Sunday 27 June 2021

Train Party

Train Party by Karen Blair (Puffin Books) HB RRP ISBN 9781760899578

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

The first thing which captures the reader’s attention in this book is a double-page spread of a Castleview Railway, zig-zagged with railway lines for the miniature steam trains which traverse the country. Labelled with places such as the ticket office, Castleview Station, Rory’s Roundhouse (which houses the trains), Leo’s Loop, Puddelton Pond, and others, the colourful pictures appear on the fly pages. Inside the book is a dark-skinned family of mum, dad, and three children who’ve come to the railway setting for a picnic party – and to ride on a steam train.

The story is told in simple, rhyming three line stanzas such as ‘We’re at the park./Time to unpack./What can you hear?/ Clickety clack.’ Every verse ends with the refrain, ‘Clickety clack’ which is the sound of trains moving through the park.

Other families are at the park, too, all enjoying a sunny day and the happy ambience. The family in focus unpacks ‘popcorn and gifts’ and strings up bunting, as drivers nearby shovel coal and check the track. Meanwhile, the children are playing with a toy train on rails on their picnic blanket. 

When the red, blue, green, yellow, and black trains set off, the family, tickets in hand, waits at the railway station for their ride. Soon they’ve embarked and are enjoying the train ride around the park… ‘under the trees, around the old shack, passing the pond, clickety clack.’ Mum loses her hat, and everyone waves to passing trains.

This is a simple story which most children will relate to. The illustrations are bright and colourful, the children look authentic, and the drivers are typical elderly train hobbyists. This book is sure to be enjoyed by readers aged 4+ years old.

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