|Thomas and his Friends|
July 6th, 2011
Thomas and his Friends is the forty-second book in the Railway Series.
The Awdry family is delighted to be able to mark the centenary of the Thin Clergyman's birth with the publication of this book. The Fat Controller wanted to celebrate the occasion too, and quickly made his own plans. What were they? Turn the pages to find out...
Thomas and the Swan
Pip and Emma arrive at the big station one day and the Fat Controller tells Thomas and Gordon that they will be running the express service to London. They soon become a success.
One day, Thomas is leaving the station by the river, when he sees something white on the bridge ahead. He and his crew think that it is a newspaper, until Thomas sees a head and a long neck emerge from the bundle. After looking at it, Thomas' crew realise that it is a swan, which has broken a wing. They place the swan in Thomas' cab and take it to the top station where a vet takes it to his surgery. A few days later, they set the swan free. Thomas is congratulated for his rescue by the Fat Controller and the other engines.
Donald and Douglas are doing maintenance work in the sidings at Tidmouth Yard. Donald moves into a siding one day, but the rails are slippery with frost and he finds himself brought to a stop by the buffers. Nobody is harmed, but the buffers are smashed to smithereens. The other engines tease Donald and tell him he should go into skating championships, but the Fat Controller doesn't mind, as he knows Donald couldn't help it. James takes the final repairs train, while Douglas slides into the siding where workmen are just finishing painting the new buffers. Douglas' driver applies the brakes, but nothing happens and Douglas crashes straight through the new buffers. A workman angrily splashes some red paint onto Douglas' nose, which the Fat Controller leaves on his nose as a reminder to be more careful in sidings.
Gordon’s Fire Service
Gordon is taking a stopping train on the main line when he sees a red glow from under a bridge. A tractor's load of haybales had caught fire and the fire was beginning to spread to the grassy banks. Gordon's crew tries to put it out, but to no avail. Then Gordon has a wonderful idea: the hose inside his cab can be used! The driver and fireman quickly get to work and soon the fire is out. The fire engine soon arrives, but when they find the fire is already out, they praise Gordon for his quick thinking. Gordon is awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal for his bravery.
The engines are preparing to celebrate the centenary of the Thin Clergyman. James is chosen to go and collect the bust of the Thin Clergyman from the Mainland. He collects the bust safely and has just gone through Henry's Tunnel on his return journey when the tunnel collapses, cutting off Sodor from the Mainland! The Fat Controller and some inspectors decide on the plan of action and soon Pip and Emma are cleared as the first train to travel through the repaired tunnel. At Tidmouth station, out of Pip and Emma's coaches steps Prince Charles. He unveils the Thin Clergyman's bust and proudly declares, "There will never be anything like it anywhere".
- Pip and Emma
- Sir Topham Hatt
- The Prince
- Donald (does not speak)
- Annie and Clarabel (do not speak)
- Edward (cameo)
- Duck (cameo)
- Daisy (cameo)
- BoCo (cameo)
- Bertie (mentioned)
- A Peel Godred Engine (mentioned)
- The Thin Clergyman (mentioned)
- The book is dedicated to Wilbert Awdry and has the inscription, before the foreword, "In memory of the Rev. W. Awdry (1911 - 1997), without whom none of Thomas' adventures would have been told".
- The prototype cover used an illustration from Thomas and the Fat Controller's Engines.
- As an April Fool's prank, SiF announced that they were being allowed to reveal the new character which will appear in this book and implied that it was a character created in their "Extended Railway Series". Many fans believed this to be true, though some were suspicious.
- Originally scheduled for release on July 4th, 2011, the book was pushed back until the 6th.
- Unlike any other Railway Series book, the final story ends with the words "the end".
- This was the first book in the Railway Series to reference the Peel Godred Branch Line.
- It is likely that "Thomas and the Swan" is based on the annual story Thomas and the Swans.
- Throughout "Buffer Bashing", Donald and Douglas' tenders are incorrectly proportioned.