Book Review: Clackety Track, by Skila Brown

A large format book for 5-to-8-year-olds, covering a wide variety of trains using different styles of poetry and illustrations.

By
A terrific picture book with poems about trains.
Overall
5

This large format book is aimed at 5 to 8 year olds and there’s lots to entertain young train enthusiasts.

Skila Brown’s thirteen poems and Jamey Christoph’s beautiful illustrations cover a wide range of trains and ways of travelling in this wonderful picture book – from steam locos to a bullet train, and the zoo train to a sleeper train. The illustrations also depict a sense of nostalgia for an era when train travel was more popular and for different types of trains, including sleepers and steam trains which are not often seen these days.

Brown’s poems are written in a wide range of styles with each suited to the train depicted. Morning in the Yard begins with the sedate rhythm of early morning as the new day illuminates the trains. It then gathers pace as it moves through to the final line: “Come on! Hop on now. All aboard!” In contrast the rhythm is constant in the quieter Sleeper Train with the refrain, “Hush/Here comes a train” repeated at the start and end of each verse.

I like the way Brown has used different rhyming schemes which cleverly introduces young readers to different forms. In Tracks she rhymes lines 2 and 4 of each little verse while in Zoo Train all 5 lines rhyme with each other – you/chew/poo/view/zoo. She uses these variations plus alliteration and repetition to create the wide variety of poems while Christoph’s illustrations serve to further highlight the emphasis of each poem – as in Bullet Train where the man’s hat is blown off by the whoosh of the train.

As a bonus there is a double page spread of goods wagons at the end of the book, each filled with Train Facts. Did you know for instance, that the world’s longest passenger train had 70 carriages pulled by just one locomotive? Or that the need to schedule trains according to timetables was responsible for the introduction of time zones?

This is a delightful book to introduce youngsters to poetry via the ever-popular medium of trains.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Distributed by: Walker Books Australia
Released: March 2019
RRP: $24.99

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