Troublesome Engines – Rev. W Awdry

More in the Series – The Railway Series
“More in the Series” scores the other books in a series where one (or more) of the books have made it into the 1001 Books list. Mostly because I’m a bit of a completionist. 

POINTS: 1 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 1 points
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points

I’m afraid these books really aren’t getting any better. There is still not a single character to be seen who doesn’t present as a very white, very British male character. Not a female engine in sight.

As I think I have mentioned in the past, I’ve been exposed to more Thomas than I’d like, and I’ve never found the stories particularly inspiring. This book at least had some relatively entertaining hijinks involving a circus elephant, but for the most part it’s just more of the same – engines behaving like spoiled kids and the “Fat Controller” handling it with a very patriarchal iron fist.

This book brings the introduction of Percy who is brought in to resolve what amounts to a labour dispute that boils down to the Tender engines thinking they’re too good for grunt work.

There’s quite a bit of pretty interesting subtext in these books about this sort of thing. When the engines “go on strike” it’s almost always because they’re being snobby, or thinking some kind of hard work is beneath them. It’s pretty much always portrayed as either laziness or silliness. In this case, they get their way, as the Controller goes off and gets a new Tank engine to do this work that they’re “too good for”, but there is definitely some weird classist subtle ideological stuff going on here about ‘lazy’ workers and how striking is just sulking cos you’re not getting your way. Not cool. Rev. Awdry.

C, of course, loved it like he loves all things Thomas. It is a bit flummoxing to me how totally into these books kids are – it has to just be the trains thing, I reckon, cos the pots are pretty flimsy. But there’s definitely something successful happening here.

What do you think? Do you think the Thomas books get any better as they go, or are you, like me, just not a fan?

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