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This charming little tale is a story that has enamoured children ever since it first came out over half a century ago. It is a perfect short bedtime story or for circle time at nursery, not being overly long. The plot is also quite simple. A group of farm animals are walking along the road when a cheerful local man comes along in his dump truck and sees them trudging along. Why, they can just have a ride in his truck to where they are going! And so they do, enjoying the ride with their friend, having a great time in the dump truck. They like it so much, that everytime he passes the farm, the happy man greets them and the animal friends all ride in the trailer. It's a simple story about friends helping friends, offering a ride when they see their friend walking, and its very ordinariness is lifted by the idea of the trailer being part of a dump truck, and the animals having fun by having a slide. Whee! . Kids love dump trucks, diggers, and lorries, so this bit definitely had my son's attention when he heard the title.
What kept his attention, however, were the illustrations. The classic 40-50's animation style art of Tibor Gergely is something to shout about. Reminscent of the style seen in Disney's Dumbo, the rounded figures and gentle eyed characters with the primary coloured hues of the artwork are definitely eye catching and at once warm and familiar on an emotional level, even if you have never seen them before. My son adores the pictures so much that he loves sitting in bed after the story has finished and looking at the picture until he manages to fall asleep.
This is perfectly okay, as the book is a Little Golden Book. These are robust little books, with heavy cardboard covers in a shape that is more sqaure at a first glance than the usal rectangle shape of a book. The pages are heavy acid free stock. It's obvious looking at teh book that every angle was considered in making this children's book, as it is made to be robust, hardy, and long lasting. Having the iconic gold foil spine, this is no surprise, as Little Golden Books were concieved in order to put inexpensive but very well made books with quality stories and eyecatching art in as many children's hands as possible. They were carefully chosen for content so that children will want to cherish them, and read them again, and again and again, and to withstand the battering that a beloved picture book is bound to take.
And battered, albeit unintentionally, this book has been. Dropped on the wooden floor numerous times as it slips out of his hand as he falls asleep and loses his grip, crammed into a backback pack with lego and toy dump trucks for a visit to grandma's, sat on by mistake when left on the sofa instead of being put back, you name it. It's still untorn, unbent, and the cover still completely intact, even after having had milk wiped off it more than once. It's hardy, just like a Little Golden Book is meant to be.
So, it's a tough book, basically 1 step up in robustness from a quality board book for younger children. The story is great, the art fantastic, and now you are saying.........what's the catch? The catch is this and the other Golden Book titles are only distributed in the UK ,as far as I can tell, by Amazon. Other than that, I can tell you that the only other catch is you have to pay £1.52 for the book. You read that right. This beloved read to me again, and again, and again bedtime story is under £2. It's a small price to make a child a happy little man or lady.