Tom Jackson, Amazing Transport: Journey through the History of Transport, illustrator Chris Mould

Usborne, 2019, ISBN 978-1408889770

This is an entertaining exploration of transport history. The text by Tom Jackson provides interesting and intriguing information about the evolution of a variety of different transport types over the ages. Who knew that the first helicopter was a toy created in China? Or that the biggest wheeled machine ever made is a digger with an engine four million times more powerful than the best racing car? Vehicles explored include not just the expected ones like trains, aeroplanes, cars and bikes, but also rockets, hot-air balloons, submarines and tanks. Sufficient information is given to satisfy curiosity but not to overwhelm. Explanations are typically paragraphs of fifty to a hundred words. Sentences are short and easy to understand. But the most striking and appealing aspect of the book is its numerous detailed and quirky illustrations by Chris Mould, which bring everything vividly to life. Heavily illustrated double-page spreads about each form of transport depict significant inventors and inventions in date order, with a timeline below. The succeeding two pages explain each element of the spreads with key pictures replicated.

A few cavils. The layout is initially confusing, though most readers will fairly quickly work it out. Some of the graphic timelines are hard to follow. There are some minor mistakes. Diesel engines do not 'choo-choo-chug along', for example. A book of this scope cannot cover everything, but a few gaps are surprising, such as the lack of any reference to electric bikes. The absence of an index page is very frustrating.

However, without doubt Amazing Transport will be, and deserves to be, popular. It's a fairly large book, and it's easy to imagine two or three children together poring over it and pointing out fascinating facts to each other.