyn Clarke Mott (1991, Walker. $13.95) is a photo journal of a real train and its workers as Christopher takes a short journey. Mott's color pictures are clear and well-balanced with simple text. Not many children will have a chance to see or even ride a steam train, so this gives a vicarious experience that youngsters will enjoy.
TRAIN SONG Diane Siebert. Paintings by Mike Wimmer. (1990, Crowell. $13.95)
The text, which is like lyrics, first appeared in the "Cricket Magazine" 10 years ago. It has the beat and rhythm of train wheels against the rails:
toward the platform
air brakes squeal
steel on steel
Wimmer's expressive paintings expand the text into a book that rocks and sways across two-page spreads of rich color and vivid angles.
STEAM LOCOMOTIVES; A THREE-DIMENSIONAL BOOK Paper Engineering by Keith Moseley. (1990, Orchard. $17.95)
Pop-up books usually are for display only. But "Steam Locomotives" is the history and use of steam engines and is both beautiful and informative. The seven detailed spreads show the first locomotive of 1825 built for the Stockton and Darlington Railway in England, which hauled a 28-wagon train, to the "final countdown" of world's railways by steam in the 1950s.
The facts are fascinating alone, but the intricate designs with smoke stacks, wheels and axles that pop out of the pages are remarkable.