Review: How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton

Title: How to Train a Train
Author: Jason Carter Eaton
Illustrator: John Rocco
Publication Date: September 24th, 2013
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: Children's
Pages: 48
Source: B&N


Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Everything you need to know about finding, keeping, and training your very own pet train.

Finding advice on caring for a dog, a cat, a fish, even a dinosaur is easy. But what if somebody’s taste in pets runs to the more mechanical kind? What about those who like cogs and gears more than feathers and fur? People who prefer the call of a train whistle to the squeal of a guinea pig? Or maybe dream of a smudge of soot on their cheek, not slobber? In this spectacularly illustrated picture book, kids who love locomotives (and what kid doesn’t?) will discover where trains live, what they like to eat, and the best train tricks around—everything it takes to lay the tracks for a long and happy friendship. All aboard!


Jason Carter Eaton was born in several small towns throughout the United States and one in Ireland. He is the author of the picture book The Day My Runny Nose Ran Away, which most children thought was a funny story, though it was actually a tragic autobiography. Jason also edited Professor P. S. Schackman's informative book How to Keep Tuna Fish in Your Pocket for Weeks and Weeks Without it Going Bad. Jason currently lives in Sleepy Hollow, New York, with his beautiful wife, Lisa, their perfect son, Milo, and a giant Newfoundland mix, Pushkin. There's also a cat somewhere.

 John Rocco studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design and School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is the author of four acclaimed books for children: Wolf! Wolf!, winner of the Borders Original Voices Award for best picture book; Moonpowder, part of the Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators; Fu Finds the Way, and Blackout, a New York Times Best Book of the Year and winner of a 2012 Caldecott Honor. Rocco also illustrated Whoopi Goldberg‘s Alice and the covers for Rick Riordan‘s multi-million copy internationally bestselling series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, and The Heroes of Olympus. Most recently, Rocco illustrated the fantasy fairy tale, The Flint Heart, written by Katherine Paterson and her husband, John.
me with samFor many years Rocco has been an art director in the entertainment industry, both in the US and abroad. At Dreamworks, Rocco was the pre-production art director on the top-grossing animated film Shrek. For Walt Disney Imagineering, he designed attractions at Disney’s Epcot and served as art director for DisneyQuest, a virtual reality theme park in Downtown Disney. Rocco has worked with computer graphics pioneer Robert Abel, the creator of some of the first CGI commercials and special effects, and contributed to several museum projects including Newseum in Washington D.C. and Paul Allen‘s Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.
Rocco lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Aileen and their daughter, Alaya.

With rhythmic absurdity, Jason Carter Eaton teaches your kid the necessities and responsibilities of choosing the perfect pet train. Yes, you read that correctly. Some kids want dogs, others prefer cats, but this is for the child akin to the locomotive. 

First, let's take a look at those illustrations. Don't they make you happy by just looking at them? It makes me want to go out and lasso a wild train myself! The colors are extravagant and the illustrator does a fabulous job creating movement in each. I love the realistic vintage-like feel of the artwork and the smoothness of the images. I give the illustrator 5 stars.

Jason Carter Eaton narrates this funny little How-To book with silliness that people of all ages can enjoy. After learning how to catch a train, the reader will learn how to train and care for it. He even tells you how to reward it! The reader is given several tips throughout the book that they probably didn't even know were incumbent in at-home "Train care":

Try saying, “My, what a handsome train you are.” Next, make the call of the wild train: “CHUGGA-CHUGGA, CHUGGA-CHUGGA!”

Although the concept is adorably entertaining, there's a slight risk this book may encourage kids to attempt catching a train if they find themselves in a position to do so. This might sound ridiculous, but freak accidents happen, and I think it's important to inform your child that this is all part of using their imagination and not something they should try when enjoying a family picnic. Luckily, the author provides a disclaimer explaining this, but it may do you well to communicate the seriousness of the matter yourself:

While the author believes that it would indeed be wonderful to track, own, and train one’s very own train, he does not suggest that you make a practice of standing in the middle of train tracks. Just as he does not suggest swimming in a train’s bathtub without adult supervision, or traveling to the desert without an adequate water supply and SPF 1000 sunblock, or building a fire by yourself, or operating a train without the proper paperwork, or disobeying traffic laws, or walking across a train trestle several thousand feet up from the ground. All of these things are extremely dangerous and should be performed only by fully trained illustrated characters.

This is a delightful book filled with all sorts of artistry and humor. I would recommend this book to add to your shelf. Your children will enjoy the illustrations and rhythm. I can't say there is a true educational value here, but you are sure to be entertained nonetheless!

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