Book review & Giveaway: The Train With No Name (personalized storybook)

Skyping with my grandson can be an exercise in futility. At three years old, he'd much rather be off riding his big-boy bike or racing his firetruck around in pursuit of imagined emergencies. He doesn't usually sit still long enough for meaningful Skyping sessions.

That's usually the case. That was not the case the last time we Skyped, though. Last time we Skyped he sat still, enthralled with all Gramma had to say. What changed was that I read to him a book I had recently received for review. A personalized storybook, created just for him.

The book was The Train With No Name by J.W. Dixon ($16.95), a Create-A-Book sent to me by Just Kids Gifts. The story, about, well, a train with no name, featured my grandson and three of his friends, and it took place in the town where he lives. (I assure you the creators aren't stalkers; I provided all the information when contacted by Just Kids Gifts.)

Trains are always a big attention-getter for my grandson, so I had him at page one. Hearing his name and the names of his buddies kept him focused on the story through the very last page, imagining that he—as protagonist—was the engineer of a train working to avert disaster on the tracks.

My grandson sipped his juice and nibbled his snack as he listened closely and watched Gramma turn the pages 815 miles away. When the story ended, he agreed The Train With No Name would be a fantastic addition to his book collection, one he'll eagerly await to arrive in the mail from Gramma.

What Bubby and I loved most about the book: The storyline is fast-paced and featured just enough turmoil on the tracks to keep Bubby wondering what would come next. The richly colored and cutely animated illustrations perfectly matched the story. I thought it especially nice that the engineer who was supposedly Bubby was shown only in shadow so Bubby could imagine himself driving the train. The personalization of the book—Bubby's name, three friends, and hometown—were cleverly integrated into the story without the awkward fill-in-the-blank feel of many personalized stories and such for children. Also, the high quality of the hardcover book (with a washable cover) assures the storybook will endure many years of bedtime—and daytime—readings by Bubby.

To find out more about The Train With No Name and other personalized storybooks and gifts, visit Just Kids Gifts, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

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