Last week we read a book by the name Rattle and Rap which is primarily a picture book illustrated by Susan Steggall.
Rattle and Rap is about a train which is red and yellow in colour resembling the Virgin Train and its journey to the sea side. The book opens with the picture of a ticket window at a train station where a family is buying tickets. A platform is depicted which is bustling with people, some of whom are passengers boarding the train while some others have come to see off their loved ones. Dhruv instantly identifies with the scene since the platform design looks more or less like the one at the Preston train station but with 3 trains standing on the tracks absorbing all his attention he would not pay any heed to any other details . Dhruv’s virgin train gets ready to leave for London Euston station. For him, all trains go to London Euston.
In the next scene, the train is shown leaving the platform with its first coach filled with cargo boxes already past the platform limit. A person is waving good bye to 2 passengers in the train and Dhruv recalls how his mamaji was leaving in the train and we stood waving good bye from outside.A person is shown picking up litter from the ground and putting it in a garbage bag providing an important lesson to the younger ones about maintaining cleanliness at public places.
The train then rattles across a level crossing where the gates are closed for the train to pass and a dog walker, a cyclist, a few cars and a mother with a baby in a pram are waiting.
The scene inside in one of the coaches is very engaging. There is a ticket conductor checking the passengers’ tickets. Tickets of all sorts, bus tickets, train tickets, tram tickets and even parking tickets, somehow hold great interest value for Dhruv for reason unknown to me. Thus, compelled as we were, we both spent a considerable time looking at and studying all the passengers seated in the coach. There is one table central to every 4 seats. 4 men sitting across one of the tables are looking outside the window appearing relaxed and it seems like their tickets have been checked. Rest of the passengers are either taking out their tickets out of their bags or have already placed them on the table. Dhruv was quick to point to a lady working on a laptop or compututor in his words. Compututors!!…how can he miss them. When I pointed to a child eating a sandwich and sipping juice from a pack with an apple drawn on it, he was intrigued. He told me “Oh this child is drinking apple juice, then he will get sick and will throw up”. This was from his experience from one of the trips we had this summer.
Later the train is shown whoooooosing through the tunnel, rumbling by a city running besides a busy road, hurtling over a bridge with boats cruising beneath it, rocking over the fields with cattle and sheep grazing on both sides of the track and a tractor ploughing at a distance and finally reaching its destination at the sea side.
In the next illustration, the passengers are shown getting ready bringing down their bags from the overhead racks and Dhruv reminds me to get his stroller down too from the racks. The child with the apple juice is hurriedly finishing it before its time to alight. The view outside the coach windows is of the sail boats and motor boats moving about in the sea. The last scene is of the sea side station where the train is visibly empty and the passengers are leaving the station. Through one of the doors, there is a ramp laid out over which a person in a wheel chair is being escorted out. A woman has come to greet a family and off course she is Naani. Naani will be amused to see her avatar in a skirt and a boy cut hairstyle.
We love all the works of Susan Steggall because each of her work is very lively, vivid and colourful. I got to know after reading on her site that all her illustrations are not graphic designs but collages made from different sort of manufactured and handmade papers built up in layers to create depth and texture. The intricacies and the minutest details are praiseworthy.