Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 8, 2022

Book Giveaway: LET’S BUILD A LITTLE TRAIN by Julia Richardson

Julia Richardson’s debut picture book, LET’S BUILD A LITTLE TRAIN, illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke and published by Sleeping Bear Press is hitting book shelves tomorrow (September 9th). They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Julia and Ryan.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!


From the boiler to the coupling, build a little train along with an engineer and her workers. This rhyming story will have readers chugging along with the team as the train takes shape. Just don’t forget the caboose! Woot! Woot!

Excerpts from Kirkus review: Part story, part information, all rhyming train celebration. Robust vocabulary (bogiecoupling) will intrigue newer train fans while tickling advanced enthusiasts.

The combination of rhymes, chugging sound effect prompts, and tender illustrations makes this a strong choice for both storytimes and one-on-one sharing. Terrific.


When coming up with picture book ideas, I like to think back to my childhood. What fascinated me? What got me excited? What seemed magical? These are topics I write about.

My love of trains began when I was a young child. I was related to the owner of a train museum. The entire upstairs of his huge red barn held a model train layout with over 2500 feet of track, 30 engines, 250 cars, 75 bridges, and 40 tunnels. My siblings and I had so much fun visiting. With excited squeals, we followed the trains as they chugged past farmhouses with barnyards full of miniature animals, clattered across suspension bridges, entered towns with a whistle and a puff of real smoke, and then disappeared into one of the many tunnels in the side of a mountain. The best part was guessing where the train would reappear.

In addition to the museum, my mother made magical train cakes for birthdays (that’s me under her arm in the photo below). Each car was frosted a different pastel color and filled with candies. Back in those days, we didn’t have a lot of candy, so it was a rare treat.

When I decided to write a story about a train, I remember staring at this photo while struggling to come up with an original idea. A question popped into my mind–how did my mother make these cakes? And then the nugget for Let’s Build a Little Train–how are steam engines made?

Once I started researching, I was amazed how ordinary steam moves a heavy train. I was also overwhelmed with the challenge of condensing a mountain of detailed, technical information into a few hundred simple words that young children could understand. For added exasperation, I had the crazy idea to write the story in rhyme in order to reflect the rhythmic sound of a moving train. I almost gave up. Many times. But stubbornness prevailed.

Turns out, writing the main text was the easiest part of the process. Coming up with a creative way to eliminate the sing-songy sound of the rhyme had me stumped for months. Finally, it occurred to me to add lengthening “chugga, choo, choo” sounds between stanzas, which would correlate nicely with the building of the train. Not only did this break up the rhythm, it added an irresistible element of fun. Fortunately, Sarah Rockett, an editor at Sleeping Bear Press, agreed.

Because I worked with Sarah on my debut picture book, I trusted she would find a terrific illustrator and she did! Ryan O’Rourke’s colorful illustrations capture the excitement of the emerging train perfectly. Every page shines.

I hope this story fosters a curiosity in children about inventions and the way they work as well as an appreciation of teamwork. And most importantly, I hope it is fun!


Julia Richardson sees beauty. Her writing inspires children to fall in love with the world. Though Julia adores being a children’s book author, when she was young, reading and writing were difficult for her. In first grade, Julia was diagnosed with a severe case of dyslexia. Because of this, she was in the lowest reading group and wrote every letter upside down and backwards. Fortunately, dedicated teachers helped Julia overcome these challenges. By the time she reached middle school, Julia loved reading, but writing continued to be a challenge. Julia’s path to publication encourages children to believe in their dreams.

When Julia isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking with her dog, listening to wild birds, lounging in a secluded hammock overlooking a field of wildflowers with a book, and spending time with her family.


Ryan O’Rourke is a freelance illustrator and educator. He loves the process of solving visual problems in a variety of unique, dynamic ways. Ryan creates his work with a mix of traditional and digital techniques. He specializes in hand-lettering, map illustration, and children’s books. Ryan has illustrated fourteen books to date. His client list includes HarperCollins, Sterling Publishing, Boyds Mills Kane Press, Clarion Publishing, Charlesbridge Publishing, Greenwillow Books, and many more.

Ryan lives in New Hampshire with his wife, three children, a dog, and a cat. He enjoys hiking, gardening, basketball, horror movies, and coffee, lots and lots of coffee. Ryan is also an Associate Professor of Illustration at The Institute of Art and Design at New England College.

Thank you Julia for sharing your book and journey with us. So many children are fascinated with trains. They will love this book and I am sure it will grab the interest of those children who have not been on a train or around them. Ryan did a wonderful jo illustrating the book. In fact it was this book that made me check out his website and invite you to be featured on Illustrator Saturday. If you missed it. Here is the link. He is fascinating. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Congrats on your book!! “For added exasperation” was my favorite part 😂 as a fellow rhyme writer. Absolutely loved the back story. My son is just 15 months but I made him a (Little Blue) truck cake for his first birthday. I hope he will have fond memories like you do! I look forward to reading this to him sometime.
    I’m an email subscriber:)


    • Thank you, Hannah. Your son’s cake sounds adorable. I did have a photo of my mother’s cake, but it must have been too old to include in the blog post–such fond memories. Good luck with your writing!


  2. So cute! This sounds fascinating, just like the trains themselves. Congratulations! Train lovers will, well, love this one!

    I follow by email.


  3. I do get your blog, and I would love the train book to add to my collection. The illustrations are wonderful! But please don’t give me an extra ticket until I know you got my note about not being able to email you.
    Thank you. 😉


  4. Is this your email Kathy?

    Just wanted to make sure I could contact you in some way, and still cannot figure it out. Thank you. Looking forward to Mr. Rogers.



  5. Congratulations, Julia!


  6. I would enjoy reading and reviewing this fun book. I’m an email subscriber and shared on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and tumblr.


  7. Wow, I love this premise. What a wonderful sounding book with lovely illustrations! Congrats!


  8. I can’t wait to read this book. My 4 year old grandson loves trains. I will share on FB, Twitter, and Pinterest.


    • My grandson loves trains too! Thanks for your enthusiasm. 🙂


  9. This is such a great little book! Congrats, Julia!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is so intriguing and I love the illustrations. I can’t wait to read the whole book. Congrats!


    • I love the illustrations too! Ryan did an amazing job. Thanks Maria.


  11. Thank you for this interview!
    Congratulations on your new book!
    I subscribe to the blog.


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