Newest Review: ... Range is up to 3 years. The story is very basic and short as the number of words on each of the 5 double pages is limited, ther... more
That's Not My Train - Fiona Watts
Member Name: sandemp
That's Not My Train - Fiona Watts
Advantages: Bright pictures, textures, simple repetitive text
Disadvantages: Simple repetitive text, sandpaper funnel
Reading has always been an important part of Freddy's day, from the day we brought him home from hospital we've found time to share a book before bed. Now at fifteen months and rapidly developing into a more independent toddler, Freddy is starting to show definite preferences in which books he likes, even going so far as to bring books to me to read to him. The brilliant "That's not my..." range of books are by far his favourite, combining bright pictures, repetition and different textures for him to discover. Written by Fiona Watt and illustrated by Rachel Wells, these hard-wearing board books cover a wide range of subjects from Santa to monsters, but Freddy's favourite by far (at the moment) is That's Not My Train.
Freddy was quite young when we bought this book, meaning that he needed considerable help to access it. At approximately six inches square it was a little too large for him to hold until he got to about ten months old, but this also means that each double page is large enough to hold the bold illustrations. There isn't really a story as such, more a succession of different trains, each of which features a different texture to explore along with a reason why it isn't our train until we get to the final page where we eventually do find our train. To be honest, it's not the most interesting book for an adult to read and there have been a few occasions when I've hidden it away for a couple of days. But the pleasure Freddy gets from the simple repetition more than makes up for the mind-numbing effect it has on me.
When we first started sharing this book, I did have to show Freddy where on each page he needed to touch, starting on the front page, with it's old fashioned engine with squashy wheels. Even now a year later this is one of Freddy's favourite pages and he loves the feel of the squashy wheels. Turning the page, there's an intercity with shiny windows made of baby-safe mirrors. Freddy isn't quite at the stage where he realises that the baby in these mirrors is him, and can quite often be seen giving the baby a kiss. What I like about this book is although the illustrations quite simple, there's still plenty to talk about with him. We talk about the different noises that the trains make, count the wheels and look for the little mouse that's hiding on each page as well as describing the different textures.
The next page features a steam train with a rusty funnel, Freddy doesn't really like the feel of the funnel, which is made of sandpaper, and I must say I don't blame him and feel that it is probably not the best of materials to use in a baby/toddler book. The next page is a lot better and features a freight train with a bumpy, corrugated cardboard texture that makes a great noise when a nail is rubbed across it. The penultimate page features an electric train going over a bridge and is yet another favourite with it's rough metallic roof. The final page features our train, which turns out to be a steam engine that is oh so glossy.
I love that when we read this book together, I can help Freddy develop his vocabulary as we describe the different textures he is feeling, colours he is seeing and types of train. I also love that we can spend time on each page counting wheels, or birds or bees and looking for the mouse. Freddy loves to feel the different textures and is beginning to point to different things as I name them.
But Freddy also enjoys 'reading' this book on his own. At fifteen months, the book is the perfect size for him to hold and being made of board the pages are resilient enough to survive his somewhat rough page turning technique. Freddy will spend quite some time sitting with this book, chatting away as he reads it. As he starts to explore each page, he'll start by saying "dain" (which is his version of train) before shaking his head wildly (which is how he says no). I guess this shows how often this book has been read to him and how the repetition works to help him start learning what reading is. Once he gets to the last page, Freddy will give a cheer, before often starting the book again from the first page.
Considering that we've had this book for about a year now and for the last few months it's had it pages constantly turned and occasionally chewed on by an enthusiastic toddler, it's doing really well. None of the pages have torn, none of the textures have started to peel and the lightly laminated surface means that the book hasn't gone soggy. In fact the only evidence that this isn't brand new is a few teeth marks around the corners.
All in all this is a great book to share with babies and toddlers, even if it is also one that we, as adults, will soon find monotonous. The textures are wonderful for helping increase our little one's experience of the world around them, while the bright pictures will immediately draw their eye. Then that simple, repetitive text means that as they learn to speak, they'll be able to join in and even "read" the book themselves. So I'm giving That's Not My Train five stars out of five and recommending it to the parents of any baby or young child, but especially those that like trains.
Summary: Great book for sharing