We've watched with wonder as our seven-year-old grandson's horizons have broadened as he's become an ever more fluent and enthusiastic reader. Yet we've also been struck by how some children of his age find the world of the written word is still closed to them. Even today (or, perhaps, especially today), reading matters, and books matter. We love books, so it was natural that our daughters should love books, and that love has been passed on in turn to our grandson, who sees books as his passport to discovery, adventure, enjoyment and independence. Why do some kids love books and others feel intimidated by them? We suspect that much of the difference is down to early exposure, and that by the time a child reaches school this distinction is largely already set.
So the best way of allowing a child to catch the book bug is to show them as early as possible just what an exciting place the world of books can be. Which is exactly where the three books reviewed here come in. "Rally Car", "Tractor" and "Digger" by Benedict Blathwayt are bright, interesting and engaging, and beautifully illustrated. They are short enough to avoid intimidating their intended audience, and each double-page illustration is captioned with a simple sentence or two. If you wanted an ideal way in which to start exposing the new arrival in your household to the magical worlds that can be accessed between the covers of a book, then we can think of no better place to start. The level of detail in the illustrations mean that these are books that repay repeat visits, and that they offer plenty to those only interested in looking at the pictures.
Author and illustrator Benedict Blathwayt spent much of his childhood, youth, and early years of married life on the Isle of Mull. The Scottish background comes through quite subtly in his illustrations. "Rally Car" is set on the Isle of Mull during the Mull Rally, while "Digger" offers a nicely detailed skyline of Edinburgh as the backdrop to one of its double-page spreads. We've not seen it suggested that the illustrations in "Tractor" have any particular geographical connection, but suspect that the landscape and buildings may owe more than a little to the Isle of Mull.
There are more words in this review than there are between the covers of these three books combined, but that is rather the point. These are lovely little books which we believe are perfect for opening young minds and exciting young imaginations.