He’s also a little boy with an eye for detail. One who likes to know exactly how everything works and why it does so in the way it does. And asks lots of lots of questions about things. Especially when it comes to trains. Luckily for me I’ve got an engineering background, so can work out answers to many of his questions. And when I can’t Bonn can usually provide an answer.
As much as he loves books he’s always been on the lookout for books about trains. When we take him to the supermarket and his sister is busy choosing a magazine I can usually find him sat on the floor. carefully working his way through a copy of one of the many train magazines that they seem to stock. He might not be able to read independently yet, but that doesn’t stop him looking at the pictures and trying to work things out from them.
His little mind was blown somewhat when we recently took him to Bekonscot model village. He’s been several times before and fondly remembered all the trains going round, but I think he’d forgotten just how much there was of interest to him in the gift shop afterwards.
As parents we all know what it’s like having to run the gift shop gauntlet before you can get out of a tourist attraction these days. Whilst I draw the line at some of the pieces of plastic that my kids seem insistent on buying I’m a soft touch when it comes to books. At Bekonscot I told both of them that they could choose a book to take home as a souvenir of the day and Master C spent quite a while choosing exactly which one he wanted.
Now, we’d come across Peter’s Railway before now. I think he may have been bought one of the books as a gift once, and I’d certainly found a couple in a charity shop, but when we read them with him originally I think he was still just a bit too young to take them in properly.
This time though at Bekonscot he was drawn to the selection that they had in the gift shop and was determined that one had to make its way home with him. With his preference for diesel and electric engines over steam ones his eye was drawn to Peter’s Railway Hits the Jackpot and I’m so glad it was as I don’t think the pair of us have ever enjoyed a book together quite so much.
The thing about Peter’s Railway books is that they are so much more than “just” a train story. Each book combines a train based story with loads of historical and engineering train related facts.
Their strap line is that they are for “children who love trains and engineering” and that’s why they are just perfect for Master C. Written by a chartered engineer they are packed full of accurate information, which fits in beautifully to each story. With separate pages for the “information bits” as Master C calls them it means that when we’re reading together at bedtime we can opt to either just stick with the story or to focus on some of the engineering bits. It’s also given me a better understanding of some of the railway engineering that Master C is so interested in.
As for the Peter’s Railway Hits the Jackpot story – it’s a wonderful tale about how Peter and his Grandpa manage to convince the Minister for Transport to fund an extension to their railway, so that they can help children travel to and from the local school. It’s basically a school boy’s dream come true, but written in such a way that the adults reading with them can also have a bit of a laugh in the process.
We’ve spread this book out, a chapter a night, as bedtime reading for when Master C is staying at my house for a couple of weeks and I’ve never seen him look forward to a bedtime story quite so much. Each evening (and a few mornings) he would eagerly appear clutching it and asking for another chapter. We’ve sometimes stopped mid-chapter to go and look something up or talk about some of the engineering behind what’s going on in the story, and it’s been a beautiful bonding experience too.
I’m a tad sad that we’ve finished, but it means that tonight I can find the other ones from the series on his bedroom bookcase and make a start on those. He’s also got a birthday next month and has already asked if he can have one of the others in the series as a gift. I just need to persuade him that us building his own private railway line from my house to his school (about 12 miles away) might be a tad ambitious. So far his only concern about the plan is whether or not he should tunnel under the M1 or design a fancy bridge over it!