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Railroad engines is categorised as a colour book but you get far more than just colouring with this book. That is why I was drawn to purchasing it for my five year old son who not only has a great eye for colouring but loves trains too. My son loves colouring but finds most books for his age range not only have babyish pictures but are too simple for him; he likes more detail and a challenge.
The book begins with a long detailed introduction to railroad engines. There is a full page and a bit of quite small text to wade through. Obviously for my five year old son this wasn't something he was interested in listening too as he is still inclined to like a picture or two with certain amount of text. To be honest I think the amount of detail and facts that are based in this short piece and the way it is written is more for adult enthusiasts but I did manage to relay some bits of it to my son who found it interesting.
As most people will know the great age of railroad was between the years of 1890 to 1950's and this is where the book tends to go but does explore either side too. The introduction also explores the workings of stream too. Although I bought this book for my five year old son I would say it is better suited to a slightly older child but with the wonderful intercut colouring pictures for my son and the detailed written pieces for me it is a book both me and my son have been able to enjoy together.
*****The 44 Railroad engine*****
Following the introduction is the main part of the book the forty four pages of the forty four railroad engines starting with the 'first stream-powered locomotive to run on metal track' the Penydarren dated 1804. Each page is set out in landscape with a beautiful intercut picture of the railroad engine in black and white. The colouring in is not for the faint hearted and has taken my son time. He has an extremely steady hand for his age and has the concentration to take his time carefully over them.
To the side of the engine or below depending on the shape of the actual thing is again a detailed piece written in the same style as the introduction about the engine. Although it is a relatively short piece of writing it tells you about the date it was made, where it was made, who made or designed it and from it you feel you learn quite a bit about it. Again I would suggest this is for a slightly older child or even an adult would find it interesting. Most of the written pieces describe briefly the colour used on the actual locomotive which my son found interesting and some of which he followed whilst colouring in. But the ones he called boring and dull colours he did brighten up a little! The written pieces also contain quite a few facts and figures which when read to my son again picking bits out he found them very interesting especially the figure facts.
As you move on throughout the book the pictures do seem to become more complicated as the engines become more complex. The wheels for one, as the wheel formation changed and there became more of them! This didn't trouble my son as he just took more and more time over them. Each picture he has coloured has become a master piece of his and his book has been taken in to school a couple of times when my son was extra pleased with his work.
As well as my son using it as a colouring book we have from time to time sat together and looked through the whole book together like an information book. My son enjoyed seeing how the locomotives progressed over time and become what he recognises as a train like the amazing Flying Scotsman's which to my son is a tradition steam locomotive. As well as trains built and used here there are trains from all over the world like America and Germany.
*****Taking it further*****
As I have mentioned this book is a lot more than just a detailed colouring book. It can be used as an information book of locomotives over the world. I feel it gives enough detail to be useful in that aspect. My son likes to take it further and together we look up some of the locomotives on the internet and see actual pictures of them. My son loves to do this especially if he is working on one of them at the time!
As well as colouring the locomotives seeing the detailed pictures has spared him on to design some trains of his own. As well as loving colouring he also likes to draw detailed pictures of his own and this book has given him a new topic to draw on. He is quite an artist boy for his age.
*****Some of our favourites*****
One of my son's favourite has to be the first one he did number 1the Penydarren Steam Locomotive. As well as it being his first one to colour so he was very proud of it he also found it very interesting. He was amazed by what it was but after much gazing he began to recognise some familiar features.
My son's other favourite is number 22 the Flying Scotman's as he is familiar with this and has a model of his own for his wooden train set. To my son this is what a steam locomotive looks like!
I personally like number 25 the Mallard as I feel it is where we see the shape of the train changing.
All of the pictures beginning with the 1st in 1804 right through number 44 in 2004 are a piece of railroad history so they are all very interesting.
I bought this book for my son in March of this year and he has got so much enjoyment out of it. He has managed to complete about 15 in total as the time he takes over each one it isn't something he wants to do every day. When we do come to the day of complete book finish it will be a book we will still keep and will be able to use it as a reference book as he becomes older. Although my son is five years old and gets a lot of enjoyment out of it I personally wouldn't recommend it for children so young a less they really do have an eye for colouring as the pictures are very complex probably even for some adults. Priced at £3.89 I think this book is a bargain and one that can't be missed. It is so much more than a colouring book and to be fair the pictures are wonderful in their own and don't even need to be coloured it could just be left as a reference book. If you have a child mad about trains and their history and likes facts and figures this is the book for you.