Review of I Can Make a Train Noise

I Can Make a Train Noise 
by Michael Emberley and Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick; illus. by the authors 
Preschool, Primary    Porter/Holiday    32 pp.    g 
7/21    978-0-8234-4496-0    $18.99 
e-book ed.  978-0-8234-5063-3    $11.99 

The action begins on the book’s cover, where readers can spot a young child and her family walking down a busy city street, headed into a bustling café. Inside, they encounter even more noise among its preoccupied patrons, whose thought and speech bubbles fill the page with gray clouds, worries, and complaints. The young child looks out at the ­readers, asserting, “I can make a train noise now!” (This sentence and its variants compose the entire text.) Soon she hops off her chair and, through a portal in the book, sweeps her surroundings into new order as the café becomes a car on a speeding train. Across each subsequent spread, the font of the propulsive refrain/mantra (“I can make a train noise, I can make a train noise, I can make a train noise, now!”) grows, shrinks, and swerves, offering cues for an engaging read-aloud experience. The train races through an In the Night Kitchen–esque cityscape of tall condiments and kitchen tools, whistles through a tunnel, and emerges into spacious, serene landscapes. As the train finally returns to the city and slows to a stop — “I…can…make…a…train…noooiiissssssse…now!” — and the passengers rearrange themselves into the more-familiar café, the former gloom and grayness has been transformed into cheer and community. Lush with colorful and richly detailed illustrations, this innovative picture book compels its readers to get on board with the sound, speed, and rhythm of a train powered by a child’s imagination.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Grace McKinney
Grace McKinney

Grace McKinney holds an MA in Children's Literature from Simmons University and reviews for the Horn Book Magazine. She works at a Montessori school in St. Louis, Missouri, and writes about children's books and Montessori on the blog Cosmic Bookshelf.

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