The protagonist lives in a realm that’s been described as “magical,” and which has some parallels with the United Kingdom. He finds adventures with his friends and is brave, kind, and sometimes a little cheeky. His stories and movies have had phenomenal success around the world and are beloved of both children and parents.
No, I’m not talking about Harry Potter, but rather Thomas the Tank Engine, my toddler’s current obsession. We’ve tried not to get him hooked on too much mass merchandise, but it’s hard to avoid Thomas. As such things go, Thomas is really fairly charming, although the stories sometimes discuss matters that are above a two-year-old’s understanding. (The story of steam engines and diesels learning to get along is a nice introduction to the perils of bias, but since my son thankfully has not encountered this yet, he sees it as just another fun tale with colorful trains and tooting whistles.) We just went to a “Day Out with Thomas” event at a heritage steam train museum, and had a great time. There was a real, working Thomas steam engine that took everyone for a ride, plus train tables, coloring and other crafts, amusement rides, and much more. All was included in the $16 ticket price except for food and gift-shop items. Well worth it to see our little guy bouncing up and down on the train seat and playing with more toy trains than he’s seen in his life.
With the new Harry Potter movie opening in nine days, this month seems to be bringing a confluence of blockbuster British children’s stories into my life. Not that I really want to take the parallel too far, but who knows? Maybe in Volume Seven Thomas will arrive, puffing and peeping, on Platform 9 3/4.