Anne Cottringer (text) & Sarah McIntyre (illustrations)(Oxford University Press)

Titus is going on a train journey all by himself, all the way to “very far way” where his Uncle Henry will be meeting him off the train. But what looks like it might be a long tedious journey turns out be a rather exciting adventure when Titus is called upon several times to save the train including fighting off bandits, being chased by a T-Rex and avoiding rumbling boulders. Will our little hero save the day and all the train’s passengers?

Wow, there is certainly a lot of excitement in this action-packed picture-book! The book will delight fans of trains, dinosaurs, cowboys and unlikely heroes and of course for this reason has huge boy appeal but I think it will appeal to all because it is just a whole lot of fun! Titus is a really likeable hero who can surely use his imagination. This story is all about the power of imagination and storytelling, and a brilliant advocate for writing your own stories (which will, in turn, appeal to a lot of girl budding-writers also). Because of course, all those things are not really happening and rather it  is Titus who spends this long journey making some crazy amazing adventures and writing them down in his notebook. This makes time flies by for him (well it would do if you are busy fighting off robbers and dinosaurs!).  The design of the book is clever: you see what is happening in the main illustrations and it is then repeated on Titus’ notebook (which is also part of the story), giving hints to the young audience that all these amazing things are taking place in Titus’ imagination. I am sure many a young child will be inspired to pick up a notebook and give writing their own story a go.

The artwork is as vibrant as the story. Sarah’s use of colour (I love the colours of  the station) and her unique style compliment the text, and make the book extra special. You know how much I love Sarah’s work, and I think this is another proof that she is without a doubt one of the most talented illustrators to have emerged in the picture book world in the last couple of years. As usual Sarah excels herself with extra bits, this time a Titus board game (yes, you have read this right, a BOARD GAME) and a sheet of top tips for making your own adventure story (see here). I have never encountered an illustrator so prolific at designing extra bits and activities for her books. Primary school teachers must worship you Sarah :0)


Sent for review by publisher.