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My daughter already owns the small version of the Usbourne Farmyard Tales which doesn't contain this book 'Dolly and the Train' and instead I have this book separate. My daughter is train mad at the moment, being a huge Thomas the Tank Engine fan and so this book is currently being requested quite a lot. You can pick up this book alone, like mine, for just under £2 on amazon. It is a paperback book with a relatively sturdy cover, so should be able to withstand toddler wear and tear.
This story opens the same as all the other Usbourne Farmyard Tales, introducing Apple Tree Farm and its farmer Mrs Boot, her two children Poppy and Sam and their dog Rusty. This particular story doesn't focus so much on the farm, but rather on another farmer (Farmer Dray) and his trusty carthorse Dolly. The children are going on a school outing and Mrs Boot wakes her two children to the station as the class are all going on the train. It doesn't say where exactly they are going, but after saying goodbye, they aren't far into the journey when the train stops. There is a problem with the engine and the children are all ushered off the train, down a set of steps. The teacher takes the opportunity to let the children have their lunch. Sam and Poppy, used to farm animals dash into an adjoining field where they see an animal they are familiar with. Their teacher panics thinking it is a bull, but Poppy reassures her that it is only a cow called Buttercup. Just then, Farmer Dray arrives with Dolly the Carthorse. The teacher is sceptical about the horses ability to help in this situation, but Dolly does, and she manages to pull the carriage with all the children inside back to the station. It ends up being quite a memorable outing.
This is an easy to follow, simple story, perfect for sharing with a young child. My daughter is already familiar with the characters but even if she wasn't there is enough introduction to help the child understand the main characters and setting, so therefore this book can stand alone rather than necessarily having it as part of a set. My daughter particularly likes this story at the moment due to the train, but it would also appeal to children who enjoy animal stories. I also hope that when my daughter goes to school, these would be good books that she could eventually read herself as I think the language is suitable for young readers.
All in all, this is another great story and well illustrated book from the Usbourne Farmyward Tales stories, all written by Heather Amery. It is a simple story that even young children can understand and in some way relate to.
Every story in the Usborne Farmyard Tales series starts the same. . . .This is Apple Tree Farm. This is Mrs Boot the farmer. She has two children, Poppy and Sam, and a dog called Rusty. Dolly and the Train starts in this same way giving young readers confidence straight away as they know the start of the story. It also enables little ones to join in with the words which my son loved to do. Giving a child the love of books is one of the best things you can do as a parent.
In Dolly and the Train the children Poppy and Sam go on a school trip on the steam train. All is good when suddenly the train stops! Oh no the train has broken down but do not worry it has stopped in a perfect place for a picnic. Buttercup the cow makes an appearance which always makes my son laugh. Then Dolly the horse turns up to help save the day.
Heather Amery's Dolly and the Train is perfect for sharing at bedtime, it is a happy short story which amuses and keeps the attention of small children. My son is almost six and he still loves to hear and read this story. The illustrations by Stephen Cartwright makes the book a very enjoyable read especially with the little hidden duck to find on each page.
Although this book is one of a series of twenty it is a stand alone story so you do not need to have read any of the others. You can purchase this book for around £3.99 but as always shop around for a good deal. My set cost £18 for all twenty books. They have been read many times and I am looking forward to sharing Dolly and the Train with my daughter.
This is one of the stories in the Usborne Farmyard Tales series. If your child likes it, there are dozens more! The first part of this review is about the series, and the second part about the particular book. I've copied most of the first part from my other review because it's relevant.
--- The series ---
The stories are about two children, their mum who is the farmer, and their dog, and what they get up to on the farm. The stories are short, and exciting (if you are three).
--- Learning to read ---
The clever thing about these stories is that they are written on two levels. At the top of each page is a short sentence, and at the bottom of the page is a couple of longer sentences. You can read the book by reading the top of each page, or the bottom, or both. If you read both there will be a little bit of overlap.
For example, the top of the page says "Mrs Boot waves goodbye."
And the bottom of the page says "The train puffs slowly down the track. Rusty barks at it. He wants to go on the outing too."
The point is that when your child starts to read, they can read the top of the page fairly easily and so have the pleasure of reading a much-loved story by themselves. Although it is entirely possible that you will have read the story so many times by then that they'll know the words by heart.
--- The pictures ---
The illustrations are quite detailed, so there is a lot to look at. My son pretty much knows the stories so he can sit and examine the pictures, and does so for quite long periods of time.
On each pages there is a small duck hiding somewhere - my children take great delight in hunting for and spotting the duck on each page.
--- The format ---
The book has 16 pages which is a good length for a 2-4 year-old's attention span. You can get them in several formats. I like the small ones - 14cm square books. They are small and light, which makes them very easy for a little child to hold and carry around. Most children's picture books are very big (so you can get a lot of good pictures in!) but these are child-sized. They're good for taking on holiday too - plenty of stories but not too much suitcase room.
--- The price ---
It costs £3.99, although I would recommend buying a few in a set and getting them cheaper that way.
--- Dolly and the Train ---
This story is less centred on the farm than many of the others, acknowledging the fact that the children go to school and do other normal things. In this case they are going on a school outing on a steam train - a cunning plan by the author to get a train into her stories! Well, it worked on my children.
Queue clouds of steam and whistles blowing etc. But then - oh excitement! The train breaks down. That's a good level of excitement for a three-year old.
The teacher is not really with it, poor lady, and allows all the children off the train. I'm not too sure about this part - the teacher is portrayed as a silly woman who can't control the children and doesn't know the difference between a cow and a bull. However, my son still thinks his nursery teacher is an angel who knows everything so I guess it hasn't affected him much. They like to laugh at the idea of thinking that the nice friendly cow is actually a fierce bull. Then we go to a farm and they cling on to me if we get too close to the cows.
This is another story in which Dolly the carthorse saves the day, since she is enlisted to pull the railway carriage back to the station. Is that possible? Could a horse pull a train coach? I don't know and my kids don't care. It's a nice story and they like the descriptions of the mechanics of hitching the rope up etc.