The Railway Children: Edith Nesbit


Today for ThankYouThursday I picked The Railway Children, by Edith Nesbit.

This is (quite honestly) one of the sweetest and touching books that I own.

Three siblings – Bobbie, Phyllis, and Peter – and their mother go to live in the country, without being told why, or why their father must stay back. (it ain’t a World War tale either.) They soon occupy themselves with the railway, and become fascinated with the trains that pass, and the people who work there.

It sounds like a regular children’s book – but trust me, it’s not.

It’s sweet and endearing and it’s hard to tell of the lessons learned without spoilers. But I’ll give it a shot.

Why you should read this book.

  1. It’s good.
  2. It’s sweet.
  3. It has a happy ending (I promise)
  4. The characters are hilarious and the sibling banter is gold, I tell you. Gold.
  5. If you are the youngest, or the middle child, or the oldest, or one of many siblings, then you will most definitely relate to a character.
  6. For the first time ever, I present to you … A REALISTIC OLDER SISTER
  7. Bobby is me. Literally.
  8. Bobby is the one in number six.
  9. Peter is taught to be a gentleman by the doctor, and then suitably twists that venerable man’s words (as would any child in Peter’s situation).

Goodreads makes me laugh sometimes

As a short exercise (and I do this occasionally for laughs and anger inducement), I looked up low reviews of this gorgeous book on Goodreads.

Quite a few centred around the fact that this was (a) a predictable book, and that the children were both (b) cheeky and (c) greedy.

(a) – let me present to you, ladies and gentlemen, and Children’s Book. That’s right. *gasp* And on top of that, it was also written way back in 1906.
Seriously though, I didn’t find it predictable at all 🙂 If you did, that’s fine though. Sometimes the most predictable books are the best!

(b) – Please show me this child who has never been cheeky in their life, I would to meet them!

(c) – See above. And also they were just trying to help out their mother … ?

In all seriousness … Some bad things about this book.

*racks brain*

*still thinking*

Okay, I guess (if you really wanted to) you could say that the constant bickering of the siblings is bad for children to read, as it sets a bad example. This is actually a valid point, and one that I think needs to be addressed.

The siblings do bicker a lot in this book, and I mean a lot. However, it’s not “I hate you and I’m never going to talk to you again” *angry teen storms off* sort of bickering. It’s more the banter that generally goes on between siblings.

You know – you’re talking and you get into a disagreement, disagree, maybe insult each other, and five minutes later you’re fine and on a completely different topic. The sort of banter that people just ignore as it’s so common. In fact, if it happens between siblings in a group setting it can often be quite amusing 🙂 I know I find it so.

That does not make it right, however. It’s not right. We’re meant to love and honour our siblings, just like our parents. But I know that everyone who has a younger brother will agree with me that it’s impossible it ain’t always easy.

I think the thing that this book does a good job of is its realism. Edith could have written about siblings who argue all the time, and then someone gets ill, nearly die, and then suddenly get better – after which everyone’s sweet and loving and considerate.

But even if siblings do break their arms, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop bickering with them for the rest of time!

Reading about siblings bickering in a realistic way (which isn’t, as aforesaid, overdone or overdramatic) is quite refreshing. It’s realistic.

And also – they do apologise to each other. They do swallow their pride. And it’s in a delightfully realistic way 🙂

The curtain’s closing, hurry up!

↓ My Goodreads review below ↓

This book is absolutely adorable. On the outside it is but fluff, but on the inside it is a heartwarming tale of a family who has lost their father. The writing is so warm and heartfelt, the characters are splendid, the story is delightful – in truth there is nothing bad to say about this story! It is a true delight to read. And it is just adorable.

Which pretty much sums it all up for me.

Well, that’s all from me. Keep smiling, and until next time, humans!

–Emmeline 🙂

This book can be found on Book Depository and Amazon. Oh, and the 1970 movie is brilliant – the most true-to-book adaption that I’ve ever seen. Highly recommend.

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