Stephen King’s new children’s book is about a talking train named Charlie the Choo Choo
Hey, parents! Are you tired of all the sleep you’ve been getting? Do you wish you had more quality time with your child at 3:00 in the morning? Have you had it with your kid’s Thomas the Train obsession? Well, America’s master of horror, Stephen King, has the answer to your problems. It’s his new children’s book, Charlie the Choo Choo.
Written under the pseudonym Beryl Evans, Charlie the Choo Choo is the story of Charlie, a “gruff” (i.e. psychopathic) little engine with a crazy smile and dead eyes who is best friends with his conductor, Engineer Bob. One day Bob’s boss, Mr. Briggs, tell Bob that Charlie has had his last lube job and is being retired to make way for the new Burlington Zephyr diesel locomotive. This is where things go from creepy to dark as Charlie rusts away in the train yard, contemplating his wasted life and inevitable death. That would be a great time to tuck your kids in with a cheery, “Remember, one day we will all become old, abandoned, and dead. Good night.”
Amazon claims that the book is for ages 4-8 and grades preschool-3rd. We argue that maybe not so much.
King created this book as part of a promotion for the movie Dark Tower. The movie is based on his series of books and will be released in February. Also, the movie stars Idris Elba in case that factors into your decision about whether or not you’re going to see it, and to answer your next question, no you can’t buy all the tickets yet. But back to the book….
In the third book of the Dark Tower series, titled The Waste Lands, a boy named Jake sees the book Charlie the Choo Choo, by an author named Beryl Evans, on display in a bookstore. That’s when our slow trek to Creepy Town begins: “As he looked down at the cover, Jake found that he did not trust the smile on Charlie the Choo-Choo’s face. You look happy, but I think that’s just the mask you wear, he thought. I don’t think you’re happy at all. And I don’t think Charlie’s your real name, either.”
Ha! Oh, man. Nothing like a few good panic tears to flush the system.
So to recap, what King has done here is created a real children’s book based on a fake children’s book in a story he wrote in which the child reading the book thinks that the train is evil and may have bad intentions. The real book, which will be released on November 22nd, isn’t a “scary book” per se, but you can’t look at that train’s face and tell us that you would let him babysit your kids. And while the book is described as “a story about friendship, loyalty, and hard work,” it’s also about a train whose favorite song is:
“Don’t ask me silly questions, I won’t play silly games,
I’m just a simple choo-choo train, and I’ll always be the same,
I only want to race along, beneath a bright blue sky,
and be a happy choo-choo train, until the day I die.”
But that’s nothing compared to the changes Charlie makes to the last two lines after he’s left in the train yard:
“Now that I can’t race along, beneath a bright blue sky,
I guess that I’ll just sit right here, until I finally die.”
Jesus Christ on a cracker, Charlie! There are children present!
Charlie the Choo Choo is probably best for kids who aren’t scared of anything and adults who are fans of the Dark Tower series. Personally, we love Stephen King, but we don’t know if we can handle having that book’s cover in our lives. Between Charlie’s face, which is clearly the face of a train that just stabbed Thomas the Train to death, to the children in the back cabooses who might be screaming with joy but are probably screaming in terror, we might be too weak for this book. But it seems like a fun collector’s item for everyone looking forward to Idris Elba’s Dark Tower…sorry, we mean, just plain Dark Tower…(Starring Idris Elba).