The Train of States (a Review)

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Train of States - a review of the book for elementary age students at

“The train of states is rolling by — rush to the window and watch it go! — The very first car? The very first state: — Delaware, of course, — followed by Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia … — fifty in all. — The caboose? Washington, D.C.! Look closely! What do you see? — State birds, state flowers, state trees … — forty-three presidents! Can you find them all? Can you spot the flags, heroes, animals, and landmarks adorning the train of states? Clickety clack, clickety clack.  Rush out the door, rush to the track. Where is the train going? Come along! Over the prairie, over the mountains, down a green valley, and into a billowing tent. It’s time for a party — it’s time to celebrate the fifty states!”

So reads the book jacket of a wonderful book, The Train of States by Peter Sis. This brilliantly illustrated and incredibly educational book is a must-read for anyone doing United States studies! This book is a children’s picture book following a train…but not just any old train– each car of the train represents a different state. What makes it extra special is that the train cars are in order of statehood! This is a great reinforcement of geography/history lessons encouraging the memorization of statehood order!

While each of the train cars focuses on a specific state, you will always find the same basic information: state name (and where the name came from), date of statehood, state nickname, state motto, state capital, state tree, state bird, and state flower. Every state car also includes a random fact…most which are rather humorous. I mean did YOU know that since 1960 there has been a 600-pound butter sculpture of a dairy cow at the Iowa State Fair?

The most interesting aspect of the book is to see what people, places, events, and objects the author chose to represent each state. Some of the selections are very obvious, but some are more subtle and hidden. Famous people are represented as carved elements of the train car or with small illustrations (ie. Tecumseh, Elvis Presley, Antonin Dvorak, all 43 Presidents, etc). Sometimes it’s a famous event that is in the spotlight (ie. Washington crossing the Delaware river on New Jersey’s state car). The illustrations are great fun to see what you can spot!

The Train of States

My eight year-old liked the book very much, as we’ve been doing a state study this year. We investigated all the states we’ve learned thus far, but I think we spent the most time looking at our own state car (Kentucky).

My three year-old liked the very colorful illustrations and the little pictures “hiding” on each state car. He took great glee out of finding little birds or other animals. The Train of States was such a hit for us, that I went and purchased it for our own personal library. I want to have it to refer back to many times in our studies!

If your child is studying or very interested in American History or Geography, you will definitely want to add The Train of States to your booklist for your next library adventure!

Find It In Your Library!

  • Title: The Train of States
  • Author/Illustrator: Peter Sis
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; 2004
  • ISBN: 978-0060578404
  • Genre: Juvenile Fiction; K-5


About Lisa McKinney

Lisa’s been married to the love of her life for 11 years after being transplanted from the city life in Washington (the state!) to the farm life in Kentucky. They have two amazing boys and are embracing the country life. She enjoys bringing some of her family’s farm adventures to life on her blog including posts about homeschooling, cooking, the farm and just life in general. She has a love for cooking, is a glitter junkie and a book hoarder who dances around the kitchen to old movie musical soundtracks. The glass is absolutely half-full in her life and she thanks God for all the little things that He shares with her every day.

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