Judi Abbot, picture book genius, creates the toddler treat for 2014 in her exceptional book entitled TRAIN! Published by Tiger Tales, originally published by Little Tiger Press in Great Britain, this story features an adorable blue elephant who has a singular focus, and vocabulary, until meeting up with toddlers who have their own preferences ‘chugs’ his world. Perfectly set up with delightfully limited text this book is full of wisdom. Doting parents keen to trust Little Elephant’s interest in trains take him for a ride on the real thing. More than a book about learning to share, this book uses a ride through a tunnel to accomplish its magic. What’s important to Elephant changes to what’s really important in life. The last image and it’s message makes this book belong on a shelf within every toddler’s reach.
Universal heart in well-written, beautifully illustrated children’s books captures all that is right in the world. I thrust the book into colleagues hands at work. I watched fellow early intervention service providers oo and ah then nod their heads at the ending. “We should order one for the classroom!” “This is one I have to buy for my home visit bag.” “You could act this out with props!” Everyone was very excited to read TRAINS! Who wouldn’t be?
It reminds me of my SCBWI critique group at the local library too. We bring our own versions of Little Elephant’s train for feedback! Oh no! The Trustee’s Room where we meet twice a month serves as our tunnel as we enter with our manuscript copies clutched to our chests. We sit around the table reading our works in progress aloud. All those big ears listening to our most favorite words to offer encouragement and then…the suggestions for revision. It doesn’t always go well. There’s a Little Elephant in the room. We won’t give up our ‘trains’. We get defensive. But we come back again. We try something different. Even when we don’t want to. We look around the room at the other writers who get it. Every time they get it. Because writing for children means being willing to go through tunnels, long dark tunnels, and come out the other end with lots of new words and some true blue friends. It’s not about who sold a book to a publisher, though we all desperately want that for one another, it’s about the ride. It’s about being on board. Thank you Judi Abbot, for your wisdom and your talent. And for your hard work. We all need mentors like you.