Teddy took the train by Nicki Greenberg

cover image

Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781760112134
(Age: Junior primary) Recommended. Resilience. Imagination. Courage. Loss. Melbourne. When Mum and Dot go to the market they have a great time. Mum blows the steam from her coffee while Dot picks out a bun and Teddy chooses the cabbages. But unexpected rain means a rush for the earlier train, and squeezing into a window seat, Dot shows Teddy all there is to see, the sights and sounds of a bustling city. When they get off at their station, Dot realises that the train has taken Teddy. She speaks to the railway guard, and he explains that perhaps Teddy took the train, after planning his escape for a while. He has joined his friends at Bear Bend and gone there to have a picnic.
When Dot goes home she explains this to her other toys, and during the day she imagines him trying to get back home to her, overcoming the many obstacles that may lie in his path. After tea and her bath and about to get into bed, someone is at the door and a surprise awaits.
In imaginative stanzas, Greenberg outlines her story about Teddy. Is he lost on the train, left by Dot when she scampers off with her mum, or has he planned this getaway? In delightful rhyming lines, the story unfolds of Teddy's adventure but with a tinge of sadness as Dot imagines what may have become of him. Teddy's resilience at finding his way home underlines Dot's as she waits all day for him to return.
Children will love this story, deciding if Teddy has run away or been left by Dot in the train, wondering what will become of a lost teddy, working out their own concerns at being lost, marveling at the kindness of the train guard.
Greenberg's distinctive illustrative technique makes this a book to read over again, looking for small things in each picture, looking at the different way things are represented, spotting images of Melbourne in the background. I loved Dot's hair replicated in the wallpaper, and the images of people on the train, as well as Mum in a wheelchair, and the bustling market scene.
Fran Knight