Reviewed by The Vicar
When I pick up a book to read, the most desirable trait I look for is coziness. A Great Western engine escaping from scrap? Nope. A steamroller racing a narrow gauge engine? Not my first choice. For me, I love reading the stories nestled deep into the Ffarquhar branch, with two cheeky tank engines, and two very different tram engines.
Themes aside, my favourite thing about the book is the illustrations. Peter Edwards’ illustrations are incredibly realistic. I can’t get enough of the hay blowing in Woolly Bear! Even though Percy’s smoke box is incorrect in Woolly Bear, it gives a bit of variety to his look, yet not wild like C. Reginald Dalby. In addition, the faces in this book are the crispest of any other Edwards-illustrated book. Just the right amount of shadowing.
Onto the stories. Ghost Train was first introduced to me as a George Carlin narrated episode on the US VHS, “Ten Years of Thomas”, a video I watched over and over again. I was so scared, I wanted to run downstairs into my mom’s arms! Reading the story, I didn’t get the same effect. However, it was a very different take on the story, and a milder cut. Woolly Bear on the other hand, was a story that I hadn’t seen much; the one I read in Book 26 was still relatively fresh. An interesting story, I particularly like the insult aimed at both Percy AND C. Reginald Dalby! Mavis was also an episode I’d seen one too many times. It was a good episode, and I really don’t like how Daisy was replaced by Diesel in the TV Series. Daisy actually knows nothing about trucks, and is a feminine diesel like Mavis! Toby’s Tightrope was an episode I could honestly say I’ve seen maybe 2 or 3 times. Though the TV adaptation has its similarities and differences, the book can’t be beat. I’ll never get enough of Toby fighting for control!
Tramway Engines was the perfect way to end off Wilbert’s books. The best illustrator made this book his best, too. The other (Wilbert written) Ffarquhar book, (Branch Line Engines), seemed less at home. Thomas was away, a visitor came, and Percy later was gone for repairs. This book truly remains a special piece on my shelf. I’ll treasure it with all my care, (because the only way to get another one is online!)