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5 Top Books About...

Trains

With the Adventures on Trains series launching this week, author Sam Sedgman has picked out his own top 5 children's books about trains.

The Railway Children

E Nesbit

You can’t talk about great books with trains in them without mentioning this timeless classic. I loved E Nesbit’s adventures when I was little, and this one was no exception. Many of her books feature magical worlds, but here the railway provides the magic – becoming a portal for adventure for the three siblings whose family has fallen on hard times. It’s a beautifully built tale with lots of smaller stories shooting off like branch lines from the main plot. But they’re all woven together by the theme of simple kindness – and the importance of helping people less fortunate than ourselves.

First Class Murder

Robin Stevens

Robin Stevens’ faithful reimagining of Agatha Christie’s classic Murder on the Orient Express is a must for younger readers. As ever in her Murder Most Unladylike series, she finds the perfect balance between nostalgia for the period details and a modern sensibility. The plot ticks like a Swiss watch, with excellent clueing, and finds room to explore new sides of its compelling detective protagonists Daisy and Hazel.

Neverwhere

Neil Gaiman

A secret world beneath London’s streets, where the names of tube stations take on mythic significance – the Angel of Islington, the Earl of Earls Court, the treacherous Knight’s Bridge – the world of Neverwhere drips with imagination. After helping a wounded girl called Door, ordinary Richard Mayhew finds himself stranded in London Below, and forced to go on a quest deep into the city’s underbelly to get his life back. The everyday world of the rattling Underground trains becomes something truly magical here. I was obsessed with it as a young reader.

The Polar Express

Chris Van Allsburg

A Christmas classic for every train-loving child, The Polar Express is a wonderfully gentle adventure to the North Pole that millions of readers return to again and again. Why? There’s an indescribable magic to trains that this book makes real. Its beautiful illustrations capture the pure joy of watching a steam train rumbling into the distance. Something chuffer nutters young and old can all appreciate.

4.50 from Paddington

Agatha Christie

Yes, yes, Murder on the Orient Express is much more known and beloved. But although the train is famous, it spends most of the book stuck in a snowdrift, which I found very disappointing. This charming outing for Miss Marple starts when her friend sees a murder from one train while travelling in another. There’s very little blood or violence in this book, but all the excellent plotting you’d expect from Christie is here, twisting a railway murder into a classic country house mystery, with two boys on their school holiday helping hunt for clues. A good introduction to the queen of crime for a young reader.

Many thanks to Sam for compiling this train booklist! We couldn't quite leave it there without adding Sam's own new book into the mix:

The Highland Falcon Thief

M. G. Leonard, Sam Sedgman & Elisa Paganelli

A full-steam-ahead adventure that had me hooked from the get-go. The Highland Falcon Thief is a middle-grade mystery story set on a steam train. With a high spirit of adventuring and a good-and-proper mystery that unfolds with clues and red-herrings along the course, this is a full-throttle mystery with likeable characters and a well-paced plot that is especially full of treasures for anyone who loves trains.

 

Read our full review and guest feature from co-author M.G. Leonard on the blog.

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With the Adventures on Trains series launching this week, author Sam Sedgman has picked out his own top 5 children's books about trains. ​ The Railway Children E Nesbit ​You can’t talk about great books with trains in them without mentioning this timeless classic. I loved E Nesbit’s adventures when I was little, and this one was no exception. Many of her books feature magical worlds, but here the railway provides the magic – becoming a portal for adventure for the three siblings whose family has fallen on hard times. It’s a beautifully built tale with lots of smaller stories shooting off like branch lines from the main plot. But they’re all woven together by the theme of simple kindness – and the importance of helping people less fortunate than ourselves. Buy on Amazon First Class Murder Robin Stevens Robin Stevens’ faithful reimagining of Agatha Christie’s classic Murder on the Orient Express is a must for younger readers. As ever in her Murder Most Unladylike series, she finds the perfect balance between nostalgia for the period details and a modern sensibility. The plot ticks like a Swiss watch, with excellent clueing, and finds room to explore new sides of its compelling detective protagonists Daisy and Hazel. Buy on Amazon Neverwhere Neil Gaiman A secret world beneath London’s streets, where the names of tube stations take on mythic significance – the Angel of Islington, the Earl of Earls Court, the treacherous Knight’s Bridge – the world of Neverwhere drips with imagination. After helping a wounded girl called Door, ordinary Richard Mayhew finds himself stranded in London Below, and forced to go on a quest deep into the city’s underbelly to get his life back. The everyday world of the rattling Underground trains become something truly magical here. I was obsessed with it as a young reader. Buy on Amazon The Polar Express , Chris Van Allsburg A Christmas classic for every train-loving child, The Polar Express is a wonderfully gentle adventure to the North Pole that millions of readers return to again and again. Why? There’s an indescribable magic to trains that this book makes real. Its beautiful illustrations capture the pure joy of watching a steam train rumbling into the distance. Something chuffer nutters young and old can all appreciate. Buy on Amazon 4.50 from Paddington Agatha Christie Yes, yes, Murder on the Orient Express is much more known and beloved. But although the train is famous, it spends most of the book stuck in a snowdrift, which I found very disappointing. This charming outing for Miss Marple starts when her friend sees a murder from one train while travelling in another. There’s very little blood or violence in this book, but all the excellent plotting you’d expect from Christie is here, twisting a railway murder into a classic country house mystery, with two boys on their school holiday helping hunt for clues. A good introduction to the queen of crime for a young reader. ​ Buy on Amazon Many thanks to Sam for compiling this train booklist! We couldn't quite leave it there without adding Sam's own new book into the mix: ​ The Highland Falcon Thief M. G. Leonard, Sam Sedgman & Elisa Paganelli A full-steam-ahead adventure that had me hooked from the get-go. The Highland Falcon Thief is a middle-grade mystery story set on a steam train. With a high spirit of adventuring and a good-and-proper mystery that unfolds with clues and red-herrings along the course, this is a full-throttle mystery with likeable characters and a well-paced plot that is especially full of treasures for anyone who loves trains. Read our full review and guest feature from co-author M.G. Leonard on the blog.

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