Gordon the Big Engine
Reviewed by DealAjani
Like most of the members here, my memories started with the tv series and not the books. But over the years I always returned to one story within the Railway Series. Book number eight, Gordon the Big Engine always enthralled me. Maybe it was because I saw so much of myself in him, or maybe it was simply because he was the biggest in the fleet.
Either way, as the oldest of three sons, I came to recognize my position within the family. I was the biggest & consequently the strongest, until late into high school. Gordon, in a similar way is the elder son of the NWR fleet. As the oldest child you are constantly reminded of your superiority to that of your siblings. While your brothers have to take out the trash, you can iron the clothes or you may get a little bit more at dinner, because you’ve started your growth spurt.
Looking back on the last 20 years, I do realize that there may be more similarity to Gordon and me than ever before. The first story deals with his refusal to do a task which he considers beneath himself. In a way I had the same reaction to mowing lawns, but because my mother can be considered an “iron lady” I had no choice in the matter!
Eventually Gordon is taken down a peg or three and is faced to realize that he is part of a team. Much like being part of a family, this means leaving your personal feelings behind for the betterment of a group. So when he is banned from pulling coaches, he tries to impart some wisdom upon James, which goes unnoticed, but works out in the end for both engines.
In my dealings with my youngest brother I have found that sometimes it is best to sit back and let nature take its course. Now this can have slightly different results with humans than with machines, but Gordon seems to have followed this same philosophy. When Thomas, being the cheeky little scamp he is, teases Gordon about running into the ditch, Gordon doesn’t even get a chance to respond. While this is for the best, one does wonder what Gordon would’ve said had he gotten a response in!
So when Thomas falls down his own respective ditch, Gordon doesn’t hesitate in lending his strength to help out his fallen comrade. Much like when my brother lost his phone, I didn’t hesitate to help him find it.
In the end, Gordon is welcomed back into the fold (although had Henry not gotten too big for his wheels, it begs the question of just how long would he have been in punishment) just in time to pull the Queen’s train to Sodor.
As the aforementioned oldest, life is a train ride sometimes. There are days when I get a bit too cocky because I’m the one with a somewhat steady job, in college, away from home, and have the most money. But if I ever get to that point, I can be assured that my brothers will remind me of my many issues that I have conveniently forgotten! Gordon, in a similar position, seems to have learnt this over the course of his own book.
I’ve gotten my nephew a copy of the total collection, and as he’s the oldest of two, I can only hope that he grows up to be a bit like Gordon, proud, but always ready to help.