Reviewed by Clare Walsh
Hits the Jackpot (Book 5 in the series) by Christopher Vine was the first book of the Peter’s Railway series that I have read with my children (boys aged 6, 9 and 12) however I am pleased to say that it did not affect our enjoyment in any way as they can be read as standalone books, although the theme of Peter and his Grandpa flows through all the books.
In this book Peter and his grandpa have a primary school visiting their miniature steam railway, after enjoying a steam filled day out the pupils request that Peter and grandpa consider extending the track to allow the village children to travel to school on it, thereby preventing pollution and excess fuel usage by numerous families.
The story details how the grandpa and Peter choose the type of railway required (rechargeable electric railway powered by the local watermill) and how together they ensure the railway becomes reality and raise the required cost of £5million!
The beauty of this book is that intermingled with a strong storyline are many snippets of science and technology such as how friction works, hydroelectricity definitions and information on structure of bridges and carriages, yet this is so carefully woven into the storyline that it is not ‘too heavy’ so to speak.
The illustrations are detailed and reinforce both the story and the engineering content well and make it a joy to read.
My 6 year old enjoyed this book for the story itself, and the 9 year old also – although he dipped Into the engineering explanations too. My 12 year old who is a train fanatic loved the scientific content and glossary of term at the back, but felt the book appealed in general to those younger than him due to the storybook approach.
All in all this would make a lovely read or gift for a child interested in trains or science, probably around aged 8-10 to enable them to read it themselves and fully understand the terminology and content. Although younger children of 6-8 could also enjoy it as a general educational storybook read aloud to them.
Available to buy from Peter’s Railway here.