Stephen Biesty's Trains by Ian Graham and Stephen Biesty

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Stephen Biesty's Trains by Ian Graham and Stephen Biesty

Category: Art
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A glorious journey through the age of the train with wonderful cross sections and flaps to lift and explore. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 16 Date: March 2017
Publisher: Templar Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1783704248

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Trains look imposing, but true fans (little boys, usually from about three years old and upwards) want to know what lies beneath the skin which you can see. They want to know how it works. Getting to grips with one in real life is quite a big ask, but the next best thing is Stephen Biesty's Trains which features trains from all over the world and spanning the early steam train (complete with cow catcher) right through to the trains of the future which can reach a speed of 430 kph and don't even run on rails. Once the train reaches a speed of 150 kph the wheels are raised and the train is held up by magnetic forces alone.

You don't just get pictures of trains: you get exquisitely-drawn cross sections under lift-up flaps and all the explanations of what's what that you could need. It's a gentle history of the locomotive and how the railways were built. I (just) remember the days when there were three classes of travel on a train, and it was interesting to see the first class compartments, complete with comfortable, padded seats, carpets, curtains and glass in the windows. The second class carriage was roofed, had hard wooden seats and no glass in the windows, whilst the third class passengers travelled in open carriages with bench seats. (I don't remember it being that stark a difference though!)

American steam trains have always had a distinctive look about them. I was fascinated here by all the flaps which I could lift to see how the firebox and boiler worked. It was strange too to see just how far back the driver is from the front of the train and how restricted his field of vision compared to modern trains. In many ways the trains from the golden age of steam were more familiar than some later trains - they tend to be the ones which have been restored and we all long to see go by (that smell... it takes me back to my childhood more effectively than anything else.)

The first diesel is actually an American train complete with upper and lower deck travel: the flaps on the engines reveal just how different the workings are to the steam trains. There's even a small illustration of a snowplough train. The electric train is the CC 6500 from France - and it was a relief to see what a good view the driver had of the track and the inner workings had all changed again, but the standard of travel was now luxurious for some fortunate passengers. But trains have not just been there to transport passengers and we have an example of a heavy-duty diesel train. It's unusual in that the driver sits beside the controls, rather than behind so that he can look backwards as easily as forwards and move wagons in either direction. The high-speed train shown is the French TGV where the driver controls the train from a cab inside the train's nose: it looks more like a plane than a train from the inside.

It's a fascinating book: I handed it to my husband, who's many times the recommended age of 5+ and despite not being greatly fascinated by trains he was completely pulled in. For me trains are simply a means of transport which seem to break down more often than not when I get on them. In one week I was in a derailment, a fire and a breakdown in a tunnel, but I been through this book several times now and I find something new and fascinating every time I look. It's a real treasure of a book and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then adults might enjoy The Trains Now Departed: Sixteen Excursions into the Lost Delights of Britain's Railways by Michael Williams, whilst younger children will love Rattle and Rap by Susan Steggall.

Buy Stephen Biesty's Trains by Ian Graham and Stephen Biesty at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stephen Biesty's Trains by Ian Graham and Stephen Biesty at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Stephen Biesty's Trains by Ian Graham and Stephen Biesty at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stephen Biesty's Trains by Ian Graham and Stephen Biesty at Amazon.com.


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Peter said:

A train lovers book for people who didn't know they loved trains.