Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Colorful pictures, good story, good moral…
Cons: …that may be a bit too complex for all to grasp
The Bottom Line:
Katy has her dreams
Difficult ones for caboose
Good, complex moral
Dream but Enjoy the Present
It’s been years since I originally read any of Bill Peet’s books, so I am fuzzy on many of them. When I sat down to reread The Caboose Who Got Loose, I really didn’t remember anything about the story, but it turned out I really liked it.
This book tells the story of Katy. Katy is not happy with her life as a caboose, however. She wants to be in one place, not constantly being dragged from place to place. She dreams of not constantly having to travel. However, she gets another point of view in the train station from people who wish they could see the world like she is. Will she see the other perspective?
I’m about to do something I rarely do, and spoil the book. But since this is a kid’s picture book, I am assuming you won’t mind. If you do, then please stop reading now.
You see, I can’t describe why I liked the book so much without getting into the story. Katy actually does begin to enjoy seeing the world around her until one day the coupling holding her to her train breaks, and she finds herself traveling on her own before coming to rest between two trees. And she is quite content with being stuck in her new location. What I really appreciated is the moral and Katy’s attitude late in the book. No, she never gives up on her dream, but she learns to enjoy where she is. I’m sure I didn’t pick up on this as a kid, but it is a good lesson to remember. We get so caught up in dreaming about the future that we don’t take the time to enjoy life as it is happening around us. There’s nothing wrong with the dream, but we need to enjoy the present, too. I realize this is probably too subtle for kids, but maybe I’m underestimating them.
Okay, deep breath.
Bill Peet always filled his books with colorful illustrations, and this book is no exception. We’ve got blue sky, trees, colorful buildings, and Katy, who is red. There is plenty here for kids to look at as the book is being read to them.
This is one of the books that Bill Peet wrote in rhyme. It makes the story really flow and adds a fun touch. These are definitely not early readers, but the rhymes will help readers who are ready to move on to more challenging books figure out new words.
Whether kids get the subtle message of the book or not, they will enjoy the story and the colorful pictures. That makes The Caboose Who Got Loose a winner.