All Aboard! Elijah McCoy’s Steam Engine

Ever wondered about ‘The Real McCoy’? This animated story of Elijah McCoy, a black inventor from the mid-1800’s, portrays his humble journey of curiosity that led him to ingeniously create an efficient and safe method of train travel.

Author: Monica Kulling

Illustrator: Bill Slavin

Length: 40 pages, between 40-120 words per page

Ages: 4-10

Word Choice: This is a fictionalized biography, well depicted for elementary school children.  It also includes a poem about the Underground Railroad at the beginning of the book, which is suitable for older kids who are learning about Black history.  The story introduces concepts and vocabulary that might be new for younger kids.  Though it would be a long story for the short attention span of many preschoolers, those who are inquisitive about trains may enjoy this story as it is written in a way that is imaginative and easy to understand.

Illustrations: The full page watercolour and ink illustrations are cleverly done, making this a visually stimulating story.  We enjoyed the amusing facial expressions and the detailed machinery.

Read-aloud-ability:  Though this is a longer book to read aloud, the writing style makes it an enjoyable read and it doesn’t feel long or tedious to read out loud repeatedly.

Additional thoughts: I read this to my 2 1/2 year old and he was fascinated.  The illustrations and descriptions of the mechanical parts held his attention no problem.  This is written for a slightly older audience, a younger child won’t understand the issues of race and prejudice that are hinted at in the story.  But if you are looking for a good story for an inquisitive preschooler who loves trains and likes to pretend to fix things, I highly recommend this one!

Kids’ Vote: 5 Stars

Parents’ Vote: 5 Stars

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

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