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Down By the Station

Children's picture book by Will Hillenbrand

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Puff, Puff! Toot! Toot! Off We Go!

  • May 9, 2009
  • by
Anyone whose read books to children knows the power of a catchy song melody to interest and involve a child in the story. I've always loved reading aloud books that feature song lyrics for precisely this reason--it allows me to get the maximum interest without the effort that can go into a more text-driven read. Many people will already be familiar with some version of Down By the Station. It's a catchy and simple tune that shouldn't be too hard to pick up, even for parents without much of a singing voice.

Some of Will Hillenbrand's wordings may differ from the version you know, but the book itself is a charming romp through the zoo as the conductor picks up baby animals from all over the grounds and brings them ultimately to the petting zoo at the end of the story, where the children all enter in to play with them. Older kids will be able to name the animals before you sing the names. As the list of sounds increases, I tend to add some kind of hand motion for each sound, so as to increase audience participation. So for instance, "puff, puff" gets clenched hands opening up like a small puff of air being released, and "toot, toot" gets the action a hand pulling on a chain for the horn. You can make up your own motions for each sound, or not as you choose.

The artwork is bright and colorful and cartoon-style, though the images themselves have a softness to them that allows this to also work well for a baby book. The amount of detail in these pictures will probably make the illustrations harder for a group to see, and may not interest a younger toddler as much, but the song lyrics and the fact that this is a train book usually make up for that. At the back of the book, the song lyrics and musical score is provided for those who would require or are interested in the melody of the tune. I'd recommend this book for 0-5 year olds and have yet to find a child that doesn't enjoy the book. The library copies are all well loved and need frequent replacing. Mr. Hillenbrand is a master of children's books and many of his creations are available for puchase!

For those who enjoy this story, you may want to also try out books like The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort, and Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow--two song books that are also favorites of mine!

Happy Reading! ^_^ Shanshad

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About this book


Did you ever wonder who rides the zoo train early in the morning? Climb aboard and join the mischievous, sleepy, and playful baby animals on their way to the children₂s zoo. The engineer has to get them there before the first busload of children arrives - but these baby animals just want to have fun! This delightful adventure full of mishaps, daring rescues, and a runaway red balloon has a cumulative text and playful animal noises that will have readers singing along-if they₂re not racing to the zoo to ride the train themselves. In this version of a familiar song, baby animals ride to the children's zoo on the zoo train. Printed music on last page. Join Will Hillenbrand's group of mischievous, playful, and sleepy baby animals on their way to the children's zoo. You'd better hurry, though - they can't be late to greet the first busload of children!
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ISBN-10: 0152167900 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780152167905 (pbk.)
Author: Will Hillenbrand
Publisher: Sandpiper
Date Published: October 2002
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