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Thursday, 12 January 2017

See Inside Trains: An Usborne Flap Book

Author: Emily Bone
Illustrator: Colin King
Publisher: Usborne Publishing, 2013

Flap books appeal across a wide age range in our house. Our 18 month old gets a thrill from moving the flap, our three year old likes the anticipation of there being a second picture 'inside', and the older boys (5 and 7) like revealing the fact (and trying to remember or recite the fact prior to its reveal). 

We have several in this series of non- fiction flap books from Usborne on our shelves; Castles, Underground and Trains to name a few. They're proving useful books for 'independent reading' both at home and in school, as during such snatched occasions ( those, 'calm down and read' moments) children seem to want something they can dive in and out of quickly, diverting the next distraction. Some of the titles, Castles and Space for example, fit nicely with, and so might be used to supplement, KS1 topic work. 

See Inside Trains is a great 'lift the flap' fact book. The eight thematic chapters are set out chronologically, flaps are a good size and generally easy to open. The steam trains and unusual trains chapters are our favourites ( though the latter is more about unusual railway lines than trains). The children aren't so keen on the numeric facts about speed in this book, but they do like the facts about the components of the trains themselves, such as having 'cow catchers' and private coaches for special guests.

The page orientation of page 6 is a bit annoying, as its in portrait rather than landscape, out of line with the rest of the book, but generally the book has a clear uncluttered layout with short text extracts that might help model explanatory English.The type font used is clear ( not so much the fancy script on the cover though) and double- lined space. The illustrations are very detailed, and there's an appropriate and useful amount of labelling. The contents page is a little squeezed, and there's no index (features of reading non- fiction reading that children in KS1 are encouraged to engage with). 

There's also a hidden curriculum in these books, with short descriptions of how each era of train worked, so for example, steam, diesel, electric. My children tend not to like these facts, but I can see how some very inquisitive young minds might relish this sort of info,ration in this very obtainable format. From 3-5 years my children have enjoyed being read this title, from 5-7 they have been reading these on their own. The vocabulary and very short sentences aren't so well pitched to the demands of 8+ years, but for simplicity and as curriculum companions during KS1, thumbs up! 

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