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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Freight Train by Donald Crews

Last week I gave Kate a book so chock full of details that one listener said it was the literary equivalent of The House on the Rock. In other words, just STUFFED full of stuff. This week, I went an entirely different direction. Now I’d been avoiding doing Freight Train by Donald Crews on the podcast for a while. Why? Because it is an exceedingly simple title. Almost pure in its limited elements. And, to be frank, I couldn’t figure out what Kate could possibly think to talk about. But as time goes on, it just seemed weirder and weirder to me that we hadn’t done any Donald Crews yet. I just couldn’t bring myself to bring in one of his other books before I did this one. As a result, you’ll note that this episode is just a crisp 28:43. Listen as I crow over the importance of books where you can bounce a small child on your knee while making “chugga-chugga” noises while Kate imitates the call of the zebra.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, PlayerFM, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

The unspoken rule of the Fuse 8 n’ Kate podcast is thus: When in doubt, assume that there are ghosts in the book somewhere. Case in point: The Ghost Train.

I remembered that the 1978 featured on the side of this train signifies the year it came out. But why the letters?

To determine why there was an “N&A” on the side of the train, Kate looked up different trains. What she found was that this should be a Nelson & Albemarle train line. But what I found in my own research (which is to say my previous post when this book hit #42 on the Top 100 Picture Books Poll) was this about the numbers and letters on the train’s side: “The first is the date of publication, the second a tribute to his kids Nanette and Amy.”

This is a pretty good idea. It would make a cool idea to do an edition of Freight Train where this tunnel is a cut out that allows you to move the train through tunnels. The board book is pretty rote. Wouldn’t it be neat to put in some die-cut elements?

For those of you who are curious, here’s that shot of Donald Crews in his daughter’s book Seeing Into Tomorrow:

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. I’m not sure about the die-cuts. To me, this book is perfect: the way that it captures motion and sound, the use of color, the simplicity. But I would try to be open-minded!

  2. Some of the storytime experts at the library where I work will read this book in storytime while playing the song “Little Red Caboose” from Joanie Bartel’s Travelin’ Magic in the background. ( The song begins with the sound of a train running across tracks, which fits well with the “ghost train” at the beginning of the book! They’ll time it perfectly so that they finish the book at exactly the same time the song ends. This always blows my mind because I can never get the timing right.