Copyright © 2015 Lisa Moser
Illustrations Copyright © 2015 Benji Davies
Railroad Hank and his fine little train are headed up the mountain. He’s heard that Granny Bett is feeling kind of blue, and he is bound and determined to help. Along the way, he stops to see all of his friends, and they offer to send gifts to help.
“Okey dokey,” says Railroad Hank as he loads up the train, but he mixes it all up. He really, really mixes it up.
With a trainload of hilarious cargo, and a parade of people chasing behind, Railroad Hank makes it up the mountain to see Granny Bett. But it isn’t the creamy milk, or the scrambley eggs, or the fresh fish, or the crunchy apples that fixes Granny Bett. It’s all the friends that Railroad Hank has brought to visit.
Railroad Hank makes us laugh with his antics, and revel in the ending because it’s a celebration of friendship, after all.
How it was written. . .
I love trains. I love the different shapes and colors of the cars on the trains. I love dreaming about where they are going. And I love imagining what is in each of their cars. So, basically, I sat down and said, “I want to write a train book.”
That was the easy part. What ensued was several years of struggling with different types of train books. I started with a mouse and a toy train. I still have that image in my mind―a little mouse shining the peppermint wheels of his train with a gum wrapper. But that story never left the station. Still, I do love that image.
Next, I wrote a story about a train that rolled through a kingdom gathering all of the whimsical demands of the king. But that story quickly ran out of steam, too. And then, along came Hank―wonderful, wonderful Railroad Hank who came to save the day. He saved it for Granny Bett in the story, and he saved it for me. As the story unfolded-―stories always do when you finally hit upon their true essence―it became much more about the people along the railroad route, and much less about the train.
Now, as I look at the story, I see the heart of Railroad Hank first and foremost. The train is how he gets around, but it’s all about Hank. I’m so glad I hopped on that train and let it take me to a different destination than what I first imagined. But with Railroad Hank driving, what could go wrong?
"Granny Bett is feeling blue, so Railroad Hank is a-comin’ to her rescue. But what should he bring to cheer her up? Folk from all around the town give suggestions as Hank and his little red train chug past. Missy May from the Happy Flap Farm says that scrambley eggs always make her smile. Bringing Granny Bett some eggs is a fine idea. But instead of taking the eggs, Railroad Hank loads the chickens onto the train! After all, that is where the eggs come from, isn’t it? And of course, when Cinnamon Cobbler suggests giving Granny Bett a crunchy red apple, Railroad Hank takes the whole tree instead. By the time he makes it up the mountain to Granny Bett, with a string of townsfolk running behind him, his train is about to burst. But that just might be exactly what Granny Bett needs. With a large, rounded chin and kindhearted grin, Railroad Hank’s bumbling nature comes through with affection, not malice. Readers will delight in repeating Hank’s affable reply to each person that he meets: “Okey dokey.” (Impossible not be read aloud in a slow, drawn-out voice.) Plus, the inevitable train sounds will have everyone joining in.
An endearing tale of a jovial fellow, trying to do good by the world."