________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 3 . . . . OCTOBER 3, 1997

cover Emma and the Silk Train.

Julie Lawson. Illustrated by Paul Mombourquette.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1997.
U32pp., cloth, $15.95.
ISBN 1-55074-388-0.

Subject Headings:
British Columbia-History-1918-1945-Juvenile fiction.
Railroads-Trains-Juvenile fiction.
Silk-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool - grade 4 / Ages 4 - 9.
Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4

image "SILKER'S COMING!" From the turn of the century to the early 1940's, silk trains roared across Canada transporting bales of silk from steamship docks in Vancouver to the silk mills of New York. As the silkers sped eastward, they set records for speed which have never been broken. Julie Lawson has written an exciting picture book set during the era of these legendary trains. In Emma and the Silk Train, eight-year-old Emma and her brother Charlie run to watch the silk train as it thunders past their home with its precious cargo. Emma is fascinated with the beauty and shimmer of her Mama's silk blouse and dreams of having a silk blouse of her own some day. When she learns that one of the silkers has been derailed and there are bales of silk floating down the river, Emma catches "silk-fishing fever." Not one to give up easily, Emma keeps searching for the silk further and further from home until one day she spots a length of red-gold silk floating in the water. As she reaches for the prize, she is knocked off her feet and swept downstream. Emma's dramatic rescue, due to her ingenuity in getting help from the crew of a passing silker, makes a satisfactory ending to an exciting piece of historical fiction. image

      Paul Mombourquette's lush, historically accurate paintings are a perfect complement to the author's simple, evocative prose. Emma and the Silk Train will make an excellent read-aloud for primary children, with Mombourquette's beautifully detailed paintings providing many opportunities for discussion. A historical note, pointing out that the story is based on the actual derailment of a silk train in 1927 only 170 km from Vancouver, will intrigue young listeners who are often concerned with whether or not a story "really happened".


Valerie Nielsen is the teacher-librarian at Bairdmore Elementary School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364