Train! Train! Train! Puppy…

Judi Abbot’s latest picture book has an elephant pulling a toy train on the front cover. This was a good choice for several reasons: elephants rock (Dumbo is a favourite) and Moontrug LOVES trains. Nothing beats the seven-hour train journey home along the east coast from London to Aberdeen – past sparkling seas and stretches of beach – on which Moontrug gets to write and write and write (and occasionally munch a packet of Quavers from the trolley). So when Moontrug came across Little Elephant and his adoration for trains, she knew she’d met a kindred spirit.

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Little Elephant LOVES trains. But Cat wants to play with his plane. Penguin wants to play with his car. And Rabbit would rather play with his digger. Through a series of gorgeous illustrations, Abbot shows how the animals learn to share their toys and play together. Little Elephant is a gorgeous character – bluer than the sea with a gorgeous sticky-outy tail – and he had Moontrug laughing out loud with his replies to every conversation. When Dad suggests they play pirates, Little Elephant says ‘Train.’ When Dad suggests lions, Little Elephant confirms, ‘Train’ and when Dad does some keepie-uppies to entice Little Elephant into a game of football, Little Elephant adamantly replies, ‘Train.’

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Abbot humorously charts the descent into chaos as Little Elephant, Cat, Penguin and Rabbit disagree on what to play with (the facial expressions are BRILLIANT!) – and Little Elephant’s terrible train tantrum is up there with Violet Elizabeth’s from Just William. AWESOME STUFF. A fabulously funny picture book with a message about the importance of friendship and sharing at its heart.

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After training around with Little Elephant, Moontrug turned her attention to Holly Webb’s new picture book, Little Puppy Lost – and WOW what a front cover this book boasts: possible the sweetest puppy Moontrug has ever set eyes on (even cuter than the puppies in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp). Within the first few words, Webb’s puppy, Harry, (with his gorgeous little chocolate eyes, wiggly ears and soft white paws) wins you over. And as the huge dogs close in and Harry’s owner, Evie, is nowhere to be seen you want to reach down into the pages of the book and scoop Harry up into your arms.

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But then Ginger comes along – a stray cat with an enormous heart. And it’s just as well, because Harry’s going to need a friend against the large birds that roam the skies and the vicious cats that lurk in the alleyways. The illustrations are delightful – and the park at night is definitely magical (bluebells shining under the moon and no doubt fairies tucked up inside the buttercups). This is a heart-warming book, sharing a huge love of animals with a message of friendship and belonging. And Moontrug blames Holly Webb entirely that she is now googling websites to buy a puppy of her own…

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