by Edwin Vaux
Paul Dilworth, illustrator
Toby Comes to London
Website: We meet Toby and other taxis at the factory where they were made. He makes friends with another taxi called Lionel. Then the car transporters take them to a special garage in London, where they are examined by an Inspector before they get their taxi licence. Then Toby meets his new owner, Jim Philips and his family who take him home with them. Toby knows he will be very happy because they are such a nice family.
First Sentence: Toby opened his eyes and looked around.
Toby is a royal blue taxi recently given life at the factory. He is waiting on a transport truck to take him to London and his owner, Jim Philips. Toby makes friends with another taxi named Lionel. Lionel’s answers all of Toby’s questions, including what he is and what he was made to do. Toby begins to worry when, once at the dealer’s, he is the last taxi waiting. Nobody likes to be picked last and neither does Toby. Toby likes nice kids and careful drivers and he gets both with the Philips. The group takes a leisurely drive home, safely parking Toby in the driveway of his new home. This is where the story ends.
Toby the Taxi a cute book that wants to take kids on a different kind of ride. Instead of Thomas the Train, kids can look at the life and friends of Toby the Taxi. He has many friends, starting with Lionel, a yellow taxi also on his way to work in London. Along the way, expect more friends to pop up in different books and more sights around London.
Toby Starts Work
Website: Toby is nervous about his first day as a working taxi in London’s busy traffic, but Jim Philips drives carefully and this makes Toby feel much happier. Most of their passengers are polite, apart from one very rude man! Later in the day, they meet a very kind lady who appreciates Jim’s help when they take her to Hyde Park to walk her dog. She thinks Toby is a very smart taxi and she shows how much she appreciates their help.
First Sentence: Toby was asleep, when all of a sudden he was woken up by lots of noise.
Toby wakes up in the driveway, where the previous book stopped. He hears arguing kids and a cranky mother and wonders where the nice, polite people are from the day before. But by the time everyone has stepped outside to start their day, the attitudes are back to Toby’s expectations. Jim Philips is taking his new taxi to work for the first day. Their first passenger waves to them from a bus stop. The bus is running late and she needs Toby to get her to the train on time. Soon they arrive at the train station, getting their passenger there in time for her train. Then they are off.
The passengers that follow are just as bland as the first. We hear where they want to go and sometimes why. During the day Toby sees his friend Lionel the yellow taxi. After a few more passengers, Jim calls it a day and returns home to his waiting family and a cup of tea. Nothing exciting happens, nor is Toby put into a story that would entertain.
The writing is matter of fact, going from one passenger to the next. The most interesting, well, none of the passengers were interesting. They get in, say where to, and get out. There is again no real children’s story. The story is about Toby picking up passengers and letting them go, but none of the passengers do more than ride. Toby has no adventures, solves no conflict, or anything else of interest. When he meets up with Lionel on the busy London streets it is Lionel who honks at Toby, but then says he is too busy to talk and drives off. What was the point of honking? To reiterate that the streets were busy that day?
For these books to take off they are going to need to put Toby into some adventures around London. Put Toby in the middle of a chase or a bank robbery, pick up a lost child, stall during an important fare that must get somewhere on time or something bad will happen. Anything, please. Toby is a nice, brightly illustrated character with loads of potential but no story.
The illustrations try to catch every detail of the taxi and the City of London, but are hampered by the lack of story. Humor, one of the best part of most anthropomorphic stories, was sorely missing. Toby the Taxi books are written in a straight forward manner. The books__the first two—go from point A to point B without any imagination. The passengers are no more fun than the beach on a rainy day. The writing is matter of fact, with a bit of dialogue thrown in to give life to the taxi.
These are not really stories in a traditional sense. Having only read the first two books I am hoping the writing gets better, with more of a story and some kid sized humor. At twenty-four pages, these books could add twelve additional pages and be at the traditional size for a picture book and have more room to develop a story. Let’s hope. Toby is a fun looking character that could entertain kids, boys especially, if it were infused with a splash of imagination.
by Edwin Vaux bio bookwebsite Paul Dilworth, illustrator bio Earlswood Press website Released on October 1, 2012 Trailers ISBN: London 978-0956230867 – Work 978-0956230874 24 pages Ages: 4 to 8
Copyright ©2012 by Earlswood Press, used with permission Text Copyright ©2012 by Edwin Vaux Illustrations Copyright ©2012 by Paul Dillworth
There are now five Toby the Taxi Books to choose from. In addition to Toby Comes to London and Toby Starts Work, the books include:
978-1848767270 self-published through Matador
– Due out October, 2013