Who would have ever thought that trains could be pets? It’s just the sort of thing that childhood dreams are made of, and this clever “guidebook” explains everything starry-eyed train lovers need to know.

Imagine a gentle child’s guidebook on caring for dogs, cats or fish. Now insert the word “train” into the text, and literally tons of fun ensues. A young narrator explains that there are several different types of trains, including monorails, freight trains (which “live in the countryside and travel in herds”) and early steam trains (which “pretty much just sit in museums”).

Jason Carter Eaton, author of The Day My Runny Nose Ran Away, likes to think outside the box, and his latest book is no exception. Before you can train a train, you have to catch one, Eaton notes. Suggested methods include trapping it in a net, running it into quicksand or luring it closer with an offering of coal.

Once caught, what next? Having a pet train isn’t easy, so this guidebook suggests that a calming bath (in a swimming pool) can ease a jittery train’s nerves. The author also advises: “Train your train not to leap up on people and to always wipe its wheels before going indoors.”

Eaton’s fanciful, funny text is perfectly accompanied by John Rocco’s energetic illustrations. Together, this creative team brings their trains to life with names like Smokey, Pushkin, Picklepuss and Sir Chuggsalot.

How to Train a Train is particularly pleasing because it’s never cutesy or cartoonish. Rocco’s trains look real (aside from their subtle eyes and expressions), yet he manages to infuse the hulking locomotives with charm and personality. This book is sure to be a huge hit with young railroad enthusiasts everywhere.

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