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Recap / The Railway Series B 18 Stepney The Bluebell Engine

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Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine is the eighteenth book of The Railway Series. It was the first to be illustrated by Gunvor and Peter Edwards, who would remain on the series for the remainder of Wilbert Awdry's books. The book contains four stories focusing on the titular engine making his visit to Sodor.

  • Bluebells of England: Percy is singing about bluebells when Douglas comes up and tells him that his song is daft. Percy is cross, and tells him about the "Bluebells of England". He then goes on to inform Douglas that Stepney is coming to Sodor, when Stepney suddenly arrives and the two welcome him with a chorus of whistles.
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  • Stepney's Special: After talking to Edward about the Bluebell Railway, Stepney goes to Tidmouth to help Duck. Thomas has just left with his last train when he is stopped so that Stepney, with a V.I.P. in tow, can pass. Thomas is furious, but when Stepney explains the next morning and flatters Thomas by complimenting his knowledge of branch line life, Thomas is happier and begins talking about his branch line.
  • Train Stops Play: Percy takes pity on Stepney when he reveals he misses trucks, and offers to share his train with him. Stepney is later passing the Elsbridge Cricket Field when a batsman hits a six and the ball lands in a truck. Stepney doesn't hear the cricketers shout, so four pile into an old car named Caroline and race after them. At Ffarquhar, they get the ball, and, as Caroline is exhausted, Stepney takes them back on a flatbed and stays to watch the match.
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  • Bowled Out: Stepney's stay is almost over, but in his place a rude Diesel arrives and starts insulting the engines. Although the engines have no idea of what to do, the Diesel soon gets his just deserts when an Inspector's bowler hat lodges in his air intake. Duck and Stepney take his train, and reach Crovan's Gate in record time. Stepney leaves next day in style, while the Diesel creeps away in disgrace.

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The book contains examples of:

  • Break the Haughty / Laser-Guided Karma: The diesel receives one when he sucks an inspector's bowler hat through his air intake vent.
  • Fantastic Racism: Douglas expresses his disgust for diesels in the first story after Percy tells him about engines being sent to the scrapyards.
  • Jerkass: The diesel.
  • Nice Guy: Stepney. Even the trucks don't play up on him, and he considers them 'fun'.
  • Racing the Train: What Stepney's driver thinks Caroline and the cricketers are doing.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The diesel delivers one to all the engines, which enrages them.
    The Diesel: It's not your fault, but you're all out of date. Your controller should scrap you and get engines like me. A fill of oil, a touch on the starter and I'm off, with no bother, no waiting. They have to fuss around you for hours before you're ready.
  • Smug Snake: The diesel as best described in this quote:
    "Not bad. At least you're all clean."
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