BOOKS: ‘Railroad Hank’ features lovable engineer on many misadventuresRailroad Hank is a lovable doofus. I’m not sure if there’s any other way to describe him.
By: Jean Patrick, Republic Book Columnist
Railroad Hank is a lovable doofus. I’m not sure if there’s any other way to describe him.
“Railroad Hank,” by Lisa Moser, is the story of a well-meaning train engineer who is heading up the mountain to see Granny Bett because she is feeling blue.
When Missy May recommends bringing eggs to cheer her up, Railroad Hank asks, “Where do you get your eggs?” After Missy May answers “from hens, of course,” Railroad Hank loads the hens into his train. This humor forms the pattern of the book.
When Country Carl recommends bringing creamy milk to Granny Bett, Railroad Hank loads up the cows.
When Reel-’Em-In-Sam recommends a pan of sizzling fish, he loads up the whole pond.
By the time Railroad Hank reaches Granny Bett, his train is full and the chaos begins.
Surprisingly, this is where the book loses some of its steam. Despite a silly picture of the chaos, followed by a full-page spread of everyone dancing, the end doesn’t have the punch of Railroad Hank’s early misunderstandings.
Overall, “Railroad Hank” is a wonderful book for kids who love trains and silly humor.
Author Lisa Moser knows exactly where to put the “Chugga Chugga Woo Woo Woo” sounds that are irresistible when reading aloud.
Also, Railroad Hank’s final act of kindness to Granny Bett is as generous as it is ridiculous.
Illustrator Benji Davies uses a cartoon-like style to present the characters and their uproarious actions.
Although the characters appear two dimensional, the background carries an amazing amount of depth. In some of the scenes, Davies shows a wide southwestern vista, rich in orange-red rock canyons.
Lisa Moser is also the author of “Watermelon Wishes” and “The Monster in the Backpack.” She grew up in Fairfield, Iowa, and now lives in Wisconsin. Benji Davies, who is also an animation director, has illustrated several picture books, including “When the Dragons Came” and “Jump On Board the Animal Train.”
“Railroad Hank.” By Lisa Moser. Illustrated by Benji Davies. Random House. 2012. 40 pp.