Traditional Thursdays: Puff-Puff, Chugga-Chugga

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Puff-Puff, Chugga-Chugga written and illustrated by Christopher Wormell, is an endearing and humorous train story perfect for younger children and pre-schoolers. The story’s beautiful illustrations and animal characters with big personalities keep children engaged in the story and wanting to read more. This story is timeless and a great read for parents and their kids since the book is long enough to sit in both laps and the illustrations span across the binding and onto both pages.

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The writing style of this book uses repetition of phrases like “Puff-Puff, Chugga-Chugga” and “She won’t fit, but she did” that makes it easy for children to keep up with what is going on in the book, follow along, and eventually read along as well. It gives the story structure and we can see the impending problem start to arise. Wormell uses plenty of dialogue to give his animal characters personality, especially in the distinct way they talk, and it makes it especially easy for the reader (if reading out loud) to change voices for each character and bring the story to life. The text of this book appears in the gutters of the page so that no attention is taken away from the beautiful illustrations above. As seen in the example above, Wormell also makes an effective use of typography to express how to read and say the text differently, also keeping the story engaging and exciting.

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The illustrations in this book are detailed colored pencil that bring the story to life. The illustrations span across both pages and leave a very small gutter so that the reader is encouraged to stay and take in everything in the illustration. The three animal characters are detailed and larger than life compared to the conductor and they make for an interesting trio that the art fleshes out. The colors are soft and attractive to children and the illustration do a great job of conveying the meaning of the text, often going beyond the text. The illustrations are what makes this book a classic, with the colors and vibrancy of the fruit and the background city.

Puff-Puff, Chugga-Chugga is a great book to sit down and read with children. They can look at the bright illustrations on the pages and eventually read for themselves the repetitive lines. They will understand the humor present, engage with the characters, and get excited at the climax of the story.

Posted by Ashanti Charles

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