Cover image for Down by the station
Down by the station
Hillenbrand, Will.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace, 1999.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 x 29 cm
In this version of a familiar song, baby animals ride to the children's zoo on the zoo train. Printed music on last page.
General Note:
"Gulliver books."
Reading Level:
NP Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.1 0.5 34601.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.2 1 Quiz: 20926.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
J PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
J PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Did you ever wonder who rides the zoo train early in the morning? Climb aboard and join the mischievous, sleepy, and playful baby animals on their way to the children's zoo. The engineer has to get them there before the first busload of children arrives . . . but these baby animals just want to have fun! This delightful adventure full of mishaps, daring rescues, and a runaway red balloon has a cumulative text and playful animal noises that will have readers singing along--if they're not racing to the zoo to ride the train themselves.

Author Notes

WILL HILLENBRAND has written and illustrated many award-winning picture books, including The House That Drac Built by Judy Sierra and his own Down by the Station. He lives in Terrace Park, Ohio.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 3^-7. With rainbow candy colors and an impish sense of humor, Hillenbrand rings slyly amusing changes on an old chestnut. Inspired by the ditty "Down by the station, early in the morning," he posits a zoo train acting as transport for baby animals headed for the children's zoo. The engineer picks up a calf "down by the elephants / early in the morning," a pup by the seals, a joey by the kangaroos, and so on, adding the appropriate animal noises to the verse. However, that isn't all that is going on. Also on board is an animal keeper, in bush hat and jacket, sitting primly in a chair on the flat car (her umbrella hanging on the back of her chair), reading a book and being teased by a Curious George^-like monkey as baby animals pile up around her. When all the passengers are safely ensconced in the zoo, the children arrive: a multicultural group including a child carrying his "blankie" and another who uses a wheelchair. The last spread, which is wordless, shows children, animals, and instructors amusing themselves in a very sociable way. The child with the blanket snoozes in a tree house with a koala cub that carries a blanket of its own. Cheerful and inviting, this is worth multiple readings: a joyful noise, indeed. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

"This whimsical interpretation of a familiar song offers preschoolers a ticket to ride on an enjoyable excursion through a children's zoo," PW wrote. Each new animal passenger adds to the cumulative refrain, "building up a symphonic chorus that begs for audience participation." Ages 3-7. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 1-In this sprightly picture-book version of a favorite song, a train rides around the zoo picking up baby animals. With each new passenger, a new sound is added to the classic verse: "Puff, puff,/Toot, toot,/Off we go!" An elephant calf adds a "Thrump, thrump"; a flamingo chick, a "Peep, peep," etc. As the song glides merrily along, the bright mixed-media illustrations tell another story: while the gamekeeper sits onboard trying to read, a small monkey and penguin get into all sorts of mischief, from walking a tightrope between the cars to falling into the alligator pond. All ends happily, however, as the animals arrive at the zoo just in time to greet a group of children on a class trip. Between the bouncy text and the motion-filled pictures, this is a story that just keeps chugging along. Hillenbrand pays attention to detail: a red balloon released in the first spread soars through the rest of the book, and visual details on each spread give clues to the next creature to be introduced. Pastel tones convey the exuberant feel of a sunny morning, and the excitement of a field trip for both the animal and human children. The music score is appended. This twist on an old favorite combines sunny illustrations, playful humor, and appealing animals, making it a surefire selection for storytime success.-Kathleen M. Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, Eldersburg, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.