Super strong steam engine Reuben Wells is so powerful he pushes freight cars up steep Madison Hill. He loves to hear the children cheer as he rumbles past the other engines. The townspeople proclaim Reuben “Hero of the Iron Rails.” But old Mr. Bright warns Reuben not to get too used to the attention. Someday, another engine—faster and stronger—will come along and steal his thunder. “Never!” says Reuben. “I climb the hill in half the time it takes the other trains.” Soon, Dexter—a brand new train—whooshes into town. Reuben challenges him to a race. But Dexter is twice as fast as Reuben!
Now, the children cheer for Dexter, and Reuben spends most of his time in the freight yard with the older engines. He hears them tell scary stories about trains being sent to the scrap yard—taken apart and left to rust. One day, a man with a bucket of paint comes into the freight yard. Reuben trembles as he watches the man slap a big, red “S” on Mr. Bright. Poor Mr. Bright is heading to the scrap yard. The man walks over to Reuben. He, too, feels the cold, wet curve of an “S” on his side. Is Reuben bound for the scrap yard, too?
Reuben Rides the Rails is the story of how the Reuben Wells steam engine came to live in the basement of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Author B.G. McLaughlin brings steel and steam to life by infusing Reuben with human emotion. Jennifer Zivoin’s vibrant colors and expressive illustrations capture Reuben’s nostalgic journey as he makes his mark in history along the ever- advancing timeline of technology.