The Caboose Who Got Loose: Bill Peet's Ilustrated Masterpiece

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Some read-alouds are a real rollicking ride.

Challenging the brain the first time around, yet they manage to remain a wonder many months and years later.

Can there be anything better than a book that stands out for several decades in the fast-paced world of picture book publishing?

As you may know, I only review children's books that we buy for our home library.

Yep, it is a pretty limiting rule.

But that does not mean that we do not frequent libraries. Far from it!

And sometimes, we dig up a gem or two in a public library - that we simply have to include in our home collection.
The Caboose Who Got Loose is a gem that we simply had to order, as it simply exudes great vocabulary and exuberant syntax on every single page.

It is not too simple a story, yet it is not too complex.

This is a book in verse, which adds a whole new lawyer of enjoyment.

Bill Peet's fabulous story simply shines in rhyme and it has captured the hearts of my kids. And I am happy to report it is a fully blown love affair these days.

The best books remain challenging - as your children grow with them. 

So, if you are searching for the best - it is not a flashy conquest that you should be looking for.

No, this book grows on your child and as such is a perfect addition to a home library.

The Examined Life Of A Caboose

If a good picture book sings, then a good picture book in verse sings and dances
           PJ Lyons

Let me be truthful, this book did not capture the fancy of my boy and girl the very first time we read it.

It is not like they didn't like it, they loved the pictures - but the text was maybe a bit surprising.

Not banal.

In rhyming verse.



Yes, there are books like that still.

Books that require listening skills.

Or better said, books that build listening skills.

Bill Peet - who worked as an animator for Walt Disney Studios for more than two decades - is a natural and no wonder that he has written and illustrated more than thirty well-loved books for kids during his career. He is also author of a Caldecott Honor Book - Bill Peet: An Autobiography.

Peet extremely popular among kids, according to the ultimate connoisseur  of children's books Anita Silvey. He was so beloved, in fact, that in the eyes of many kids he was even "more important than the president".

I knew the caboose was a winner when my four-year olds started laughing at Katy's fright from a smoke-filled tunnel as dark as night.

"As she crept through the tunnel with a horrible thought
That far back in the darkness she'd suddenly be caught
By caboose-eating monsters who lurked all about
The would gobble her up before she got out."

They split their sides whenever they hear this wonderful rhyme about the secretive caboose-eating monsters!

And the scenery - changes from page to page and it keeps the story moving and is perfectly integrated with the story in verse.

A deep story about a seemingly mundane life of a caboose.

This is no ordinary caboose, it is a caboose that wants more from life.

Katy is a caboose that does not resign herself to the simple life of a the last car in a train composition.

She travels the country and she desires more.

How inspirational a message to share with your kids.

But what until you see what Bill Peet has in store for us.

After a chance meeting, with the shack of a switchman, Katy learns that there is someone who envies her life.

And things finally change. Katy understands that her unhappiness was without reason.

Satisfaction in life is all about maintaining the proper perspective.

With her new point of view, Katy's life changes for the better.

The End

Wait, strike that!

The drama just begins, in fact!

I cannot tell you everything about the last third of the book, but if you must know, here are some tidbits:

- Katy takes off and flies like a kite

- Katy squeezes between the tops of two evergreen trees

- Katy hides above a startled bull moose.

Who would have guessed?

Indeed, this is a real rollicking read-aloud for every family.

A fantastic challenge for the reader and the listener.

Borderline perfection.

The Caboose Who Got Loose is available from bookstores in the US


The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

and other countries:

Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE


  1. I loved Bill Peet books as a child but somehow he's escaped my kids notice. Thanks for the reminder! Will have to get some of his books!

  2. You are most welcome PragmaticMom!

    I knew that his books were good, but I was really bowled over by the quality of Peet's verse in The Caboose That Got Loose!

    Your kids are certain to enjoy his books - happy reading!

    Read Aloud Dad

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