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After meeting the author of 'Little Peter's Railway Surprise Goods' Christopher Vine at the Steam Gala at Pickering Station we purchased two of his books. As well as purchasing this particular book we also purchased Little Peter's Railway Christmas Steam. Both books have been a great hit with my three and a half year old son. As much as I love the Christmas Steam book it isn't one I will be wanting to read all year round at least till my son is old enough to understand months of the year and the fact January is a long way from December when Father Christmas comes. On the other hand Surprise Goods is ideal for all year round.
----The author Christopher Vine----
Christopher Vine is known for writing the a series of books about a little boy and his miniature railway which are aimed at six year olds and up. It was this year he published a series of 'little' stories two of which are suitable for children three years and up. Whilst talking to Mr Vine he showed us one of his books for older children it not only had the a few different adventures you follow along it with Peter and Grandad it also had fun facts and lovely illustrations too. The books from his first series would be ideal for young boys who wanted more than the Thomas stories available. If my son had been old enough I would have snapped them up they looked fantastic. Meanwhile we made do with two of his little stories which are never the less brilliant.
----Little Peter's Railway Surprise Goods----
The first page of the book is about how Peter and Granddad's miniature railway came about. This is helpful for anyone who is new to Peter's Railway like my son and I. There are three short paragraphs which give you enough detail without been too long winded. You really don't need to have read any of the other books to understand what is going on in these two particle book from the Little series.
The story then begins with the day of Peter's little brother and sister Harry and Kitty who are twin's birthday. Peter takes them out on a lovely trip on the miniature railway taking it in turns to ride at the front and blow the steam whistle. They have a lovely day and return home for bed. But first they must have a bedtime story from mum. After the excitement of the train ride they demand a story about trains, so mum begins .....
An electric train is on a night journey with a top secret load. Unfortunately for the driver there is a power cut and train comes to a standstill. Back up comes to his aid in the form of a diesel train which continues the journey with electric train, the trains driver and carriages in tow. But you guess it the diesel train has some fault and the two drivers are left stranded. There is no back up and they are told to wait till morning. But this secret load must be delivered! So the second driver has a plan and makes a phone call. The question is will they get the secret load delivered before morning?!
----Illustration and the text----
The Little series books are a little on the small side measuring roughly 14cms by 13cms. Each double page spread has text on one side and beautiful illustrations on the other. The illustrations are lovely and they give your child a lot to think about. But as good as they are they don't tell the story for you, the text alone does that. The illustrations in this book are just there to help your little ones imagination. They are full of colour and wonderfully detailed I found them a joy to look at.
The text is bold and easy to read. I found the story flowed brilliantly and although the book is slightly disjointed moving from the present to the characters telling a story it all blends into each other. I found the text being on one side of the page top to bottom on a white background made it very easy to read.
----My son's opinion----
This book was the second one we read from the two we bought. I was a little unsure if it would live up to the excitement a Christmas Steam created with my son. I thought the excitement might have been the fact it was about Christmas! I was wrong he loved this one even more and seemed to listen to it more intensely than the Christmas story. Since reading this one it has become his favourite with the other following closely. He especially liked the ended which I shall not spoil for you! All I will say is it had my son in giggles. My son is a big train fan so this book was going to be ideal for him.
----My (the parent) opinion----
I have to say I did enjoy this book more than the Christmas Steam which I guess is a little mean. As much as I enjoyed the other book the word Christmas was going to excite any child. I loved the fact this book still managed to hold my son's attention even though it had nothing to do with Christmas. I will openly admit I fully enjoyed reading the story the first time and the many times after. It is a fantastic story and even though it is rather long, a lot longer than I usually read to my son (32 pages) I never felt like putting a book mark in half way. I was as eager as my son to get to the finish and find out what the secret load was. This book is a bit more grown up then other Train stories aimed at children this age but I like this as my son was becoming a bit fed up with the typical Thomas stories.
This book is available from Peter's railway website or can be bought from many online shops. Amazon currently (Nov 2011) have it for sale at £2.84. The RRP is £2.99 so not much of a saving really. I was very happy with paying £2.99 for the book and after reading it many times feel it is probably worth more. I would highly recommend if you have a train fan in your family you give some of Christopher Vine's books a go. I love the fact he has written two books aimed at three years and above as well as his others written for a little older children. That said Surprise Goods would be fine for a six year old to enjoy too.
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