________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 7 . . . . November 28, 1997

cover My Brother's Train.

Heather Kellerhals-Stewart. Illustrated by Paul Zwolak .
Toronto, ON: Douglas and McIntyre, l997.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 0-88899-282-3.

Subject Headings:
Railroads-Trains-Juvenile fiction.
Canada-Description and travel-Juvenile fiction.
Brothers and sisters-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten - grade 5 / Ages 5 - 10.
Review by Jennifer Johnson.

**** /4


My brother has a very special train. It travels north and west for days and days. It's easy to go, but harder to come back. That's what my brother says.
image Trains and train travel have a strong appeal for readers and occur with frequency in publications for children. Favourites abound from the lyrical Train Song, by Diane Siebert, to the wild abandon of the Time Train by Paul Fleischman. With My Brother's Train, Heather Kellerhals-Stewart creates a beautiful addition to the genre. This story explores the sense of movement, mystery and romance associated with railroad travel. From the first lines, readers step into the narrative of this trusting sister as she follows her big brother onto his train. Directed by him to the window seat, she maintains this favoured position throughout, sharing in the string of delights he has prepared. As the scenery unfolds, she is amazed by the changing landscape and is reassured by the mysterious figure of the trainman who runs behind the train for the length of its journey.

      Kellerhals-Stewart is an experienced author who has explored a wide range of interests in her writing. This range includes the survival novel, Witch's Fang, and historical fiction, Stuck Fast in Yesterday. With My Brother's Train, she uses language in a spare, poetic manner to create the images of the moving train and the country through which it moves. This story will appeal to young children who are ready for longer picture books read from the vantage of a lap. It will also appeal to older readers who will be touched by the scope of the imagined journey and by the sophisticated illustrations.

      Paul Zwolak created his first picture book illustrations for Celia Lottridge's Something Might be Hiding. In this first picture book collaboration, he created an environment where the familiar and the unknown play out a delicate pattern in Jenny's first days after a move to a new home. In My Brother's Train, the sense of inside comfort is played out against the expansive, extended scenes of the train rushing over a bridge, across a sweep of prairie grass and underneath a bank of cloud. Zwolak has researched the archives of the CPR to place his train in the l930s. This attention to detail lends authenticity to the train and will please train aficionados. For others, it will be the qualities of light and composition which make these luminous illustrations memorable.

      My Brother's Train combines the talents of writer and illustrator to wonderful effect in this journey into the imagination.

Highly recommended.

Jennifer Johnson is a public librarian in Ottawa.

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