Freight Train

Quick but thorough profile of Donald Crews here. {Fun fact: he called his grandmother ‘Bigmama.’}

I love this book. I vividly remember reading it in the library at Ridge Elementary School. I remember it was shelved near The Story of Ping, and I remember plopping down on the blue scratchy carpet until Mrs. Marks begged me to leave. {Fun fact: I am the same age as Freight Train. That’s freight-ening.}

Freight Train describes eight different freight cars in seven pure colors. The primary colors red, yellow, and blue, and the secondary colors orange, green, and violet join the massive black steam engine. The rainbow of cars moves forward throughout the book in a blur of motion. Quick and rhythmic, just like the chugging of the freight train.


All lines have direction. They can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or rounded/oblique. Generally, horizontal lines suggest calmness, stillness, and lack of motion. Think of a sun setting beneath the ocean, or a lonely road endlessly stretching to the desert sky’s horizon. Freight Train utilizes the horizontal line of the track on every single turn of the page. And yet nothing about this line represents stillness.

Donald Crews turns this notion upside down to visually create motion. Perhaps it is because his subject is a mode of transportation, and the reader expects motion, but I like to think that he intentionally designed this book to make us feel it. His cars fly over the track, through tunnels, by the city, and constantly are going, going,

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