The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit
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Date Added: 2001-01-31
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By Daniel Bebbington on February 1, 2005
Roberta, Peter, and Phyllis are London schoolchildren aged 12, 10, and 8, respectively. One day their father leaves with two men and does not come back, and mother packs them off to a small house in the country. The kids become familiar with the passing trains, the workers at the train station and signal-box, and life in a small town while their mother struggles to make ends meet writing stories. They have various adventures -- stopping a train when a landslide covers the tracks, preventing a scraggly and penniless foreigner from arrest and taking him home, saving an infant and dog from a barge canal on fire, finding an injured older boy in the train tunnel and getting help -- while the mystery of their father's disappearance and the war between Russia and Japan percolates in the background. Sweet, charming, and imbued with all the author's wisdom and skill, this 1906 book is a gem for older children and grownups.