Today I have a review of The Primrose Railway Children by bestselling and hugely popular children’s author – Jacqueline Wilson. Her books have included series such as Tracy Beaker, Hetty Feather and many more, tackling many subjects in the present and past. Now she is also tackling children’s classics. So, this is her revamped, modern take of E-Nesbitt’s The Railway Children.
I’ve talked many times about Jacqueline Wilson and her books to children, so it is an honour to actually be able to review one.
Discover more in the blurb and my thoughts about it in my review below.
Firstly, my thanks goes to the publisher – Penguin Random House Children’s UK for gifting me a copy of the book to review.
An unbelievable talent’ – David Walliams
From multi-million bestselling author Jacqueline Wilson and inspired by E. Nesbit’s timeless classic, The Primrose Railway Children is a gorgeous, heartwarming story of family secrets and new adventures.
Sit back and enjoy the journey!
Phoebe Robinson loves making up stories – just like her wonderful, imaginative Dad.
When he mysteriously disappears, Phoebe, Perry, Becks and their mum must leave everything behind and move to a small cottage in the middle of nowhere.
Struggling to feel at home and missing her Dad terribly, Phoebe’s only distraction is her guinea pig Daisy. Until the family discover the thrilling steam trains at the railway station and suddenly, every day is filled with adventure.
But Phoebe still can’t help wondering, what is Mum hiding and more worryingly is Dad okay?
Jacqueline Wilson has been inspired by E. Nesbitt before with her retelling of the story Four Children and It, which she called 4 Children and It. This time she has been inspired by The Railway Children by her. My hope is that children reading these, will be also inspired to go to the original versions too and see the similarities and the differences and appreciate both authors and their talents. Let’s face it, Jacqueline Wilson is enormously talented and I honestly was amazed to be given the priveledge of reviewing her book. Not only am I a fan of The Railway Children, but I also totally appreciate in wonderment what Jacqueline Wilson brings to children literature. The big question is, however, is this re-inspired story actually any good and will it hit the mark?
The timing of this book is quite perfect, just ahead of a sequel to the film of The Railway Children. I myself love trains and adventure and The Primrose Railway Children is sure to spark this in those middle-grade readers who devour Jacqueline Wilson’s books with their eyes and imaginations.
The Primrose Railway Children is made up of Phoebe, Amelie, Perry and Becks and then there’s their mum and dad. It’s written in a way that brings everything bang up to date. This, a bit like the original, isn’t a sugary sweet book, but there are cute animals. There is still upheaval, financial difficulties, technology issues and family secrets, which brings depth and intrigue. There’s some great humour within the story, so it isn’t too heavy, although there are some weighty themes, but they, as ever with a book by Jacqueline Wilson, are treated well and with children in mind.
The book mixes the past and present in a way that may well feed children’s curiosity as the book mentions the Edwardians and steam trains that would have run then on lines like The Primrose Railway, which is gently encouraged through the characters in the book having a desire to find out more. There’s something respectful about this and also makes it sound okay for children to do this. The book also mentions other classic books too in a way that is so clever and again gently encouraging the next generation to read these too, especially with all whilst putting her own spin on things and creating a pleasurable story, that is also well illustrated, but not overly so.
With dad mysteriously gone, the void this leaves can be sorely felt through the family, but none more so than Phoebe. The intensity of the bond between her and her dad can be keenly felt. There’s the whole worry that he may be dead, but they don’t really know if he is dead or alive and readers see the children process this between their humour and their seriousness in conversations and behaviours.
There’s adventure around the trains, the train station and make a new friend in the station master, which is delightfully written, with so much to discover about The Primrose Railway. It’s also a story that talks about differences between urban and rural life, differences in families as a whole and growing up.
This is overall a book many children will find engrossing and is relatable, and also as respectfully done as it possibly could be as she also puts her own slant on the family she creates and their different characterisations and the reasoning for their dad to be away and all ends in quite a twist.
There are some nods to E. Nesbitt’s original story – The Railway Children and so beautifully done, Jacqueline Wilson has acknowledged her and written a bit at the back of the book about her and her stories and I like that she also encourages children to read them too.
Jacqueline Wilson has written a number of books now, that have revamped the children’s classics and hopefully children will like hers as well as then discovering the original authors and reading what they wrote too. The two combined would now be pretty powerful and children could gain a lot from reading both versions, and perhaps discover the joy of reading and trains too.