The Railway Children by E Nesbit

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The Railway Children by E Nesbit

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A classic in the truest sense of the word which will appeal to boys and girls. Recomended as a book that every child should read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: March 1906
Publisher: OUP
ISBN: 978-0192758194

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Few people can be unaware of The Railway Children. It's a story which has stood the test of time not least because of the wonderful images of steam trains which it evokes for today's readers. Roberta (Bobbie), Peter and Phyllis (Phil) have to leave their London home when their father goes away unexpectedly and they move to a cottage in the countryside which is near the local railway station. They make friends with the porter, Albert Perks and the 'Old Gentleman' who is regularly on the 9.15 train. There's fun and they have adventures but they still wonder if their father is ever going to come home.

The story was probably inspired by the Dreyfus affair and the theme of the man wrongly imprisoned for espionage hasn't lost its appeal over the intervening years. It was originally written as a serial for magazine publication and has all the hallmarks of writing structured so as to ensure that the reader came back for the next episode. It's pacy and it's always interesting, even if, on occasions there are just a few too many twists and adventures to be believable. That's an adult judgement though - the children is the target age group will probably not mind - and it is a story which keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Nesbit's great skill is that she never patronises her readers but rather allows them to make their own minds up about people and events. She deals too with some complex subjects - miscarriage of justice, the lack of freedom of speech in other countries and the difficulties which arise when a parent is removed from a family, to name three - and deals with them sensitively.

I read the Oxford Children's Classics edition of the book. It's a sturdy hardback which will stand (and probably receive) repeated readings. The paper is of good quality and the cover draws you in. If you're looking for a present which will last then this could be an excellent choice. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Have a look at our Top Ten Classics of Children's Literature for suggestions of more books which are as good now as when they were written.

Buy The Railway Children by E Nesbit at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Railway Children by E Nesbit at

Buy The Railway Children by E Nesbit at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Railway Children by E Nesbit at


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