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Reviewed by Sarah Scheele for Readers' Favorite
The Freight Train in the Sky is a sweet, easy-to-read chapter book for children. Author Holden Russell introduces young readers to an orphan named Paul, who lives with nuns in an orphanage because his parents died as a result of widespread disease. Although well cared for, Paul feels lonely and has never fully faced the grief of losing his parents. He channels his emotions into a fascination with the stars and with mythology. After studying constellations and myths through books, he sees a shooting star. He journeys through the constellations on a train run by a benevolent spirit man called the Conductor. And Paul soon finds the heavenly realms hold something he could never have hoped to wish for.
The Freight Train in the Sky is a beautifully told narrative. Lightly floating sentences and expert storytelling created amazing visual images that made me feel like I was watching a good animated movie. I was really entranced by Holden Russell’s seemingly simple but emotionally very charged tale. The adventure aspect is just what beginning readers and their parents look for in a fantasy story. The majestic legendary figures like Hercules and Sagittarius help Paul learn (my favorite was the episode onboard the Argo). The inclusion of Paul’s family in his journey injects a vein of elemental pagan dignity that will help children understand why ancient peoples told stories about the constellations. A solid book that uses mythology as its basis, The Freight Train in the Sky was very enjoyable.