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|On the Blue Comet|
Author: Wells, Rosemary
Oscar, left with his aunt while his father looks for work in California, ends up on a train that takes him to a different time and place.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 141159
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 51327
Common Core Standards
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 6 → Reading → CCR College & Career Readiness Anchor Standards fo
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Range of Reading & LEvel of Text Complexity
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Integration of Knowledge & Ideas
Grade 7 → Reading → CCR College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
Kirkus Reviews (+) (08/01/10)
School Library Journal (09/01/10)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (11/10)
The Hornbook (09/10)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 09/01/2010 Gr 4–7—An engaging story of the magic of trains and time travel. Oscar Ogilvie, 11, lives with his dad in Cairo, IL. They share a love for model trains, particularly exact replicas of existing trains. After the Crash of 1929, Oscar's dad loses his job and their house, including the model trains, and leaves for California to look for work. Lonely and sad, Oliver is left in the care of his dour Aunt Carmen. Pining for the trains and the connection to his father that they represent, he visits the Blue Comet in the basement of the First National Bank on Christmas Eve. Harold Applegate, a homeless man Oscar has befriended, is the night watchman. He explains the theory of negative velocity, or time pockets, to Oscar. When armed robbers break into the bank, Harold tells Oscar to jump into the model train set, and the boy is catapulted into an adventure that carries him from coast to coast and across time from 1931 to 1941 as he searches for his dad. His meeting with real people from the time, including Ronald Regan ("Dutch"), Alfred Hitchcock, Nelson Rockefeller, and Joe Kennedy, adds some humor, although today's kids might not recognize the names. Wells aptly portrays the magic of the model trains and of a young man's quest. She blends just enough hyperbolic elements to give the story the feel of a tall tale. Ibatoulline's precisely drawn, intricately detailed illustrations, some full page and others spreads, are stunning, and all are in full color. They enhance the 1930s setting and perfectly capture the nostalgic, wistful tone of the narrative. The sheer beauty of this winning book will attract many readers; the magic of the story and its likable protagonist will hook them.—Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME - Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 07/01/2010 Eleven-year-old Oscar’s life is disrupted when the stock market crash of 1929 forces his father to leave Illinois to find work in California. It’s a devastating loss exacerbated by the selling off of their beloved train set. Then Oscar meets a mysterious stranger named Mr. Applegate, and their intersection with a bank robbery creates a mystical moment in which Oscar escapes harm by somehow leaping into a model train. He is whisked off to California—but when he gets there, he is 21 years old. Helped by his similarly aged father, Alfred Hitchcock, and Joan Crawford’s maid (seriously!), Oscar makes another magical journey, only this time he overshoots home and ends up 6 years old in New York. The plot’s Twilight Zone potential—the intriguing concept of a spectral train providing haven for unhappy children—is not thoroughly plumbed, and one wonders at the appeal of such a retro story. Hopefully, though, readers will be all-aboard this pleasing diversion. Ibatoulline’s Rockwellian illustrations match the squeaky-clean text (even the word damned is bleeped). - Copyright 2010 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 11/01/2010 Things are looking pretty bleak for eleven-year-old Oscar Ogilvie. The Great Depression has put the squeeze on his father, a farm-machine salesman in southern Illinois; the house is repossessed, Oscar is sent to live with a strict aunt, and, worst of all, his beloved model-train layout ends up as part of the bank’s Christmas display. Mr. Applegate, the bank’s night watchman and Oscar’s personal friend, allows the boy in to play with his train after hours, and on Christmas Eve the trauma of a bank robbery transports Oscar into the world of the model train, headed west to meet his father in California. Locating Dad is actually the easy part. Upon arrival Oscar finds himself and Dad aged by ten years, the Army drafting young men for World War II, and newspapers and police still pursuing the 1931 case of a bank robbery in which the night watchman was killed and the eleven-year-old witness was kidnapped. Dodging the draft, getting everyone back into their proper time period, preventing Applegate’s death, collecting the reward, and reclaiming his house and train involves a few Hollywood luminaries, a meeting with pre-crash New York financiers, and more time-warping train travel. Both the Christmas setting and Ibatoulline’s photorealistic full-color illustrations may call to mind some of the Polar Express atmosphere middle-graders remember from when they were just kids. It’s all a bit more overdrawn and convoluted than it needs to be, but the delight of boarding the classic rolling stock compensates for any ragged plot edges. This plays to an age group often shortchanged amid a glut of Christmas picture books, and it should be welcome as an offbeat holiday read. EB - Copyright 2010 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.