The Railway Children is a children’s book that was written in the early 1900s. Kate Atkinson listed it in her Top Ten.
I recently listened to the Railway Children with Amelia. It was interesting to do this, because unlike a lot of the books we read or listen to, I’d never read The Railway Children. By listening to it, it was like experiencing it for the first time with Amelia.
She loved it. I loved it. It was an old fashioned tale, but at the same time still remarkably able to follow. Very rarely did Amelia have to ask me what something was. We listened to a free recording of it from Librivox.
There are so many things that make The Railway Children a great children’s story. There’s the sense of “adventure”, I always loved the stories where the children had to change their setting (Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland etc). In The Railway Children, it’s slightly different as there is no going to a magical land. The children are forced to move due to life circumstances to a much cheaper place to live. That leads to the second thing, a mystery! The children aren’t sure where their father is, where he has gone to. The reader, even as an adult, isn’t entirely sure as there are just small hints.
The children fall in love with the railway near their new home. They run and watch it pass by every day. They befriend an older gentleman passenger who they communicate with in different ways. He comes to be a huge help to them throughout the course of the book.
They make friends with the railway officials. They help save the train.
There is some of the characteristics of children’s books written around this time. There are three children. One of them is constantly concerned with doing good, and trying to do good and how something isn’t good so it shouldn’t be done. And time and time again circumstances show how she was in the right. The book is filled with her moralizing and her constant attempts to make things right and to be “good”.
However, her siblings aren’t denied the glory as they all three help save a train at one point, and at another rescue a schoolboy who is hurt.
Nesbit created an amazing story for children. Adventure, mystery and redemption, all have their parts in this story.
I don’t have any deep thoughts about this story, I liked it, but it didn’t strike any deep chords with me. It’s a charming little tale and it was fun to listen to it with Amelia. I can definitely see how it captured someone’s imagination enough to endure to adulthood and make it onto a top ten list. It just wouldn’t end up being on -my- top ten.