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William and the Night Train by Mij Kelly
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William and the Night Train

by Mij Kelly

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The author uses a train ride as a metaphor to describe the transition from waking to sleeping in this luxurious picture book. Despite the encouragement of the other passengers described in a locomotive rhythm ("teachers and jugglers, zookeepers, shopkeepers, writers and fighters, with babies in bundles and piglets in baskets") "wide-awake William" shows no inclination to drift off. In Jay's soothing illustrations, bathed in muted earth tones of soft terra cottas and moss greens, William and the other children create mild chaos. The hero runs from the freight car (where circus animals slumber) to the sleeping car (in which feathers fall like snowflakes from the children's pillow fight) to the caboose, until finally his mother cuddles him close and he falls asleep. Kelly's poetic text unspools in a seamless strand, twining scrumptious rhymes (the train's engine "filling the world with billows of steam,/ soft see-through clouds that turn into dreams") with nimble wordplay (William "squirms like a worm"; the train goes "lickety-split, helter-skelter, quick as a streak"). Jay exploits the train metaphor fully, including an engineer in pajamas and nightcap, a recurring sheep motif and a spread of the cars depicted as beds laid end to end, with the train's contents laid out horizontally. Book a ticket for this fanciful ride to dreamland.
  antimuzak | Jan 30, 2008 |
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"Mothers and fathers, teachers and jugglers -- everyone's aboard the night train. They're all sleepyheads, ready for bed, ready to ride the train to tomorrow. But the train won't go until wide-awake William shuts his eyes, too..."--Jacket.

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