Two Sides to the Story
The song version of Casey Jones's death in a fateful collision is what brought me to this fictional story-book. Gorgeous full-color illustrations bring to life the upbringing and career of an African-American fireman (engineer's assistant) on a powerful steam locomotive. Sim Webb's efforts to save Casey Jones are ultimately unsuccessful: there's a vivid Satan-like figure, a gold steam whistle that casts a malevolent spell on the engineer, a horrible crash, and a beautiful, reassuring ending. Sure, it's moralistic, but it's a powerful story and Nancy Farmer tells it well, and James Bernardin paints it so you can feel the heat from the flames on your cheek as you read.