Chugga Chugga Choo Choo
Kids love trains, and Kevin Lewis and illustrator Daniel Kirk’s Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo will do nothing but encourage the obsession. “Sun’s up! / Morning’s here. / Up and at ’em, / engineer,” cheerfully begins this rhyming picture book. As the simple large-lettered text chugs along, Daniel Kirk brings a child’s playroom and train set to life with bold, bright illustrations reminiscent of his work in Bigger. In the course of the book, the toys bustle about to make sure the steam engine is loaded up with freight and finds its way (through the country, ’round the mountains, into tunnels, and across the river) to its destination–the city. There the “sleepy-sleepy choo-choo” rests, right next to a tired little boy, until the next day’s work begins: “To the roundhouse / you are bound. / Good night, engine, / safe and sound.”
Reviews of Chugga Chugga Choo Choo
National Parenting Publications Award for Children’s Resources
Review from Booklist
…pre-schoolers will love this bright picture book about a day in the life of a busy freight train. Kirk’s color saturated pictures are a feast for the eye, with many wonderful details for little ones to explore. A surefire hit with budding engineers.
Review from Publishers Weekly
Kirk’s dramatically shaded, panoramic paintings revel in the toys bold shapes and colors… Kids will be glad to climb aboard for the ride.
Daniel Kirk speaks about Chugga Chugga Choo Choo
Chugga Chugga Choo Choo is a story about a train that travels through the countryside to deliver goods to a city far away.
It occurred to me that Chugga Chugga Choo Choo could be interpreted as a story about a toy train in a boy’s bedroom. This would give me the opportunity to paint a lot of toys, and make the story warmer and more kid-friendly.
I decided to make the story take place late at night. That way the little boy who owns the toys could be sleeping in his bed, while the toys magically awaken and do their work under cover of night.
The illustrations for this book are painted in oil on canvas, which gives them a friendly, textured book. My color scheme includes a lot of purples and oranges. I did some research to look for pictures of old toys, but ended up using a lot of my own kid’s toys as models for what you might find in an average, train-loving little boy’s bedroom.
Things to think about and do after reading Chugga Chugga Choo Choo
1. Have you ever created a pretend world for your toys (dolls, action figures, stuffed animals, or dinosaurs) to play in? How do you like to pretend with your toys?
2. Popular train stories in children’s literature go back to the classic The Little Engine That Could. Why do you think train stories are so popular?
3. Look at the many children’s books about trains at your local library. Are there certain kinds of trains that are more popular in stories than others? Which books are your favorites?