Sleep Train by Jonathan London

Sleep Train by Jonathan London
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A little boy climbs into bed with a book and starts counting the train cars in it, between the engine and caboose. “Ten sleepy cars going clickety-clack,” reads the refrain. But as the boy counts cars and gets sleepier and sleepier, his room looks more and more like one of the train cars from his book–the sleeping car, of course!

Rhythmically told by the author of the Froggy books, Sleep Train is also stunning to look at. 3D illustrator, Lauren Eldridge, has sculpted an entire train full of intricate details. Part bedtime story, part counting book, part children’s fantasy, Sleep Train is a magical ride to dreamland.

Learning to count is easy when it’s tied to such a memorable train!

It was intriguing to read a picture book that was almost entirely about inanimate objects. This isn’t a common choice in this genre in my experience but was certainly unique. I liked the way the narrator inserted hints about what kind of train it was without making any of the individual portions of it too much like humans or other living beings. Each car had a unique personality, so to speak of, that the audience had plenty of opportunities to get to know. The sleeping and dining cars were my personal favorites, but they were all worth reading about for sure.

I struggled with the thin plot. There were so few details shared about why the main character was on a train and where he was going that the line between his vivid imagination and something magical actually happening never appeared. This is something I’m saying as a reader who enjoys ambiguous storylines and filling in details on my own. If only there had been more clues!

With that being said, it was soothing to read about ten peaceful train cars clacking down the track after dark. I enjoyed the repetition of certain key words and phrases. Not only were they fun to read, but they also lulled my brain into a calm and happy state. This is something that seems perfect for a bedtime story because of how reassuring it was and how easy it is for readers to relax their muscles and fall into the rhythm of what was happening to the train and the little boy riding on it.

Sleep Train was a nice way to unwind before bedtime.

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