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Fotheringham, Anne.

Illustrated by Michael Martchenko, Montreal, Conceptus Renaissance Publications. c1986, unpaged, paper, $5.95, ISBN 0-88890-183-6. CIP

Grades 1 -3
Reviewed by Patricia Skarzynski

Volume 15 Number 3
1987 May

The Little Engine That Could this book is not. In fact it is difficult to say just what the purpose of the book is or who it was written for. It is an attempt to dramatize a slice of Canadian railway history in story form. The plot, however, is uninteresting and the "Locomotive," for all his panting, grunting, and groaning, is less that inspirational. There are also inconsistencies in style, for at times the vocabulary is quite demanding for young readers and at other times it lapses into very simple prose. The book even succumbs to some subtle moralizing as the Dorchester, the Great-Granddaddy of VIA Rail, tries its best to pull several carriages, but fails on the first try (a foreshadow of things to come?).

It is possible that children in grades 1 or 2 may learn something about the railroad in Canada if this story were read to them, but they will not find it particularly exciting. This is unfortunate. Perhaps if the author had concentrated on the historical theme, the presentation of information might have enjoyed greater success.

Michael Martchenko's illustrations add some life to the story, but the book as a whole just does not work. Issued also in French, under the title Bravo pour le Dorchester, the book is probably worth purchasing, if for no other reason than that it is another story about trains.

Patricia Skarzynski, Nepean P.L., Nepean, Ont.
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