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VINE VOICEon 13 November 2015
The Railway Series in its 26 original stories is the greatest series of books for young boys ever created. The 26 Reverand W Awdrey's works span 1945-1972 and created a perfect little world on the Island of Sodor. This is the original series so not the books of Christopher Awdrey or the more modern and much less brilliant versions. This boxed set is beautifully designed with a bold colour and Thomas the Tank Engine prominently featured. The box itself is a little flimsy and needed a touch of repair after first contact. It largely does its job though of keeping these wonderful books in their lovely container.

The original series is un-matched. It tells the stories of a host of train and related characters. Unlike modern, commercialised versions it tells the stories through a moral prism that fits so well with the natural order of a young boy's thinking. This is The Railway Series, not The Thomas Show. It is so much better for featuring well developed characters spanning several different themes rather than being about selling the brand of Thomas the Tank Engine.

Indeed, Thomas is not even present to start with. The first story is something of a pilot. The star is Edward. His star wanes a bit later on as it is not the most interesting character but fascinating for Edward to be the focus of the original idea. The first book's pilot feel is emphasised by some of the character names not yet being finalised. A Fat Director shows up in the first book. He is of course The Fat Controller. The Controller is a wonderful character. He is strict and disciplined but considerate. He is the father figure for all of the engines. In a patriachal world it is The Fat Controller who plays the role of patriach - or dad.

Some of the characters have become classics. Gordon the Big Engine is a particularly great one. He is the big brother. Older brothers can associate with him easily. He is strong and fast, smaller engines look up to him. But he is loyal and kind quite often. Some other characters take other familial roles - Henry for instance is a friend or more probably a cousin. He is a little bit apart because he is green and he is not as macho and brave as most of the others. Thomas the cheeky little tank engine is one engine among many. He is the naughty little brother who wants to play but does well and is rewarded.

The host of characters works surprisingly well. Young boys of even 2 years old can memorise dozens of engines. Quite remarkable but a fantastic learning experience. The learning through the actions of the characters and the reinforcement of a set of behaviours is educationally effective. The seemingly natural obsession with trains makes this set of stories so exciting for young boys.

The stories are so well written and interesting it also seems to be good for girls. There are very few female characters. The early ones are the chattering coaches being pulled about by the boy engines. That reflects the world the stories started in. The world of the mid-1940s was still of course a male dominated one where many men had just given their lives in the devastation of World War II. It is only later in the series as it passes through decades that bring about greater female participation in public life that more prominent female characters emerge. Fascinating to see the history of Britain through the eyes of an establishment figure observing changes in the world around him.

The artwork of The Railway Series is good but not great. There is artwork on most alternate pages but it does not particularly stand-out and certainly is not as good as the television series of the 1980s. The style is somewhat muted so lacks the eye-catching vividness for the very young. Still, the different engines are largely unique enough to be easily identified so their role in life can be quite easily seen. Also fascinating to see the different times through different images. The clothes passengers wear change slightly through the series.

The books are hardback and small. Good for little hands to hold while sturdy enough to survive.

The stories themselves are memorable. Some are beautiful like the story relating to Mrs Kyndley. Some are exciting fun like the race between Thomas and Bertie. Some tell much deeper stories about the sorrow of the passing from the age of steam to the age of cars.

Even those who were born after the age of steam can feel nostalgic for that era. A great time when trains were the dominant feature of British culture. For a dad there is hardly anything better than reading The Railway Series to his children.
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on 25 March 2013
This collection of small hardback books is worth every penny I paid, and easily earns its five stars.

I bought this collection about 10 weeks ago as bedtime reading for my toddler daughter who loves the Thomas The Tank Engine TV series - and I must admit I love the stories as much as her as she listens. The stories develop the Thomas 'world' as you read through them in sequence - you really get a sense of the author's love of the railway he knew which was disappearing before his eyes while he was writing these books.

There is so much to like about this box set. The box containing the books is made to look like a train station with the Fat Director/Controller and Thomas, and you see different views of the station from each side of the box. It is very hard-wearing, and houses the books very well. Each book is a small hardback, with the author's remarks and 4 inter-related stories in each book. (Perfect for reading a chapter or two before you put your little one to sleep). The books and box are of high quality - to get this many quality books for this price really is great. One slight niggle is that the box is only just big enough to house all the books, and fitting them back in after reading can be a challenge for an adult, let alone a toddler.

I had previously bought 'The Three Railway Engines' (Book 1 in the collection) seperately to 'test the water' to see whether my daughter and I would enjoy it. This was a different edition of the book. I can say that the books in this collection are of a better quality - the harback is tougher, shiner, and the colours are brighter.

If you and/or your kids enjoy Thomas on TV, this set is worth getting. My daughter and I thoroughly enjoy these books.
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on 29 April 2012
An excellent set of classic books, my 2 year old daughter asks for one as a bedtime story every night and we've been through the set twice already. The stories each seem to have a moral to them: whether it is naughty engines getting their comeuppance, reliable engines being rewarded or old and sick engines finding they can still be useful. We had one or two of these books lying around from when we were children and I can therefore confirm that the price per book for this set is the same as the price to buy any individual title some 30 years ago!! Superb value for money.
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on 7 October 2013
I love these stories, if I were rating the physical version of this book, I would give it 5 stars.

The Kindle version of this book is a huge let down. The problem with the Kindle version is that it is formatted very poorly. They keep it looking exactly like the physical version where the picture is on one side and the writing is on the other. Unfortunately no one's e-reader is that shape, so either you end up with tiny writing or you cannot see the picture. Why they haven't made it so that the picture is on top and that the writing is underneath, I cannot understand. If they did this, you would be able to both read the book in a descent sized font and see the picture at the same time,
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on 29 December 2014
Great to get this set for one of our grandson's the colour reproduction of the plates is good and these volumes are
just a classic for young boys. Attention holding text with some wonderful stories so often with a gentle moral undertone.
Probably considered old fashioned by some but the fathers seem to enjoy reading the originals and this set will allow both
households to own a set. Only criticism is that the books are a mite too tight in the box.
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on 5 March 2016
These are perfect little books for children, this copy was new, arriving very promptly, well packaged. Illustrations are colourful originals and the book has a hard back. Delightful present for a 5+ child.
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on 1 November 2016
This is a beautiful book, proud to have this in my collection.
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on 5 June 2014
I selected this classic Thomas the Tank Engine version, because I previously have owned the same set. This includes a single condensed volume. In the great benefit of hindsight though, priced at over £90 it is still too high. This is despite it's £60 less then 2011 edition at £150. I would therefore advise anyone, looking for this story collection to purchase the 60th anniversary, 2005 slim lined version that only costs £35 or less with a saving. They are still as always worth a nostalgic read all the same.
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on 1 April 2016
The first in this classic series. Original text and pictures, very attractive copy, like new. Prompt despatch, well packaged.
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on 6 January 2013
This product is just fantastic. Great value for money if bought via Amazon. I bought this for my 2 yr old daughter and 10mth old son for Christmas and we have all been thoroughly impressed by it. Lovely stories. Great presentation. All the books are just the right size for little hands to wave around in desperation to get someone to read all 26 of them NOW!
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