You may remember that I didn’t think much of Green Light in the Little Red Train series, so I was mildly amazed to find myself pointing out Busy Day to fils cadet at the library the other day. To be honest, this was entirely in an effort to distract him from the garish-looking Day of the Diesels (a book of the DVD starring Thomas and Friends and guaranteed to have the Revd W.A. Audrey spinning in his grave, but more of that another day). It failed and we ended up with both books in our pile.
Now I’ve read it to the boys, however, I’m pleasantly surprised. Beautifully illustrated, as all Benedict Blathwayt’s books are, it lives up to its title, being an account of a busy day for the Little Red Train and Duffy Driver. Fortunately, on this occasion, Duffy Driver does nothing spectacularly stupid, dangerous or unobservant, merely restricting himself to driving the train through some spectacular scenery and making various deliveries along the way. There are lots of things to spot in the pictures – shaped clouds, cows with the outline of various world islands in their spots, animals, bits of railway infrastructure and so on.
There are views inside the various buildings along the track – station, waiting room, café, mail sorting office and so on (this always confuses fils aîné and we have to reassure him that the building doesn’t really look like that!) as well as a cross section of the steam engine and a basic explanation of how it all works. And maps – fils aîné loves maps at the moment so being able to follow the route on the inside covers was an added bonus.
While it may be a little lacking in plot, it certainly makes up for it in detail, and would be an ideal starting point for a child interested in the inner workings of steam trains. Highly recommended (whodathunkit?!)