When you think of Stephen King, you think of horror. With modern classics like The Shining, Misery, the Dark Tower series, Carrie, and more, you don’t have to go far to get your fair share of literary creepiness with Mr. King. So it’s kind of a strange choice for him to delve into the realm of children’s literature, right? Not if it’s part of an elaborate in-continuity scheme!
The children’s book, called Charlie the Choo-Choo, is about an engineer named Bob who secretly has a train that is 100% sentient–the train is also Bob’s best friend. While Bob’s plight may be proof that he really needs to get out more (I wouldn’t think a man and a sentient train had that much in common, but I guess besties Bob and Charlie would disagree), the story sounds cute. Like Thomas the Tank Engine mixed with Toy Story, almost. However, the book’s interior art and cover stray from that charming feel. Turns out Charlie’s face will freak you out more than anything that went down in room 217 at the Overlook Hotel.
Look at that train! Those teeth! Those eyes! Those eyebrows! Guys, “Charlie” is the stuff of nightmares, right? Of course, while the illustrator’s choice to make the charming, sentient train look like something from my last stress dream might seem like a head-scratcher, the listed author name gives you a bit of context: Beryl Evans.
As ComingSoon explains, this book is a giant tip of the hat to The Dark Tower (and a way to get people hyped for the upcoming series). Fans will know King’s pen name as a character from the story, and the Charlie the Choo-Choo itself appeared in the story as well. IN the book, at the Manhattan Restaurant of the Mind, this creepy little book gets bought up by Jake Chambers. Now YOU can buy it, too!
Of course, if King’s pen name was too obscure a reference for you, he helped the reader know his true identity by providing the cover endorsement for the book, “If I were ever to write a children’s book, it would be exactly like this!” Well played, sir. Well played.
Whether this book will be a book unto itself as well as being a clever marketing tie-in is still yet to be known, but King wouldn’t trick us like that, would he? If you’re interested in meeting Charlie (just be careful looking him straight in the eyes–I hear he can smell fear), you can pick up the book when it hits bookstores on November 22.
What do you think of Stephen King’s “first” kids book? Do you think Charlie is terrifying or just misunderstood? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
How about something legitimately scary?
Image credits: Simon & Schuster/Ned Dameron