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My son Austin loves his Auntie Kate. Without fail whenever she vists she brings him a present. I don't know what it is but women seem to have a spend on sight policy when it comes to babies.
Not that I'm complaining, I don't think she has ever bought a bad present for him but they are mostly soft toys and one house only has enough room for so many. Ausitn has always had two favourite things. Firstly animals, helped by the fact that Auntie Kates fiancé is a zoologist we have been pretty much inundated with animal toys and books. Again not a bad thing as both Auntie Kate and Uncle Martin have been tremendous positive influences on my son so far.
His second passion is machinery. Cars, buses, tractors, dustbin wagons, fire engines, helicopters and aeroplanes. Basically anything with an engine, wheels or makes loud noises.
"Come and see what Kate has bought for Austin". I went downstairs waiting to be greeted by another soft toy but was pleasantly surprised when presented with two books. The first was dazzling diggers and the second was the book I am reviewing now. Tough trucks.
I have read to my son since my girlfriend was six months pregnant. I have always found it quite relaxing to read to him. Sometimes he will sit quiet and listen, sometimes he isn't bothered but I am sure he takes in every word but I mainly love reading to him just before he goes to bed. I love the dozy way he points at pictures and repeats words after me and says "the end" every time I close the book.
Tough trucks isn't before bedtime reading material. It's 24 pages long but is mainly a visual book. The first thing that struck me when I flicked through it was how bright the pictures. Pictures that were more like sketches. Cartoon style pictures but well drawn and colourful. It's only a paperback but has proved to be quite a tough cookie when it comes to being man handled by the little fella. Some of his books are ripped and lots of pages creased but tough trucks is a tough book. The pages are quite thick so they are easier for him to turn without folding or bending them over.
As I mentioned earlier the two things Austin loves are animals and machines. With this book we get the best of both worlds. All the trucks are driven by either birds, rabbits or mice. With the odd cat, chicken and cow thrown into a couple of the pages.
The dialogue is more of a poem rather than a story.
Trucks are tough and sturdy, they take on heavy loads, then thunder on their giant tyres down long and busy roads.
A truck has got a cab up front. The driver sits inside. The trucks controls are all around, ready for the ride.
I think you get the jist.
What I find astonishing about a lot of childrens books is how simple they are. I think to myself, anybody can write these but if I ever try to think of an idea myself I come up blank. This book in my opinion is superb. I guess to write a good childrens book you really need to know your audience well. My sons favourite page is the garbage disposal truck (he doesn't call it that), he sits there pointing saying "bin men, bin men". Fire engines have gone out of the window as his favourite thing he now loves watching the bin men out of the window at home so he instantly recognises them in the book. He now recognises all the different vehicles in the book by their proper names. The cement mixer, the tipper truck, the milk tanker and fork lift. So as an educational tool is has worked very well. He also points out other things when I ask him where they are. The tyres, headlights, mirrors and in particular smoke coming from the engine on one page. Even though it's steam but I'll let him off.
The final page is a good educational tool as well. It explains what different parts of the trucks are. Articulated truck or artic, cab, trailer, tractor, cb radio and piston. Personally the piston I would call a ram but it's a book for toddlers so I won't split heirs. He repeats all the words after me, although he calls the cb radio a telephone, I'm sure he'll get it right in the end.
Tough trucks is written by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker. It is part of a set of nine books written by the pair. The full set is:
Tough Trucks, Brilliant Boats, Flashing Fire Engines, Terrific Trains, Amazing Aeroplanes, Roaring Rockets, Cool Cars, Tremendous Tractors and Super Submarines. At the time of writing you can get the full set for £19.49 on Amazon which is terrific value for money. Tough trucks on its on sells for between £2.99 for a used copy and £5.99 for a new one. There are also books that are sold with an audio CD.
As I already have two of the set I will not be buying all the others but if I had came across the set before getting these two I would have definitely bought it. My son loves these books and asks me to read them over and over again so they are well worth buying. They have helped with his vocabulary and have helped him recognise different trucks when we are out in the car.
Believe me we have stacks of books. They are mainly either story books or just pictures. I have found tough trucks just has the edge over them all when it comes educating. I cannot believe how just twenty four pages can hold the interest of my son more than any other book. My advise would be if you have a child that likes machines buy this book. Whether you buy the full set is up to you. Either way I am sure you will get value for money and will not be disappointed.