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Whoo! Whoo! Goes the Train

Written by Anne Rockwell

Illustrated by Anne Rockwell, Vanessa van der Baan

HarperCollins (2009)

On Allan's first train ride, every twist and turn brings a new sound. Clickety-clack! The train goes over a bridge. Clang! Clang! It nears a crossing. Whoosh! The doors slide open at a station. But Allan's favorite sound—Whoo! Whoo!—doesn't come until the very last stop, when he gets the best surprise of all.


“ Color and sound propel Rockwell's story of a train-crazy cat. Allan loves everything about trains—especially the noises they make—and he even lines up his cereal to resemble railroad cars: “He'd go 'Whooooo-whooo!' so that he sounded just like a train—sometimes with his mouth full.” Allan is ecstatic when his parents surprise him with his first-ever train ride. Rockwell (Big George) credibly conveys the young cat's enthusiasm (“Walking between the cars was noisy and shaky and exciting”), and readers will similarly sense Allan's letdown as the train slows to a stop, though the cat's disappointment is short-lived. They have arrived in “Trainland,” and “everywhere he looked Allan saw trains going this way and that.” Animation artist van der Baan's coloring imbues Rockwell's art with a dazzling palette and almost painterly textures (in one scene, the gleaming train rides over a stone and metal bridge, with boaters and fishermen in the creamy purple water below). Though the plot is thin, younger train enthusiasts should appreciate and enjoy the journey. ”

— Publishers Weekly

“ When Allan’s parents surprise the train-obsessed youngster with a ride, he is thrilled to finally hear the real sounds of a train rather than his own pretend ones. During the trip he visits the bathroom at the end of his car, gets his ticket punched by the conductor, walks between the cars to get a snack, waves to the people waiting at the crossings and watches out the window. But the train ride is only part of the surprise—TrainLand awaits. Changes in the typeface’s style and color make the onomatopoeia and color names stand out from the rest of the text, allowing this to be used as a color-concept book. The cat characters, bright colors and lots of train details will keep youngsters searching the illustrations, which are done in a less-realistic style than is Rockwell’s usual. Although the ending is more than a little abrupt, train lovers will eat this one up, as will those who are preparing children for a train ride of their own. ”

— Kirkus

“ This modest story describes Allan the kitten’s first train trip, accompanied by his parents. He soaks up all the sounds, smells, and sights as the train travels over bridges, through a tunnel, and past a cow pasture. The family arrives at the perfect destination for the train-loving feline, Trainland...The vibrant, stylized artwork overflows with bold colors and has the look of animation cells; it also includes interesting details not found in the text. The striped endpapers are eye-catching. An additional purchase for libraries needing more picture books about trains. ”

— School Library Journal