Saturday, February 6, 2021

Review - Choo-Choo School

Choo-Choo School

by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
illustrated by Mike Yamada
Date: 2020
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

No racing in the haul-ways! From the late, beloved author Amy Krouse Rosenthal, a look at seven adorable train cars on their first day of school.

All aboard the train-car pool! A new lineup of students is off and rolling to Choo-Choo School. After reciting their classroom rules — Work hard, play fair, be kind — it’s time for some math to get the wheels turning. Then everyone’s ready to climb a hill in gym (it’s good to blow off steam), sing songs in music (Flat Car is a bit off-key), and learn the whole alphabet, especially the letter R. In one of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s last books, lighthearted verse portrays a world where train stations are classrooms, the conductor doubles as the teacher, and Boxcar is happy to hand out tissues to anyone who ah-choo-choos. Bright, energetic illustrations by animation artist Mike Yamada bring the whole clickety crew to rollicking life.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'm not sure what to think about a book that's published this many years after its author's death. Unless the author specifically set aside books to be published after her death, it seems a little opportunistic. What if certain books weren't published for a reason?

Now, Choo-Choo School isn't bad, but it's not great. It will probably appeal to very young children with its cute train-car characters... especially if those kid love trains. For everyone else, though, this is little more than a run-of-the-mill rhyming picture book with an iffy rhythm and little plot. A bunch of varied train cars go to school to learn how to be... themselves, I guess. That's literally all there is. There's no conflict. Nothing really happens. If you're looking for something with a story, this isn't it.

The illustrations are fun, though, and I can see this appealing to little train fans. It's no masterpiece, but it probably won't tarnish Rosenthal's reputation, either.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.71 out of 5

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