Peapod’s Picks – All Aboard!

We switched Peapod’s downstairs shelf to trains recently and I realised we were severely lacking in books on/featuring trains.

Following a Twitter plea I got lots of fab recommendations, and these are the books we chose (with a couple more suggestions banked for when he’s a little bigger, notably William Bee and Look Inside Trains…)

Unfortunately, Choo, Choo, Clickety-Clack and The Runaway Train didn’t get much of a look in. But, I really like them and I know they’ll be ones we return to (especially The Runaway Train which is perfect for small world play!) so I’ll come back to review those at a later date!

Poppy and Sam’s Noisy Train, written by Sam Taplin, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright, designed by Francesca Allen and Marc Maynard and with sounds by Andrew Marks

We already had this one, which has been a trusted favourite for months.

It’s Farmer Dray and Dolly the horse to the rescue when Poppy and Sam take a trip on a steam train with their class and it breaks down.

Full of old-fashioned, rural charm but with a bright, light feel. Peapod loves playing and joining in with the sound effects, naming people/things in the pictures and – of course – finding the iconic Usborne duck on every page!

Busy Railway from Campbell, based on the original Busy Railway by Rebecca Finn and illustrated by Jo Byatt

This is one I’d already ordered as I’m a huge fan of this range (and their similar ‘First Stories’ range which I’ll be posting about soon).

We see steam engines, a modern train departing the station and a fabulously broad and busy spread with both passing through.

With simple, rhyming text and parts to push, pull, turn and slide on each page, this is a great little train book packed with things to spot and discuss.

There’s questions on each page asking children to find things and it’s easy to do this yourselves too – we spend ages pointing things out with Peapod and getting him looking for things too. And, like the Usborne duck, there’s a bee to spot on each page too!

These have, without doubt, been Peapod’s favourites (with The Train Ride taking the lead early on but Oi! Get Off Our Train making a late comeback!)

The Train Ride by June Crebbin, illustrated by Stephen Lambert

This is a lovely book which I’ve seen in passing before but never really paid any mind to. My mistake.

A child’s train ride (and yes, one of the things I love about this is that nowhere in the book does it say if the child is a girl or a boy. I think they are *meant* to be a girl, but in our house they’re either a ‘they/them’ or a boy)

Anyway I digress – their train ride takes us past farmland, through tunnels to a seaside town where grandma is waiting, with the story ending in a big hug of welcome.

Peapod LOVES this book. He opens his arms wide for a hug both to ask for it and to join in with the hug at the end.

He enjoys pointing out, naming and making the noises for all the things they see on the journey, especially the farm animals, tractor and ticket collector.

It’s also lovely to see him joining in with the rhythmic, repetitive text (written wonderfully in that sort of train like clickety-clack, clickety-clack pattern) and asked for it today with a “See! See!”

A firm favourite that’s made the transition from our shelf as it changed over to his bedtime story basket.

Oi! Get Off Our Train by John Burningham

A little boy is told to leave his toy train set and get to bed. From there, we see him and his pyjama case dog embark on a fantastically illustrated night time train adventure, with various endangered animals joining the trip along the way.

Peapod loves the animals and trying to join in with the repeated phrases. We name colours and flowers and talk about weather, playing and places.

And while it is enjoyable just as it is, with its repetitive text, animals and of course trains, there’s also huge potential for more for a huge range of ages from small world play to talk or work on endangered species and geography.

And that’s not to mention the artwork – wonderfully rich and varied, its like a gallery in a book. There is much to look at and it’d be perfect for children to explore the many techniques and media used too.

Do you have any railway favourites you’d add to our collection?

Have you read any of these?