Climb Aboard The Thunderbolt Express! a review of Matthew Porter’s new picture book

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*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review. I wasn’t compensated in any other way and this is strictly my opinion.

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There’s a new monkey book in town and I had to see it. Matthew Porter, author and illustrator of Tails Chasing Tails and Monkey World ABC has published a picture book, Monkey World: The Thunderbolt Express. This is a story your young train aficionados will want to hear.

“All aboard!” calls the station master. A whimsical cast of characters (a detective, magician, ventriloquist, inventor and band leader) all board a train and settle in for a smooth trip.  Soon, the journey gets dicey as Napoleon the pug disappears, the bridge ahead is missing, and the train’s brakes fail while “The Thunderbolt shoots down the line faster than lightning. Speeding headlong into danger. Rushing toward the terrifying gap.” I won’t spoil it, but its entertaining, funny and dramatic finish is worth the trip. It may involve underpants, a little monkey named “Little Billy” and a crocodile or two. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Porter’s illustrations are made from distressed pinewood with vibrant colors added.  They have a stylized look and energetic, bright energy. His characters are distinct, in both appearance and name, from flowery scarf-knitting Ms. Trixie to purple pinstriped suit and sunglasses-wearing musician Jango Jenkins. I think the illustrations help carry the story and make this book unique. Each page offers vast details that invite you to linger.  Porter’s text presents vocabulary words like “marvelous”, “jive”, “unfurling”, “ploughs” and “disembark” and make this a great read-aloud for preschoolers and older.

If you’d like to check out Matthew Porter’s artwork, go to his Etsy shop (and try to resist the Han Solo, DJ or Superman monkeys he has there).

If you’re local, Matthew Porter will be at one of my favorite places, Powell’s Books this Saturday, October 19 doing a reading for kid’s storytime.

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