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  • Writer's picturePicture Book Snob

You take your eyes off them for five minutes

Baby's First Train Robbery by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins, Bloomsbury

Baby's First Train Robbery by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins

You take your eyes off them for five minutes and the next thing you know, they’re getting into all kinds of trouble. Sound familiar? Then this is the book for you!

What's it about?

This is the latest title in the Baby Frank series but it can be read as a stand-alone story. Following on from the events of Baby’s First Bank Robbery and Baby’s First Jail Break, this time Baby Frank is headed to the seaside with his parents. Grandma is taking care of the zoo he built with misappropriated funds from Book One, but Frank worries she’s not up to the job. While his parents are distracted, Frank decides to hijack a train and return to his beloved animals to make sure they’re OK.

Baby's First Train Robbery by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins

What can we learn?

All trains should be baby-proofed and grandmas should never be underestimated! What makes this stand out?

It’s incredibly clever, original and hilarious, with a masterful rhyming text and fabulous illustrations.

Baby's First Train Robbery by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins

About those illustrations...

They’re a riotous explosion of fun with a charming, retro quality. Each image is extremely detailed with so much activity and humour packed on to every page. We love seeing what the animals are getting up to (especially when playing Twister!) and their expressions are always priceless. Baby Frank is adorable as well as comical and his jailbird-esque romper suit is genius. The snake-brandishing grandma is brilliant. One of my absolute favourite parts is when we see the stunned faces of sandwich-eating railway workers through a window as their train departs without them. I love Baby Frank's self-portrait/message in the sand and the sight of his frantic parents running towards the station as a tiny Frank waves from the train too.

Baby's First Train Robbery by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins

Why we love it...

There’s something so irresistible about a bandit baby who can outsmart all the adults! I love how inventive this story is, and how its dynamic rhyming text and animated illustration work wonderfully together to generate so much energy and entertainment. Baby’s First Train Robbery looks and feels like a classic and is certain to become one. Why you need it...

Children enjoy adventures that place kids at the centre of the action, especially if there’s an element of danger involved. Having a baby steer the story guarantees laughs galore and this is one of those rare stories which adults will appreciate as much as young people. Introducing older siblings to this series might be an interesting way of helping them adjust to a new arrival. These books would also make a great gift for new babies and parents-to-be, just accept no liability for any crimes that follow!

Baby's First Train Robbery by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins

About the author:

Jim Whalley is a post-doctoral researcher who has lectured in multiple universities across the UK. He went to UEA with the intention of writing daft stories but got side-tracked into journalism and academia. He ended up with PhD in Film Studies, returned to writing stories in his spare time, Jim eventually quit academia because the stories were more fun. He is also the author of Baby’s First Bank Heist, Baby’s First Jailbreak, Hollywood and the Baby Boom and Saturday Night Live.

About the illustrator:

Stephen Collins is an award-winning artist with a weekly comic in the Guardian whose work has appeared in a variety of international publications. In 2013, his debut graphic novel, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year award and an Eisner Award. His collection of strips Some Comics was published in October 2014. He is also the illustrator Baby’s First Bank Heist, Baby’s First Jailbreak and The Dinosaur Awards. You can see more of Stephen’s work on Instagram, Twitter and on his website.

A huge thank you to the lovely people in Bloomsbury for sharing this book with us - we haven't stopped laughing since it arrived!

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