What is it
Steam Train, Dream Train is a very charming, beautifully-illustrated book that tells a simple story in verse of a freight train being loaded by animals, explaining all the types of train cars along the way.
Who is it for
Kids as young as 2 (or possibly younger) who are in a “train phase” enjoy the images of the train. Slightly older kids enjoy all the details in the pictures showing the animals and cargo, kids a bit older than that enjoy the verse by Sherri Duskey Rinker and can read along. So 2 to 5 is probably ideal. It’s been a fixture on our shelf for years as each kid discovers it.
What Kids Like
Trains are always a hit for some kids. The illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld are wonderful and full of details for the kids to pick out.
What Parents Like
The theme is of a night train being loaded before bed, and is perfect bedtime reading. The final page makes you ask the question of whether the story you just read is real, or part of a dream.
The cover is attractive and passes the “Melissa and Doug test” of being appealing enough to show off on a bookshelf.
I have a fond memory of buying this book soon after it was published, on a lovely, snowy evening in December at Books of Wonder in New York. I read it to our oldest perhaps 50 times over the next few months.
What the Critics Think
4.4/5 at Barnes & Noble, 4.1/5 at Goodreads
Who Made it/History
Tom Lichtenheld drew the pictures and Sherri Duskey Rinker. They worked together on Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site in 2011 as well.
Like all the books on this site, this is one that our kids pull off the shelf and ask to be read over and over. A difference here is that they’ve been hearing this book being read longer than they can even remember.
The theme is of comforting a child who is nervous about the dark and about going to sleep. But the real appeal to kids, as far as I can tell, is in the charming (and surreal) drawings of rabbits and foxes floating in bubbles up in the night sky.
And the appeal to parents is that it puts into words all the sweet and loving thoughts we want to express to our kids as we put them to bed.
This is one of the essential books on our board book shelf.
Originally published: 2005
Author: Mike Jolley
Illustrator: Mique Moriuchi
We bought these two books when we lived in Hawai’i and were standard bedtime reading for our two-year-old, even after we moved to the mainland. They were precious enough to lug with us.
The drawings are fun and there is enough Hawai’ian imagery and references for the stories to feel a bit ‘exotic’ to some children, but no so much that they seem strange.
The Geckos Go To Bed story is very silly, with about 20 geckos jumping in and out of bed, knocking over the lamp, spilling milk, etc. So you may want this to be the first book of the night, not the last, because it is a bit stimulating.
Jon J. Murakami has several other books in his gecko series as well.