Engine H One-Ninety-Nine
worked the Wairarapa line,
pulling carriages up the steep incline
of the Rimutaka Hill.
It's a darned long way to the summit of the Rimutakas, and a steep climb at that. But Engine H 199 used to do its bit to get people and freight through the Rimutaka Ranges. At the end of the story, which is told in Cowley's faultless rhyme and rhythm, is a double-page fact spread about the locomotives and brake vans that were needed to achieve this feat.
When it comes to children's picture books I will always jump at the opportunity to review them, my 2 year old son is absolutely book mad and I will have to admit I enjoy a good kids book as much as he does. Even better when you can get a book from a New Zealand author especially as one as great as Joy Cowley, I have read several of her children's book and love her writing style. Master 2 is train mad after getting a train set for his birthday you often hear him running round saying choo-choo so this book with the big picture of a train soon captured his attention and later his heart.
As soon as the book was unwrapped when the mail arrived with our parcel of review goodies we dove straight in, apparently breakfast was no longer priority instead reading the book was the only thing that needed to be done. So with him all snuggled on my lap we began reading the story. The thing we love about the book is the way Joy Cowley uses the rhyming rhythm throughout it makes easy to read and enjoyable to listen too. The thing that captured my heart with this book was the way she so effortlessly turned a non fiction theme into something so incredible to read.
I know my older child for many years really didn't enjoy non fiction books and just found them incredibly boring and hard to read. For children like her this type of book would be a great way to get a non fiction theme in an easy to read enjoyable format. It would be a fantastic type of book to read to children studying steam trains at school especially children in the local area. I have never been to the Wairarapa but reading the story made me want to visit and go to the Rimataka's so I could see the big engine! It's great having a book with a bit of New Zealand History.
The book ends with a double page spread of facts about the New Zealand trains which I found really interesting. A bit over my 2 year old's head just yet, for now he just likes to listen to the story again and again but in time I am sure he too will find interest in this information as I have. This book is quickly becoming a favourite every day read.
I asked to review this lovely book "hero of the hill" only because it had a train on the front of it and my 4 year old LOVES trains, he is train mad. When it arrived my son was at daycare but once he was home he was looking though the books I had for review and spotted it, "mum its a steam train", that it was, he wanted me to read it right then and there sadly I was busy preparing dinner and getting things ready for bedtime that I promised I would read it to him in the weekend, one thing my son doesn't forgot. On the weekend after I hurt my ankle he came and sat with me wanting steam train read to him so off we went.
The cover seemed gloomy with rain everywhere but after reading the book the cover makes perfect sense, its ties into the story very well. Its very good with its rhymes throughout the book this kept my son happy and I wasn't bored reading it. As you read along you click where the book is actually talking about and feel a bit better your reading New Zealand history.
The pictures are very well drawn and makes you feel you are there, but you need to go on the journey with Engine H one-ninety-one. What I like about it is there is a little map in the end pages of where you can find the hero of the hill, which brings back more learning and teaching for yourself and the kids, google is your friend with the google maps to show where you are and where the locomotive is, was, did the journey.
The last page is a double spread of facts, which is a very interesting read, my children 4 and 5 weren't really interested in this bit yet but they will as they get older, it was def a good read for myself learning a bit more about the country I live in. My husband comes from Wellington and didn't know anything about this locomotive so again learning and teaching for all. Great book, to have a piece of history information in the house I don't think the price is too bad and it would make a great gift for a train mad love
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