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New train book brings toy trains to life + Tracks Snacks Recipe

As the boys grow, certain toys have silently slid into the background. There must be a word for this wistful feeling I get when I see abandoned toys, still infused with the warm, worn edges of past play. When I realized the train set hadn’t come out of the drawers for months, I had this sad feeling come over me. Trains were always a huge part of my toddlers’ and preschooler’s play time. My oldest loved trains so much, he had TWO birthday parties with train themes!

So I’m thrilled to partner with The Innovation Press to review the new book (affiliate link) Old Tracks, New Tricks – a train book that breathes new life into old toy trains. Let me show you! (stay tuned, at the end of this post is a Tracks Snacks Recipe that is the perfect companion for this book!).

train book toy trains

New train book brings toy trains to life

Written by a fellow mom and blogger – Jessica Petersen from the PlayTrains site (where you’ll find amazing train play ideas!), Old Tracks, New Tricks is the perfect accessory for any toy train set – new or old.

Now, I am an avid picture book collector. We probably own over 300 picture books, which I curate with care. Old Tracks, New Tricks makes the cut because of this book’s uniqueness on so many levels!

train book toy trains

First, it’s both an adorable story and a fabulous activity book! As we read along, my boys were inspired with so many new ways to play with their trains. They could hardly wait till I got to the end of the book to get started!

Also, the book format is incredibly unique. Instead of drawings there are real photography images of toy trains and tracks at play. Each scene is a delight as the tracks do all kinds of tricks and fun activities (that your children can duplicate!). The speech bubble dialogue is fun to read and adds an new text element for young readers to explore.

Finally, this book is truly a labor of love. The author, Jessica, who I’ve gotten to know just a little bit being part of The Innovation Press Blogger group, brought ideas from her son’s own train play time and shared them with us in this book. So this is a book born out of true kid-inspired play, which is why every track trick the characters do is immediately appealing and do-able for young children!

Here’s how the story goes…

train book toy trains

With our book, we received a sample wooden track with a smiley face and four more train face tattoos. Isn’t that so genius? Applying tattoo faces to your tracks immediately brings them to life!

The book begins with three track characters: Tracky, Tinker, and Trixie, trying to get the attention of customers in a toy shop. The trains in their set are snooty and don’t want to play with the tracks, they merely want to ride on them – how boring, right? So the tracks show the trains just how cool they can be, performing track tricks of all kinds:

  • Hide and go track
  • Tic track toe
  • Track-or-bids
  • Track dominoes
  • Track crafts

Can I just say that I’m a little bit in love with the alliterative phrase “track tricks” – okay!? So fun to say!

Old Tracks, New Tricks brings train revival!

train book toy trainsOld Tracks, New Tricks (affiliate link) brought on an instant train revival in our home. We dusted off that sentimental feeling I get about unused toys and shined up our imaginations. I wanted to cry with happiness to see my boys once again engaging with a favorite toy in such new and inventive ways.

We tried many of the train tricks and crafts from the book. My favorite was covering the tracks with aluminum foil and creating metallic track characters with them. My little Knight-in-Shining-Armor boy immediately wanted to draw knights on the shiny metal tracks, and he dragged out his castle block set to build a train track running through the castle. Which he then, of course, had to defend with his Track Knights!

My oldest loved the “physics” based tricks – balancing stacks of tracks, creating ramps for the trains to “jump” off of!

And of course, both boys were SHOCKED when mommy let them do the forbidden: draw on the tracks. I don’t know why I have been such a stickler about keeping the tracks clean – drawing and coloring on our tracks has been very exciting!

train book toy trains

Enjoy a train-inspired Tracks Snacks Recipe!

train book toy trains

After all this track trick fun, the boys were hungry. So we found the “dining” car and sat down for a quick “Tracks Snacks” treat. This “recipe” actually is a spin off of the Train Trail Mix I created for my son’s second birthday where we celebrated with a train themed birthday party!

Make this Tracks Snacks Recipe for your kids’ train play time!


  • Pretzel Sticks = train tracks
  • Graham Cracker sections = train cards
  • Raisins = coal (could use chocolate chips)
  • Mini Marshmallows = smoke
  • Red / Green M&Ms = train signals


  • Either set out bowls of ingredients for kids to mix their own Tracks Snacks, or blend gently together in a shallow bowl.
  • Let kids play with their snacks. They can line up the crackers to make a train and then load them with coal and other small snack items.
  • Substitute other ingredients to have similar effects or to use as cargo.

train book toy trains

Where can you get Old Tracks, New Tricks?

I’m glad you asked – because this book is definitely a must-have! Get this book for your kids. Give this book for a gift along with a train toy or track set. Hands down, it’s the best book-with-toy combo I have ever seen.

train book toy trains

AND!? If you share a photo with the author about ways your kids are inspired to play with their trains after reading this book… she might even choose your photo to receive some special attention (ie: get some speech bubbles on that pic!).

I am delighted and honored to get to review Old Tracks, New Tricks, and open my children’s world up to creative train play once more.

Find Old Tracks, New Tricks on Amazon! (affiliate link). And visit the Old Tracks, New Tricks website for even more train play ideas, coloring sheets, games, and more!

More train-themed blog posts

Thanks to The Innovation Press and Jessica Petersen for sending this book for our review! All opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used in this pos and purchases through these links may generate a small commission. 


Dana Rodriguez

Thursday 30th of March 2017

This looks like a great book for kids. I know a little boy that would LOVE this!