Chico's Bonnie Worthington dedicates her first children's book to her son, Cole, "my angel and my inspiration." A note about the author on her Web site says that "her son became enthralled with trains and remains a devoted enthusiast today. His first train ride was on the little steam engine number 12 of the Orland, Newville and Pacific Railway in Glenn County. By the time he was three, Bonnie was taking her son on trips to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento and going on tourist train trips all over North America. One thing they noticed was that there was a shortage of train story books for children, so Bonnie created the Engine Ed series of books for all little train enthusiasts and the adults who get to read to them."
The first in the series is "Engine Ed's Colorful Train" ($16.95 in hardcover from Bear Hug Books, available at www.engineed.com) with full-color illustrations by Laurie Faust. It's bedtime, and a little boy named Cole asks his mom to read his favorite story, the one about "Engine Ed." Cole drifts, but "when he opened his eyes, Cole was standing at the edge of an old walnut orchard and saw a big black steam engine on the tracks in front of him! It looked like it was smiling. 'Ding, ding, ding, ding,' rang the engine's big brass bell. . . ."
Cole finds himself "dressed in blue striped overalls, an engineer's cap, and there was a big red bandana around his neck." Engine Ed invites him on board. "'Well, wouldn't you know,' the big engine laughed, 'I've got Cole here in front of me and coal in my tender too and I can't get started without either one of them. Hurry up and climb aboard. I can't be late and I can't get going without an engineer!' puffed Ed impatiently."
On the ride Cole is introduced to a tank car, a boxcar, a flatcar, and an old fashioned caboose, and surprises Engine Ed with his knowledge of FRED. That, Cole explains, "stands for 'Flashing Red End-Device.' That's what trains use now instead of a caboose."
Youngsters will appreciate learning about trains through the simple yet engaging story, the stuff that dreams are made of.