Running with Trains: A Novel in Poetry and Two Voices

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9781590788639: Running with Trains: A Novel in Poetry and Two Voices
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Is the grass greener on the other side of the train window? Even a brief brush with a stranger can change our lives. It’s 1970, and Perry feels adrift in turbulent times: his father is missing in action in Vietnam, his mother is studying to become a nurse in the city, his older sister has become a peacenik in college. Traveling between his hometown, where he lives with his grandmother, and his mother’s house in Cincinnati, Perry notices Steve, whose farm lies on the B&O railroad line. Steve likes to race the train as it blows by his fields; Steve skillfully sends his collie after an escaped cow; Steve watches the Cincinnatian, longing for its speed, longing for adventure. In alternating voices, Michael J. Rosen’s poems weave a tale of two boys one wishing for the stability of home, the other yearning to travel and the unexpected impact of their fleeting encounter.

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About the Author:

Michael J. Rosen earned an MFA in poetry from Columbia University. His many books for children include The Cuckoo’s Haiku, which was a Kirkus Best Book, a VOYA Poetry Pick of 2009, and was named to the NCTE’s list of 20 Notable Poetry Books of 2009. He lives in Glenford, Ohio.

From School Library Journal:

Gr 5-7-It is 1969. Thirteen-year-old Perry's father is MIA in Vietnam. Nine-year-old Steve is stuck working on the family farm. Each week Perry rides the Cincinnatian across rural Ohio from his grandmother's house to visit his mother, who is away trying to earn a nursing degree, and contemplates his transient life. Steve dreams of escaping the routine of farm life. Their lives briefly intersect throughout the book as they catch glimpses of one another through the train window and imagine how much greener the grass must be in the other's experience. The result is an introspective, quiet portrait of two boys on the brink of young adulthood. The tumultuous era in which their tale is set enters into the picture periodically, most frequently in the form of references to Perry's father and his absent, hippie sister, and sets a fitting backdrop for the boys' inner unrest. Rosen delivers well-crafted verse and plays with a few different poetic forms to paint a vivid portrait of the Ohio landscape, but as the plot ultimately goes little further than that described above, the book will likely struggle to find an audience.-Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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