The Cat in the (Sir Topham) Hatt


No sooner did I get home from work Friday, visions of “broken tracks” in Scarsdale having slowed down my morning commute hours before, when Little G ran over to me to read a book he’d grabbed from the library that afternoon.

It was called, fittingly, A Crack in the Track. A Crack in the Track is what they might’ve called a mash-up back in, oh, 2005 — two popular things jammed together as one. Ya know, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or Mork popping up on Happy Days. A Crack features the beloved Thomas the Tank Engine franchise cranked through the Dr. Seuss rhym-o-matic; indeed, the Seussian Cat in the Hat logo is on the top right corner of the cover.

A Crack sees Thomas chugging along, doing his thing as a useful little engine, when a sudden hailstorm on the island of Sodor busts a track. Friday’s 8:16 out of Hummerville actually fared better than Thomas, as his riders were forced off the train, where they were met by Bertie Bus, who cheerfully insisted to whoever would listen that buses were every bit as good as trains.

Alas, Bertie was waylaid by a toad in the middle of the road. The feckless passengers were rerouted to a train station within walking distance (you can make out ‘Ridge’ in the name, but not the first part of it), but the trains still weren’t running.

So along came Harold the Helicopter. Borrowing a page from the Bertie the Bus playbook, Harold too insisted helicopters were as good as trains.

Some time later, Thomas — and James, and Gordon, and of course Percy — were up and running again after the crack was fixed. Through it all, the good people of Sodor kept their composure. Which isn’t really that much of an accomplishment, because I don’t think anyone besides rail master Sir Topham Hatt actually works on Sodor.

What’s peculiar about A Crack in the Track is , despite the rhyme in the title, it doesn’t quite throw itself into the Seuss concept. There are random rhyming bits (So no trains could move up. And no trains could move back. They were stuck where they were at that crack in the track.), but long stretches where it’s just straight up non-rhyming prose. It’s like the Thomas camp and the Seuss camp started bumping heads midway through the project, couldn’t back out of the deal, and ended up with some half-assed compromise that doesn’t represent either brand very well.

The Missus, who knows a thing or two about children’s lit, says it may be a byproduct of the book being part of the “Beginner Book” series, where only a certain number of different words can be used.

Perhaps. Either way, it’s a fairly forgettable read, and one you may want to avoid if you’ve suffered your own Crack in the Track experience that day.

This entry was posted in Little G, Sodor, The Missus, Thomas & Friends and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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