Charlie the Choo-Choo Book Review
Written by ZigZag
Published by Simon and Schuster
Written by Beryl Evans
1942, 24 pages, Fiction
Book released on November 22nd, 2016
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Dear Ms. Evans,
I am writing this letter today in order to let you know of my concerns for a boy very dear to me and his unexpected reaction to your book Charlie the Choo-Choo. My name is Greta Shaw, and I work for the Chambers family in New York City. I do not expect that you have gotten any other letters quite like this one, but as I continue to observe what I can only describe as extreme distress from young Johnny after having received your book, I felt compelled to reach out to anyone that might listen. His parents, Elmer and Laurie Chambers, do not appear too concerned by their boy’s erratic behavior, but Mr. Elmer barely notices “the kid” as he calls his son, and Ms. Laurie – well she is more interested in her own activities, if you take my meaning. I don’t mean to speak ill of the Chambers as they have always been decent to me, but I’ve noticed the change in their boy.
At first I dismissed my concerns as a case of me simply being a little over-protective, but then my suspicions were confirmed just the other day. When the postman delivered the day’s mail, I noticed while sorting out the circulars and various coupons, a letter from Johnny’s school, The Piper School (it’s a private school in New York City). I know I probably shouldn’t have opened it without showing Ms. Laurie first, but I am glad that I did. The letter was from Johnny’s English teacher, Miss Avery and she was terribly worried about what he had written for his final essay: “My Understanding of the Truth.” She says it is an uncharacteristic turn for such a promising student like Jake (as Johnny is called by his schoolmates) to veer so far from the parameters of the assignment. Truth be told, he always has been a very intelligent young man and although he generally keeps to himself, it isn’t hard at all to perceive the trouble he is having lately.
After I read Ms. Avery’s letter, I went upstairs and I knocked on the door to his room to see if there was anything he needed before supper. The door was ajar so I pressed it open and walked inside only to find young Johnny in tears and repeating an odd nursery rhyme over and over again. Something about somebody named “Blaine”. On the floor I found your book Charlie the Choo-Choo, and as I picked it up and offered it, well it only seemed to upset him more. I didn’t know if someone had slipped a note or written something ugly inside so I flipped through the pages. I didn’t find anything upsetting, but to be fair I was really only skimming the pages for vulgarities. I am happy to report I found no such thing, but I can’t shake the feeling that it is your book that has him so shaken.
My parents raised me to always be polite and I don’t want you to mistake my words or Johnny’s reaction as a criticism. Wanting to familiarize myself with the material, I took a closer look to examine it and must admit the story is very well written and quite colorful. It is probably wise that you kept the story short, as younger readers are easily tired. I believe most children love talking trains and will be happy to see how Charlie and Engineer Bob are best friends. I approve of the positive messages about respecting your elders and appreciating the idea of friendship no matter where you find it. The illustrations by Ned Dameron are quite beautiful in my opinion, but these too are somehow a source of terror for the boy. I know I am probably just being foolish, but writing this letter to you, but, well, it somehow makes me feel a little less helpless. I hate that I cannot help my Johnny, but if in some strange way your book has anything to do with his condition, I would be remiss for failing to speak up. I would be beside myself if I found out this could happen to another child somewhere. I won’t take up any more of your time Ms. Evans, I know everything will work out for the best, but I had to take this step just in case.
Have a Blessed day and keep doing your best for the children of our world.
Ms. Greta Shaw
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