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Great Little Engines

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"I really can't think what all the fuss is for. They were only little branches, after all - nothing to get prickly about, surely."
— Duncan teases Peter Sam
GreatLittleEnginesCover
Great Little Engines
Author

Christopher Awdry

Illustrated by

Clive Spong

Published

1985 - present

Previous book

James and the
Diesel Engines

Next book

More About Thomas
the Tank Engine

Great Little Engines is the twenty-ninth book of the Railway Series.

Foreword

Dear Friends,
Sir Handel has been helping on the Talyllyn Railway, at Towyn, in Wales.

"You could write a book about it," he said when I went to see him.

Sir Handel was conceited before he went: whatever would happen, I thought, if he had a book all to himself? But some of his adventures were too good to waste, so I mixed them with stories about the other engines. That ought to keep everyone happy.
The Author

Stories

Patience is a Virtue

Sir Handel is delighted to have been chosen to visit the Talyllyn Railway, but cannot leave until Duke's restoration has been completed. When summer comes, Sir Handel's trains become longer. One day at the waterfall there are not enough coaches and some passengers have to crowd in Beatrice. Sir Handel becomes impatient waiting for the guard to check all the tickets, and when he can finally go Sir Handel leaves without the guard. Luckily, a passenger presses Beatrice's emergency buzzer and Sir Handel realises his mistake. Sir Handel collects the guard and races home, and arrives at Crovan's Gate on time, where the guard reminds him "patience is a virtue".

Peter Sam and the Prickly Problem

Men have been trimming bushes so the passengers can see the scenery, but Rusty does not have enough time to pick up the branches and so they remain where they are. One day, Peter Sam sees some branches on the line, and, not wanting to miss James' train, recklessly ploughs through. Unfortunately, they become jammed in his valve gear and although the worst is cut out Peter Sam's front feels very sore for several days afterwards.

Pop-Special

Some scouts are camping near the Skarloey Railway and the scoutmaster arranges for them to do work on the line. One sweltering day, Duncan is stopped by the scoutmaster, who is afraid the Scouts will become cross if they do not get their soda. The Refreshment Lady has run out of soda, but another tea-shop has enough to spare, and Duncan delivers the soda to the grateful scouts.

Sir Handel Comes Home

Sir Handel returns from the Talyllyn and tells the engines about his adventures. Some members of the royal family came to visit during his stay, and although Sir Handel didn't get to pull their train he did get to pull a party of wedding guests. When Peter Sam talks about his incident with the branches Sir Handel remembers a similar incident: he was puffing to Nant Gwernol when a fallen tree hit him in the face. Although his eye was not badly hurt, his crew made a huge fuss about it and even went so far as to bandage his eye and give him an eyepatch! Sir Handel loved his trip, but was glad to be home.

Characters

Trivia

  • The title of the book was inspired by a campaign by the Talyllyn Railway called "Great Little Trains".

Goofs

  • Sir Handel appears in the last illustration of "Peter Sam and the Prickly Problem".

Quotes

"Quite right," said Gordon. "It's a great responsibility being indispensible."
"Gordon says I'm . . . er . . . insensible," Sir Handel boasted to the others.
They were amused, but not impressed.

- Sir Handel makes a pronunciation error.

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