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RS Reviews: Thomas The Tank Engine - Really Useful Stories!

Thomas The Tank Engine

Reviewed by Ryan H

Thomas The Tank Engine was by no means the first Railway Series book I read as a child, but for me, the stories within this book have always been my favourites because of the strong, positive message within.  Thomas is frustrated by his position within the railway and wants to be just like the bigger engines, and through determination and an often muddled pathway, he achieves his goal and wins the day. 

The morals within the book still hold a lot of relevance today – Thomas and Gordon encourages respect for your elders; Thomas’s Train reminds us all to be patient and be aware of our actions; Thomas and the Trucks promotes the need to be responsible, particularly when tackling new situations, and Thomas and the Breakdown Train shows that every good deed has it’s reward, tied together with a beautiful underlying subtext which reminds the reader that with determination and hard work they will reach their goal in the end.  It’s a great message for children to believe in, and even better one to live by.

Although Reginald Payne only ever worked on one book, the illustrations throughout convey the emotions of the character of Thomas beautifully, and add so much to the telling of the story.  You can tell from a glance that Thomas is going to be getting up to mischief, he’s raring to set off with his first passenger train, that he’s utterly disappointed that he’s fouled up, and that he’s determined to clear the mess caused during James’ accident.

The character of Thomas sums up every child – he’s eager to be just like the other engines and share in the privileges and responsibilities they have, and will do most anything to show the Fat Director that he can be just like them.  And in the role of the father figure, the Fat Director sees how hard Thomas is trying and encourages him to continue his path of self-improvement, and rewards him handsomely with the responsibilities and duties that he has craved for so long when he finally achieves his goal.

Whilst Awdry went on to develop his craft as a writer and used real life events to create some brilliant stories with more complex plots later on down the line, it’s easy to see why the stories within this book in particular have become so iconic.  The moral and message throughout is simple and completely timeless.  Everyone will go through the motions and feelings that Thomas does here.  That’s why these stories have been relevant to generations of children for over sixty-five years, and will continue to be relevant long after they’ve gone out of print.


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