Clickety Clack by Rob and Amy Spence
by Rob and Amy Spence
Illustrated by Margaret Spengler
Topics: trains, animals,
"A little black train goes down the track.
Clickety clack, clickety clack.
A red caboose is in the back
Of the little black train going down the track.
Clickety clack, clickety clack."
In this cumulative story, the little black train picks up an unlikely crowd of passengers including, "talking yaks", acrobats, "a troupe of ducks", and "two big packs" of stomping elephants! The passengers are having a great time, singing and dancing together on the increasing crowded and chaotic train, until two mischievous mice set off fireworks and give Driver Zach a "headache attack". If they don't "pipe down", Driver Zach warns, they'll "head right back." So the passengers all change their ways and put a smile "on the face of Driver Zach."
As you can tell from the quote above, this story has a great train-like pace which makes it a dynamite read-aloud story. The rowdy passengers are strongly reminiscent of a group of preschoolers and children will relate to the 'excitement followed by the need to calm things down' storyline. The vibrant painted illustrations with charcoal outlines create a rounded, slightly smudged world that also shines. Spengler uses a unifying rounded crescent shape throughout the book - the yaks horns, the acrobats hats, the elephants trunks and tusks, the ducks beaks, the sack - to support the up-and-down movement of the the train journey and the story's lively rhythm. There's a lot of humor in the quieting down scenes, the toddler ducks are looking right at the reader and shooshing, the mice hide out in a sack, and there's clear collaboration between all the passengers as they calm down. Although this seems like a train book, the focus here is strongly on the passengers and their interactions.
This was the first picture book for Amy and Rob Spence and also for illustrator Margaret Spengler. Spengler has gone on to illustrate a number of children's books including Dawdle Duckling and Ready or Not, Dawdle Duckling by Toni Buzzeo, and Storm Is Coming! and What's that Awful Smell? by Heather Tekavec.