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Five Children and It

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The five children find a cantankerous sand fairy, a psammead, in a gravel pit. Every day 'It' will grant each of them a wish that lasts until sunset, often with disastrous consequences. Never out of print since 1902. The Introduction to this edition examines Nesbit's life and her reading, showing the change in childrens' literature from Victorian times.


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The five children find a cantankerous sand fairy, a psammead, in a gravel pit. Every day 'It' will grant each of them a wish that lasts until sunset, often with disastrous consequences. Never out of print since 1902. The Introduction to this edition examines Nesbit's life and her reading, showing the change in childrens' literature from Victorian times.

30 review for Five Children and It

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    I read Five Children and It with the Women’s Classic Literature Enthusiasts group and enjoyed it immensely. If you like Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and its series' mates by Betty MacDonald, you will like Five Children and It. The ideal child reader of this book is between second and fifth grade, with a fondness for historical fiction or British classics. (For comparison, this is substantially easier reading then C.S. Lewis’ fiction.) The ideal adult reader is anyone who enjoys classic children’s novels a I read Five Children and It with the Women’s Classic Literature Enthusiasts group and enjoyed it immensely. If you like Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and its series' mates by Betty MacDonald, you will like Five Children and It. The ideal child reader of this book is between second and fifth grade, with a fondness for historical fiction or British classics. (For comparison, this is substantially easier reading then C.S. Lewis’ fiction.) The ideal adult reader is anyone who enjoys classic children’s novels and/or Edwardian literature. Five Children and It was published in 1902 and is the first novel in Nesbit’s Psammead trilogy, which consists of Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904), and The Story of the Amulet(1906). In Five Children and It, a group of siblings (Anthea, Robert, Cyril, Jane, and a baby who is referred to as the Lamb) find the Psammead in a sand quarry near their home in the English countryside. The Psammead is a sand fairy able to grant wishes. This classic takes us to Edwardian England, where horses and buggies were the most common form of transportation, and servants looked after the children. *If you are spoiler-averse, you may want to stop reading further.* The most successful aspects of Five Children and It were the world-building, the authentic relationships between and amongst the children, and Nesbit's writing style. I could relate to the children and their emotions. They were described and interacted in a way that fit their ages and I found them to be differentiated in age-appropriate manners. Nesbit’s writing style struck just the right tone for me, between communicating a moral and having fun. The morals weren’t overblown or eye-rolling. The vocabulary didn't strike me as dumbed-down for children, but it also was not as flowery and ornate as Frances Hodgson Burnett's contemporaneously written works and was a style I found highly appealing. For 75% of the book, the adventures worked for me, and my pre-6th-grade self would have adored this book because it doesn't talk down to children and is sufficiently complex to appeal to adults. The sexist and racist elements (one chapter involves gypsies) grated on me but were tolerable, if Nesbit’s handling is appropriately appreciated as progressive in the context of her 1902 peers, until I encountered "Scalps" (it describes an adventure populated by “red Indians”) which made me want to take a shower. YMMV. The last story involving the mother and stolen (or magically relocated) jewelry was unsuccessful for me, and I am not certain why - although I suspect that the mother's involvement in the story makes it less of an adventure and more of a problem to be solved; less charming and imaginative and more dire. As with the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series, the chapters of Five Children and It read like a series of only-lightly-connected short stories, some of which were more successful than others. It was great fun, though, a super-quick read (6 hours perhaps?) and I recommend it to anyone who reads the description and is intrigued, or who is a fan of Edwardian classics. Background on the author: E. Nesbit was born in Kennington, Surrey in 1858. The death of her father when she was four years old and the continuing ill health of her sister meant that Nesbit had a childhood absent focused adult attention, and frequent moves. Her family moved across Europe in search of healthy climates for her sister, only to return to England for financial reasons. Growing up, she lived in France, Spain and Germany in addition to various locations in Great Britain. Her education came from a combination of periods in local elementary/grammar schools and the occasional boarding school but predominately through reading. Nesbit wanted to be known as a poet and in her teens had a poem published. This gave her greater confidence to write more, both for adults and children, but it is for her 60+ children's books (including those on which she collaborated with other authors) she is best known. She distinguished herself from other writers of her time by writing about children as they were, and rewriting conventional adventure stories to present them with female characters in lead roles. Her friends included HG Wells and George Bernard Shaw. She also was a political activist and a follower of William Morris and she and her husband Hubert Bland were among the founders of the Fabian Society, a socialist organization later affiliated to the Labour Party. Nesbit was an active lecturer and prolific writer on socialism during the 1880s. Interesting links and articles (which may, necessarily, include spoilers): http://www.foliosociety.com/author/ed... (biography) https://lit4334goldenage.wordpress.co... http://muse.jhu.edu/article/271157

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Although only written a couple of years earlier this was quite a different world to The Railway Children. It is a very simple kind of children's story. The parents are got rid of – not by sending the children away to school, nor by having them eaten by an escaped hippo from the zoo, but by the rather quaint expedient of having them go away on business. Living in the Kent countryside between a chalk quarry and a gravel pit (view spoiler)[ or Rochester and Maidstone as they are otherwise known (hid Although only written a couple of years earlier this was quite a different world to The Railway Children. It is a very simple kind of children's story. The parents are got rid of – not by sending the children away to school, nor by having them eaten by an escaped hippo from the zoo, but by the rather quaint expedient of having them go away on business. Living in the Kent countryside between a chalk quarry and a gravel pit (view spoiler)[ or Rochester and Maidstone as they are otherwise known (hide spoiler)] the gaggle of five children dig up a magical creature (the 'It' of the title) which grants them one wish per day that lasts until sunset. Each chapter then recounts the adventures that each day's one wish causes them. All the wishes and the adventures that follow bear out the maxim “be careful what you wish for”. Structurally it is as simple as could be, unlike the later book there are no flashes of the mother becoming a writer, being on the breadline, or political deviancy in Russia. All the same it had me laughing in the mornings while waiting for my train, not laughing as in the blurbs on the back of comic novels that say things like 'uproariously funny' even though at most you suffer from one involuntary upward twist of the lips, but instead actually laughing were the face crinkles and you flash your teeth in a friendly manner. Most of this was probably because of the naivety of the children, who get taught to be sour and suspicious, particularly because of their inability to express their wishes in an optimal manner, so that they get exactly what they asked for instead of what they wanted. In a sequel they ought to all grow up to become contract lawyers. There are interesting flashes of empire – one of the boys hopes to grow up to plunder Africa (view spoiler)[ that isn't exactly the phraseology he employs, I think he terms it 'exploring' (hide spoiler)] so he can give piles of jewels to his mum (view spoiler)[ lets hope she likes blood diamonds (hide spoiler)] . But these are children expressing a child's perspective on the world, adults don't make any comment on empire, instead they are frightened of burglary and forged coins. Some of the wishes come out of the children's reading and this gives a tortuous twist to the question of the child's perspective, because when they wish that their home is a castle besieged by hostile knights, or that they have blood-curdling adventures with red Indians what they get is a magical reconstruction of their memories of their reading - so the 'medieval' knights speak in the bizarre kind of English used in late Victorian children's books and wear so odd a mixture of arms and armour as to make a Hollywood film look almost like a textbook example of historical accuracy. The Indians come off even worse, apparently the poor children had been reading the Leather-stocking Tales (view spoiler)[ I seem to remember a particularly barbed analysis done by Mark Twain whose hook is still lodged somewhere near the back of my brain (hide spoiler)] . Perhaps not so much a case of being careful what you wish for but of the need to be careful of what you read. Unfortunately the claim is made in the book that firewood cannot be found in the whole of Kent. This is a lie, there are loads of old pallets to be had lying around, and if you know where to look, old kitchen units too. In a wider perspective the book is interesting in that the children are responsible. First for causing problems through their unwise, or incautious wishes. Secondly for resolving those problems through the application of brainpower and persuasion. The adults are unaware of the problems that the children confront, and would in any case be incapable of solving them as the children can - in this there is a strong thematic link to The Railway Children, there the mother may earn the money but it is the children and their actions that eventually lead to the resolution of a resolutely non-magical crisis.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Somehow I missed reading Five Children and It when I was a child myself, so when I saw a copy at a yard sale I had to buy it. It only cost 10p, and the little girl who sold it to me looked rather like an E. Nesbit heroine, very serious, with huge dark eyes. The plot is a variant on "be careful what you wish for", one of her favourite themes. Some of the episodes are excellent, and it's full of delightful asides. But the construction is rather loose, and the ending is weak. I think she was dissat Somehow I missed reading Five Children and It when I was a child myself, so when I saw a copy at a yard sale I had to buy it. It only cost 10p, and the little girl who sold it to me looked rather like an E. Nesbit heroine, very serious, with huge dark eyes. The plot is a variant on "be careful what you wish for", one of her favourite themes. Some of the episodes are excellent, and it's full of delightful asides. But the construction is rather loose, and the ending is weak. I think she was dissatisfied with it and rewrote it a few years later as The Enchanted Castle , to my mind her clear masterpiece. So, if you're as much of an E. Nesbit fan as I am, I definitely recommend reading this book. If you like classic children's novels and aren't familiar with her work, skip straight to Castle. You won't be disappointed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Nesbit is the great-grandma of pretty nearly all the children's fantasy books we love, the first author to write really wittily for kids and without condescending to them, and the originator of the basic structure that carries on through C.S. Lewis and Edward Eager and even in a way Jo Rowling: four children, usually siblings or cousins but sometimes friends, stumble on a magical something that leads them into a series of fantastic adventures and important discoveries (gently conveyed) about the Nesbit is the great-grandma of pretty nearly all the children's fantasy books we love, the first author to write really wittily for kids and without condescending to them, and the originator of the basic structure that carries on through C.S. Lewis and Edward Eager and even in a way Jo Rowling: four children, usually siblings or cousins but sometimes friends, stumble on a magical something that leads them into a series of fantastic adventures and important discoveries (gently conveyed) about the big issues of life. Her books have a lovely period feel, not unlike the opening pages of Alice in Wonderland, tempered by Nesbit's practical sensibility about the real world and her sardonic sense of humor, which makes the books a very enjoyable read for adults as well as great read-alouds. In this story, written in 1902, the magical something is a Psammead, a grumpy Persian sand fairy that looks something like a large tubby rodent with eyes on the end of stalks. The Psammead is compelled to grant its finders one wish per day, which the children are initially thrilled about, but they soon discover that wishes are chancy things and the Psammead perversely literal in granting them, with often unlooked for and unideal consequences. There are two sequels, THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET, written in 1904 and my personal favorite (I always hear John Gielgud's voice coming out of the Phoenix) and THE STORY OF THE AMULET (1906). Theatre folks may be interested to know that Nesbit was Noel Coward's favorite writer; there was a copy of THE ENCHANTED CASTLE on his bedside table at Firefly when he died. "Her books," he wrote, "have meant a very great deal to me, not only when I was a little boy of nine and onwards, but right up to the present day. I have re-read them each at least twenty times....She had an economy of phrase, and an unequalled talent for evoking hot summer days in the English countryside." His favorites? FIVE CHILDREN AND IT, THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET, THE HOUSE OF ARDEN, THE ENCHANTED CASTLE, THE WONDERFUL GARDEN, and the Bastable series. The Brits did a film adaptation in 2004, somewhat different to the book in the way the story gets launched, with Freddie Highmore leading the juvenile cast, and Tara Fitzgerald, Alex Jennings, Zoe Wanamaker and Kenneth Branagh as the adults. In a stroke of total casting genius, the voice of the Psammead is provided by Eddie Izzard.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    This is a perfectly delightful story of the misadventures of five siblings who are granted a daily wish by a prehistoric creature who lives in the sandpit near their home. One of the eleven chapters would, by modern standards, be deemed racist. However, this fault might be overlooked when the reader considers the date of publication and could be used as a teachable moment if reading with a child. All in all, this entertaining tale elicited many chuckles and the occasional loud guffaw! The most f This is a perfectly delightful story of the misadventures of five siblings who are granted a daily wish by a prehistoric creature who lives in the sandpit near their home. One of the eleven chapters would, by modern standards, be deemed racist. However, this fault might be overlooked when the reader considers the date of publication and could be used as a teachable moment if reading with a child. All in all, this entertaining tale elicited many chuckles and the occasional loud guffaw! The most fun I've had since reading The Red Blazer Girls books earlier this year.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I loved this book as a child, and read it over and over. The idea of having a wish every day is so appealing, but then seeing how it goes hilariously wrong day after day is great, too. I read this aloud to my kids (July 2015), and though my 10yo liked it, my 6yo was less engaged. I found myself having to stop and explain things here and there, because it's both old-fashioned and British. I think it's easier to read to yourself, you can SEE how the name Anthea becomes Panther becomes Panty in bab I loved this book as a child, and read it over and over. The idea of having a wish every day is so appealing, but then seeing how it goes hilariously wrong day after day is great, too. I read this aloud to my kids (July 2015), and though my 10yo liked it, my 6yo was less engaged. I found myself having to stop and explain things here and there, because it's both old-fashioned and British. I think it's easier to read to yourself, you can SEE how the name Anthea becomes Panther becomes Panty in baby talk, but when someone reads to you that Anthea says, "Come to own Panty!" to the baby, it just sounds weird. Still, a fun book, at least in my opinion!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    For some reason when I was a kid and I first read this book, it terrified the hell out of me. I don't remember why. I think back when I was growing up in PMQ housing there had been shadows on the wall from the asbestos removal junk the military had set up in the attic above my bed, shadows which I thought were "It" (I know, incredibly lame in hindsight). My eight-year-old mind was also mixing up It with Cousin It, the creepy hairy guy from The Addams Family 1990's films. Going back and reading t For some reason when I was a kid and I first read this book, it terrified the hell out of me. I don't remember why. I think back when I was growing up in PMQ housing there had been shadows on the wall from the asbestos removal junk the military had set up in the attic above my bed, shadows which I thought were "It" (I know, incredibly lame in hindsight). My eight-year-old mind was also mixing up It with Cousin It, the creepy hairy guy from The Addams Family 1990's films. Going back and reading this classic tale as an adult is a whole different experience, and the book has a great mix of nostalgia and innocence to make it memorable. It's an endearing story if not a bit preachy, but less unsettling than Peter Pan and other similar stories from its time. I definitely enjoyed the book more than the film - the film adaptation is more hokey and goofy and doesn't really capture the true spirit of the book in the same way, nor are the characters as well-developed as in the book. It's a bit dated but still a welcome classic on my bookshelf.

  8. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    Five children practically left on this own in a English countryside. This book was published in 1902, almost 50 years before C. S. Lewis wrote his The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. However, the similarity ends there. The story of Five Children and It does not bring you to a magical world at the back of a wardrobe. Rather, what the five children, Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane, and their baby brother, the Lamb find is a Psammead or a sand fairy has gotten buried in the sand since the Stone Age. T Five children practically left on this own in a English countryside. This book was published in 1902, almost 50 years before C. S. Lewis wrote his The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. However, the similarity ends there. The story of Five Children and It does not bring you to a magical world at the back of a wardrobe. Rather, what the five children, Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane, and their baby brother, the Lamb find is a Psammead or a sand fairy has gotten buried in the sand since the Stone Age. The five children are digging the sand thinking that they will be able to see the other side of the earth particularly the Australian children. Funny, but this thought also came in my mind as a small boy when I learned in school that the earth is round and so I dug and dug in our backyard using a small gardening bolo. I wished to see the other side of the world but I was afraid that the earth would collapse if I succeed. 2004 film adaptation directed by John Stephenson "Be careful what you wish for" is the main lesson that children can derive from this book. The reason for this is that Psammead has the ability to grant children's wishes. However, during the stone age, most wishes were about food so the bones turned to stones (fossilized). Now, things are different because the five children's wishes are not food or food related and for each wish they learn a lesson because of the consequences resulting from it. So, the finding of the Psammead and its ability to grant wishes become like a big frame story and each wish becomes a small independent story. The ending feels like an afterthought, thus, weak. It is like E. Nesbit felt like the book was becoming too long for comfort. It's just an okay book for me. Nothing really extraordinary.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    This book just was not for me. I think if I had read it as a child I would have liked it a lot more. I found it so repetitive and the children to be obtuse. If I had not listened to the audiobook I'm not sure I would have gotten through it. Very well written, it was the story itself I did not care for. :(

  10. 5 out of 5

    Oliviu Craznic

    Though children literature, extremely entertaining - much unlike other children books (Hobbit or Martin`s Ice Dragon, for example - I was not able to read - or at least to finish - them as an adult). Highly recommended. Though children literature, extremely entertaining - much unlike other children books (Hobbit or Martin`s Ice Dragon, for example - I was not able to read - or at least to finish - them as an adult). Highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kwoomac

    This novel was written in 1902. The author Edith Nesbit tells the story of five children (obviously) who come across a psammead, a sand fairy, while playing in a deserted gravel pit. This is one of the earliest examples of children left on their own who then have great adventures. Tha family goes to a house in the country on holiday when their father is called back to work and their mother leaves them to take care of her own sick mother. The children are basically on their own, minimally supervi This novel was written in 1902. The author Edith Nesbit tells the story of five children (obviously) who come across a psammead, a sand fairy, while playing in a deserted gravel pit. This is one of the earliest examples of children left on their own who then have great adventures. Tha family goes to a house in the country on holiday when their father is called back to work and their mother leaves them to take care of her own sick mother. The children are basically on their own, minimally supervised by the help. I loved the story. The children have uncovered a fairy who must now grant their wishes. He agrees to grant one wish a day, and informs them that the results last only 'til sunset. Of course, the children choose foolishly and then spend the rest of the day trying to survive the resulting situation. It's fun to imagine what one might wish for in their situation. As I mentioned, the book was written on 1902. I was surprised to read the following: You know, grown up people often say they do not like to punish you, and that they only do it for your own good, and that it hurts them as much as it hurts you. I thought for sure my parents' generation thought that up ! Nesbit's writing is clever. I enjoyed the names. They call the baby "the lamb" because when he was learning to talk all he said was baaaa. The boy Cyril is called Squirrel by his sibs and Anthea is known as Panther. The five children are loosely based on her own children combined with children her husband had with his two mistresses! One of the mistresses lived with them. The other, along with her child, lived with Nesbit's mother. Nesbit was known for her lack of conformity to the day's mores and could be seen as eccentric. Robert, one of the children, tells his siblings, "Oh, I'll be a soldier when I grow up--- you just see if I don't. I won't go into the Civil Service, whatever anyone says." For some reason, I just love that !

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stacey (prettybooks)

    This mini review is part of a blogpost talking about three children's classics. I chose Five Children and It as my last classic of the year because it was my book club's January pick because most of us also wanted to read Kate Saunders' Five Children on the Western Front . Like Little Women (although I think it's more intentional in Five Children and It), each chapter is like a short story about the group of siblings who each make a wish that the Psammead (a sand fairy) grants, with often chaoti This mini review is part of a blogpost talking about three children's classics. I chose Five Children and It as my last classic of the year because it was my book club's January pick because most of us also wanted to read Kate Saunders' Five Children on the Western Front . Like Little Women (although I think it's more intentional in Five Children and It), each chapter is like a short story about the group of siblings who each make a wish that the Psammead (a sand fairy) grants, with often chaotic and hilarious results. Although short stories will never be my favourite, it worked quite well in this sense because each chapter was a new day, but of course I still preferred some to others. I connected with E. Nesbit's writing straight away – this is the first book by her that I've read – and I found the dialogue witty and charming. Be careful what you wish for! I'm looking forward to also reading The Railway Children and The Story of the Treasure Seekers .

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shaikhah

    تذكرت أيام الطفولة عندما قرأت هذا الكتاب لأنها تشبة الرسوم المتحركة سميد "هيا انظروا سميد مغامر فريد من ألف ألف عام يعود من جديد"

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    This book was a blast! It was such a fun story. I loved the narrator's personality. I loved the very British sense of humor. I loved how the morals to the story weren't shoved down our throats like some children's stories. I wish that I would have been forced to read this in school at some point, instead of some of the other crappier ones they make you read. I would have loved it so much as a kid. This was great!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barb Middleton

    Ever read a book that you know is supposed to be funny, but you didn't find it so? I chuckled once in awhile but for the most part I got tired of the children's adventures that inevitably went wrong. Nesbit does a nice job capturing the nature of these children. They are loyal to each other and squabble at the same time. Maybe it is because I'm an adult. Maybe I've read too many genie-in-a-bottle stories and its become clichéd for me. Or maybe the adult narrator with comments on being a child di Ever read a book that you know is supposed to be funny, but you didn't find it so? I chuckled once in awhile but for the most part I got tired of the children's adventures that inevitably went wrong. Nesbit does a nice job capturing the nature of these children. They are loyal to each other and squabble at the same time. Maybe it is because I'm an adult. Maybe I've read too many genie-in-a-bottle stories and its become clichéd for me. Or maybe the adult narrator with comments on being a child didn't charm me. Or maybe the lack of internal changes as the children keep making the same mistakes over and over got tedious. Yes, they learn to be careful for what they wish for in the end, but I don't think they gained any long-lasting wisdom. Or maybe I'm just exhausted from a ridiculously busy work week. Written around 1900, readers might find the stereotypes of Indians and servants offensive. Many have talked about the charm of Nesbit's books, but this one felt tarnished. Five children are at a summer house outside London being watched by servants because their parents have been called away on urgent business. Mostly unsupervised, the children explore a gravel pit and uncover a Sand-fairy that will grant them a wish a day. They wish for beauty, money, wings, etc. Each wish materializes in an unexpected way resulting in missed meals and misunderstandings with adults. While the siblings quarrel quite a bit they also stick up for each other. They have a code of honor so that even when they steal some food they leave a note explaining why and that they didn't take any pudding. That was an instance where I should have laughed but didn't think it that funny. While there is plenty of imaginative play going on, I couldn't slip into the magic of the story. It is based in the real world and perhaps that explains why - I wanted an escape from the real world. There is no world building and it is basically the magic of the wishes that only the five can see and the adults can't. I kept waiting for more to happen and when it didn't I felt let down. Sometimes the children accidentally make wishes that created some tangled situations, such as when they wish everyone would love the baby more than anyone else resulting in every person that saw their baby brother trying to kidnap him. The gypsies in that episode are stereotyped too which drained the humor out of the scene for me. The children make wishes that deal with wealth, looks, or fantasies like flying or sword fighting, but nothing comes out right. Honest, I really wanted to like the book. But I couldn't. Uff da!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    This is an age-old fable tale of "be careful what you wish for," told in a way that is entirely suitable for children to read or have read to them. I would suggest the appropriate audience age would be 6-11 or 12. It is not heavy reading and only about 2 hours long (audiobook), but it is an entertaining tale even some adults might enjoy. I think books of this sort appeal to children, or the adult who remembers childhood, because the main characters are children themselves. The way the story chil This is an age-old fable tale of "be careful what you wish for," told in a way that is entirely suitable for children to read or have read to them. I would suggest the appropriate audience age would be 6-11 or 12. It is not heavy reading and only about 2 hours long (audiobook), but it is an entertaining tale even some adults might enjoy. I think books of this sort appeal to children, or the adult who remembers childhood, because the main characters are children themselves. The way the story children think about things and deal with problems seems entirely reasonable, the ending is satisfactory and events are not at all frightening. In this story, there are hints that there are other tales to be told about this family of children. I have not read them, but found that those following books are called "The Phoenix and the Carpet" and "The Story of the Amulet". I found an article written by Gore Vidal for the New York Review of Books in 1964, that gives more information about her writings, enough to pique interest in finding more of her books to read as well as a list of her books in print at that time. I got my copy of this audiobook from my local library, and also got a Kindle ebook version from Amazon. The ebook includes illustrations that add to the enjoyment of the story. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archi...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    4.5 stars Originally posted at FanLit: Five Children and It combines eleven stories that Edith Nesbit wrote about five siblings who discovered a wish-granting fairy called The Psammead in the sandlot of the house they recently moved into. The stories were originally serialized in shorter form in Strand Magazine in 1900. The first story (the first chapter of the novel) tells how the children moved from London to Kent, explored their new house and yard, and found the Psammead. He grumpily agrees to 4.5 stars Originally posted at FanLit: Five Children and It combines eleven stories that Edith Nesbit wrote about five siblings who discovered a wish-granting fairy called The Psammead in the sandlot of the house they recently moved into. The stories were originally serialized in shorter form in Strand Magazine in 1900. The first story (the first chapter of the novel) tells how the children moved from London to Kent, explored their new house and yard, and found the Psammead. He grumpily agrees to grant the children a daily wish that will end at sundown. Each chapter tells the story of a single day, how the children wish for something, and how it goes wrong. Usually they wish for something obvious like beauty or money, but sometimes they accidentally wish for something they didn’t really want granted, such as when Cyril carelessly wishes that his baby brother would grow up. The consequences are always unexpected and usually... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hollowspine

    What a lovely and fun book! I read this story aloud with my family while on vacation, which really was perfect. It wasn't what I expected at all, which was a more whimsical British fairy-tale with a moral lesson, but what I got was far superior. The story was very clever and would be fun for both children and adults to read, especially together. I can imagine better readers than myself putting on voices for each of the characters, which would heighten the fun even further. I may even look around What a lovely and fun book! I read this story aloud with my family while on vacation, which really was perfect. It wasn't what I expected at all, which was a more whimsical British fairy-tale with a moral lesson, but what I got was far superior. The story was very clever and would be fun for both children and adults to read, especially together. I can imagine better readers than myself putting on voices for each of the characters, which would heighten the fun even further. I may even look around for this book on audio to hear for myself. I loved the omnipresent narrator, with the odd comments peppered throughout the story which always made me laugh. The Sand-Fairy itself was not the friendly Totoro I pictured, but instead a grumpy ol' curmudgeon and the children were very like children, not the fictional young heroes seen as in other YA lit. I did not end up writing "So true" in the margins anywhere, but did almost stain the pages with the tears of my laughter a few times. The book was almost difficult to read aloud it was so funny at times. If there's more I'm onto it!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Austen to Zafón

    I wish I'd read them earlier, but I didn't read Nesbit's books until I was in high school. This was the first one I read and I loved it. The children are refreshingly normal. They bicker, they make mistakes, they are tender but also sometimes selfish. I found later that that is a hallmark of Nesbit's writing. In this story, the five sibling's find a grumpy but magic creature who will give them one wish every day. Of course, wishes don't always work out as one planned. If you loved Half Magic or I wish I'd read them earlier, but I didn't read Nesbit's books until I was in high school. This was the first one I read and I loved it. The children are refreshingly normal. They bicker, they make mistakes, they are tender but also sometimes selfish. I found later that that is a hallmark of Nesbit's writing. In this story, the five sibling's find a grumpy but magic creature who will give them one wish every day. Of course, wishes don't always work out as one planned. If you loved Half Magic or The Phantom Tollbooth, you'll love this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Pickstone

    Five children, one Psammead and a morality play about taking care what you wish for. E. Nesbit's charming children's books will always stand up well. I remember the first time I read this when I was five; it had a bright yellow paperback cover and I was enchanted at the thought of an ancient sand fairy. We did not live near any beaches so I was mainly unable to search for one at that time, be that for the better or for the worse!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ramona Wray

    There's nothing better then rereading some favorite classics with your children. In that respect, this year has been a really good one for me and my son. He enjoyed the adventures of Robert, Cyril, Jane, Anthea and The Lamb a lot. He asked questions, fervently professed his dislike for the cunning sand fairy, and I dare say learned some things from the five children's trials. One thing is certain: one SHOULD be careful what one wishes for :D

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary Atwell

    An old favourite revisited after a very long period of time. The plot is simple but imaginative and the writing is still fresh and captivating. I'm looking forward to reading 'The Enchanted Castle' for comparison.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    Nesbit is the grandmother of children's fantasy literature. Written in 1902, Five Children and It can be considered to have inspired many who came later, including Edward Eager, whose Tales of Magic series owes a great debt to Nesbit (this Eager freely admits) The book shows its age but it is much more accessible than the other books I've read that she penned. Five siblings find a creature who will grant one wish a day and madcap hilarity ensues, replete with political incorrectness and reference Nesbit is the grandmother of children's fantasy literature. Written in 1902, Five Children and It can be considered to have inspired many who came later, including Edward Eager, whose Tales of Magic series owes a great debt to Nesbit (this Eager freely admits) The book shows its age but it is much more accessible than the other books I've read that she penned. Five siblings find a creature who will grant one wish a day and madcap hilarity ensues, replete with political incorrectness and references that are not now common knowledge. None of this gets in the way of enjoyment, however (though knowledge that the word "slut" was more commonly used to mean "slatternly" and "lazy" in the early 20th century might be useful) Nesbit's voice is entertaining, whimsical and slightly snide. For example, when the children meet the creature it introduces itself as a "Psammead." The creature says, "You mean to tell me seriously you don't know a Psammead when you see one?" "A Sammyadd? That's Greek to me," says one of the children. "So it is to everyone," said the creature sharply. She also launches into off-subject asides that are either tiresome or diverting, depending on one's mood at the time. For example; Everyone began to talk at once. If you had been there you could not possibly have made head or tail of the talk, but these children were used to talking 'by fours', as soldiers march, and each of them could say what it had to say quite comfortably, and listen to the agreeable sound of its own voice, and at the same time have three-quarters of two sharp ears to spare for listening to what the others said. That is an easy example in multiplication of vulgar fractions, but, as I daresay you can't do even that, I won't ask you to tell me whether 3/4 x 2 = 1 and 1/2, but I will ask you to believe me that this was the amount of ear each child was able to lend to the others. Lending ears was common in Roman times, as we learn from Shakespeare; but I fear I am getting too instructive. Overall, a lovely dalliance. And, just because I'm also currently reading Narnia, I must express my frustration with the hold that the series has over children's literature. In the Nesbit biography on the front flap, Nesbit is described thusly; "One of her most admired abilities as a writer is the combination - often with more than a pinch of humour - of a real-life situation with elements of magical fantasy. Five Children and It is perhaps the most famous of her books to display this Narnia-like combination." Do be reminded that Five Children and It was published starting in 1901. Lewis didn't start the Narnia series until 1949. If anything, the Narnia series displays a Nesbit-like combination. That is all. As you were.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dolly

    We have enjoyed reading Edward Eager's Tales of Magic series. In each book, he mentions how he was inspired by E. Nesbit and specifically, this story. So we finally got around to listening to this story together. I even borrowed the movie from our local library. We also followed along with the story with the Hardcover edition illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky (ISBN13 978068135454) and we loved the dozen or so color illustrations that really capture the era of the story. interesting quotes (page nu We have enjoyed reading Edward Eager's Tales of Magic series. In each book, he mentions how he was inspired by E. Nesbit and specifically, this story. So we finally got around to listening to this story together. I even borrowed the movie from our local library. We also followed along with the story with the Hardcover edition illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky (ISBN13 978068135454) and we loved the dozen or so color illustrations that really capture the era of the story. interesting quotes (page numbers from Hardcover edition with ISBN13 9780681354454): "Grown-up people find it very difficult to believe really wonderful things, unless they have what they call proof. But children will believe almost anything, and grown-ups know this. That is why they tell you that the earth is round like an orange, when you can see perfectly well that it is flat and lumpy; and why they say that the earth goes round the sun, when you can see for yourself any day that the sun gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night like a good sun it is, and the earth knows its place, and lies as still as a mouse.' (p. 5) "And that, my dear children, is the moral of this chapter. I did not mean it to have a moral, but morals are nasty forward beings, and will keep putting in their oars where they are not wanted. And since the moral has crept in, quite against my wishes, you might as well think of it next time you feel piggy yourself and want to get rid of any of your brothers and sisters." (p. 82) "For really there is nothing like wings for getting you into trouble. But, on the other hand, if you are in trouble, there is nothing like wings for getting you out of it." (pp. 98-99)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lynai

    If you can have one wish, what would it be? This could be a tough question to answer. How about this: If you know a fairy who can grant your every wish, what will you do? These are the questions that confronted five children – Cyril, Robert, Anthea, Jane, and Hilary, the baby who is also fondly called as Lamb – when they discovered a Psammead (pronounced “Sammyad”), or sand-fairy, in a gravel pit near their house. With the primary characters now named, it is fairly easy to infer who the five chi If you can have one wish, what would it be? This could be a tough question to answer. How about this: If you know a fairy who can grant your every wish, what will you do? These are the questions that confronted five children – Cyril, Robert, Anthea, Jane, and Hilary, the baby who is also fondly called as Lamb – when they discovered a Psammead (pronounced “Sammyad”), or sand-fairy, in a gravel pit near their house. With the primary characters now named, it is fairly easy to infer who the five children are and the “it” referred to in the title of this book. Five Children And It is an extremely interesting story. I love the concept of the sand-fairy, in fact I am fascinated with the name “Psammead” that E. Nesbit (“E” stands for Edith) came up with to refer to a sand fairy. The adventures of the children with the wishes they asked from the Psammead were humorous and witty. I would have enjoyed this book more if I were a child. You know how wild are the imaginations of a child. ;) (view spoiler)[Aside from the funny (mis)adventures of the children, I love how the wishes the children got taught them valuable lessons which the adults can also learn from. One particular wish I liked was when one of the four older children wished that their baby brother would grow up. The result was outrageous but taught them a lesson about grown ups and growing up. (hide spoiler)] E. Nesbit is an eloquent storyteller, though there have been times in the story that she has been too condescending towards her treatment of the characters who are all children. Or maybe, I am just too old for this kind of tone. Somehow, reading the book gives out the feeling like I am reading C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. Now, if you can have one wish, what would you wish for? Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it. A totally enchanting story. I would gladly recommend Five Children And It to kids and kids at heart. Also posted in It's A Wonderful Bookworld.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=064vd... This was just such a nice nostalgia trip for me. I'm sure I used to watch a TV program of this story when I was younger as I can remember Psammead, who is a sand fairy. This story follows the adventures and situations five children find themselves in once they discover Psammead and find out he will grant one wish between them all each day. I find it impossible to be too harsh on this story because it is literally a children's classic and I thi Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=064vd... This was just such a nice nostalgia trip for me. I'm sure I used to watch a TV program of this story when I was younger as I can remember Psammead, who is a sand fairy. This story follows the adventures and situations five children find themselves in once they discover Psammead and find out he will grant one wish between them all each day. I find it impossible to be too harsh on this story because it is literally a children's classic and I think it makes an excellent book for children to read. I must admit that I didn't enjoy this book as much as I expected to though and I definitely didn't enjoy it as much as The Railway Children, which is by the same author. I feel like this story lacked a little something for me and I'm not completely sure what it is. I personally listened to the audiobook version and I didn't have any problems with the narrator. I honestly just think this story lacked a little something, I just can't work out exactly what that something is. I didn't find myself connecting with and caring about the children in this story very much, especially again when compared to The Railway Children. As I have said though, I do think this is an important book for children as it teaches them in a fun way to be careful what you wish for. Also the Psammead comes across as a little scary to begin with, but once the children and the reader get to know him, he becomes totally adorable. I recommend this to children who haven't yet read this book, I'm not sure I'd recommend it to older readers though. Also, I have just learned that this book is part of a series, I don't currently plan to continue the series, though never say never.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Perhaps the best book title ever. Love E. Nesbit's narrative voice. Some choice bits: "Trees are all different, as you know, and I am sure some tiresome person must have told you that there are no two blades of grass exactly alike. But in streets, where the blades of grass don't grow, everything is like everything else. This is why so many children who live in towns are so extremely naughty. They do not know what is the matter with them, and no more do their fathers and mothers, aunts, uncles, co Perhaps the best book title ever. Love E. Nesbit's narrative voice. Some choice bits: "Trees are all different, as you know, and I am sure some tiresome person must have told you that there are no two blades of grass exactly alike. But in streets, where the blades of grass don't grow, everything is like everything else. This is why so many children who live in towns are so extremely naughty. They do not know what is the matter with them, and no more do their fathers and mothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, tutors, governors, and nurses; but I know. And so do you now." "But the happening of strange things, even if they are not completely pleasant things, is more amusing than those times when nothing happens but meals, and they are not always completely pleasant, especially on the days when it is cold mutton or hash." "No one had a foot-rule in its pocket, so Robert could not be measured--but he was taller than your father would be if he stood on your mother's head, which I am sure he would never be unkind enough to do." "And trying not to believe things when in your heart you are almost sure they are true, is as bad for the temper as anything I know." Also love the Psammead itself; not to mention the occasionally cranky, frequently careless, not completely admirable children; and the Lamb, who "loved above all things to be completely sticky."

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    Be careful what you wish for-- . . 'It' was the Psammead, a sand fairy who could grant a wish a day. In the past people had asked for mammoths, megatherium and creatures as big as elephants to eat. Five children; Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane and Lamb, found and befriended It. Everyday It granted their wishes; the children asked for golden guineas which turned out to be difficult to spend, wings, castle under the siege, be beautiful as the day, be the biggest man as a giant, and made everybody want t Be careful what you wish for-- . . 'It' was the Psammead, a sand fairy who could grant a wish a day. In the past people had asked for mammoths, megatherium and creatures as big as elephants to eat. Five children; Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane and Lamb, found and befriended It. Everyday It granted their wishes; the children asked for golden guineas which turned out to be difficult to spend, wings, castle under the siege, be beautiful as the day, be the biggest man as a giant, and made everybody want their youngest brother. . . Every wish comes with a price, that's what this classic tells me. Sometimes people want something, but when it's granted, it is inconvenient, dangerous and doesn't bring any good or happiness as they thought it would.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Agnė

    I really didn’t expect this book to be so good! I simply LOVED the narrative voice. Very entertaining, very engaging. Peter Glassman, the owner of Books of Wonder, argues that E. Nesbit’s literary strengths are “a vivid imagination, deft use of humor, and excellent development of character," and I have to agree with him completely. Unfortunately, the extremely racist portrayal of “Red Indians” as stereotypical half-witted savages is painful to read, but I guess Five Children and It is a product of I really didn’t expect this book to be so good! I simply LOVED the narrative voice. Very entertaining, very engaging. Peter Glassman, the owner of Books of Wonder, argues that E. Nesbit’s literary strengths are “a vivid imagination, deft use of humor, and excellent development of character," and I have to agree with him completely. Unfortunately, the extremely racist portrayal of “Red Indians” as stereotypical half-witted savages is painful to read, but I guess Five Children and It is a product of its time, i.e., the turn of the twentieth century. In this context, E. Nesbit’s portrayal of "gypsies" can almost be called progressive. Finally, Johanna Ward's audiobook narration is BEAUTIFUL.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tocotin

    It was one of my favorites when I was little. I'm surprised and sad... I don't like it at all now. Don't hate it either, but... The children are forcibly cute, neither intelligent nor sensitive (especially towards their inferiors; the adventure with the baker's boy was simply odious), there is a lot of really STUPID (as in, unnecessary and excessive even for the period the book was written) sexism, and there is quite a big dose of preaching, and also xenophobia... really sad. I may try the next b It was one of my favorites when I was little. I'm surprised and sad... I don't like it at all now. Don't hate it either, but... The children are forcibly cute, neither intelligent nor sensitive (especially towards their inferiors; the adventure with the baker's boy was simply odious), there is a lot of really STUPID (as in, unnecessary and excessive even for the period the book was written) sexism, and there is quite a big dose of preaching, and also xenophobia... really sad. I may try the next book in the series, just out of sentiment.

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