Book Review: Hocus Pocus Takes the Train

30 Sep

Today’s book review is for Hocus Pocus Takes the Train, story by Sylvie Desrosiers, illustrations by Remy Simard, published by Kids Can Press. I received an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hocus Pocus Takes the Train is a wordless comic adventure for children. It’s a book that both readers and pre-readers can enjoy. Despite the lack of text, there is still a strong, rich story to be enjoyed.

Desrosiers has written a story about a magician’s rabbit who find’s a toddler’s stuffed rabbit toy. He wants to reunite toy and child–but he will have to face a tight train schedule, an intimidating dog, and more to achieve his goal. The story is fast-paced and action packed, while at the same time sweet and heart-warming. Children will enjoy Hocus Pocus’s clever problem soliving, resourcefulness, and persistence in completing his quest.

Simard’s art tells the story wonderfully. In a wordless comic, the pictures must tell the full story in order for it to work. This story definitely works. His angular characters and spring-time palette are appealing to the eye and echo the style of popular cartoons. They inform the audience that this is a playful tale with a happy ending.

One of the things that I like about wordless comics is how well they can be used in a classroom setting. They provide an excellent opportunity for writing exercises where students have to provide the text that should accompany the images. It also encourages children to learn how to read and decode visual media. We live in a world where visual literacy is often just as important as verbal. We are surrounded by infographics, advertisements, and IKEA instruction manuals that we are expected to make sense of. Comics, particularly wordless volumes, can help to develop the skills needed to do so.

This book earns 5 out of 5 stars for great story, great illustration, and great design. I think that it’s a great example of why comics are becoming an increasingly well respected medium in children’s literature.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.

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6 Responses to “Book Review: Hocus Pocus Takes the Train”

  1. Jemima Pett October 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    A wordless comic! I didnt know such things existed. They must be very useful in a setting with a lot of immigrant children too, especially if kids without a common langauge can enjoy the same stories. Thanks for linking it to the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

    • D. October 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

      Another good wordless comic for children is Robot Dreams by Sara Varon. And, of course, you’re right about them also being a great tool to use with children (and adults) who are English language learners. They’re really versatile, but I think that a lot of people still don’t know quite what to make of them. One, because they’re stuck in the mindset that books are supposed to have words, darn it! Two, because comics were long regarded as second class citizens of the literary world.

  2. krissottoh October 3, 2013 at 1:44 am #

    I’ve not had any wordless books at home but have begun realising how helpful they can be after so many teachers recommend them.

    • Destiny October 3, 2013 at 2:08 am #

      They can really tap into different thinking centers in the brain than conventional books do. If you have access to a public library, you could ask the children’s librarian for suggestions of wordless books–that way you can try them out before you spend money.

  3. Stacie Theis (@beachboundbooks) October 4, 2013 at 12:13 am #

    I love these types of books. My daughter used to really enjoy the Carl Books. I always had her tell me the story based on the pictures. Perfect for pre-readers. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Destiny October 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

      I don’t think that I’ve seen the Carl Books. Do you happen to have a link to any of them? I wonder if my library has any.

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