Railroad John and the Red Rock Run by Tony Crunk, pictures by Michael Austin

Railroad John and the Red Rock Run by Tony Crunk, pictures by Michael Austin. Peachtree, 2006. 9781561453634

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Genre:  Western/tall tale

What did you like about the book? With sepia tone art and text on a cream background, the reader immediately gets the impression of an old timey tale. Sure enough, the story begins as the Sagebrush Flyer roars through Coyote Pass, where Lonesome Bob and Granny Apple Fritter wait to board. It’s a tale of love between the enterprising, lovelorn guitar player Lonesome Bob and Wildcat Annie, who waits for him at Red Rock. They are bound to wed at two o’clock; if Bob is late, Annie won’t wait, and the wedding is off. As it barrels on, the train meets obstacles seemingly intent on holding it up. There’s Bad Bill and his outlaw gang, a washed out bridge, and a tornado blowing animals through the sky. But in this tale tale, spectacular solutions solve each problem, and Wildcat Annie and Lonesome Bob get hitched. The last page opening reveals a little boy playing with trains in the attic, the architect of the whole story. Exaggeration and outlandish details, such as Granny’s Hard-Shell Chili-Pepper Corn-Pone Muffins which fuel the train, give the story tall-tale pizzazz. Lonesome Bob’s humorously mournful tunes and tearful expressions add drama. And the suspense really builds over the 32 pages. Readers will smile at the revelation that a child’s imagination was behind it all.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  For fans of western style tall tales, ages 4-8.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries, as an additional purchase

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: December 5, 2020

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