Following the Tractor by Susan Steggall
|Following the Tractor by Susan Steggall|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Lorraine McDonald|
|Summary: Following the Tractor tells the story of a tractor's toils as the seasons roll around. The medium of collage and rhyme makes for a unique, vibrant and engaging book that is sure to appeal to small children.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 32||Date: August 2014|
|Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books|
There's only one thing that you need to know about this book and that's that it is about a tractor. Not sold? Well, your under five will be but in case you require further persuasion, try this out for size. The tractor is red and appears on every page and on one page (could there be more joy?), there is also a blue tractor and a green combine harvester. I've yet to meet a child who doesn't like a tractor. My local rhyme time librarian introduced a toy for each verse of Old McDonald then had to invest in additional vehicles for the tractor round as it was less 'brrmm brrmm here' more 'toddler fisticuffs there'.
Following the Tractor is one of a series of books called Busy Wheels. As the title suggests there is a vehicular theme which is spot on for fives and unders. The really joy of Susan Steggall's work though is to be found in her superb collage illustrations. Collage to me used to mean a few dried pasta quills and the odd red lentil making a slow and sorry descent from some sagging paper. The illustrations in this, and her other books, are rich, lively and wonderfully convincing, brought to life by an array of textures. I think my favourite spread in here is actually the final one where red tractor exits to the wings, barely visible peeking out from the shed, leaving farmer to take centre stage feeding his cows. It's art work that you'd be happy to have on the wall at home.
The story here is simple, but beautifully done. The narrative follows a tractor through its work, starting in Winter and tracking the seasons until the snow falls again. We see the tractor plough, sow seeds, fertilise, harvest and even rescue the farmer's car from the mud. There is a lovely use of perspective, from wide landscapes, to detailed close ups of corn growing up, up and up. There are a couple of other trade marks in here too for aficionados of this series. The other vehicles shown are all identifiable brands so watch out for a VW camper van, an old school Range Rover and, of course, the red Mini that makes an appearance in each book. The detail is convincing. Also enjoyable are the backgrounds. Look closely to spot what else is going on in the periphery. The cat who is sneaking round the shed, the dogs out for a walk, the cyclist bent against the wind.
My son and me love this book, no question. However, after a few reads, I am still grappling a little with the text. Another volume in this series has just two or three words per page so a very new reader could get to grips with it. Not so here. What there is is is a sort of rhyme. So some lines rhyme whilst others don't. Which would be alright except that I found it hard to identify consistency in the text and establish a rhythm. There is some repetition of the phrase 'following the tractor/harvester/farmer around and around' but no obvious pattern. Maybe this relates to the way the text is broken up across the pages, some having eight lines in a double page spread, others two or three. Whatever - you are really here for the pictures. Their warmth and vibrancy is pitch perfect. The detail is sufficient to skip the text and talk through the pictures.
When this publication hits the village library there may well be a stampede. My little boy would be crawling, coasting and cajoling his way to the front to get his sticky mitts on the tractor. Lucky he has a copy of his own then.
Like this? Then zoom on and read The Life of a Car by Susan Steggall
You can read more book reviews or buy Following the Tractor by Susan Steggall at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Following the Tractor by Susan Steggall at Amazon.com.
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