Freight Train, written and illustrated by Donald Crews, Greenwillow Books, 2003 (1978). Baby to Toddler to Preschool.
Yesterday, my son told me a story about a train book that he was reading to a dinosaur that turned into a robot. Freight Train was the train book. Our copy is an English/Spanish edition. I bought this edition because the text is so simple it seemed a great way to introduce my son to a language besides English. I've done this with a couple of other books (e.g., Goodnight Moon), and it's been pretty successful.
Freight Train does have very simple text. The text is also large and easy-to-read. My son can't yet read, but he can recognize some words, so when he was reading this story to the dinosaur (from another book), he was doing a pretty good job. Gateway books -- books that transform children from active listeners to readers -- are vital in developing young readers. I'm pleased that Freight Train is a gateway book for my little boy because, although the text is simple, it is not dull.
The illustrations in Freight Train are beautiful, bold, colorful and perfect. The train is clearly a train. Each car can easily be distinguished from the next, but without being overly detailed. The two-page spread where the train crosses a trestle is a gorgeous study in geometry.