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If the Big Bad Wolf or the Wicked Queen aren’t frightening enough for your bedtime reading, then a nightmarish picture book from the imagination of Stephen King might be the answer.
Charlie the Choo-Choo, by one Beryl Evans, makes its first (fictional) appearance in King’s Dark Tower fantasy series, when it is spotted in a display of children’s books by the story’s child hero, Jake. “On the bright green cover was an anthropomorphic locomotive puffing its way up a hill … its headlight was a cheerful eye which seemed to invite Jake Chambers to come inside and read all about it,” writes King.
“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.”
Now, King has written a real-life version of Charlie the Choo-Choo: out on 22 November from Simon & Schuster, under the pseudonym Beryl Evans, and illustrated by Ned Dameron.
“Engineer Bob has a secret: his train engine, Charlie the Choo-Choo, is alive! Jump on board and join the railroad journey in this compelling picture book about friendship and loyalty,” promises the publisher, before unveiling a series of creepy pages from the picture book depicting the kind of train that would give Thomas the Tank Engine nightmares.
The picture book also carries a quote from King on the front – “If I were ever to write a children’s book, it would be just like this!” – possibly to warn off parents browsing for the latest story from the realms of Sodor, rather than a dark fantasy from the master of horror.
It isn’t the first time King has explored the methods of children’s publishing. He brought out a pop-up version of his story The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon in 2004.
The film adaptation of the first novel in the fantasy western Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger, starring Idris Elba as titular hero Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black, is out in February.
Source: The Guardian
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