Librio Library #16 – The Animal Train – Christopher Wormell2 minute read
Why we chose it
Today, we're featuring The Animal train by Christopher Wormell. It's a wonderful, silly book which was chosen as one of our team's "favourite books as a child" on the Librio team page but was unknown to everyone else here, so we decided to investigate.
We're always fans of animal-centric picture books and a book featuring Mrs. Walruss, Mr. Bear and Mrs. Elephant is already off to a good start, even before they all try and cram themselves onto a toy train to go to town to do their shopping.
The plot is as simple as it is brilliant. The main character other than the three oversized animals is the perplexed train driver who's convinced that the animals will never fit on, but fit they do and he disbelievingly escorts them to town before they all go and do an inordinate amount of shopping and try to get on the train to go home again. The buildup to chaos is slow and predictable and all the more joyous for adult and child when it finally ensues.
The moment that the whole book builds up to when the animals and all their shopping prove to be too much to handle for the little toy train. The animals sit around like naughty toddlers, surrounded by the mess their mum told them was going to happen all along. And now they have to figure out how to clean it all up again.
Kids will like:
Clumsy animals, a train, a train driver, loads of chaos. What more do you need?
Parents wil like:
The inevitability of it all. It's like the best comedy where you know it's coming from the moment it starts, but it's still hugely enjoyable when it does happen. Just like parenting itself: you know they're going to make a mess. You tell them they're going to make a mess. They tell you they won't make a mess. And then you end up with a huge mess that you knew was going to happen from the moment they took out the glitter. Unlike in The Animal Train, though, you're the one who has to clean up the mess in the end.
If you like this book:
Christopher Wormell has illustrated several picture books and many of them feel like books we saw as children but can't quite remember what they're about. One that particularly piqued our interest is One Smart Fish about a curious fish who goes on land to see how they live there. Over time, the fish turn into reptiles, the reptiles into mammals and the mammals into people. All without the help of a perplexed train driver.