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Friday, 3 March 2017

Terrific Trains: Amazing Machines

Author: Tony Mitton
Illustrator: Ant Parker
Publisher: Macmillan's Children's Books, 1998, edition featured, 2013

Terrific Trains is part of the 12 book Amazing Machines collection, a series of books aimed at pre-schoolers on the theme of transport. Each book features a different mode of travel headed with a catchy adjective, 'Roaring Rockets', 'Tough Trucks', 'Dazzling Diggers' for example. The series is bright, energetic, and ideal for 18 month olds onwards. I've found the whole series very toddler friendly in fact, with these fast paced, rhythmic, short picture books. 
Terrific Trains in particular, has been a mainstay of toddlerdom (or should that be 'toddler-doom'?) in our house. Alf and Bert have been train-mad, diggers have followed a close second, for years. This title was a favourite for Bert, George is now showing interest. The secret to the success of this book, and the others in this series, are the onomatopoeic rhyming stanza, and attention to the sounds the vehicles, modes of transport, make. Toddlers love this, and just want to join in. 

The illustrations are fun and colourful, and the same cartoon animal characters are used across the books (no names or personalisation given to the characters so no over complicating the story unnecessarily). I also love that the characters are always smiling blindly as they go about their journeys, this supports the friendlessness of the books, and again, is very inviting to young children.  

The books are also a good hybrid between non- fiction and fiction, as they tell the story of a journey made (as a fictional account would) but they offer many factual details about how the vehicle, or mode of transport, moves. The pictogram glossary at the back of each book in the series, really helps to build reading skills, but namely reading comprehension, and the idea of looking to an index for information.These books a very gentle way of introducing very young children to non-fiction. ;

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