In this classic tale of adventure and wish fulfilment, five city kids find the countryside to be filled with magic and wonder
Be careful what you wish for.
About the book
After two years cooped up in London, Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane, and their baby brother, “the Lamb,” are thrilled to be living in the country. The best thing about their new home is that there are no rules, no places that are off limits. One day while playing in a gravel pit, they uncover a fat, furry creature that has been asleep for thousands of years. The Sand-fairy, also known as It, grants them one wish a day, to be shared among them. At sunset, the wish will turn to stone.
But every wish brings a disastrous result. When the children wish to be beautiful, no one recognizes them. When they wish to be rich, their gold doesn’t buy them anything. When they wish to be able to fly, they end up stuck on top of a church tower with no way to get down. Other wishes lead to a confrontation with Indians, a scuffle with kidnappers, and accusations of thievery. When the children beg the Sand-fairy for more wishes to set things right, It agrees—on the condition that they never ask for another wish again.
E. Nesbit’s pioneering fantasy novel continues to delight new generations of young readers.
“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.”
― E. Nesbit, Five Children and It
About the Author
Nesbit lived a colourful and active life while writing many poems, plays, short stories, fiction and non-fiction, but some of her most enduring works are her children’s stories. With elements of fantasy, time travel and spies, fairy tales and magic, they are a reflection of her idyllic childhood days and travels through England, France, and Germany. The Railway Children inspired television and film adaptations.
Edith Nesbit died on 4 May 1924 and lies buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s in the Marsh, Kent, England.
Find out more here
In the book we meet five children they are Cyril, known as Squirrel, Anthea, known as Panther, Robert, known as Bobs, Jane, known as Pussy, Hilary, the baby, known as the Lamb and this is their story about the adventures they had when they met “It” the Psammead also known as a sand fairy.
This is one of those classic children’s story, where we have a group of children who are sent to the country to live for a while. One day while playing on the beach the children discover a sand fairy.
The Psammead is described as having “eyes [that] were on long horns like a snail’s eyes, and it could move them in and out like telescopes; it had ears like a bat’s ears, and its tubby body was shaped like a spider’s and covered with thick soft fur; its legs and arms were furry too, and it had hands and feet like a monkey’s” and whiskers like a rat’s. When it grants wishes it stretches out its eyes, holds its breath and swells alarmingly.
During the discussion the group commented on how the book appeared dated, partly the writing style and the idea of going off for a picnic and stuffing their faces. The group also found the wishes the children gave were a bit pointless, like wanting to be beautiful and not thinking through the consequences of what they had wished for. For example, wishing to be in a castle that’s undersiege, one member asked ‘why, why would you do that!’
And then there was a few health and safety issues that would come into play today if these things happened today. But we’re forgetting it’s a children’s book and this to most children would be a magical story but as some of our members pointed out they much preferred The Phoenix and The carpet as a book but this was always good for a chapter before bed. Overall the book wasn’t loved by all and didn’t score high, but we mustn’t forget the cuteness of the sand fairy in the BBC version to fall back on…….