C’mon, C’mon, Do the ‘Locomotion’: Two Train Book Reviews
I’ve always loved trains, but I don’t think I noticed how much until we had kids. Two out of three of my boys loved trains when they were little, and even today their favorite mode of transportation is rail.
Recently my youngest and I shared, for bedtime reading, the book by MG Leonard and Sam Sedgeman Adventures on the trains series. Not only do they feature travel and trains, but they’re also excellent, cleverly plotted thrillers. Check them; they are worth it. Don’t just take my word for it, GeekMom also reviewed the series last year.
So I was very excited when I was given the opportunity to review a few other books on trains, one of which was written by half of the Adventures on the trains duet, Sam Sedgeman.
Locomotion: a visual history trains
But first I want to look Locomotion by Alastair Steele and Ryo Takemasa, an old-school train history book, brought up to date with beautiful illustrations.
In Locomotion, we trace the history of the train, beginning with Richard Trevithick, Puffing Billy and Stephenson’s Rocket. It then goes through the evolution of the train and its different uses, including the transition from coal to electric and diesel. It illustrates the importance of passenger trains and rapid transit, the use of trains to transport mail, and describes some of the largest railway stations in the world.
Interspersed throughout this catalog of railway history are descriptions of important and iconic trains, including the obvious choices, like the Shinkansen and the Orient Express, through to more obscure trains like the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and the train- hospital, The Princess Christian. Locomotion ends with a look at the future of trains, a historical timeline and some record rail facts.
Locomotion is a perfect book for young train fans. The illustrations are excellent, they have a retro side that fits well with the subject. The text is both engaging and informative. If you had a preschooler who loved trains but is now too big for his books, Locomotion is an excellent choice for reigniting their engines.
If you’re looking beyond the history of trains and want to learn more about some of the fabulous train journeys you can take today, look no further than Epic Adventuressubtitled “Explore the world in 12 amazing train journeys”.
This book examines epic rail journeys across six continents, including the Ghan in Australia, the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco, and the African adventure from Dar Es Salaam to Cape Town. It also includes the Trans-Siberian Express, a route I traveled 20 years ago this year, but unfortunately few travelers will take for the foreseeable future.
Each trip occupies a double page and contains a wealth of information on the countries and places crossed. We learn about natural features, engineering marvels, and cultural highlights on each trip. All of this is brought to life by the illustrations, which are each created using an internally consistent color palette, making them striking and visually arresting. I probably love this book so much because each page is based on a map of the train route, each of which looks fabulous.
I also love that throughout the book there are relevant and interesting asides, such as “Epic Engineering”, a double page dedicated to all the amazing constructions that made train travel possible. Tunnels, bridges and viaducts, they are all engineering fans here! Add to that a spotlight on disused stations, the evolution of the UK railway and a focus on the Shinkansen and you have a comprehensive overview of the best parts of train history!
I love these two books. It’s a great way to bring some railway goodness to kids interested in the subject. Even for those with only a passing interest, these books are perfect for introducing you to the world’s best way to travel!
If you would like to purchase copies of any of the books, you will find Locomotionhere and epic adventures, here in the US, and here in the UK (Locomotion), (Epic Adventures). (Affiliate links).
If you liked this article, check out my other book reviews, here.
Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in order to write these reviews.