We are always getting books for our kids, whether from the library or the store. I just bought our son Tootle, by Gertrude Crampton, which is published by Golden Books. This is the story of a little train which goes off to train school Here he learns the rules but eventually ignores the most important rule of always stay on the tracks. The people in the city then make a plan to teach Tootle a lesson.
This 20 page hard cover book cost $3.50. I wanted to get him a book and he really likes trains so I thought this would be a good one. The story is actually pretty long but I am not really sure I like it. Tootle breaks a rule and the townspeople basically trick him into not breaking the rule any more. He goes off the tracks to play and so the people hide in the field with red flags and keep throwing these up to make him stop. He stops because stopping at red flags is a rule. Now I am not trying to be critical, but if the most important rule is stay on the tracks, and he breaks this rule everyday, why does he start obeying the stop at the red flag rule? Tootle goes back on the tracks because playing in the field is no longer fun. It doesn’t really seem as though he learned why the rule was important; rather it just wasn’t any fun in the field any longer.
The illustrations are ok, but this is a Golden classic which was originally published in 1942. With all of the newer trains and illustrations my son has seen he didn’t seem overly impressed. He also didn’t recognize some of the drawings because they looked different than pictures he is use to. I don’t think that this is going to replace any of his other favorite train books.
Golden Books are obviously classics, and getting my kids to sit with me and read is always a good idea. There are other Golden Books that he indeed likes but unfortunately Tootle I don’t think is one of them. Kids today are more familiar with other famous trains and I think this was part of the turnoff. Finally, I really didn’t like the overall message of the story. I am sure he didn’t see it as deeply as I did and there are good points about going to school and learning but this book shows another example of kids being tricked or bribed into doing what is right instead of learning why learning and rules are valuable.