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Thomas' Read-Along Storybook: Thomas & Friends    by Rev. W. Awdry & Tommy Stubbs order for
Thomas' Read-Along Storybook
by W. Awdry
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

My sons were huge fans of Thomas the Tank Engine when they were younger, spending many happy hours reading the books, watching Thomas on television, and playing with their collection of all the engines. They would have loved Thomas' Read-Along Storybook, which includes four favorite stories by the Reverend W. Awdry in a book with a read-along CD.

Tommy Stubbs' rich illustrations do justice to the English countryside as well as the engines' expressive faces. And Simon Prebble narrates with spirit, doing justice to the range of characters and accents, from young Thomas himself to gruff old Sir Topham Hatt. The stories are: Thomas and Toby, Thomas Gets His Own Branch Line, Thomas and the Castle, and Thomas and the Magic Railroad. The young audience is encouraged to follow along with the CD in the book, a tone indicating when pages should be turned.

The first story is set in Thomas's early days, showing his development from 'a cheeky little engine with no experience and not very many good manners' to receiving the ultimate accolade as a 'Really Useful Engine'. In the second, Thomas forms a lasting friendship with Toby the tram engine, each learning to value the other's differences. The third combines a ghost story with a mystery and a lesson about bravery versus foolishness. The final tale introduces the magical Shining Time Station, with Thomas foiling a diesel engine's wicked plot.

Ever wondered about the enduring popularity of Thomas & Friends? I think it has a lot to do with the innocence, values and life lessons imbedded in the stories - along with Thomas, kids learn all about a good work ethic, patience, cooperation, the ups and downs of friendships, and that you can move past mistakes and do better.

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