Bright colors abound in Donald Crews’ brilliant and award-winning ” Freight Train Board Book”, a title that earned him one of his two Caldecott Honors in 1979 (the other, incidentally was “Truck”). One of the most beloved picture books, as the young readers turn the pages, a colorful train is making its way along a route that takes it through both day and night, as well as through both country and city before finally disappearing as it chugs away from the final page. Sometimes, childrens books like these have no plot per se, instead the author chose to simply illustrate the travel of a train over distance and time. The popularity of the book was such that it was completely revamped and rereleased in 2001 as “Inside Freight Train”. This new version offers readers the chance to open each of the cars on the train to reveal what is held inside.
Often the magic of books like “Freight Train Board Book” is not in what the author has to say but in what it inspires from the minds of the children who experience it for the first time. To a child of the intended audience’s age range (2 and up), the vividly colored images come to life in ways they often don’t to jaded adults and their naturally inquisitive minds will want to learn more about what they see. Thus is the genius of childrens book authors like Donald Crews. They create timeless work like “Freight Train Board Book” and let the real creativity begin with the children who open the books.