Loft treasure no.4 – the longest book in the world (maybe…)!

Despite my personal tendencies towards childish impatience (especially where books are concerned), I’m only very slowly unpacking the big boxes of loft treasures that contain so many of my childhood books and sharing them with the boys.  I don’t want to run the risk of them not falling in love with them simply because I’ve rushed through in my keenness to show them everything all at once!

I already know that their tastes are different from mine, both when it comes to new books and to the old ones I’ve found.  I don’t want to force them into loving what I love (actually, that’s EXACTLY what I want to do, but I’m pretty sure that’s frowned upon as a parenting technique so I somehow manage to refrain) and therefore gave them free rein to select books from the boxes that they’d like to investigate further.

Once of the first ones C and H chose (with no help from me, Guides’ Honour) was this one:

‘The Train’, by Witold Generowicz

This book purports to be the longest book in the world, but given that I’ve had it for at least 25 years, its claims may well be a little outdated.  This image doesn’t clearly convey its still-none-too-shabby dimensions, but it might give some sort of an idea:

The novelty of such extreme length captured the boys’ imaginations from the outset and they became die-hard fans of ‘The Train’ within seconds.  There are no words in the book, which follows two robbers being chased by two cops down a train that is carrying some very unusual cargo.  In terms of developing your own narrative, it works best if you unfold the pictures bit by bit, taking time to savour the intricate detail of the illustrations and using them to fuel your own wild fantasies about the Who?, What?, When?, Where? and Why? of the chase.

This doesn’t happen in our house.  C insists on hurrying straight to this spread:

Yep, the digger obsession continues.  As does the hook obsession, which sounds quite worrying when I tell other people about it, but I promise is only related to crane trucks.

H loves to go straight for this spread:

I’m not sure quite what he thinks it is, given that he has zero experience of seeing cows milked by machines (and minimal experience of seeing them milked any other way) but upon seeing it, his twenty month-old mind is sent into raptures of joy beyond anything which his somewhat limited vocabulary can describe, so he just screams with happiness and legs it round the room at speed.  An equally valid response.

My favourite spread is probably the last one, but as I don’t want to spoil it should anyone wish to seek this story out, I’ve chosen a close runner-up.

I’d like to say I chose this for its nod to education, what with each barrel being printed with a letter of the alphabet.  However, I’d be fooling no-one, because really  I love the neat order in which the items on both pages are stacked, but equally amusing is the opportunity for some slightly-rude-but-still-fairly-innocent toilet humour.   Hey ho, I gave up trying to be highbrow yonks ago!



  1. That book looks fantastic, I can definitely see why your boys like it so much. Is it still in print? Rachel on behalf of @PrimaryEnglish.

    1. Unfortunately I don’t think it is in print, though when I was looking for a link for my post there seemed to be a few second-hand copies around (though they were pretty pricey!). It’s a shame as it’s such a lovely book for sharing!

      1. coventryenglish · ·

        That is a shame (for me). Keep treasuring yours!

      2. Will do! If I come across any reasonably priced copies I’ll let you know 🙂

      3. coventryenglish · ·

        Thanks 🙂

  2. […] reviewed this loft treasure quite a while ago (you can read the post here) and still get this book out regularly just to marvel at its wordless wondrousness and to make up […]

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