Trunks All Aboard: An Elephant ABC

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9780887765360: Trunks All Aboard: An Elephant ABC
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When Grandpa goes traveling, he sends home postcards. But these are no ordinary postcards, and Grandpa is no ordinary man. At the turn of the century, Sir William Cornelius Van Horne was one of the most influential businessmen in North America. While in Europe in 1909, retired railroad president William Cornelius Van Horne sent hand-drawn postcards to his grandson in Montreal. He loved to draw elephants: elephants standing at the rail of an ocean liner, elephants smoking cigars on trains, and of course, elephants with their “trunks all aboard.”

Author Barbara Nichol was inspired by this collection of elephantine epistles and has written the whimsical and fanciful verse that captures the turn-of-century spirit of Van Horne’s creations.

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About the Author:

Barbara Nichol is the author of Dippers, a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, and Biscuits in the Cupboard, winner of the Mr. Christie Book Award. She is the director of the Juno Award-winning, platinum recording Beethoven Lives Upstairs, and author of the book. She has worked extensively in television and radio, including work for “Sesame Street,” and the CBC radio program "Ideas." She is also the author of The Home for Blind Women, which won a Genie Award for best short film.

Sir William Cornelius Van Horne was born in Illinois in 1843. He left school while in his teens and began to work for the railway. In 1881, he was hired to oversee the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Canada’s transcontinental railroad. When he officially retired from the CPR in 1899, Van Horne worked on the creation of railways in Central America and pursued his many hobbies: farming, geology, painting, and art collecting. Van Horne died in 1915. His body was transported by train to a burial site in Joliet, Illinois.

From Publishers Weekly:

At the heart of this handsomely designed volume are charming drawings that Van Horne, a wealthy American-born businessman who once ran the Canadian Pacific Railway, sent home to his grandson while traveling in Europe in 1909. Each signed "Grandpa" and mostly rendered on hotel stationery (the locales of which are nearly as interesting as the illustrations themselves), the pictures feature elephants engaged in a variety of pastimes, many with a travel theme. Polished pen-and-ink and watercolor wash illustrations of a cigar-smoking pachyderm standing on the deck of an ocean liner, riding in a train and lifting a glass of wine with a friend suggest the artist's own activities abroad. Meanwhile, simpler compositions capture more universal activities (a baby elephant pulling on the tail of its elder, a quartet of elephants dancing, etc.). Nichol (Beethoven Lives Upstairs) strings the quaint vignettes together alphabetically, using a first name she has assigned to each elephant. She acknowledges the artifice with a wink, as when she introduces Kay, on a picnic--"She's brought along some guests, and it's convenient, you'll agree:/ Her friends go by initials, which are L.M.N.O.P." The author's tone and syntax reflect the Victorian flavor of the drawings, and the result is an aesthetic pleasure. Ages 4-8.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Nichol, Barbara
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