Taking place around the 1930’s, in the English countryside, the three children in The Railway Children, by Edith Nesbit, try to cope with suddenly becoming very poor. As they worked at the transition from rich to poor, they had many scrapes with the railway, a couple of tough spots that they didn’t know what to do, and taught me a couple things. Now I will look at the things that showed that they were very poor.
This book may be called The Railway Children, but it is really how the children in the story cope with being poor. They couldn’t have both butter and jam, they could only have one or the other because they had a bad income. They did not have enough for buns and tea most of the time. The children could not get jobs, and couldn’t find odd jobs to do. Mother became ill, and they had to beg because of a low income. They had no crop to feed themselves with because it was too cold to grow some crops. They did not have all the servants to do household tasks for them; they had to do it themselves. In all, they did not have very much money, and could barely pay for the house and the financial crush they were under was huge.
Peter, Roberta and Phyllis each showed their courage. Roberta showed bravery when she accidentally jumped a train, trying to fix Peter’s busted toy engine. Roberta again showed her courage in the tunnel staying in the manhole in the tunnel with Jim. Peter showed his bravery when he ran into the burning barge to save a baby dog from being cooked alive. Peter also was not scared when Phyllis said to go up to the box office to get help. Phyllis braved the darkness of the railway tunnel. Phyllis also was not scared of trouble with the tunnel incident. All three had to be cautious about trains passing by in the dark tunnel. They all had a lot of bravery to do those things that were frightening.
I also learned a couple things, as well as liking others. I learned that the children sometimes called their mom mum, mummy, or mammy. Also, the British use sayings like “you’re a brick” differently than Americans do. I liked the part where Peter calls the stationmaster a brick right near the pile of coal bricks. Oh, the irony of it! My favorite quote is Roberta saying, “What useful things flannel petticoats are! The inventor of them ought to have a statue directed to him!” I learned some new retorts for arguments. I learned that this takes place during the Great Depression, at around the 1930’s, which is around the time the car was invented. There were many things that I was not aware of before reading the book.
They had many of the scrapes with the railway, I found out a major character trait about them, and I looked at the things that I learned from the book. I think that this book is an excellent children’s book, and the end is very dramatic. This book is a good one for children as they will learn things about the english culture.