Review: Engine Number Ten by Rose Ann Woolpert

Engine Number Ten

Engine Number Ten by Rose Ann Woolpert, illustrated by Jaguar Studio Design

This is the story of how granite was quarried over one hundred years ago in California.  First work was done with mules and small wooden carts.  Then little steam trains were used on the narrow tracks, shuttling back and forth with loads of rock.  Steadily, more steam trains were used until they had ten steam trains and one steam shovel working in the quarry.  Then diesel locomotives started to replace the oldest steam engines until just Number Ten was still working.  The other steam trains had been taken apart and sold.  A new diesel engine was purchased for the quarry, pulling huge loads of granite with ease.  Number Ten was sent off to be scrapped.  But then something happened that changed Number Ten’s fate, a rockslide trapped the diesel engine.  There was only one train that could rescue her:  Number Ten!

Woolpert successfully mixes the true story of the Number Ten engine that now is on display at the Railroad Museum in Sacramento with personified engines that eagerly say “Yes, I Will!”  Her writing is refreshingly clear and playful, allowing the momentum of the true story itself to set a brisk pace. 

The illustrations are a mix of vintage photographs and black and white drawings that are often superimposed upon the photos.  This echoes the story being a mix of history and fiction.  The result is clearly historical but also very friendly.

This is the first book in the “Yes, We Will” series which will continue to tell the stories of the machines and people of Graniterock, a business in northern California.  It’s a good pick for young train enthusiasts or those interested in American history.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from the author.