Just the Ticket

Railway locomotion is a big theme for children’s books this fall, and we’ve found two coffee-table/reference guides for conductors of all ages.

All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains, by Dana Amendola; Disney Editions Deluxe, 192 pages, $50.00 all ages.

Perfect for fans of Disney history and railway enthusiasts, this lovely oversize compendium chronicles how trains have always held a prominent place in Disney lore – Walt himself was a lifelong admirer of locomotives, and even worked aboard the Missouri Pacific Railroad as a teenager. Disney incorproated trains into many of his animations – Mickey Mouse’s first appearance on a train was in a black and white short called “Mickey’s Choo-Choo” in 1929. Trains continue to figure prominently in Disney films, and engines including the Fort Wilderness Railroad, the Monorail, and the Disney Express are just a few  that dot the various parks throughout the world. Clocking in at just under 200 pages, there’s enough train trivia in All Aboard coupled with Disney lore to keep readers happy for hours.

Iron Rails, Tough Men, and the Race to Link the Nation: The Story of the Transcontinental Railroad, by Martin W. Sandler; Candlewick Press, $22.99, 224 pages, all ages. (A Junior Library Guild Selection)

In 1845, Asa Whitney (a relative of cotton-gin inventor Eli Whitney) went to Congress to propose a transcontinental railroad, but the lawmakers rejected the bill, mostly due to backbiting and squabbling over who would most profit from the endeavor. (Sound familiar?) The country would have to wait until 1862, when Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act that authorized two companies to build railroads linking the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, thereby thrusting America into the modern era. Pulitzer-Prize nominee Martin Sandler presents all the moving parts in this six-year saga clearly and in wonderful detail, and doesn’t skimp on the intrigue and greed found at every level of the project. Still, there’s a palpable understanding among everyone involved that these 1800 miles (all laid mostly by hand), were an historic moment and great change was coming to the country, one rail at a time. Thoroughly researched, including a timeline, notes, sketches and photos, this volume will long remain an invaluable and entertaining resource for research projects on the American West and Reconstruction periods.

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