Fans of Thomas the Tank Engine may be tempted by this busy, lift-the-flap board book.
It’s an ambitious one—perhaps too ambitious. Of the five trains shown, four are either antiquated or highly specialized; only the passenger train will be recognized by young rail riders. On each double-page spread, four to six lines of informational text lead to a question, with the answer to be found under the flaps. Unfortunately the game is not straightforward. Sometimes lifting a flap provides further information, but other flaps pose unrelated questions that will distract young children. For example, on the spread about the long-distance passenger train, a tab at the front of the train hides pictures of sports equipment and asks readers, “What is your favorite sport?” A large tab on the rodeo train reveals a horse with its tack and a very wordy seek-and-find game. The tiny and thin lift-the-flap tabs are difficult for small fingers to manipulate. Each train is populated by doll-like figures with a mix of skin tones. All but one of the engineers is male, though they do appear to be racially diverse. Older readers who can already answer many of the questions posed will be put off by the board-book format.
Confirmed train fans should check out true informational train books at 625.2; for toddlers, stick with age-appropriate classics by Donald Crews or Byron Barton. (Board book. 2-4)