All bookseller links are provided so you can get more information about a book. We have affiliate relationships with Barefoot Books,, and Tapestry Books. All revenue generated from sales through these venues is used strictly to cover website costs and minimize donation requests and fundraising campaigns.

Read aloud to your child, especially a child who is discouraged by his or her own poor reading skills. The pleasure o... More

      Printer Friendly

Click cover to buy:


Author: Chuck Wilcoxen

Illustrator: Mark Buehner

Reserve at the Library

Publisher: Puffin,

Material: paperback

Summary: Niccolini is a quiet, calm man who spends his nights watching over engines in the train yard. One night, after being startled by a group of raccoons, Niccolini discovers that the engines were startled, too. One tired engine, knowing it has a long run in the morning, asks Niccolini to sing to him.Surprised that this engine can talk, Niccolini begins to sing and the engine falls asleep. Soon, he is singing to the engines every night. One night a mother hears Niccolini's song as she is walking by the train yard with a crying baby. The baby drifts off to sleep thanks to the watchman's lullaby. Soon, more and more mothers bring their babies to hear Niccolini's song before they go to sleep. Finally, one night, when a terrible wind storm leaves all the babies in the village awake and cranky, Niccolini and the engines team up to create a lullaby that's loud but sweet enough to bring sleep back to the village. This is a bedtime story everyone can enjoy.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 2 to 8; read yourself: 9 and Up

Interest Level: 2 to 6

Reading Level: 4.2

Age of Child: Read with two boys, nearly 3 and nearly 5 years old.

Young Reader Reaction: Both of my children enjoyed the book. Upon seeing it, my train-crazed 4½ year old began jumping up and down. His enjoyment only grew stronger as the story went on. My almost three year old daughter liked it as well but was not as engaged, due in large part to the length of the book. She still loves to read it but has a difficult time sitting still until the end. I expected my son to enjoy the book because it involves trains, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that he fell in love with it.

Adult Reader Reaction: I loved this book. In addition to a great story line, the illustrations in Niccolini's Song are superb. Very rarely have I seen such detail in a children's book. Mark Buehner creates an inviting night scape of dim lights, bright stars, and my favorite feature, clouds of elephants, dinosaurs, and other child-friendly inventions, adding a touch of whimsical to this sleepy tale.

Pros: A great train book that steers off the train-character path. Beautiful illustrations, and gorgeous, thoughtful wording make this a must-read for bedtime.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. This book would fit perfectly in any child's bedtime book library. You will read it again and again!


Educational Themes: This is a book just to be enjoyed.

Notes: A Reading Tub® volunteer submitted this review. This book is in her personal library.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, trains, music

Date(s) Reviewed: May 2012

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at


Copyright © 2003 - 2018. The Reading Tub, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The Reading Tub and Turning a Page ... Opening the World are registered trademarks of The Reading Tub Inc.
No use of these trademarks is permitted without written approval of The Reading Tub, Inc.
Privacy Policy.     Site developed by Sites2BeSeen.