Thunderbirds are Go Official Guide

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Thunderbirds are Go Official Guide by Various Authors

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A quick but easy primer for the new, CG series of the global day-savers' dramas. While no Tracy Island, it might save the day as a quick gift.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 80 Date: August 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books
ISBN: 9781471124990

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It's time to admit that I am old. I remember the first series of Thunderbirds from Saturday morning kids' cinema – an episode of that, then a second-run film, both for a quid. They were only ten years old or so then, but at least that proved the franchise was durable. Nothing did that quite as much, however, as the news a couple of years ago that the Anderson estate was to allow a CG updating, bringing a new generation of people to the massed audience. Amid the usual worries about it losing everything that made it special, it actually did pretty well when it aired in 2015 – even with a breakfast time transmission slot. This small(ish) format hardback is, bar the annual, the very first chance to look at an official book concerning the series, and inasmuch as it inspired me to research the return, and certainly accept it as looking a worthy addition to the canon, it succeeds on all fronts.

It is of course much more attuned to the young reader than the nostalgic middle-ager like myself. It's snappy and quick but serves as background enough – there's a page on The Hood (boo), the Global Defence Force (yay) and of course the Tracy boys (er, much bigger yay). In fact they get several pages each – full profiles of their character, their uniform and its gadgetry, and the craft they use. The visual side to proceedings would be a lot better for a larger book, but the small format still allows for some decent design, and it's nice to see the ships from all angles.

If only there were room for those ageless launch procedures as well, but then several elements of the original series are absent due to the many changes made since. Lady Penelope is younger, there's no patriarch figure, Tin-Tin wasn't allowed to be used as a prominent name and became someone new… Everything flies, including a new jetplane and FAB 1, Parker's pink Rolls. The book also gives some clues as to how the series episodes will still zip along – for each craft we get a 'key mission report' which summarises a programme from the first half of the series, and ranges from location and what the adventure demanded to the lesson everyone learnt.

As regards lessons learnt from this book, like I say it certainly encouraged me to read around and learn more about the reboot, and bar a few of those changes I think I would accept it. This served as a fine advert then, but it does come as an Official Guide for the fan. To them I would say that there is little here that a decent magazine article would not really have covered, but the number of images and the design aesthetic is strong, so pictorially it's right up there. Also, there is not a welter of information for us to be guided about – this is not Doctor Who after all, but something that has still only existed in all iterations for three series and three cinema efforts. That depth will certainly grow, however, and books like this will be supplanted for the new generation of fans, who given the chance will grow up and alongside the new generation of adventures. While they're perhaps new to the series and while it itself is young, this is certainly a pretty good effort at bringing everything necessary to the reading public.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

If you are still focused on the original series, then the much-missed comic strips have been collected in five books, starting here.

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Buy Thunderbirds are Go Official Guide at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Thunderbirds are Go Official Guide at


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