Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Follow the Track All The Way Back by Timothy Knapman and Ben Mantle (Walker Books)

We do love a pretty book and we really love books that feel like they hark back to that era in the 50s and 60s where the children's book format started to emerge as an art form in its own right...
"Follow the Track All The Way Back" by Timothy Knapman and Ben Mantle really reminded us of a very old book that Charlotte has stashed at Grandma's house, that belonged to her uncle. "The Little Red Caboose" by Marian Potter was one of the most popular "Little Golden Library" books, published stateside and eventually reprinted over here in the UK.

Seeing something that recalls that amazing range of titles felt like slipping on a comfortable pair of slippers after being in pinchy shoes all day, so let's take a closer look at this lovely little story.

The little red engine is about to take his first journey out on the slippery rail tracks. Mummy and Daddy Train are there to keep an eye on Junior as he sets out slowly and steadily, with his parents' advice ringing in his ears. "Follow the track all the way back and you won't get lost" they tell him.

Soon his anxieties slip and slide away as he ventures further and further out into the amazing countryside, to see how far the rails go.

Rattly-tat, Rattly-tat over the big long bridge. 
Kids will love following the little engine's journey as he puffs away over hill and dale, over bridges and across streams - until the little engine finally arrives at the end of the line...

We told you this was a pretty book. Lovely Benji Davies-esque seascape there from Ben Mantle
As the skies grow dark, the little engine bravely turns on his headlamp and remembers the advice to find his way home.

The beauty of this story (aside from that truly glorious artwork) is that it keeps things nice and simple, with a 'there and back' journey, but encourages tons of interaction between the parent reading the book to their little ones, and the kids themselves enjoying joining in with all the fabulous sound effects as the little engine chuffs down the track.

We've seen a bit of a revival of train-based books, perhaps as more kids go out on excursions to steam railways and preserved lines, they're rapidly becoming popular again - which is a cuddly thought in itself.

Really lovely this, tons of atmosphere and a distinct charm all of its own.

Charlotte's best bit: When the little engine reaches the end of the line and the seaside.

Daddy's favourite bit: A glorious little homage to those fantastic "Little Golden Library" books, harking back to an era when children's picture books as we know them today really began to emerge in their recognisable format. Beautiful book, a simple little tale but wonderfully executed by Tim and Ben.

(Kindly supplied for review)

"Follow The Track All The Way Back" by Timothy Knapman is out now, published by Walker Books.