29 July 2014

California HSR "Assured" and "Ordinary" in Kids Book

Can a children’s book have an affect on transportation policy? Can it give a push to create California High-Speed Rail? Elisha Cooper’s Train may just achieve that in its own quiet way.
View of California High Speed Rail train crossing from Oakland to San Francisco. Image: Elisha Cooper
Having a two-year old child means reading books to her. I often go to the library to check out books. Some are good. Some are boring but colorful. But once in a while the book is both good for kids, and has a bigger message beyond kids.

Train (2013), by Elisha Cooper is a story that takes us on a train journey across America from New York to California. We start off at a Grand Central Station inspired commuter rail station, and arrive at a suburban station. As commuters get off the train, an Amtrak train passes by, which we then follow. As the story progresses, we cross the country switching types of trains, from commuter to passenger long-distance, to freight, to overnight passenger, and finally high speed rail.

The book grabbed my attention for showing a high-speed rail train in a book that treated the train as regular as any other train. Many perceive high-speed trains as futuristic, or fantasy – but placing it in a children’s book as just another train made it feel so normal. It felt as if we should expect the train, just like we expect new construction at an airport, or expect the next technological advancement.

"Train" cover. Book by Elisha Cooper.