Freight Train

Common Sense Media says

Young train lovers will be intrigued.




Caldecott Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there's no objectionable content in this book. The spare story of a train's journey rhythmically complements the artwork, which dramatically illustrates the feeling of a train in motion.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

All aboard! Donald Crews takes his young readers for a ride on a traditional freight train pulled by a steam engine. The cargo is loaded in colorful cars that blur together as the train picks up speed. Young train lovers will be intrigued by Crews's award-winning art.

Is it any good?


Donald Crews has effectively captured our enchantment with trains. By four or five years of age, children will begin recognizing the color word strategically placed above the corresponding car. This recognition of familiar terms is crucial to supporting beginning readers. Older, reluctant readers will find it reassuring to see familiar color words as they read.

Crews won the 1979 Caldecott Honor award for his expressionistic art in Freight Train. His style draws readers quickly into the book by eliminating unnecessary details. For example, as the train rushes past cities, a simple, two-toned skyline is in view. Majestic mountains are depicted by an effective but vague use of shades of violet. Even though the train's stature in our culture has diminished, generations of children have spent hours playing with toy train sets, and the memory of a train ride lasts a lifetime. Perhaps this explains children's continued fascination with the visual appeal, sound, and movement of trains, as well as kids' enthusiasm for this book.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of trains. Do you like looking at trains, reading about trains, and playing with toy trains? What's fun about them?

Book details

Author:Donald Crews
Illustrator:Donald Crews
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:William Morrow
Publication date:January 1, 1978
Number of pages:28
Publisher's recommended age(s):2 - 4
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

This review of Freight Train was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byLyndaSLP April 9, 2008

Simple yet fun book for train loving children!

Although this book is quite simple, it simply fascinates my son. He loves pointing out all the different types of train cars as well as how each car is a different color. Great way to help a child learn colors. Great way to learn about different train cars. It taught me a few things. :-) Once you read this book, follow it up by reading the sequel INSIDE FREIGHT TRAIN also by Crews.
Parent Written byneens_b January 28, 2013

Great color book!

My 2 year old son loves this book. It talks about trains and colors.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages


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