The Railway Children
by Edith Nesbitt
Sea Star Books, 1906
So many things happen in this tale of three children and their mother. They have moved from their wealthy villa near London to an isolated village somewhere in the English countryside. They are suddenly very poor and their father is mysteriously away for a long time.
Being poor doesn’t seem to bother the children as they are enjoying the freedom of exploring the countryside and are especially enamored with the railway that goes by. They make friends with the station master, the porter, and especially the “old gentleman” they wave to everyday as he rides the 9:15.
The children, Roberta, Peter, and Phyllis, are normal, everyday children with plenty of arguing and mis-behaving. But they manage to have lots of fun. The book is filled with their heroic adventures such as these:
- They witness a landslide onto the train tracks and then attempt to signal the oncoming train
- They befriend an old bedraggled old man who speaks no English
- They rescue a boy from inside the railway tunnel
Although the book was written over a hundred years ago, I believe it is still appealing for children today. It’s probably best for readers age 10 to 12. (The children in the story are about 12, 10, 8.) It’s written in the style of a storyteller with occasional asides to the “Gentle Reader”. Ideally, it would be best as a Read Aloud book – perhaps after dinner, a chapter at a time. Best would be to have it read by someone with a beautiful English accent.
I chose this book as my first in the Decades 09 Challenge – decade of the 1900’s.