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That's Not My Train - Fiona Watts
Member Name: jo1976
That's Not My Train - Fiona Watts
Date: 11/03/11, updated on 10/10/13 (45 review reads)
Advantages: Robust chunky board book, simple language, bright images and textures to explore
Disadvantages: RRP is quite high but more than worth it
My youngest son is now six months old and, like his older brothers, already enjoys looking at books and is fascinated by the bright images and chunky pages. The range of 'That's Not My...' stories from Usborne Books is proving to be a firm favourite with 'That's Not My Train' being one that he seems to enjoy the most.
This book, like the rest of the series, features a certain animal or item with a particular characteristic being highlighted by being tactile or 'touchy feely'. The range is ever growing with all sorts of animals, vehicles and items featured as well as a range of seasonal editions introduced such as 'That's Not My Santa' and 'That's Not My Fairy.' All of the books are very simply written by Fiona Watt and brightly illustrated by Rachel Wells.
These are all chunky board books which are the perfect size for very early 'readers', being small enough for toddlers to hold independently with chunky pages that are easy for little fingers to turn by themselves. All our collection has been 'pre-loved' by my baby's older brothers, with this particular story being over seven years old. It was a gift from Santa to my oldest son when he was at his first nursery and it has certainly proved to be an excellent choice as it is still being read, enjoyed and, occasionally, chewed all these years later! Fortunately, these books are really resilient and robust and my little one's enthusiastic gumming of the pages hasn't even left a mark.
Like all the books, the story, such as it is, actually starts on the front cover, which features a bright red train with purple wheels that are 'too slippery' to be 'my train'. I must admit that this isn't the best example from the series in terms of the tactile objects representing the adjectives describing them. Here the wheels are indented within the chunky page, just inviting little fingers to probe and rub them, but I'd say the material used is actually quite smooth rather than slippery. I am being a little picky here though!
The book continues with different pictures of trains featured over the next eight pages. None of them are 'my train' because the windows are too shiny, funnel too rusty, side too bumpy, or the roof is too rough, with each picture using a different touchable fabric or texture to illustrate the point. My six month old is particularly fascinated by the image and material used to illustrate the shiny windows, as it uses a foil-like coating which acts as a kind of baby-safe mirror. He likes to smile at his own face smiling back at him from the windows of the train! The foil also helps to reflect the light too which is a new experience for a little baby and certainly seems to hold his attention.
The other pages also keep him amused for longer than some other age appropriate board books that I've shared with him. It certainly seems to help that each page uses really bright primary colours and has bold uncluttered images to look at, as well as the different textures to explore. My little one's favourite sensory element here seems to be the corrugated paper used to illustrate the train's bumpy sides. The little ridges are a perfect size for curious little fingers to rub against and he seems fascinated by the different noises he is able to make with it. He's also desperately tried to get that section into his sensitive little mouth but can't quite fit it in!
As a book aimed at babies and toddlers, the language used and the amount of words per page has been well thought out. The book is short enough to hold even a little baby's attention as well as introducing a range of vocabulary and, particularly, different adjectives to introduce a toddler to different ways of describing things. The simple language and constant repetition makes it an ideal choice for early readers, helping to build their confidence ready for more challenging stories. The added interest in the book, which is more likely to be appreciated by older children, is a little mouse which appears on each page. My oldest two used to read this book together and enjoyed hunting for the hidden mouse.
The RRP is £4.99 which seems quite expensive for a small baby book but it is quite good value considering how durable the book is. Despite the age of our copy and the number of repeated readings it's endured it is in excellent condition. The chunky spine remains intact and the pages are undamaged with no indications of the treatment it's received from several over-enthusiastic toddlers.
If this particular topic fails to appeal to you or your little one, I'd certainly recommend considering others in the series as there is bound to be one that appeals and earns its place as a well-loved read. I'll certainly be sad when all of my kids are too old for these books!
Summary: A great introduction to a lifetime of reading