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Down by the Station


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About the Author

WILL HILLENBRAND has written and illustrated many award-winning picture books, including The House That Drac Built by Judy Sierra and his own Down by the Station. He lives in Terrace Park, Ohio.


Hillenbrand's (The Golden Sandal) whimsical interpretation of a familiar song offers preschoolers a ticket to ride on an enjoyable excursion through a children's zoo. As an engineer makes repeated stops along the tracks, baby animals board a rainbow-tinted train. Each adds his or her own sound to the cumulative refrain: "Puff, puff,/ Toot, toot,/ Off we go!" from "Thrump, thrump" for the elephant calf to "Flip, flop" for the seal pup, building up a symphonic chorus that begs for audience participation. Hillenbrand shapes the simple song into a full-bodied story with a visual narrative populated by characters such as a kangaroo joey that jumps rope and a monkey that rescues a woman in the alligator pond via an upturned umbrella. The artwork foreshadows the creatures to come (e.g., a sign pointing to "Seal Island" appears on the spread before the seal pup's introduction), and the lyrics point up the unusual names of the animal offspring. Softly shaded but brightly colored, Hillenbrand's mixed media illustrations embrace an abundance of droll detail and gently outline landscapes in which the sky gradually changes from the pink hues of early morning to a glorious blue studded with cotton-candy clouds. All aboard for fun. Ages 3-6. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

PreS-Gr 1-In this sprightly picture-book version of a favorite song, a train rides around the zoo picking up baby animals. With each new passenger, a new sound is added to the classic verse: "Puff, puff,/Toot, toot,/Off we go!" An elephant calf adds a "Thrump, thrump"; a flamingo chick, a "Peep, peep," etc. As the song glides merrily along, the bright mixed-media illustrations tell another story: while the gamekeeper sits onboard trying to read, a small monkey and penguin get into all sorts of mischief, from walking a tightrope between the cars to falling into the alligator pond. All ends happily, however, as the animals arrive at the zoo just in time to greet a group of children on a class trip. Between the bouncy text and the motion-filled pictures, this is a story that just keeps chugging along. Hillenbrand pays attention to detail: a red balloon released in the first spread soars through the rest of the book, and visual details on each spread give clues to the next creature to be introduced. Pastel tones convey the exuberant feel of a sunny morning, and the excitement of a field trip for both the animal and human children. The music score is appended. This twist on an old favorite combines sunny illustrations, playful humor, and appealing animals, making it a surefire selection for storytime success.-Kathleen M. Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, Eldersburg, MD Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

"Cheerful and inviting, this is worth multiple readings: a joyful noise, indeed."--Booklist
"This twist on an old favorite combines sunny illustrations, playful humor, and appealing animals, making it a surefire selection for storytime success."--School Library Journal
"A happy book, filled with childhood exuberance."--Kirkus Reviews

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