Friday, October 26, 2007


Bibliographic Data:
Title: Seymour Simon's Book of Trains
Author: Seymour Simon
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 19, 2002
ISBN: 978-0060284756

Plot Summary:
In a very interesting but simplistic format, Simon juxtaposes a full color photograph with a paragraph or two explanation of different train types (steam, diesel, electric) and various types of storage cars (boxcar, gondola, hopper, tank cars, etc.) The text is easy to understand and contains basic information regarding trains in the United States and a few other locations in the world.

Critical Analysis:
I enjoyed reading this book to my four-year-old son who is a Thomas the Tank Engine addict and who loves to watch the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroad trains which are based in our hometown of Saginaw, TX. The information was easy for him to understand, the photographs were large and colorful, and the text wasn't overly informative or boring.

I found the book predictable in its format, a very comforting element to a young child who wishes to revisit a familiar topic, but I also found it to be less informative than other informational books on the same topic. In some regards, I found myself comparing this to Donald Crew's Freight Train, a basic concept book, and thinking that it would be a good follow up to that text. I have found DK's The Big Book of Trains to be more informative and more colorful.

I also found this book to be Eurocentric in its presentation of trains. Simon mentions the TGV, but does not offer an explanation of what this abbreviation means (Train Grande Vitesse) and while he mentions electric trains, he neglects to mentions maglev trains or the Japanese Bullet Train that travels faster than nearly every other train on the planet.

I would recommend this book to introduce more information on trains, but I would progress to another book with more information such as The Big Book of Trains for specific examples, more pictures, and a more global viewpoint.

Editorial Reviews:

Publishers Weekly
In Seymour Simon's Book of Trains, the author dedicates one spread each to various kinds of trains, with a full-color photograph on one side and, opposite, a couple of paragraphs describing it. He covers everything from old-fashioned diesel trains to subways that run on electricity to France's TGV (with speeds of between 200-300 mph). A series of spreads on the freight train details different kinds of cars.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

School Library Journal
School-Grade 4-Trains and individual freight cars are displayed in glorious full color in this oversized book. Simon offers information on different types of these machines from the earliest steam locomotives to France's TGV, which can reach speeds of 300 miles per hour. The section on freight trains delves into each car from boxcars to the now-obsolete caboose. The sharp pictures cover half of each spread. One small complaint is that while the TGV and Japan's bullet trains are mentioned, they are not pictured. But never mind. Even preschoolers will be drawn in by the large, abundant photographs. Another winner from a popular author.
Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Have students read book and then "train spot" for a weekend or a week. Create a graph of the various types of trains, cars, and other related transportation items that they saw.

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