Rattle and Rap by Susan Steggall
|Rattle and Rap by Susan Steggall|
|Category: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: Lorraine McDonald|
|Summary: All aboard for another vehicle-themed journey written and illustrated by Susan Stegall. Follow an intercity train and its passengers as they cross the country to the end of the line.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 32||Date: October 2014|
|Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Apparently, back in the days of steam, every little boy used to dream of being an engine driver. The trains in Rattle and Rap are all diesel but the allure of travel still wafts strongly from the pages. This is one in a series of vehicle-themed books aimed at pre-schoolers. It’s unusual to find engaging non-fiction for the under fives. With the focus on vehicles, Susan Stegall takes a staple of many a children’s book but, unlike some other authors, she treats the subject with imagination and creativity. It’s enough to make an anthropomorphised tank engine blush.
The illustrations are in Stegall’s signature collage style. There are some lovely details – the map of Britain on the inside of the train door, the poster advertising Nescafe, the distinctive orange tickets. I can imagine that everyone reading this book will think that at least one of the images is a scene from their locality or somewhere they have been. For me it was the fields and viaduct that reminded me of home and the line hugging the coast reminded me of a Welsh holiday. Sadly I don’t think I’m right if the map tucked in to a rucksack pocket on the front page is a clue.
The text is just three or four words per page, mainly alliterative and onomatopoeic. The main event here though is the illustrations. They are as complex as the text is simple, depicting the journey from embarkation to disembarkation via level crossings, viaducts, coastal tracks and country scenes. Though Rattle and Rap is non-fiction, there are as many stories as there are passengers on this train journey. Who is travelling? Why are they there? Who are they leaving? Who are they meeting? And quite how did the surfer dude, seen arriving and leaving with his board, get it on the train? Aficionados will recognise some trade marks from previous volumes – spot the signature red mini, the blue tractor and look out for the dogs. With minimal text and complex scenes, I like to read through once keeping the pace and rhythm of the prose. I then repeat slowly my boy examines the pictures.
Rattle and Rap is a bold, different and vibrant book. With no leaves on the lines, no delays and certainly no rows about awarding contracts, most little boys and girls will ask to read it again and again.
For some brrmm brmm to go with your choo choo try The Life of a Car by Susan Steggall.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Rattle and Rap by Susan Steggall at Amazon.com.
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