Freight Train Trip!

Susanna Leonard Hill crafted this little romp of a book, illustrated by Ana Martin Larrañaga. Susanna is a kind, giving, and hilarious part of my online writing community, and her books are just as sweet. I’m a bunch of months late for Phyllis’ World Tour, but Freight Train Trip! caught my eye…

…For two big reasons:


Without being an outright concept book for either color or shape, Freight Train Trip! manages to explore both while spilling a thunderous story along its tracks.   This is a sturdy, bigger board book, and it’s cut in the shape of a train. Already cool. When you open it, it’s a long skinny rectangle, also mimicking the snaking lengths of a train. It’s not such an extreme design that little ones won’t be able to maneuver the book, but the subtle nod to its content is smart.

I’m a grown woman, getting older by the nanosecond, but I went through each page and lifted the flaps. I hope this type of interactivity outlasts the iThings. The flaps reveal reactions, animations, or just fun surprises. Each one is a really nice use of shape to add physical dimension to the pages.

And the colors in Freight Train Trip! are buzzing and alive with saturation. I love how Ana Martin Larrañaga sparingly uses texture to allow the full, solid colors to stand alone.

The pages remind me of that fresh, smelly, brand new 8-pack of sharp Crayolas on the first day of school…before the paper rips and the nubs wear down and they break in two from coloring too much.

Pure hues and punchy flaps breathe vibrancy into this book. Know a little one? Know a little one who loves trains? Or colors? Or has little fingers to play with shapes? Freight Train Trip! is a fine tour.

And! If you are a writer or just love words, check out this post on Susanna’s blog revealing some edits she made in creating this book. It’s a master class in revision, pace, and pulse. And plus, her blog is just plain fun to poke.


  • Posted July 18, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Full steam ahead! Like what you say about colors – you are bright! lol

  • Posted July 18, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Hue, me!? (or…50 Shades of Corny.)

  • Posted July 18, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Yes, you – the brightest crayon in the box!

  • Posted July 18, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    You’re right on how vibrant the inside is, thanks for sharing. I’m definitely a flap flipper too! Time to go check out Susanna’s breakdown – thanks for the link :)

  • Posted July 18, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    FLAP FLIPPER! Love those words.

  • Posted July 18, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Aw! Thanks for this lovely review of my little book and for all the nice things you said :) You totally made my day! I’m so glad you like Freight Train. All of my kids were BIG into trains. For years, our living room floor was a hazard of tracks looping under all the furniture and out the other side. I loved all the inventive games they thought up, and all the different uses we found for our trains – from connecting bus stations to villages to zoos to schools to some serious crashes and track demolition masterminded by my son who liked to shake things up :) So you can guess where I got the inspiration for this story :)

  • Posted July 18, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Ha…the demolition mastermind!

  • Posted July 18, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Great analysis Carter! Susanna – I will have to check out this book now.

  • tinamcho
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Awesome review, Carter! I do have a little train enthusiast on my hands. When I was little (and still now) I, too, love the smell and feel of brand new Crayola crayons!

  • Posted July 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Loved the post, Carter. This is one of Susanna’s books I haven’t read. I read her post about her edits. Now along with this post, I am dying to read this book. Chugga! Chugga!

  • Joanna
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Colorful review, and I think this one of Susanna’s could keep me happy for hours. off to read her breakdown.