Whilst this blog is not meant to be solely devoted to children’s literature, I can’t refrain from commenting on the books in Thomas & Friends’ Pocket Library (Egmont Books, 2010).
Given the popularity of the cheeky blue engine and his pals, the overt moralising and unrelenting utilitarianism are shocking. The engines literally learn to toe the line, as they are punished for their disobedient and wilful behaviour. Lilac Rosie learns that ‘Really Useful Engines’ work together, regretting her ‘naughty’ actions which caused ‘confusion and delay.’ Steady Old Edward and Excellent Emily meet similar fates.
The message is clear and unswerving. Children, do not think for yourselves. Do not attempt to assert your independence. Your job is to be obedient, sensible, and above all, Really Useful Engines.