children

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit

Lately I have been making up for lost time. Growing up, I have missed out on a lot of children’s classics. The Railway Children is one of them.

The Railway Children written by Edith Nesbit was serialised in The London Magazine in 1905. It was published in book form in 1906.

After their father is sent to prison, siblings Bobbie (Roberta), Peter and Phyllis along with their mother move into a house near a railway station. The railway station soon becomes the focus of the children’s lives as they become friendly with the local people and the mysterious ‘Old Gentleman’ who always rides the 9:15 down train.

I liked how the children in the book seem real. They do have a lot of adventures and are at times insufferably good but they are also impatient and immature a lot of the time. Things like their everyday fights and trivial shenanigans are also given importance in the narrative. Like the exchange between Peter and Bobbie after Peter gets hurt during their fight over a rake or Phyllis’s honest (and often hilarious) thoughts and opinions on things,

‘He called me un-un-ungentlemanly,’ sobbed Phyllis. ‘I didn’t never call him unladylike, not even when he tied my Clorinda to the firewood bundle and burned her at the stake for a martyr.’

Nesbit was accused of plagiarism in 2011. Apparently a lot of the plot points of The Railway Children were very similar to that of The House by the Railway (1896) by Ada J. Graves. These accusations notwithstanding, I would love to read more of Nesbit’s books, particularly The Enchanted Castle.

Even though I might have enjoyed children’s classics such as The Railway Children more if I really were a child, I do still find joy in them. Other than a few parts (like the chapter The Pride of Perks) I have greatly enjoyed reading The Railway Children.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery was published in 1908. Popular since its publication, Anne of Green Gables continues to be an enduring favourite with readers all over the world.

Anne (spelled with an ‘e’, as she insists) is an orphan girl who gets ‘mistakenly’ adopted by an elderly brother-sister duo. Soon Anne finds acceptance at her new home and wins over most of her new acquaintances. Anne of Green Gables tells the story of Anne as she transforms from an awkward adolescent girl to an elegant young woman ready for college and the larger world.

I see very clearly why Anne of Green Gables would appeal to young readers. The everyday tit bits of an ordinary childhood, the trials and tribulations of a young life, going to school, making friends, playing games, trying not to get in trouble with the elders, it’s all so familiar! Also, the ugly duckling to swan part must appeal to readers of all ages.

I wish I had read Anne of Green Gables when I was younger. I am sure I would have enjoyed it much better. Not that I didn’t enjoy the book. I did but as a non-judgmental, wide eyed, young reader I would have had much more fun with it.

I didn’t really take to the protagonist Anne like everyone else seems to. Anne got on my nerves as a young girl. Her non-stop chatter, her over the top imagination and above all her flowery language irritated me. As an adult I am afraid I am becoming a Mrs. Lynde type character! But I did enjoy Anne’s antics. They reminded me of how barely a decade ago I myself was up to a lot of mischief and probably getting on a lot of people’s nerves myself!

I enjoyed Anne’s school days and also when she goes out with Diana and co. on various occasions. I didn’t like all of Anne’s misadventures but some of them, like the ‘green’ hair dye situation, were funny.

I liked most of the book’s characters. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert were lovable. Mrs. Rachel Lynde although a bit bossy is really a good person at heart.

The children are the interesting part of the book. All of them behave most naturally. Diana Barry as the pretty, slightly duller but loyal friend is a perfect foil to Anne. Everyone knew a Josie Pye in school and I am pretty sure most girls have had their own Gilbert Blythes!

Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy love Anne and teach her to be better at her social skills and her studies respectively. Overall, the book is full of good people, who are kind to Anne and accept her in spite of her faults. Unrealistic but heart-warming nonetheless.

I fairly enjoyed reading Anne of Green Gables. It is a refreshingly youthful tale that has aged well. Pity that I didn’t get to read it as a child. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it much more.

© wutheringwillow and A Paperback Life, 2011-2061. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to wutheringwillow and A Paperback Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl was published in the US by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1964 and in the UK by George Allen & Unwin in 1967.

The story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory revolves around little Charlie Bucket and his trip to the mysterious Mr. Willy Wonka’s amazing chocolate factory.

The book is extremely short. I finished it in about an hour.

I loved Charlie and his unusual family. Grandpa Joe is especially lovable.

All the chocolates in the book sound delicious! I wish at least some of them were real.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been adapted for the screen twice. First in 1971 as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and in 2005 as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I have watched the 2005 Johnny Depp version of it. Although the plot of the 2005 version differs to a certain extent from the book, the movie version was very enjoyable.

Some of Mr. Wonka’s remarks are very funny. I laughed out loud at certain parts,

‘Whips!’ cried Veruca Salt. ‘What on earth do you use whips for?’

‘For whipping cream, of course,’ said Mr Wonka. ‘How can you whip cream without whips? Whipped cream isn’t whipped cream at all unless it’s been whipped with whips. Just as a poached egg isn’t a poached egg unless it’s been stolen from the woods in the dead of night!’

I liked the illustrations by Quentin Blake. They fit Dahl’s story perfectly. No wonder they collaborated for so many years.

I liked reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but I have my reservations about the book. All of the naughty children get their comeuppance seemingly by ‘accident’, accidents which were rather nasty at times, the Oompa-Loompas obvious joy at the accidents and their songs about those accidents, all of this is frankly disturbing.

I read Roald Dahl’s The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories, an adult short story collection, last year and found that Dahl’s vision can often be very dark. Even in a juvenile fiction book like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I can see darker undertones. Overall, I enjoyed the book but I just can’t help but get uneasy at some of Dahl’s rather wicked sense of humour.

© wutheringwillow and A Paperback Life, 2011-2061. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to wutheringwillow and A Paperback Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

30 Day Book Challenge

Day 4: Favourite Series –

The Harry Potter Series of Books by J. K. Rowling.

I’ve rarely read a complete series of books. The only series that I’ve completely read is the Harry Potter series. I have a soft spot for it because I grew up with Harry. From the late 90’s to this millennium, I went from being a kid to a young person along with Harry. I’ve often re-read them and they remind me of all the good times that I’ve had.