Thomas the Tank Engine 70th Anniversary Slipcase by W Awdry
|Thomas the Tank Engine 70th Anniversary Slipcase by W Awdry|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: While this book also shows up some of the vagaries of publishing history, it also shows how a much-loved franchise (sort-of) started.|
|Buy? YES||Borrow? YES|
|Pages: 80||Date: April 2015|
Thomas, if you don't know, is a little Tank Engine, who is very quick to build up a head of steam and move his coaches and trucks around the train yards and networks he works on. That does mean that he has to be shown up by the larger, slower engines when he continually blows his whistle to disturb their rest, and can even forget to bring any carriages with him when he's pulling a train, but he does mean well. He's a warm, feisty little character, and was probably always bound to become a bit of a favourite with warm, feisty young readers, especially those brought up with an eye to the romance of the railways. But he wasn't the first we met in the series that in public shorthand at least bears his name.
You too will hit the data page of this book, if you care to at all, and wonder how a book gets a 70th anniversary edition when it's only 69 years old. But the series is 70, and this was the second in it, following on from The Three Railway Engines. After a few false starts getting the (exemplary) illustrations courtesy of someone accurate enough, and a bit of a hiatus, someone at the publishing house was wise enough to ask for more, and a deluge of annual volumes turned up, that kept libraries, bookshops and Ringo Starr occupied for years.
I mention the latter with a little caution, for it is perfectly easy to read these four brisk, concise stories and never get the sense of a Liverpudlian narration assaulting you. What did strike me was how simple the conceit was, that the other engines, coaches and wagons all speak in 'repetitive – repetitive' manner, to imitate the sounds of a moving train. It might have been something I was aware of forty years ago when I last picked one of these books up, but if so I'd long forgotten (I do remember not actually liking them, as there was something about the vivid emotions on their faces that gave me the willies). That rule is broken quite a few times, but on the whole the ethos of the characters, the spirit in which they labour and the events that occur do all seem to perfectly anthropomorphise the rail system.
And that's the selling point – nobody else has ever matched this for turning the allure of the choo-choos into a book a young reader would choose-choose. With this handsome item, with its blue ribbon marker and slipcase, it's going to appeal to adults with a fondness for nostalgia as well as for trains. It's a reproduction that adds just enough in the way of background detail and imagery to make it worthwhile as a repeat purchase, yet still allows the stories to speak for themselves. And what the points are all saying on this occasion is Classic – classic…
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
On the Train by Carron Brown and Bee Johnson cannot help but make more train-spotters out of your young family.
You can read more book reviews or buy Thomas the Tank Engine 70th Anniversary Slipcase by W Awdry at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Thomas the Tank Engine 70th Anniversary Slipcase by W Awdry at Amazon.com.
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