Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

How to Train a Train

Rocco, John (Illustrator)
Candlewick Press 2013. 40 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9780763663070 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

figurative language

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Train aficionados and pet lovers will be won over by this humorous and playful account of how to catch a locomotive and care for it as your very own. A rollicking guide to wrangling and caring for trains, readers learn tips on tracking, feeding and even soothing a train to sleep. Entirely convincing in its impossible premise, young audiences will be happy to go along for the ride.

This large format volume is a perfect read-aloud with its enticing cartoon-style illustrations that balance fantasy with realism. Characterizations of the potential pet trains are particularly captivating, with their metal smiles, spotlights for eyes and number plates for noses. Layouts are clever and catchy, with a page of Polaroid shots of trains with sharpie-scrawled names like “Milo” and “Sir Chuggsalot.”

Text is as quirky as the subject matter, using “how-to” language transposed into the wonderfully absurd context. “If your train has trouble falling asleep at night, play soft locomotion sounds: Rocka-rocka, clickety-clack! Rocka-rocka, clickety-clack!” With only a few lines per page, the visual storytelling is complimented with just the right turns of phrase.

“How will you know if the train you caught is THE ONE? Don’t worry. You’ll know.” Young audiences will be well on their way to becoming caretakers of pets and machinery alike.

  •  

    What type of work is involved in training a new pet? What would be the same or different if your new pet were a train?

  •  

    Examine the different types of trains in the illustrations. Which type would you prefer as a pet? Write a description that includes your train’s name, qualities, likes and dislikes.

  •  

    Imagine that you had a vehicle as a pet. Write a story, in a traditional format or as a comic, about an adventure you have with your pet.

  •  Brainstorm what you know about trains. Write the information on a class list.
  •  Discuss how humour is used in this book.
  •  

    Use a graphic organizer to compare the way to “train a train” and the way to train an animal.

  •  

    Using a similar style, create a mini-book on how to train something else.

  •  Use teacher-selected resources to research the world of trains. Prepare a bulletin board with a variety of train facts.
  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To construct his/her identity
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Science and Technology