The Railroader


150 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-590-73421-0
DDC jC813'.54





Reviewed by Laurence Steven

Laurence Steven is Chairman of the English Department at Laurentian
University and author of Dissociation and Wholeness in Patrick White’s


Twelve-year-old Skip Skinner is not very different from most boys his
age. He has a name he hates, trouble keeping his grades up, and a crush
on schoolmate Elinor Crump. Living in Ontario in the 1940s, Skip strives
to make his dream of becoming a railway engineer a reality by
befriending an old watchman so he can learn the business.

Hunter writes an exciting story of local adventure. Eight
black-and-white photographs, dispersed throughout the text, help
familiarize today’s younger reader with the equipment and railway
workers of the steam train era. Little further elaboration is given on
the historical aspect of the book’s subject. Refrigerators are on the
way in, iceboxes are on the way out, movie stars have the mass appeal
that television stars do today. The fact that Skip’s story is set in
the 1940s is otherwise hardly noticeable.

What is noticeable, however, is Skip’s idealistic home life and the
stereotypical description of his family members. Skip’s “really
swell” mother is always carrying a mop, a shopping bag, a laundry
basket, or baby Louise. Skip’s father, whose bravery won him a medal
in World War II, is a successful refrigerator salesman. A slight clash
between grandparents results in playful, humorous banter. And Skip gets
everything he wants for Christmas.

Skip’s adventures, which span almost two years of his life, will
appeal to most boys in the 10-14 age range, but few will be able to
relate to his heavily sentimentalized home life.


Hunter, Bernice Thurman., “The Railroader,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,