Big Blue Train by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds

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Big Blue Train by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A splendid book full of excitement and movement which will delight any child in the the three- to six-year old age group. Highly recommended by The Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: August 2008
Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN: 978-1846164361

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Ben and Bella are off on another adventure and this time they're in the big blue train. They're on their way to the seaside and as they steam through the countryside all their animal friends want to join them. Will they all manage to climb aboard big blue train?

Julia Jarman has a way with words:

Ben and Bella in the big blue train - Huffa puffa, Chuffa Luffa!

Blow the whistle, Bella!

Pull the handle, Ben!

Chuffa Luffa puffs from the station, then... Chugga chuff! Clickety clack!

Who's that waving by the track?

It took me straight back to my childhood when we would wait for the steam trains to pass through the village. Before I'd read to the bottom of the first two pages I had a sense of excitement. Cat must have had the same feeling as he's the first passenger to jump on board on his way to a party. Then they're away through the snow where they pick up polar bear - and he's on his way to a party too. If the snow looked cold - such a pristine white - there's a complete contrast when they go through the jungle with its hot colours and luscious growth. Leopard leaps in here - along with two chimpanzees.

There's such a sense of movement, of hurry about this book that it's impossible not to be caught up in it. I've read it several times now and each time I've been conscious of the excitement building as the train gets more and more overloaded and Bella and Ben steer their way onward. Eventually they realise that there are too many animals getting on board:

But NOT you, Spotty Cow!

Promise me that you won't laugh? Worst of all would be a snigger. You might have to practice, but this is something that you have to get right. Spotty Cow would be very upset if you don't.

Eventually Chuffa Luffa and all his passengers arrive at the seaside and you'll really feel part of the fun and games, but soon it's time for everyone to go home and for Ben and Bella to go to bed.

This book has it all - it's a fun text to read aloud. It's impossible to read it and not sound as though you're a train running along the rails as the excitement builds and gradually dies away. So often with children's books the text lets the illustrations down or vice versa, but in Big Blue Train both are excellent. The illustrations are by Adrian Reynolds whom you might know from Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs or Harry and the Snow King which we recently reviewed. His illustrations are always deceptively simple but manage to lift any story out of the ordinary. He doesn't simply illustrate the text - he adds to it and every page has something to 'spot'. Look out for camel playing in the sea - wearing a rubber ring. The picture that will stay with me the longest though is polar bear waving goodbye as the sun sets over the snow. Splendid.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to The Bookbag - it was a real pleasure to read it.

For a book with a similar sense of movement and excitement we can recommend Roar by Margaret Mayo or Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. But the one you will really love is Rattletrap Car by Phyllis Root.

Booklists.jpg Big Blue Train by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds is in the Top Ten Picture Books of 2008.
Buy Big Blue Train by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Big Blue Train by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Big Blue Train by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Big Blue Train by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds at Amazon.com.


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