“Choo Choo” it clearly states on the cover – and that is precisely what your baby might do to this impressively sturdy little board book.

Hardier than most, this board book by master illustrator Petr Horáček not only takes the youngest of readers on a railway journey from the city to the sea, but also on a tactile exploration of the geographical landscapes encountered along the way.

Engineered so the triangular roofs of houses in the city are part of the opening page, each turn takes little fingers on an excursion – across the bumpy tips of trees in the forests, over the mountain peaks, in through dark tunnels, until they arrive at the gloriously sunny seaside

Using mixed media and rich colours – from emerald green trees to burnt umber bridges – the drawings are just the thing to inspire not only a day trip on a train but also an artsy afternoon creating big orange suns, grey swirly clouds and potato stamp-like prints of trees. Of course, Horáček’s versions are perfection themselves with just the right balance of colour, content and words, but they are also of that naive style that makes one think – especially if one is of an age under ten – that they just might have a future as an illustrator.

With an onomatopoeic ‘Choo choo’, then a ‘Puff puff’, ‘Clack clack’ and a ‘Chuff chuff’, the book is also a wonderful first reader for older siblings to share with baby brothers or sisters. They can soon be taught how to ‘read’ the entire text and entice those exciting first words from your littlest one’s mouth in the process.

And if you should fancy claiming your own little piece of Choo Choo history, there is the option of buying one of the two editorial ‘out takes’ that Horacek has made available on the Children’s Book Illustration website. Simple, inspiring and gorgeous!

Author Notes Petr Horáček trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague before becoming a graphic designer, illustrator and painter. He won the Books for Children Newcomer Award with Strawberries Are Red and What Is Black and White? With a veritable treasure trove of children’s picture books to his name, he is perhaps best known as the creator of the loveable Suzy Goose character who has featured in Look Out Suzy Goose, Silly Suzy Goose and Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star. He has also written the beautiful Butterfly Butterfly: A Book of Colours and Puffin Peter, as well as the delightful The Mouse Who Ate The Moon. Born in Czechoslovakia, Petr now lives in Worcester with his wife and two daughters.