Thursday, January 3, 2013

NEW SERIES: The I Hate This Book Club, featuring A Crack in the Track

Like most parents, I read a lot of children's books. Or, better said, I read a few children's books over and over and over again. And the ones I like the least are often the ones I am asked to read the most.

So, in what I imagine will be an ongoing series, I present the first installment of

The I Hate This Book Club

Our first book will be an old favorite around here that just won't go away,

A Crack in the Track
a Thomas the Tank Engine Story
based on The Railway Series by the Rev. W. Awdry
There's no author listed, because no self-respecting writer would put his name to it.
Illustrated by Tommy Stubbs

What kind of hail do they HAVE on Sodor?!?

Thomas is a little blue steam engine with a face, living on the Island of Sodor with a bunch of other engines with faces. He pulls coaches and gets bullied by freight cars, and operates in all sorts of weather.

One day Thomas is pulling some coaches for Henry the Green Engine (he's home sick with boiler ache), and it starts hailing. Defying all odds, the hail cracks both rails of the track, right in front of Thomas, in exactly the same place (on the same railroad tie). I had no idea hail could do that.

Obviously Thomas can't go anywhere, so what does the conductor do? He orders all the passengers to get off the train. Sure, the steel-splitting hail has stopped for now, but throwing everyone off between stations seems unwise.

Luckily for the people, Bertie the Bus happens to be passing by, and happens to have room for two coach-fulls of passengers. So everyone from the whole train gets into this little bus, and off they go, leaving a very sad-looking Thomas stuck at the crack in the track. With a cow.

Soon, the bus driver sees trouble ahead: there's a waist-high toad sitting in the middle of the street. Does the driver honk his horn? No. Does he drive on the grass to avoid the world's largest toad? No. Does he turn the bus around to find an alternate route? No. Instead, he says:

"There's a toad in the road!
We will have to unload."
He kicks all the passengers off the bus, leaving them on the side of the road with the immovable death toad. Also, 20 pages into the book, the text suddenly starts rhyming - not all the text, just a few lines here and there.

Then the people walk down the road to the next train station, but the trains are not running, because there's no way for them to get around Thomas and the improbable double crack in the track.

Thomas hatches a plan. He tells his driver to call Sir Topham Hatt and share the plan. Sir Hatt takes the train's advice and sends Harold the Helicopter to pick up the passengers. The train-full of people gets in the helicopter, presumably in shifts (or maybe it's a TARDIS).

The breakdown crew arrives to replace the broken tracks. Immediately. In the rain. While singing. The work takes them no time at all, and soon all the trains are moving again.

The people see Thomas waiting to take them home, and they question if he can actually do the job. He says:
"I learned a big lesson from one little crack.
A train is only as good as its track."

The end.

Man, I hate that book.

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