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Complex pictures, simple text in Thomas the Tank etc books. Is this an impossible dream?

(16 Posts)
TigerMoth1 Thu 06-Dec-01 12:21:04

Is it just me or do you find it hard to buy books that add to your toddler's delight in visual detail and authenticity, while telling a simple-to-understand story?

Thomas the Tank is a major culprit here. Why have so many of the books rejected the original detailed pictures of 'real' toy trains and model stations in favour of bland, primary-coloured illustrations? We have four much loved board books at home which feature the original pictures with two or three sentences of text underneath each one. My 2 and a bit son loves them. Can I find more? NO. The books with the original detailed pictures are very text heavy and more aimed, IMO, at pre schoolers.

Bob the Builder is slightly better, but still not good. The pictures of the toys strongly appeal to my son - he knows the names and can follow the basics of stories, but again, IMO the plots are far too complicated for him.

I know you can buy books with great illustrations and simple text by individual and authors. It's just that my son is really into Thomas and Bob at the moment and I'd like to buy him something that matches his current abilities.

And does anyone know of any non-Thomas-and-Bob-books that combine interesting and detailed photo pictures with a simple story?

Batters Thu 06-Dec-01 12:32:57

Hmm, Tigermoth1, I'm trying to think back........Ted Smart of The Book People does wonderful illustrations and simple story lines in his pop up books - the dinasaur one, the zoo series and Bugsy series (the last 2 come in a box set of 4 books) spring immediately to mind. I'll have a look in my daughter's bookcase tonight and see if there are any more I can recommend you.

Bugsy Thu 06-Dec-01 15:30:37

Tigermoth, I'm always searching for this kind of stuff too & generally find that I have to go for non-TV character based stuff. We have a selection of Bob, TTTE & Teletubby books that are deeply disappointing as they have such simplistic pictures.
I have found that there are other books, often small in size, for some strange reason, which will fascinate our ds (26months). I look for stuff which has "domestic" detail in it, farmyards, gardens, house interiors etc. I'll have a look at some of our faves & let you know the authors etc.
The only TV character books which have been of reasonable interest were the Maisy series. Let me know if you are able to find anything good staring Bob or Thomas.

Enid Thu 06-Dec-01 17:50:32

I know what you mean TigerMoth, we have had the same problem with Winnie the Pooh - I love the original illustrations but the books are too difficult for my 2 year old. The disney pooh books are very simple but the pix are really boring. Have you tried books by Ben Blaythwayt - we have One Farm and Blue Tractor - loads of detail in the pix and very, very simple (one line per page) text. My daughter loves them. He also does ones about trains, lorries and ferries(!). Here's a link (hopefully it will work): One farm by Ben Blaythwayt

candace Thu 06-Dec-01 18:56:08

have you tried books by Kim Lewis ? Although aimed at older kids the illustrations are lovely and send by 18 mth old into raptures eg A Summer's day is about a little boy who goes to see a tractor.. there's always Shirley Hughes as well. I know the books aren't trendy but they are so childcentred.. bouncing is a favourite in our house and of course all the Alfie stories, which are so simple they are brilliant!

helenmc Thu 06-Dec-01 20:30:45

The usborne books have nice pictures even if they aren't photos , and you have to look for the yellow duck. we got a photo one of clay models with all sorts of different shapes/size/colour cats that you have to search for as you read.

Inkpen Fri 07-Dec-01 12:33:56

Another vote for Benedict Blathwayt (The Runaway Train etc.). You can look at them for hours! Also Shirley Hughes (more traditional) and some of the Mick Inkpen ones (no relation - how I wish!) - Billy's Beetle/Lullabyhullaballoo/One Bear at Bedtime ...

Willow2 Sat 08-Dec-01 15:13:45

Just to say that thebookpeople.co.uk offer fab value multi packs of kids books - £7.99 for ten that normall retail at around £5 each. Some are really cute, some less interesting, but they are such good value for money and make brilliant presents too. Both my son and I seem to get bored so quickly of his books, so this way we can expand his library without having to get a second mortgage.

tufty Sat 08-Dec-01 20:17:30

Hope this doesn't come over too weird but our library is really helpful and will get books on loan once we've exhausted their supplies ( 3 boys, avid bookdemolishers...) I'd also vote for all those mentioned so far especially Shirley Hughes. Timeless excellence!

Crunchie Sat 08-Dec-01 21:11:43

Another vote for 'the book people' the site is www.thebookpeople.co.uk I would recommend two particular collections. One is the 10 Collins books for toddlers £9.99 and the other is a 20 book collection and I can't for the life of me remember it's name. We use these books day after day (2 or 3 aren't so good) and they are real favourites of all toddlers I know. They are small enough for them to pretend to read, and some are little poems, so I have found my daughter knows the next line right away (shes 2 1/2) Other then these I read the more complicated ones as bedtime stories, which she will listen to

Marina Mon 10-Dec-01 12:40:46

Hey Tufty, what's so weird about asking the library staff for help? That's what we're here for!
My vote goes to Shirley Hughes, Richard Scarry and the aforementioned Ben Blathwayt. Our son also loves Ant Parker and Tony Mitton's series on Dazzling Diggers, Flashing Fire Engines, etc.
However, the biggest favourite at the moment is a leaflet from British Gas offering to look after our plumbing (yeah, right), and featuring a detailed cutaway picture of a house, with pipes, loos, baths and tanks everywhere.

TigerMoth1 Mon 10-Dec-01 13:59:21

Thanks very much for all those tips, everyone. What a lot to follow up. I desperately need a break from Thomas and Bob. Just seen the Ben Blaythwayt farm book, courtesy of your link, Enid, and it looks brill.

Ha Ha Marina! we don't have any plumbing leaflets lying around, but your comment reminded me about my oldest son, who used to be fascinated with the gory illustrations in an old biology text book.

But, leaving aside the non Thomas and Bob books, if anyone out there can recommend a simple-text Thomas the Tank book with the old fashioned photo pictures, I know of one little 2 year old who will be extremly grateful........

EmmaM Tue 11-Dec-01 12:49:57

Tigermoth, my son is the same, he likes the detailed pictures, but if the story, or text is beyond his years then I just make it up. He doesn't know what I'm reading.

We get such delights from our library like Diggers and Cranes, At the Building Site, Rescue Vehicles and Where Does Rubbish Go. These are the sort of Dorling Kindersley type books with bits of writing all over the place around a detailed picture. We just look at the picture and I scan the text to tell him some simple facts.

I know what you mean though - sometimes I pick up books and think the illustration is just too basic, but the story is nice and vice versa.

anoushka Tue 11-Dec-01 16:24:44

hi tigermoth my son loves the same books if i have to read scarf for bloddy percy one more time i found some of mine in the local charity shops it's always a good place to look and some have been in very good order and you get them for as little as 20p hope this helps

sis Sat 29-Dec-01 19:39:14

TigerMoth1, it may be a bit late for you now if you wanted the book(s) for Christmas but dh has recently bought a Thomas Book with the original style of pictures (it mentions digital reproduction of orignal artwork). It is called Thomas the Tank Engine Collection and is published by Dean ( Part of Egmont Books Ltd which is based at 239 Kensington High Street, London W8 6SA). It is very big and heavy with about 50 stories but the publishers may help you get smaller books if you prefer. Dh found our book in one of those bargain books stores - I think it was books warehouse(?) also, the printed price is £19.99 although being a family of bargainhunters Dh got it for £10.

I hope that helps!

TigerMoth1 Mon 31-Dec-01 17:23:12

Sis, thanks for the tip - I will keep my eyes open when I pass bargain book shops. I did manage to get a small set of teeny tiny Thomas board books with the original pictures, but could still do with more.

Luckly I found one of my very own toddler books in the loft. It's called 'The Big Word Book' and it's just what I want - full of complex pictures, simple words - and also some of my own biro scribbles. My two year old is very into it. So problem solved - for now.

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