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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Batavia: Lego Day

Scenes from last year's
Batavia library
 Lego Day
Batavia, IL -- (Saturday, Jan. 25) Lego trains will be among the displays to see this Saturday at Batavia Public Library. The library's popular Lego Day will be open between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The Lego city scenes, which will include an elevated train, will be the work of ChiLUG -- Chicago Area Lego Users Group. Young builders will have a chance to make Lego creations of their own at the event, too. There are no admission fees or registration requirements. 

The library is located at 10 S. Batavia Ave., Batavia. 

A past Lego Day 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Magazine alert: Trains Magazine Big Boy issue

The perfect Easter basket present has been found! Trains magazine is now promoting their upcoming Big Boy issue, which will detail the process of bringing back to life the Union Pacific "Big Boy" engine. They are promising 100 pages of information on the restoration process for California's No. 4014. These 1940s engines were legendary for the power they brought to railroading over the mountains of the west coast. In my house, the story of the Big Boy has been a long-time favorite and my Senior Engineer can rattle off facts about its wheel alignment, engine power and service routes faster than a baseball fan can recite game stats. Parents, our schools (and our kids' future employees) want to see our young people develop their non-fiction reading skills. Even though its not a "kids" magazine, this is the kind of material that will get them excited about reading and developing those abilities. 

Big Boy: On the Road to Restoration is due to be published in April, with reservations (at a discount price) available on their website now. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Train Book Alert: "Train" by Elisha Cooper

When I head to the library, my Senior Engineer almost always asks for train books to be brought home. We were both delighted to discover the new picture book Train by Elisha Cooper. With lilting illustrations and flowing narration, Train depicts the journey of several kinds of trains across the country. It was a special treat to find the Passenger Train "thundering into ... the outskirts of a midwestern city filled with smokestacks and factories and belching steam." Even the youngest Chicagoan, or suburban visitor, will see a skyline filled with very familiar skyscrapers. That real-life inspiration for the scenes on these pages extends to the rolling stock on every page. Images of Amtrak and Union Pacific engines, as well as cargo cars branded with recognizable names (CSX, Norfolk Southern, ADM, Hanjin), fills this picture book with enough detail to appeal to the maturing young reader, as well as their younger siblings. Those older readers, or parents of any question-asking train fan, will appreciate the glossary and notes with more than a dozen railroad terms explained. 

Find Train at libraries and bookstores



Thursday, January 2, 2014

Road trip alert: Wisconsin Dells and Middleton, Wisconsin

A past visit to the
Mid-Continent Railway Museum
in North Freedom, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Dells -- Our holiday plans took us up to the Wisconsin Dells last week. While we didn't have time to take in the area tourist attractions beyond our hotel pool, our Senior Engineer noticed several activities he would like to visit next time we are in the area. (Once kids start to read well, nothing escapes their notice, does it?) When your travel plans take you north, too, here are some fun outings ideas for your own train fans: 

  • Buffalo Phil's Pizza & Grill: Find this restaurant at the Tanger Outlet Mall and enjoy food delivered by train. 
  • Riverside & Great Northern Railway: When this 15-inch gauge railroad opens in the spring, you'll be able to enjoy a steam train ride along a three-mile route through the scenic Dells. There's also a free museum and gift shop. 
  • Mid-Continent Railway Museum: Located not to far away in North Freedom, this is a museum my family has been visiting for years, so the kids are eager to enjoy it again soon. A "Snow Train" weekend is coming up in mid-February, then the season opens for good in May. In the meantime, website visitors can follow the "Restoration Journal" to see the progress volunteers are making on the museum's steam engine collection. 
Travel Tangent: On your way to or from the Dells, you might find yourself in need of refreshment. I love quirky museums, so it was a delight to finally stop at the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, near Madison. Further proof that trains are everywhere you look, among the vast collection of mustard jars from around the world, we found model train cars emblazoned with mustard brands. They are something to peek at while pondering which of the hundreds of mustard varieties you might want to sample with the museum's fresh pretzels. Yummy fun!


At the Mustard Museum, Middleton Wisconsin


At the Mustard Museum, Middleton Wisconsin