Steam, Smoke, and Steel by Patrick O'Brien
Back in Time with Trains

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Synopsis

All aboard! This train travels through history making stops in time to learn about the progress of travel by rail.

Hop up into the cab of a speeding modern-day locomotive and look down the tracks into the past. Perhaps these are the same tracks that the diesel-electric locomotives of thirty years ago thundered down, pulling their loads. Perhaps you can see the steam engines of thirty years before that. Watch time unravel and the landscape change as the history of trains barrels through the pages of STEAM, SMOKE AND STEEL: BACK IN TIME WITH TRAINS.

The first trains puffed great billowing clouds of smoke and showered passengers with burning embers as they sped down the rails at a pulse-pounding twenty miles an hour! By the 1850's, however, trains were traveling much faster, much farther, and much cleaner and train travel contributed to the growth of our nation. Young readers will be fascinated by the exciting -- and sometimes dangerous -- story of trains while they learn about the different kinds of engines, equipment, and jobs necessary for operating trains throughout history. The young narrator introduces readers to trains from the time of his great-great-great-great-great grandfather at the turn of the nineteenth century to his father's train of today, showing the great changes that invention and progress have brought over time.

Patrick O'Brien's striking illustrations emphasize the beauty, grandeur, and romance of the train. Detailed and richly textured oil paintings take readers on a trip through time to ride aboard open-air cars, travel through mountain passes, and roar down the rails on high-speed bullet trains. Budding engineers will love getting a glimpse at the past and dreaming about the future of trains.
 

About Patrick O'Brien

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Patrick O'Brien was raised a Navy "brat" and moved around a lot as a child, but now he calls Baltimore, Maryland, home. He grew up drawing and painting, but did not realize that he should be an illustrator until after he graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in biology. He then attended art school at Virginia Commonwealth University and started a successful freelance career drawing storyboards for advertising agencies.In addition to STEAM, SMOKE and STEEL, Patrick has illustrated several other children's books, including A WASP IS NOT A BEE (Holt), A PIRATE'S LIFE FOR ME, BOTTOMS UP: A BOOK ABOUT REAR ENDS (Holt), and GIGANTIC: HOW BIG WERE THE DINOSAURS (Holt).
 
Published July 1, 2000 by Charlesbridge. 32 pages
Genres: Children's Books.

Unrated Critic Reviews for Steam, Smoke, and Steel

Kirkus Reviews

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Beginning in the present and going backward in time, vignettes about a circus train, a Jessie James holdup, and a race between a stagecoach and an early locomotive are interspersed with technical information about trains and building the rails of the period.

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Publishers Weekly

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Starting with his father (who drives a giant locomotive) and working his way back to his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather (""one of the very first people ever to drive a train in this country""), the narrator describes the generations both of his family and of trains.

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