This is the book which introduces Thomas the Tank Engine. We see him develop from a cheeky little engine who annoys the larger engines into an engine who earns the accolade 'really useful' from the Fat Controller. The reader can enjoy his cheekiness, empathise with his aspirations and share his excitement at being given a branch-line all to himself. He is very much like a small child who tests the limits and is rewarded or chastised as appropriate. Perhaps that's why my little one is so besotted with him! The illustrations are, as ever, very interesting, and Mum/Dad have to read the stories over and over. The engines', coaches' and trucks' language echoes the sounds of the real thing, as usual. Our little boy loves this book - he has given each story its own name and knows them all so well that he can fill in the blanks if you stop halfway through a sentence. A well-loved and much-thumbed book.