Fils aîné‘s newest book isTraction Man and the Beach Odyssey by Mini Grey.
A great introduction to the comic book style, the Traction Man books are picture books for slightly older children and feature, as the name suggests, Traction Man, as well as his faithful sidekick Scrubbing Brush. In this installment, they go to the beach – just the title of the book reflects the level of planning involved in such a family trip, and expanded fils aîné‘s vocabulary. After an intial equipment check, they explore “the secret crevices of the Rockpool”, Traction Man wearing a Squid-Proof Scuba Suit, to discover “what creatures lurk in this Underwater World”. Unfortunately, Traction Man is carried off by Truffles, Granny’s dog, who buries him in the sand. Scrubbing Brush digs him out, but they are swept out to sea before being washed up and travelling along the beach by bucket. He is taken to a Castle where he meets the Dollies. Once reunited with his owner, the adventures continue with Traction Man, Scrubbing Brush and the Dollies all working together, and agreeing to go and explore the Mysterious Cave the next day, with their own lunch.
We’d previously read Traction Man Meets Turbodog but it wasn’t until this book that fils aîné properly understood that Traction Man is actually a toy. Even now I’m not sure that he quite realises how much of the story is a game made up by a little boy, and the little girl who owns the Dollies. Hopefully that’ll come! For the moment, he enjoys the adventure and the beautiful pictures, which are crammed with details. For grown-ups there is the deadpan humour of the writing, obviously parodying action films and heroes, plus the opportunity for silly voices. I particularly liked the fact that the Dollies weren’t just restricted to dressing Traction Man in seaweed and feeding him ice cream – by the end of the book they are also involved in rebuilding the castle, digging for treasure and excavating to the centre of the earth. Apparently the hardback edition has endpapers which continue the story of Beach-Time Brenda even further, but they’re missing from our paperback, which is a shame.
Lots of fun, highly imaginative and works for both children and adults.