Friday, June 15, 2012

Traction Man Meets Turbodog by Mini Grey (Red Fox Picture Books)

When I was a mere whippersnapper, I had a vast collection of Action Man stuff. Armoured cars, the Pursuit Craft (a sort of transformable aeroplane, boat, car thing) and a whole army of the fuzzy headed scar-faced eagle-eyed soldiers themselves (with all their uniforms and associated gear). I kept telling myself "This isn't playing with dolls, this is proper boy's stuff!" but it was really. So the inspiration for Traction Man was probably boys like me who could imagine an adventurous landscape picked out in the confines of the tiddly back garden.

In Traction Man's latest adventure, a quest to climb Mount Compost Heap results in disaster, as Traction Man's faithful hound Scrubbing Brush ends up binned by a rather germ-obsessed daddy. Scrubbing Brush's replacement is TurboDog, a battery-powered electronic dog with about as much personality as a toaster. Nevertheless, Traction Man vows to find his scrubbing brush chum. Will he win the day? As you know by now, no spoilers you'll have to find out by reading the book yourself.

Mini Grey mixes together beautiful comic-like illustrations with a lantern-jawed hero and his miniature world of adventure. For children, there's the thrill of wondering what's going to happen with each turn of the page. For adults, there are so many in-jokes and clever little asides in the Traction Man books that they're an absolute delight (and I suspect that Mini Grey has a massive protrusion on the side of her face permanently from sticking her tongue in her cheek constantly!)

Slick, thoroughly entertaining and beautifully presented. A must-buy.

Charlotte's best bit: Traction Man fighting the nefarious bin denizens

Daddy's favourite bit: Some rather iffy in-jokes. TurboDog's battery hole, in particular, made me wince.

Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 stars

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