Casey Jones’s Fireman: The Story of Slim Webb

Casey Jones, the famous railroad engineer, has a fine whistle for his train, the Cannonball Express. In a saloon one night he meets a man with a flushed face and bristly red hair who offers him an even better whistle, made from the angel Gabriel’s trumpet. The stranger rakes his fingernails across the quills and lets Casey hear its heavenly music. Casey is enchanted and takes the whistle.  Sim Webb, his fireman, warns him that there’s a deadly danger in using such a thing but Casey won’t listen. Sim has to stop Casey from blowing them all to kingdom come.


“Children will relish this little-known piece of railroad lore, with its echoes of an epic battle being waged, and won."


“Farmer’s fully realized portrait of a little-known figure from African-American history will fascinate readers […] Children will want to proceed full steam ahead to the dramatic finale.”

Publishers Weekly

“This is dramatic stuff and Bernardin’s vivid, painterly illustrations do it justice, with larger-than-life heroes, and the mythic Cannonball hurtling through the night landscape.”

School Library Journal

“Farmer eloquently interweaves history and myth into a suspenseful, engrossing drama, enhanced by well-developed characters, particularly Sim, an ordinary man challenged by extraordinary circumstances. Bernardin’s lush, vibrant paintings are lovely and mystical.”


Awards & Accolades