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The Goodnight Train Rolls On! by June Sobel and Laura Huliska-Beith

Book: The Goodnight Train Rolls On!
Author: June Sobel
Illustrator: Laura Huliska-Beith
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

Did you know that there is a sequel to The Goodnight Train coming out in early September? It's true! The Goodnight Train Rolls On! is set to roll. The Goodnight Train was a family favorite and regular bedtime read in my household for years. I can still recite much of it by heart. My 8-year-old was SO excited when I unwrapped the sequel. We both thought that it was fabulous. 

The Goodnight Train Rolls On!, like the first book, uses the journey of a train as a metaphor for the journey towards sleep. In this case most of the passengers are already asleep as the story begins, but they are moving into dreams. Members of the crew sprinkle "dream dust" (a mix of moons and stars of varying sizes) all around them as they sleep. Meanwhile, the train's crew has to deal with sheep invading the track, and a particularly mischievous sheep causing all sorts of over-the-top problems (like a pillow fight with a giant teddy bear). By the end of the ride, however, the train ends up safe at home, with the naughty sheep finally cooperating, and pretty much everyone else asleep and dreaming. 

Here's a snippet (over two page spreads):

"Clouds blow in. The night turns gray.
The Goodnight Train is on its way!

Chugga! Chugga!
Shhhhhhh! Shhhhhhh!

Down Midnight Mountain, race along
until something seems very wrong!

A naughty sheep has switched the track.
Uh-oh! There's no turning back!

On Wild Dream Hill, whistles blare
Warning of a great, big bear!"

So well-done! It's rhyming without being at all grating or clunky (as I find many rhyming picture books these days), and full of things that are fun to read aloud. What kid won't enjoy an exaggerated "Uh-Oh!" or a whistle "blaring"? 

The "dream dust" filled illustrations are, if anything, even more lovely than those of the first book. There are a couple of page spreads where you have to turn the book sideways to read, lending some visual excitement to the middle of the book. The sheep are joyous, and the bedtime imagery is everywhere (sleeping caps, cookies, etc.). There's a nice mix of soothing images and silliness, with the occasional slightly darker dreams. The final image shows a sleeping girl holding a book and a sleeping cat, sharing her bed with a sleeping skunk crew member and a sleeping formerly naughty sheep, with dream dust floating happily above. Immensely satisfying all around. 

I can't think of a much better baby gift (or birthday gift for a preschooler) than a pairing of The Goodnight Train and The Goodnight Train Rolls On! Though the book held up for my 8-year-old, I think a lot of her joy in the sequel was due to nostalgia for the first book. The sweet spot for reading these books is around 3-5, I would say. Old enough to happily repeat the "Chugga! Chugga! Shhhhhh! Shhhhhhh!", and then fall asleep. The Goodnight Train Rolls On! is a highly recommended and welcome addition to the canon of picture books. Don't miss it!

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHKids) 
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).