Cover image for William and the night train
William and the night train
Kelly, Mij.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2001.

Physical Description:
23 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 26 cm
"Mothers and fathers, teachers and jugglers -- everyone's aboard the night train. They're all sleepyheads, ready for bed, ready to ride the train to tomorrow. But the train won't go until wide-awake William shuts his eyes, too..."--Jacket.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.0 0.5 47530.
Added Author:
Format :


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

On Order



All aboard! Tonight everyone's riding the night train - mothers and fathers, teachers and jugglers - they're all sleepyheads, ready for bed, ready to ride the train to Tomorrow. Everyone, that is, except wide-awake William, who is too excited to sleep. William can't resist exploring the train from end to end, discovering its secrets, until his mother convinces him that the train won't go and Tomorrow won't come until he settles down and shuts his eyes . . .With dreamy illustrations and a text filled with a rocking bedtime rhythm, this appealing picture book captures the anticipation felt by any child who is setting out on an exciting new journey.

Author Notes

Mij Kelly is the author of several books for children. She lives in York, England. Alison Jay lives in London, England. She is also the creator of Picture This , hailed by Booklist for its "spectacular" illustrations.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 3^-6. Kelly's subtle rhymes and gently progressive story, along with Jay's dreamlike paintings (with fat, bounding sheep as a motif), engage children in a fantasy about a train destined for Tomorrow. All kinds of people (depicted with tiny heads and huge bodies) and all kinds of cargo (kites, balloons, a dollhouse, a rocking horse, and jungle animals) are on the train. William and his mother are the only normal-looking ones on board, and only William is awake, too impatient to get to Tomorrow to sleep. What William sees as he runs through the sleeping car, coaches, and caboose, and the trick Mother teaches him to help the train go faster (and get him to sleep), makes for a visually exciting and satisfying story. Jay's full-color folk-art illustrations, often lavish double spreads, are exceptionally attractive, guiding children through the story and delighting with whimsical details. Once William falls asleep, the train's clouds of steam turn into dreams, and when the train arrives at Station Tomorrow, the sheep that leaped through the pages are quietly grazing in a green field. This is the kind of book that children and adults will pore over together. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

A British team uses a train ride as a metaphor to describe the transition from waking to sleeping in this luxurious picture book. Despite the encouragement of the other passengersÄdescribed in a locomotive rhythm ("teachers and jugglers, zookeepers, shopkeepers, writers and fighters, with babies in bundles and piglets in baskets")Ä"wide-awake William" shows no inclination to drift off. In Jay's (Picture This...) soothing illustrations, bathed in muted earth tones of soft terra cottas and moss greens, William and the other children create mild chaos. The hero runs from the freight car (where circus animals slumber) to the sleeping car (in which feathers fall like snowflakes from the children's pillow fight) to the caboose, until finally his mother cuddles him close and he falls asleep. Kelly's poetic text unspools in a seamless strand, twining scrumptious rhymes (the train's engine "filling the world with billows of steam,/ soft see-through clouds that turn into dreams") with nimble wordplay (William "squirms like a worm"; the train goes "lickety-split, helter-skelter, quick as a streak"). Jay exploits the train metaphor fully, including an engineer in pajamas and nightcap, a recurring sheep motif and a spread of the cars depicted as beds laid end to end, with the train's contents laid out horizontally. Book a ticket for this fanciful ride to dreamland. Ages 3-6. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-K-Like many children when it comes to bedtime, William is wide-awake. A night train functions as the story's metaphor for sleep. The child and his mother are shown boarding a train alongside a whimsical array of people and animals. Its destination is tomorrow and for William it can't arrive fast enough. This energetic youngster disturbs the slumber of the tired conductor and a variety of other passengers with his kinetic energy. The locomotive, of course, doesn't depart until William's mother convinces him that shutting his eyes is the best way to hasten tomorrow's arrival. Only then does the train begin its nocturnal journey toward the dawn of a new day. More imaginative uses of this motif include Chris Van Allsburg's The Polar Express (Houghton, 1985) and Paul Fleischman's Time Train (HarperCollins, 1994). Additionally, the text is marred by an inconsistent rhyme scheme. Anemic storytelling does a disservice to the innovative illustrations that feature delightfully elongated characters placed in layouts that creatively mirror the external shapes, interior spaces, and movement of the train. It's a pity that the lovely flowing visuals aren't accompanied by an equally smooth narrative.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.