Sunday, August 30, 2015

Birthday Club: The Railway Children

Not my cover, but pretty cool!
Sooooo (I'm a millennial so I start every other sentence with so...) I was supposed to read Ivanhoe for the August Birthday Challenge Thingy, but this whole scenario happened:

Me in a crowded car on the way to camp: Let's try this Ivanhoe!
Me a paragraph later: What even is this?! My brain can't handle this right now! *pulls out Jeeves and Wooster*
Me a week later: Who else was born in August? E. NESBIT!!! And The Railway Children is just sitting at school waiting for a rereread!!!! So much win!!
(And please, someone tell me if all of Sir Walter Scott's books are as hard to read as Ivanhoe! )

So that's what I read. And as usual it was deliciously sweet, happy, cozy and not too much affected by my questioning brain. (More on that later.)

If you haven't read The Railway Children yet, here's the plot:

Perfectly happy family life is interrupted by a mysterious happening. Family moves to the country because they are suddenly poor. The children discover a railroad and have various adventures surrounding it. Spoilery happy crying ending.

Yup, that's pretty much it. The summary doesn't seem like much, but that's because it's very episodic. Each chapter could be it's own story!

However, the characters make this book for me. I love all of them sooooo much. (I actually tend to
Doesn't Mother look perfect in this movie!
But Bobbie! No!
like all of E. Nesbit's characters. With the exception of Albert-next-door or something like that) I don't think there's one in this book I don't like! I love Mother and how she makes life fun and stays happy even though her heart is breaking! I love Peter because he reminds me of my brother. He's not perfect, but a good guy all around! And Phyllis. Well, Phil gets annoying sometimes, but I guess that's because as an older sister that's what younger siblings do to you. Seriously, by the end of the book, you just know that she has already broken her bootlace and fallen a dozen times that day. Perks, the stationmaster, the barge dude, and the engineers were all awesome too! And everybody else was so nice! (More on that later also)

And Bobbie! Oh Bobbie is my favorite by ever so far! (Her real name's Roberta) She gets on my nerves occasionally because she sort of meddles a little bit (helps lame dogs over stiles), but she does have really good intentions. She's her mother's right hand woman and tries to keep peace in the house, no matter how hard it is. She hides her sadness to make her mother happy, and even when she knows, she goes on as usual. And the end!! *happy sobs*

I liked reading about both the children's big adventures and the little stuff they did everyday, like waving to the train, playing charades, and making swallows nests. They weren't brats, but they weren't perfect angels either. (Although Peter might have a different opinion about Bobbie) I liked how they made friends with everyone, even the unlovable people. I think my favorite adventure was in the tunnel with the Hound and Perks' birthday.

So obviously I love this book a lot. Like seriously A LOT. E. Nesbit was a children's writing genius. Like C. S. Lewis, she talks to the reader, and most of the time it doesn't feel like she's talking down to them. (There were a few times I was like "Really?", but that's probably because I'm 17...)

Now, the time when Ashley's brain becomes cynical: This time around, I noticed that things tied up prettily all the time! That's great for a children's book, but it isn't exactly accurate. But kids won't pick up on that, so whatever. Also, everyone was nice. And if they aren't at first, the children made friends with them eventually. This seems cute and all, but seriously, you're not going to make friends with everybody, and not everybody is nice and fuzzy. These are just little things I picked up on. They didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book on iota though! And kids definitely won't pick up on them. At least, I didn't!

Bobbie is perfect!!!
Finally, a word on film adaptations: I looked this up on YouTube because I knew there were some, and I found three. First, there was a BBC miniseries from '68. It's pretty bad quality, but I love Bobby so much in this version. (Well, the five minutes I've seen of it) It's a miniseries, so it probably goes a lot more in depth, but the rest of the family!!! NO! The mother was nothing like the book, and Father yells at Phyllis!!! And Peter is a jerk, not just occasionally, but all the time!!! I saw clips of the '71 one but the kids don't look anything like I imagined them. So I found the full 2001 version. This one is probably gonna be the best. I love the family life so far, the characters seem accurate, and the story is close enough, BUT Bobbie!!! She doesn't look anything like what I imagined, and since she's my favorite character... :( If anybody has any other versions, I should check into, please let me know!

So, have you read The Railway Children? What's your favorite E. Nesbit book? Is Bobbie/Mother everyone's favorite character?

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