Following on from E Nesbit's classic, 'The Return of the Railway Children' picks up the story of Phyllis's (Fliss) daughter, Edie. Although London in the Blitz is a difficult place to be, mother and daughter are determined to stay together until a direct hit near their home- and Fliss joining the Air Transport Auxiliary- mean Edie is sent to stay with her Aunt Roberta and Uncle Peter at Three Chimneys in Yorkshire.
With fellow evacuees, Gus and Greta, Edie comes to love her life in Yorkshire and enjoys exploring the railway as her mother did before her. But there are secrets in the village- and closer to home- which could lead to disaster.
Writing a sequel to such an iconic book offers a real challenge in getting the balance right- too close to the original and you might be accused of copying; too different and the original story/ characters disappear. In 'The Return of the Railway Children', Lou Kuenzler achieves this delicate balance brilliantly, producing a story which maintains the spirit of adventure and family of the original whilst giving it a life of its own.
The original children- now adults- are still recognisable, but have changed due to their experiences. Fliss (Phyllis), to me, has changed the most, becoming a pilot and having an illegitimate child; both Peter and Bobbie have been shaped by things that have happened. There are also plenty of new characters- Perky (the original Perks' grandson), evacuees Gus and Greta and the Snigson brothers.
Like the original, the story has plenty of adventure and excitement, making it a great read aloud story. Set during WW2, the story is rich with detail and may well lead children to the original classic whose opening line Lou Kuenzler has used for this sequel:
They were not railway children to begin with.
A fabulous read aloud with plenty to discuss and enjoy!
The Return of the Railway Children Lou Kuenzler
Scholastic ISBN: 978-1407184890
You can read a review of 'Finding Black Beauty', Lou Kuenzler's sequel to Anna Sewell's classic here.