In The Railway Children, E. Nesbit provides an intriguing series of vignettes about three middle-class London children at the turn of the century learning to adjust to life as poorer rural children when their father is inexplicably taken away. The railway become the central part of their daily lives. Bobbie (Roberta), Peter, and Phil (Phyllis) are naive children, but they are also completely sincere, and so one cannot help but enjoy reading along with their adventures.
The Railway Children is not only a series of small adventures, however. The overarching difficulty is the absence of their father, an absence their mother does not want to discuss. The eldest child, Bobbie, is able to find out where he has gone, and using the friends she has made in their small Yorkshire town, she seeks help. Because of the kind and giving nature of the children, all who meet them cannot resist enjoying them.