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James the Red Engine is the third book of the Railway Series.
Dear friends of Edward, Gordon, Henry, and Thomas,
Thank you for your kind letters. Here is the new book for which you asked.
We are nationalized now, but the same engines still work the Region. I am glad, too, to tell you that the Fat Director, who understands our friends' ways, is still in charge, but is now the Fat Controller.
I hope you will enjoy this book, too.
James is to take a passenger train with Edward. At the platform, he accidently showers water over the Fat Controller's new top-hat, and James, afraid of the consequences, starts off. He then proceeds to almost forget to drop off his passengers, and to top everything off he disturbs an old lady with his hiccups after hearing about the time Edward had to help Gordon up the hill. That night, James is scared of what the Fat Controller will say.
James is grumpy after being threatened by blue paint and having to fetch his own coaches. It takes the biscuit when no one comes near him at the platform, and James is so determined to pay everyone out that he doesn't take care with his coaches and causes a leak in the brake-pipe. The crew determines that they need newspaper and leather bootlaces to fix it until they get home, and after a great amount of persuasion a man named Jeremiah Jobling hands his bootlaces over and the train gets home.
James is shut up for several days, but when the Fat Controller comes to see him James apologizes and is let out to take a goods train. The trucks play tricks on James and break away on Gordon's Hill, but James tries again and, with some support from Edward, gets the train home. The Fat Controller is pleased, and allows James to keep his red paint.
Gordon brags that he knows the right line by "instinct", but is proven wrong when he is switched off the main line onto the loop. The Fat Controller asks James to take the Express, and after a successful run and the promise of being allowed to take the Express, James returns to see Gordon shunting. The two become friends, and Gordon refrains from teasing James about the bootlace incident.
- The Fat Controller
- The Little Blue Tank Engine
- Henry (does not speak)
- Annie and Clarabel (not named; do not speak)
- The Reverend W. Awdry often stated this was his least favourite book, as, instead of being written from experience, it was published merely to meet a deadline.
- The book was released digitally for Apple products on May 11th, 2012.
- Throughout the book, James has a red roof.
- Throughout "James and the Bootlace" the number of coaches change.
- In the third illustration of "Troublesome Trucks", a sad van is at the front of James' train. For the remainder of the story, its face disappears.
- In the final illustration, Gordon is missing his neck holders and the curve at the bottom of his valance.
- The station where James and Edward overrun the platform is never referenced again. It is positioned in between Tidmouth and Knapford.
- In the fifth illustration of "James and the Top Hat", Thomas' number 1 is missing from his side tank.
- In the fourth illustration of "James and the Express", James doesn't have cab windows.