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Five Children on the Western Front

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Have you ever wondered what happened to the Five Children and It characters when the First World War began? Cyril is off to fight, Anthea is at art college, Robert is a Cambridge scholar and Jane is at high school. The Lamb is the grown up age of 11, and he has a little sister, Edith, in tow. The sand fairy has become a creature of stories ... until he suddenly reappears. T Have you ever wondered what happened to the Five Children and It characters when the First World War began? Cyril is off to fight, Anthea is at art college, Robert is a Cambridge scholar and Jane is at high school. The Lamb is the grown up age of 11, and he has a little sister, Edith, in tow. The sand fairy has become a creature of stories ... until he suddenly reappears. The siblings are pleased to have something to take their minds off the war, but this time the Psammead is here for a reason, and his magic might have a more serious purpose. Before this last adventure ends, all will be changed, and the two younger children will have seen the Great War from every possible viewpoint - factory-workers, soldiers and sailors, nurses and the people left at home, and the war's impact will be felt right at the heart of their family.


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Have you ever wondered what happened to the Five Children and It characters when the First World War began? Cyril is off to fight, Anthea is at art college, Robert is a Cambridge scholar and Jane is at high school. The Lamb is the grown up age of 11, and he has a little sister, Edith, in tow. The sand fairy has become a creature of stories ... until he suddenly reappears. T Have you ever wondered what happened to the Five Children and It characters when the First World War began? Cyril is off to fight, Anthea is at art college, Robert is a Cambridge scholar and Jane is at high school. The Lamb is the grown up age of 11, and he has a little sister, Edith, in tow. The sand fairy has become a creature of stories ... until he suddenly reappears. The siblings are pleased to have something to take their minds off the war, but this time the Psammead is here for a reason, and his magic might have a more serious purpose. Before this last adventure ends, all will be changed, and the two younger children will have seen the Great War from every possible viewpoint - factory-workers, soldiers and sailors, nurses and the people left at home, and the war's impact will be felt right at the heart of their family.

30 review for Five Children on the Western Front

  1. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    Anytime someone writes a new prequel or sequel to an old children’s literary classic, the first question you have to ask is, “Was this necessary?” And nine times out of ten, the answer is a resounding no. No, we need no further adventures in the 100-Acre Woods. No, there’s very little reason to speculate on precisely what happened to Anne before she got to Green Gables. But once in a while an author gets it right. If they’re good they’ll offer food for thought, as when Jacqueline Kelly wrote, R Anytime someone writes a new prequel or sequel to an old children’s literary classic, the first question you have to ask is, “Was this necessary?” And nine times out of ten, the answer is a resounding no. No, we need no further adventures in the 100-Acre Woods. No, there’s very little reason to speculate on precisely what happened to Anne before she got to Green Gables. But once in a while an author gets it right. If they’re good they’ll offer food for thought, as when Jacqueline Kelly wrote, Return to the Willows (the sequel to The Wind in the Willows) and Geraldine McCaughrean wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet. And if they’re particularly talented, then they’ll do the series one better. They’ll go and make it smart and pertinent and real and wonderful. They may even improve upon the original. The idea that someone would write a sequel to Five Children and It (and to a lesser extent The Phoenix and the Carpet and The Story of the Amulet) is well-nigh short of ridiculous. I mean, you could do it, sure, but why? What’s the point? Well, as author Kate Saunders says of Nesbit’s classic, “Bookish nerd that I was, it didn’t take me long to work out that two of E. Nesbit’s fictional boys were of exactly the right ages to end up being killed in the trenches…” The trenches of WWI, that is. Suddenly we’ve an author who dares to meld the light-hearted fantasy of Nesbit’s classic with the sheer gut-wrenching horror of The War to End All Wars. The crazy thing is, she not only pulls it off but she creates a great novel in the process. One that deserves to be shelved alongside Nesbit’s original for all time. Once upon a time, five children found a Psammead, or sand fairy, in their back garden. Nine years later, he came back. A lot has happened since this magical, and incredibly grumpy, friend was in the children’s lives. The world stands poised on the brink of WWI. The older children (Cyril, Anthea, Robert, and Jane) have all become teenagers, while the younger kids (Lamb and newcomer Polly) are the perfect age to better get to know the old creature’s heart. As turns out, he has none, or very little to speak of. Long ago, in ancient times, he was worshipped as a god. Now the chickens have come home to roost and he must repent for his past sins or find himself stuck in a world without his magic anymore. And the children? No magic will save them from what's about to come. A sequel to a book published more than a hundred years ago is a bit more of a challenge than writing one published, say, fifty. The language is archaic, the ideas outdated, and then there’s the whole racism problem. But even worse is the fact that often you’ll find character development in classic titles isn’t what it is today. On the one hand that can be freeing. The author is allowed to read into someone else’s characters and present them with the necessary complexity they weren’t originally allowed. But it can hem you in as well. These aren’t really your characters, after all. Clever then of Ms. Saunders to age the Lamb and give him a younger sister. The older children are all adolescents or young adults and, by sheer necessity, dull by dint of age. Even so, Saunders does a good job of fleshing them out enough that you begin to get a little sick in the stomach wondering who will live and who will die. This naturally begs the question of whether or not you would have to read Five Children and It to enjoy this book. I think I did read it a long time ago but all I could really recall was that there were a bunch of kids, the Psammead granted wishes, the book helped inspire the work of Edgar Eager, and the youngest child was called “The Lamb”. Saunders tries to play the book both ways then. She puts in enough details from the previous books in the series to gratify the Nesbit fans of the world (few though they might be) while also catching the reader up on everything that came before in a bright, brisk manner. You do read the book feeling like not knowing Five Children and It is a big gaping gap in your knowledge, but that feeling passes as you get deeper and deeper into the book. One particular element that Ms. Saunders struggles with the most is the character of the Psammead. To take any magical creature from a 1902 classic and to give him hopes and fears and motivations above and beyond that of a mere literary device is a bit of a risk. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve not read “Five Children and It” in a number of years so I can’t recall if the Psammead was always a deposed god from ancient times or if that was entirely a product from the brain of Ms. Saunders. Interestingly, the author makes a very strong attempt at equating the atrocities of the Psammead’s past (which are always told in retrospect and are never seen firsthand) with the atrocities being committed as part of the war. For example, at one point the Psammead is taken to the future to speak at length with the deposed Kaiser, and the two find they have a lot in common. It is probably the sole element of the book that didn’t quite work for me then. Some of the Psammead’s past acts are quite horrific, and he seems pretty adamantly disinclined to indulge in any serious self-examination. Therefore his conversion at the end of the book didn’t feel quite earned. It’s foolish to wish a 250 page children’s novel to be longer, but I believe just one additional chapter or two could have gone a long way towards making the sand fairy’s change of heart more realistic. Or, at the very least, comprehensible. When Ms. Saunders figured out the Cyril and Robert were bound for the trenches, she had a heavy task set before her. On the one hand, she was obligated to write with very much the same light-hearted tone of the original series. On the other hand, the looming shadow of WWI couldn’t be downplayed. The solution was to experience the war in much the same way as the characters. They joke about how short their time in the battle will be, and then as the book goes along the darkness creeps into everyday life. One of the best moments, however, comes right at the beginning. The children, young in the previous book, take a trip from 1905 to 1930, visit with their friend the professor, and return back to their current year. Anthea then makes an off-handed comment that when she looked at the photos on the wall she saw plenty of ladies who looked like young versions of their mother but she couldn’t find the boys. It simply says after that, “Far away in 1930, in his empty room, the old professor was crying.” So do kids need to have read Five Children and It to enjoy this book? I don’t think so, honestly. Saunders recaps the originals pretty well, and I can’t help but have high hopes for the fact that it may even encourage some kids to seek out the originals. I do meet kids from time to time that are on the lookout for historical fantasies, and this certainly fits the bill. Ditto kids with an interest in WWI and (though this will be less common as the years go by) kids who love Downton Abbey. It would be remarkably good for them. Confronting issues of class, disillusion, meaningless war, and empathy, the book transcends its source material and is all the better for it. A beautiful little risk that paid off swimmingly in the end. Make an effort to seek it out. For ages 10 and up.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lynne Stringer

    I can remember trying to read Five Children and It when I was about ten or so. It didn't engage me, so I quickly gave up, moving on to other books. When I first started reading this book, which is a sequel to the popular classic, I had a similar reaction. I was about a third of the way through it before it really started to engage me. The style throughout is reminiscent of another series I read, with the language and behaviour of the children bringing back memories of the Famous Five books I love I can remember trying to read Five Children and It when I was about ten or so. It didn't engage me, so I quickly gave up, moving on to other books. When I first started reading this book, which is a sequel to the popular classic, I had a similar reaction. I was about a third of the way through it before it really started to engage me. The style throughout is reminiscent of another series I read, with the language and behaviour of the children bringing back memories of the Famous Five books I loved as a child. It's very early 20th century English, with lots of words like 'rather' and 'good-oh'. I think the book is primarily written for the Famous Five age group, although some of the topics dealt with are serious ones. It does, after all, take place during World War I, and a couple of the main characters go and fight, and yes, there is tragedy involved, so it may be upsetting for some young readers, even though there is nothing graphic in it. One thing in the book I really didn't like, and that was the Psammead, the little sand fairy that was the 'It' of the original book. I don't know whether it's a carry over from that novel or not, but the creature is, in all honesty, just plain annoying. The majority of the book is just him moaning and complaining all the time as he is taken to other times and place so he can learn he needs to feel sorry for certain things he has done in his life (this is the heart of the story). While he does make some progress in this area, it's a long time coming and he whines a bit too much for my liking. I got the feeling his behaviour was meant to be funny but I found I was too frequently tempted to 'box his ears', to borrow another phrase from my Famous Five days, and that made the read less enjoyable for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dale Harcombe

    Somehow in my reading life, I never read E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It, so this was my first introduction to the Pemberton family and Psammead, the sand fairy. The time is at the start of World War 1 and Cyril, the eldest of the Pemberton boys is off to fight. Since the last time the five Pembertons, Anthea, Cyril, Robert, Jane and the Lamb saw the Sand Fairy ten years ago, there has been an addition to the family, Edie. Edie is nine and others in the family are grown up and at uni or art sch Somehow in my reading life, I never read E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It, so this was my first introduction to the Pemberton family and Psammead, the sand fairy. The time is at the start of World War 1 and Cyril, the eldest of the Pemberton boys is off to fight. Since the last time the five Pembertons, Anthea, Cyril, Robert, Jane and the Lamb saw the Sand Fairy ten years ago, there has been an addition to the family, Edie. Edie is nine and others in the family are grown up and at uni or art school and off to war. The Psammead is a cranky curmudgeon who has lost control of his magic powers. Only some wishes eventuate since his magic is dicey at best these days and cannot be relied upon. This book also reveals a lot about the Psammead’s unsavoury past and heartless attitudes. He is hard to like and I found this coloured my view of the book a little.it It seems to me this book by Kate Saunders was deliberately written in a style similar to that of Nesbit’s original story, so maybe it helps to have read that original. However I still enjoyed it. The writing style made it easy to go along with the flow of the story. Some scenes like the museum trip are lively and other scenes very emotive especially towards the end. It gives a picture of war and of attitudes of the time but in a way that children will relate to and find interesting. It would make a great addition to any library and provide plenty of talking points for classes when dealing with topic like war, food shortages and things that result because of war and attitudes towards various events. Recommended reading for any school dealing with the topic of war. And a little bit of fantasy and magic time travel never goes amiss.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mathew

    ‘In war-time the word patriotism means suppression of truth’ S. Sassoon in 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer' When I first saw that Kate Saunders had taken Nesbit’s classic trilogy and used the characters and place to tell her own story in commemoration of the First World War, I point-blank refused to touch it. To me, Nesbit IS the pioneer of children’s literature as we see it today. She was a brave, intelligent woman unafraid to argue her ideas in a world dominated by men and one of the few writers ‘In war-time the word patriotism means suppression of truth’ S. Sassoon in 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer' When I first saw that Kate Saunders had taken Nesbit’s classic trilogy and used the characters and place to tell her own story in commemoration of the First World War, I point-blank refused to touch it. To me, Nesbit IS the pioneer of children’s literature as we see it today. She was a brave, intelligent woman unafraid to argue her ideas in a world dominated by men and one of the few writers for children during the Victorian and Edwardian period who decided that stories for children would be fun. No lessons, no underlining moral, no didactic tone relating to what children should and should not do. She is the one who started the revolutionary change of children being encouraged to read for pleasure. She is my literary hero. However, Mick Wiggins’ humblingly warm cover and the prospect of meeting the psammead again was too much so I picked it up. To my joy, I found that not only was Saunders a Nesbit fan and praised the influence she has had on the literature of today (she mentions that the Narnia chronicles would never had happened were it not for her work) but I also found that her writing sounded exactly like Nesbit’s: and I mean exactly! It was a surreal and uncanny experience but by the fourth page she had my heart and my trust that she was going to do something special with this story; embracing Nesbit’s style, sense of adventure and, most impressively, the characters’ voices and nature. It was as if I was back with Cyril, Anthea, Bobs, Jane and the Lamb – albeit more grown up and with a new sibling in the fray: Edie. It is through Edie, Saunders’ addition to the Pemberton’s, that we experience much of the story. Although the Lamb also starts off young, it is Edie’s youthfulness and joy in the extraordinary that keeps the bond between fantasy and reality strong. With the other children growing up and less interested in their old friend, especially since he isn’t quite what he used to be, the exploring and adventures are left to the two youngest. But adventures with the psammead and no longer the same: there has been a change. Something has happened to the psammead and it is for the Edie and the others to unravel the reasoning as to why he does not have the power he once wielded. The dawn of a Great War is occurring throughout Europe and such events stir unwelcome memories from the sand-fairy’s past. It is from this point in that I found that tonally, this is not a Nesbit story: it’s Saunders’ and what she does with these characters in a dark and unsettling situation is deeply clever and touching. From Cyril’s first letter from the front, I felt a deep sense of foreboding and uncertainty for the children and their fairy friend: I felt that they and the story sat poised a knife-edge of great change. Not only in what their future held in relation to the great war but also, to an equal extent, in relation to departing the wonderful age of innocence that Nesbit had let them experience in her own trilogies. Saunders executes her story so well. She builds cleverly on the Psammead’s own past and uses it as a parallel to trying to understand the atrocities of war that are going on around the family. She brings in love, marriage, loss and the gradual shift from innocence into experience with such tenderness that you can help feel that the story is a swan song to a past age which the reader and the children can never quite return to. It has an ending that is deeply touching and right. I can fully say that I think Saunders handled the story well but I do implore those that read it to at least visit the original first. Share in the adventures of the children and their irascible sand-fairy in all its comedy, naivety and joy before taking a final waltz with them in this touching and memorable story.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daisy May Johnson

    I remember being quite concerned when this was first announced. I think it was the title, mainly, which worried me. It felt so bald somehow; this juxtaposition of E Nesbit's glorious (and eternal) work against the awful bluntness of World War One. And it felt bad too, because war narratives are a very specific sort of thing and when they are applied to a book you know and love, then it is difficult to come to terms with. You don't want the people you love to suffer, whether it's fictional or real I remember being quite concerned when this was first announced. I think it was the title, mainly, which worried me. It felt so bald somehow; this juxtaposition of E Nesbit's glorious (and eternal) work against the awful bluntness of World War One. And it felt bad too, because war narratives are a very specific sort of thing and when they are applied to a book you know and love, then it is difficult to come to terms with. You don't want the people you love to suffer, whether it's fictional or real. You just don't. And the thought of that, the mere thought of it, is difficult and hard to bear. We are human. We find ourselves in others. We reflect ourselves, our souls, our wholes, out to the world and what we get back, makes us. We are made by friends and family and the knowledge that somewhere out there sleeps a Psammead, or that there's a wardrobe which leads to Narnia. You know that. You made it happen. You read the book and so you're part of this life, this other world, and it is part of you. Reading works both ways. Always has. Always will. You give yourself to the book and you get something back. But here's the awful thing. When you read, you're culpable, in a way, for what happens. Would it have happened if you hadn't read the book? No. Of course it wouldn't. It's not real. You didn't make it happen. But what if you did? What if it's you that pulls these characters through story and through sadness and through pain? Five Children on the Western Front is a book that is very quietly perfect. It is subtle and shadowy and sharp, too, when it needs to be. There are moments that are heartbreaking in it. Gasping, gutwrenchingly heartbreaking. I hated this book for a while for that and then I loved it and then I hated it again. Understand, though, what I mean by hate. Stay with me for a while. The Psammead is back with the Pemberton family, but things are different now. The children are grown up. Life is being lived. The War is looming and it can't be escaped. Cyril is off to fight. Robert won't be far behind and Anthea does her part as well. The care of the Psammead is left to the youngest, the Lamb and the new arrival to the family - Edie. It is up to them, and the others when they can be around, to help the Psammead discover what's happened to him. I read it in a night. I cried. I cried at this awful, perfect, graceful book and what it has done to me and the story it has told. I hate it. I love it. It is unmissable. Oh how it has unmade me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Crane

    This book is terrific! As a devotee of E Nesbit's original books about these five children, I was delighted to find myself back in their world, and then jumping forward to 1914 and the First World War. The grim realities and tragedies of the time are certainly not glossed over, but there is still plenty of humour, and the four older children, Cyril, Anthea, Robert and Jane, are as sparky and likeable as they were when they were younger. In this book we are also introduced to the Lamb, now a scho This book is terrific! As a devotee of E Nesbit's original books about these five children, I was delighted to find myself back in their world, and then jumping forward to 1914 and the First World War. The grim realities and tragedies of the time are certainly not glossed over, but there is still plenty of humour, and the four older children, Cyril, Anthea, Robert and Jane, are as sparky and likeable as they were when they were younger. In this book we are also introduced to the Lamb, now a schoolboy, and his younger sister Edie, who was not born when the children first met It, otherwise known as the Psammead. He, of course, is as grumpy as ever, but now we find out why - and what he has to do in order to return to where he came from. Often modern sequels to famous classics fail to capture the magic of the originals, but in this case the author has managed to retain the magic in abundance, and it is a thoroughly absorbing and heart-warming read

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robin Stevens

    This is an absolutely wonderful book - a clever, referential reaction to a familiar story that has a lot of subtle, new things to say while still remaining true to its roots. I haven't read Five Children and It (though, oddly, I did read its sequels) - the good news is that I don't think you need to to appreciate this book. I didn't cry, but I did shiver, and gasp, and marvel at the fantastic imagination behind the story. A tour de force. This is an absolutely wonderful book - a clever, referential reaction to a familiar story that has a lot of subtle, new things to say while still remaining true to its roots. I haven't read Five Children and It (though, oddly, I did read its sequels) - the good news is that I don't think you need to to appreciate this book. I didn't cry, but I did shiver, and gasp, and marvel at the fantastic imagination behind the story. A tour de force.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Abi Elphinstone

    Saunders effortlessly continues the original Psammead story with hers – a tale of a grumpy sand fairy trying to find its way home, and of five children dealing with the consequences of the war. The Psammead, ‘a compact furry ball of deep sulking’, is brilliantly characterised and Saunders makes his journey towards self-awareness and empathy both heart-breaking and terribly funny. The children initially regard the Psammead as a treasured (if rather bad-tempered) sand fairy but as the book progres Saunders effortlessly continues the original Psammead story with hers – a tale of a grumpy sand fairy trying to find its way home, and of five children dealing with the consequences of the war. The Psammead, ‘a compact furry ball of deep sulking’, is brilliantly characterised and Saunders makes his journey towards self-awareness and empathy both heart-breaking and terribly funny. The children initially regard the Psammead as a treasured (if rather bad-tempered) sand fairy but as the book progresses we learn about the awful crimes he committed in his time. With the children’s help, he learns to repent but Saunders doesn’t labour this point and her use of well-timed humour makes the message even more poignant: ‘Committing more murders,’ the Lamb suggested. ‘Like a furry Jack the Ripper.’ Edie, the youngest of the children, is adorable – and perhaps the character who feels the Psammead’s magic most keenly. She loves the sand fairy despite his faults (‘Edie thought the Psammead’s yawns, when his mouth went from horizontal to vertical, awfully sweet’) and it is she who believes he will be redeemed. She refuses to think less of the Psammead, whatever he has done: ‘I’ll never think less of you’ and when the Psammead finally prepares to leave, Edie’s words will break a little piece of your heart off: ‘I’m sorry, I can’t help crying… It’s just that I love you so much!’ The book deals with two worlds – the childlike one (where sand fairies are kept hidden in the attic and children grow up to be famous explorers and have waterfalls named after them) and the adult world (where countries are torn apart in war and families are broken apart at the arrival of telegrams). The children are fabulously characterised, the story-telling voice is just as enthralling as E.Nesbit’s and the truths at the heart of the story are deeply moving. This is a classic and by page 9, you will have a tear in your eye. Highly recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Piers

    That rare thing -a perfect children's book. A faithful follow up that is also entirely relevant and true to itself. Charming, funny, deeply moving and a joy from start to finish. That rare thing -a perfect children's book. A faithful follow up that is also entirely relevant and true to itself. Charming, funny, deeply moving and a joy from start to finish.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I read a lot of E. Nesbit when I was about eight or nine years old. At the time, I never really noticed that most of her books follow a reliable - even repetitive - pattern (short story mini-adventures of siblings strung out into a novel, often with a grumpy magical creature involved), that her language and attitude is distinctly upper-class, or that they wouldn't really work outside of their own era. The children Nesbit depicts are both freed from the Victorian rules of their parents and more r I read a lot of E. Nesbit when I was about eight or nine years old. At the time, I never really noticed that most of her books follow a reliable - even repetitive - pattern (short story mini-adventures of siblings strung out into a novel, often with a grumpy magical creature involved), that her language and attitude is distinctly upper-class, or that they wouldn't really work outside of their own era. The children Nesbit depicts are both freed from the Victorian rules of their parents and more restricted than children of the mid-20th century, and as such, they live in a sort of golden, idyllic England that only existed for a very brief fragment of time...and possibly, only in the rose-tinted glow of fiction. Kate Saunders' Five Children on the Western Front is both an homage and a goodbye to this twilight time. It is actually inaccurately named; it should be Six Children on the Western Front, with the addition to Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane, and the Lamb of a new sibling, Edie. This time, it is Edie and the Lamb who discover the family's old acquaintance, the Psammead, who has lost all of its magic abilities and is trapped in 1914. Why - and what they do about it - is, at least, one of the major strands of the novel, although possibly the least effective. What I expected when I requested this book from the library was a novel written for adults, one of those books like Geoff Ryman's Was that looks back on a childhood classic with a wistful, knowing, even unsettling air. And there are certainly moments of that here, especially as the story goes on. However, I was extremely surprised to discover that Saunders has actually written a children's book, with a fairly convincing impression of Nesbit's own authorial voice - and while that is often charming, and occasionally even disarming in more tragic moments, it's got its share of problems, too. The upper-class "jolly-hockey-sticks" quality so imbued in the children's language can jar in moments of pathos, and there's an odd tendency - especially in the Psammead's stories of its own past - for Saunders to show instead of tell. It's not a deal-breaker, but it does make some of the book's revelations feel a little bit inconsequential. There's a somewhat heavier book locked away in this one, and I can't help thinking it would have been just a little bit more satisfying. That said, what Saunders has written is certainly very readable, and it is an interesting way of presenting World War I to the child audience. The Psammead itself is utilized as a sort of child reader surrogate, starting off totally solipsistic and learning, over the course of the novel, to grow and care more about the humans who are so devastated by the war's progress. (Again, some of this transition seems a little bit sudden; even the Psammead's speech patterns become more eloquent and emotive in a very short span of pages.) There are moments of both joy and horror that Saunders carries off with considerable aplomb, and one simple, heart-breaking image at the end of the story that pretty much makes the whole thing worthwhile. It is completely unsurprising to learn, in the afterword, that Saunders' own son died in 2012, and although she doesn't make the connection explicit, it's impossible not to read that as a catalyst for her fictional examination of lost childhood. As a standalone book, I'm not entirely sure Five Children on the Western Front "works" - but it comes close. As a modern-day-hindsight sequel to Nesbit's classic, however, it has a lot of merit. It will mean the most to those who, when young, cherished the stories of Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane and the Lamb, their golden age adventures of time travel and misbegotten wishes, and the little sand fairy who became their friend.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Fi

    I have been a huge fan of E. Nesbit and her work since my mother first read Five Children and It to me when I was tiny. I've read the original trilogy countless times so when I heard that there was a continuation of the story being published I was horrified, for want of a better word. I'm not a fan of most of these modern retellings of children's classics that people assume children need because the originals are too old fashioned. Despite my hesitation I bought and have owned FCOTWF since it wa I have been a huge fan of E. Nesbit and her work since my mother first read Five Children and It to me when I was tiny. I've read the original trilogy countless times so when I heard that there was a continuation of the story being published I was horrified, for want of a better word. I'm not a fan of most of these modern retellings of children's classics that people assume children need because the originals are too old fashioned. Despite my hesitation I bought and have owned FCOTWF since it was published in late 2014, unread until I picked it up earlier this week needing something to boot me out of the mini slump I seem to have found myself in. It worked! I'm still not a fan of modern interpretations but Kate Saunders somehow managed to tap into Nesbit's voice perfectly and it was almost impossible to tell at times that this wasn't written by one of the first (and best) women authors for children herself. We've skipped ahead a decade and along with Cyril, Robert, Anthea, Jane and The Lamb (real name Hilary!) the Pemberton family has been joined by Edie, narrator for most of the book. It's now the first world war and Cyril is heading off to fight, Robert is at Cambridge, Anthea is at art school and it's a tumultuous period in history. The Psammead is all but forgotten, becoming a family myth, until he suddenly reappears at the bottom of the garden. Realizing that he has reappeared for a reason, apparently to repent for all his evil deeds when he was a minor god in ancient times, both the Psammead or Sammy as he comes to be known in Cyril's letters home, and the children (mostly Edie and The Lamb thanks to being the only two left at home) set out to discover just why he's reappeared now. Five Children On The Western Front is a much darker book in terms of both story and tone. with the war hanging over the family personally, Cyril getting ready to fight and Anthea becoming a women's volunteer in the hospital it's a constant reminder that despite magic and wishes and traveling through time & space real life is brutal. Kate Saunders has written a heartbreaking yet beautiful companion novel, one that I will definitely be revisiting in the future - maybe after reading the original trilogy, although I think having a gap of a few years between reading The Story of the Amulet was beneficial as any obvious differences in voice weren't as clear cut, at least to me. Five stars hugely deserved, mostly for making me have a tear in my eye for most of the book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    I never expected this book from Saunders! I have enjoyed her books for a while but they always have been rather light and fun. This was anything but light! And not really a lot of fun either. I hadn't realized it when I started it but it is historical fiction, of World War I. Saunders used E. Nesbit's famous Five Children and It to write this book and it works incredibly well! This takes the five children and make them young adults and 20 somethings. However, Lamb is now a child of the right age I never expected this book from Saunders! I have enjoyed her books for a while but they always have been rather light and fun. This was anything but light! And not really a lot of fun either. I hadn't realized it when I started it but it is historical fiction, of World War I. Saunders used E. Nesbit's famous Five Children and It to write this book and it works incredibly well! This takes the five children and make them young adults and 20 somethings. However, Lamb is now a child of the right age, as opposed to a baby and there is a new child, Edie. They carry the story and observes what happens to the bigguns, the original five children during the War to End All Wars. Saunders gives an excellent overview of the war from the point of view of one English family. The Psammead is back unexpectedly and Edie, especially, is very fond of it. The rest of the siblings go back and forth between being glad it is here and being upset at how selfish and self centered the Psammead is. Nonetheless, the Psammead is essential to the family at a crisis point and will never be forgotten by them. If a kid needs a historical fiction book, consider this one. While I can think of tons of historical fiction for WWII, there is very little besides the Anne of Green Gables title: "Rilla of Ingleside" about WWI. This is badly needed. I hope the centennial produces more fiction for both kids and teens to introduce them to a war that has been forgotten since surpassed by WWII but was earth shattering and life altering for a whole generation. There are still a few adults around who can recite "In Flanders Fields" but that is about all that is remembered about a war that changed society and civilization. Truly, this "was the war to end all wars" until World War II. People should know about it!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Milburn

    In her afterword, Kate Saunders writes 'I've [done] my best go honour the spirit of these three books and the brilliant woman who wrote them'. As far as I am concerned, she exceeded her aim. This book was BRILLIANT. The 5 children, aged between 5 and 10 in 1902, are obviously teens and young adults in 1914. It should come as no surprise that WWI affects them, although somehow you don't think of that when you read the original books. I laughed, I wept - this is part of the canon to me now, and en In her afterword, Kate Saunders writes 'I've [done] my best go honour the spirit of these three books and the brilliant woman who wrote them'. As far as I am concerned, she exceeded her aim. This book was BRILLIANT. The 5 children, aged between 5 and 10 in 1902, are obviously teens and young adults in 1914. It should come as no surprise that WWI affects them, although somehow you don't think of that when you read the original books. I laughed, I wept - this is part of the canon to me now, and enriches the first three immensely. I'm sure E Nesbit would love it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andi C Buchanan

    *grabs tissues* *grabs more tissues* *pauses briefly in emotions to write a review* I'm cautious of books like this one, rightfully I think, but Saunders does a good job - the tone and characterisation are better than expected, although the slang seems a little more over-the-top Blyton than Nesbit in places. The way Saunders uses the Psammead's history to parallel the WWI setting is its main strength, that and the beautiful way she pokes at Fabian confusion/hypocrisy. Recommended, but for those wh *grabs tissues* *grabs more tissues* *pauses briefly in emotions to write a review* I'm cautious of books like this one, rightfully I think, but Saunders does a good job - the tone and characterisation are better than expected, although the slang seems a little more over-the-top Blyton than Nesbit in places. The way Saunders uses the Psammead's history to parallel the WWI setting is its main strength, that and the beautiful way she pokes at Fabian confusion/hypocrisy. Recommended, but for those who grew up with these children, reading it comes at a price.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Iman

    DNF. It was so slow and I didn't really like the writing style. DNF. It was so slow and I didn't really like the writing style.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    First sentence: The sand at the bottom of the gravel pit shifted and heaved, and out popped the furry brown head of a most extraordinary creature. Premise/plot: For any reader who has read Five Children And It by E. Nesbit (and its sequels) will want to consider picking up Kate Saunders' Five Children on the Western Front. The book opens in 1914 with the oldest, Cyril, heading off to the Great War. Robert, Anthea, and Jane are grown up as well--mostly. Old enough to be away to school for their f First sentence: The sand at the bottom of the gravel pit shifted and heaved, and out popped the furry brown head of a most extraordinary creature. Premise/plot: For any reader who has read Five Children And It by E. Nesbit (and its sequels) will want to consider picking up Kate Saunders' Five Children on the Western Front. The book opens in 1914 with the oldest, Cyril, heading off to the Great War. Robert, Anthea, and Jane are grown up as well--mostly. Old enough to be away to school for their final years of education at least! Still at home are Lamb (aka Hilary) and Edie (Edith). On this life-changing day, Edie and Lamb discover (again) the Psammead. Lamb has no memory of the adventures his older siblings had, though he has grown up hearing all about the magic. There is a very happy reunion of sorts. If his being cranky and sarcastic doesn't take away the children's happiness. Soon, however, they realize that something is very wrong. He lacks strength and magical power. He has even lost the ability to be invisible. Edie, his primary companion, makes it her mission to get the answers he needs. This mission takes most of them to London to visit Old Nurse and their friend the Professor. The Professor has a new, young assistant Ernie Haywood, a soldier who has returned home because of injuries. Anthea is quite smitten! The book covers the war years. My thoughts: Wow! Not disappointed at all. Not even a little bit! Loved Edie, the heroine, and loved the "humbling" of "Sammy." It was wonderful to spend time with the Pemberton family yet again. If there is a flaw, it is that we still don't really get to know the parents. Is that a flaw? Perhaps. I personally just loved the kids so much, I didn't care. I think readers are in on the secret--the magic--and the parents aren't and never will be. Is the book sad? Yes in the same way that Rilla of Ingleside is sad and happy at the same time. In fact, that is the only book that really comes to mind. Both books star characters from series that readers would have grown up reading and loving. Both books cross into the ugliness of war, interrupting a blissful innocence. L. M. Montgomery was brave in that she tackled the subject herself so very soon after the war ended. E. Nesbit was older, and most of books were published before the war. Saunders did a splendid job with this sequel.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ethan Suppaya

    I really liked this book. Although It may look really dull, it is really exiting to read. I really liked this book, because it had detail, but just at the right sport not to boor you into a coma, but also has just the right amount of detail that you will have no idea what the storyline of book is. I also liked this book, because I heard that this was a book that was based on the book "Five children and it", by E. Nesbit and because I have never read this book, or even heard of it, this book was I really liked this book. Although It may look really dull, it is really exiting to read. I really liked this book, because it had detail, but just at the right sport not to boor you into a coma, but also has just the right amount of detail that you will have no idea what the storyline of book is. I also liked this book, because I heard that this was a book that was based on the book "Five children and it", by E. Nesbit and because I have never read this book, or even heard of it, this book was a whole new take on an old book and this introduced me to the kind of creativity that both of these amazing authors have portrayed in this sort of fairy tale if you could say. The story is about war. It is set in WWI, and is about five children and some sort of creature, which was described as a "Senior San fairy", and he can grant wishes. I would recommend this book and I would probably rate in 8 out 10, it is a very good book but if you are not in secondary school, then you might not understand some of the language in this book. I think you can understand this is one of my favourite books that I have read in my secondary school, and this is the book that I would choose for the Carnegie medal. Ethan. S Book Club

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    This was the one I was least looking forward to reading because its historical and it's very much a traditional, old fashioned children's book (I'm too old for those now!). I actually found Saunders writing surprisingly engaging, and while this book really isn't my bag.. I wouldn't say I was bored while reading it. It is very well written and it's a nice continuation of Nesbit's classic series, with some light exploration of the effects of the War on life at home in England. I've never read Five This was the one I was least looking forward to reading because its historical and it's very much a traditional, old fashioned children's book (I'm too old for those now!). I actually found Saunders writing surprisingly engaging, and while this book really isn't my bag.. I wouldn't say I was bored while reading it. It is very well written and it's a nice continuation of Nesbit's classic series, with some light exploration of the effects of the War on life at home in England. I've never read Five Children and It but I'm familiar with the story from 90s TV series, so I already had hazy memories of the Pembletons and Psammead. Saunders does make some reference to the original books but you could enjoy this without knowing anything. Time jumps forward to the First World War when the original Five children are grown, and the youngest two Lamb (who was a baby before) and Edie (not born yet) take over as the main children. The story looks at the war but also Psammead's past crimes as a God and his need to find redemption before he can get his powers back. It's a nice little story, with some sad bits. Definitely more for the younger reader.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Luna

    I initially started Five Children on the Western Front immediately upon finishing E. Nesbit’s original. For me personally, I think this was a mistake. After a few chapters I put the book down and read other stories in-between but I’m not sure if that helped. If I hadn’t read Five Children and It or maybe read it a long time ago so it wasn’t fresh in my mind I think I would have loved this book. I liked Kate Saunders writing and found it easy to get lost in the story. There are some great scenes; I I initially started Five Children on the Western Front immediately upon finishing E. Nesbit’s original. For me personally, I think this was a mistake. After a few chapters I put the book down and read other stories in-between but I’m not sure if that helped. If I hadn’t read Five Children and It or maybe read it a long time ago so it wasn’t fresh in my mind I think I would have loved this book. I liked Kate Saunders writing and found it easy to get lost in the story. There are some great scenes; I especially liked the first museum trip. Emotionally the last few chapters are tough and this book will certainly stay with you and that’s a good thing. So why didn’t I love it? (I really did want to.) The Psammead in Five Children and It is a grumpy ancient sand fairy that grants the children wishes. Those wishes never quite work out but most have a lesson in there. The Psammead in this book is not like that. ‘Sammy’ didn’t endear himself to me and as he’s such a huge part of the story that influenced everything.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stevie

    I absolutely loved the 5 Children and It series when I was younger, and avoided reading this book for a while as I didn't want to tarnish my memories of the original. I finally read it the other day and I needn't have worried, Kate Saunders picks up the story and flawlessly drops it down 9 years later. If I didn't know otherwise you could have convinced me this was a recently unearthed manuscript of Nesbit's. The opening chapter makes it clear that this story (set during WW1...) is not necessaril I absolutely loved the 5 Children and It series when I was younger, and avoided reading this book for a while as I didn't want to tarnish my memories of the original. I finally read it the other day and I needn't have worried, Kate Saunders picks up the story and flawlessly drops it down 9 years later. If I didn't know otherwise you could have convinced me this was a recently unearthed manuscript of Nesbit's. The opening chapter makes it clear that this story (set during WW1...) is not necessarily going to have a happy ending, but there are touching moments and the story ends on a bitter-sweet note. This book illustrates wonderfully how hard the war was, not just on the soldiers, but on the families (and Sand Fairies!) waiting at home. A beautifully written book, that made me cry like a baby. It's a worthy continuation of a fantastic series, that should be read by old and new fans of Nesbit's alike. Lovely.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Connor

    A blast from the past as Kate Saunders pays homage to E. Nesbit’s Psammead - only he seems different here: still grumpy, smug, all-knowing and all-powerful, but hiding something too. Jane, Bobs, Anthea, the Lamb and newcomer Edie are taken here, there and everywhere by the Psammead as he seeks redemption (a mission he reluctantly undertakes as he reveals some of his darker moments in his life). The Psammead’s confessions mirror what is happening in the background of the children’s lives - the Gr A blast from the past as Kate Saunders pays homage to E. Nesbit’s Psammead - only he seems different here: still grumpy, smug, all-knowing and all-powerful, but hiding something too. Jane, Bobs, Anthea, the Lamb and newcomer Edie are taken here, there and everywhere by the Psammead as he seeks redemption (a mission he reluctantly undertakes as he reveals some of his darker moments in his life). The Psammead’s confessions mirror what is happening in the background of the children’s lives - the Great War, which is where Cyril is fighting. Using letters from the trenches alongside the Psammead’s teleporting magic allows the reader to read two stories at once - that of the Psammead and his quest for redemption, and of Cyril, and indeed all of those young men at war. To take on Nesbit’s stories is brave and brilliantly done, and has the kind of ending that makes you feel sad and happy, warm and cold at the same time.

  22. 5 out of 5

    christine ✩

    I read the original Nesbit trilogy a while ago. and I loved it. it was hilarious reading about the Pemberton's adventures with the Psammead (haha I don't know if I spelled that right) and the Phoenix. And this book does full justice to E. Nesbit's originals. I first saw this one in a local Barnes and Nobles and opened right to chapter 20 and basically freaked out and went home to place a hold on it in my library system I read it today in an hour and oh my gosh it was so good but the ending I basically I read the original Nesbit trilogy a while ago. and I loved it. it was hilarious reading about the Pemberton's adventures with the Psammead (haha I don't know if I spelled that right) and the Phoenix. And this book does full justice to E. Nesbit's originals. I first saw this one in a local Barnes and Nobles and opened right to chapter 20 and basically freaked out and went home to place a hold on it in my library system I read it today in an hour and oh my gosh it was so good but the ending I basically died i'm not going to give any spoilers except to say READ IT (also I really liked the hilarious accidental wishes of the Lamb and Edie and the Psammead himself, they landed in the most absurd situations sometimes xDDD) 2019: yaaallllllll sometimes i forget this book exists but i meAn it's still as good as it was 2 1/2 years ago yeeehehe

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ayomide

    It is a hard book to write a review for since it is hard and confusing. I didn't read the first book as well so some of the things don't quite make sense to me. It begins with the "Psammead" being found in the gravel pit by the lamb and Edie. He was sleeping and was very confused by the time period he was in. He needed one of the "bigguns"to take care of him. they had to do it fast and soon since there was a party for Cyril. Anthea was coming out to get them but when she saw Psammead she underst It is a hard book to write a review for since it is hard and confusing. I didn't read the first book as well so some of the things don't quite make sense to me. It begins with the "Psammead" being found in the gravel pit by the lamb and Edie. He was sleeping and was very confused by the time period he was in. He needed one of the "bigguns"to take care of him. they had to do it fast and soon since there was a party for Cyril. Anthea was coming out to get them but when she saw Psammead she understood. I don't want to spoil it and I don't really understand the story 100%. But over all I'd give it a thumbs up.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Just_me

    A wonderful book filled with magic, history and adventure. It has been wonderful for me to revisit the Psammead and for my children (who have only seen the movie) to get or know more about him. In this book the sand fairy reappears without his magic and is forced to look to his past and realise his mistakes - much like Scrooge from a Christmas carol. This book is beautifully written, has very enjoyable characters, is poignant and is funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. A fantastic book t A wonderful book filled with magic, history and adventure. It has been wonderful for me to revisit the Psammead and for my children (who have only seen the movie) to get or know more about him. In this book the sand fairy reappears without his magic and is forced to look to his past and realise his mistakes - much like Scrooge from a Christmas carol. This book is beautifully written, has very enjoyable characters, is poignant and is funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. A fantastic book to read with older children and help them engage with World War 1.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    Kate Saunders created the perfect sequel to Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit. Although it is a darker and sadder story as the Pemberton family face World War I, I still loved every moment of it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Bamford

    A novel that is probably aimed at younger readers but it was a fascinating glimpse of a magic being that transported the family to other places. It was hauntingly sad in places and yet showed some funny instances. I am glad that I read it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    Back in 1902, E. Nesbit wrote a book called Five Children and It about five brothers and sisters: Cyril, 10 and called Squirrel; Anthea, 8 and called Panther; Robert or Bobs, 6; Jane, 4; Hilary, the baby called the Lamb because his first word was Baa. The family had just moved from London to the countryside in Kent and it is there that the children discover a Psammead (Sammy-ad) or sand fairy living in their gravel pit. The Psammead is a rather disagreeable, grumpy creature, centuries old, but w Back in 1902, E. Nesbit wrote a book called Five Children and It about five brothers and sisters: Cyril, 10 and called Squirrel; Anthea, 8 and called Panther; Robert or Bobs, 6; Jane, 4; Hilary, the baby called the Lamb because his first word was Baa. The family had just moved from London to the countryside in Kent and it is there that the children discover a Psammead (Sammy-ad) or sand fairy living in their gravel pit. The Psammead is a rather disagreeable, grumpy creature, centuries old, but who has the power to grant wishes. The problem is that each wish only lasts until sunset. The children wish for all kinds of adventures but when one goes terribly wrong, the Psammead agrees to fix it only if the children promise never to ask for another wish but the children decide instead they never want to see their sand fairy again. Nesbit wrote two sequels to Five Children and It, one in 1904 called The Phoenix and the Carpet and one in 1906 called The Story of the Amulet. Though they featured the brothers and sisters, it is only in the 1906 novel that the Psammead is again featured. Fast forward to 2014. Once again we meet the five children and their Psammead in Kate Saunder's novel Five Children on the Western Front, her novel inspired by Five Children and It. The story opens with a Prologue in 1905. The children are staying in London with Old Nurse while their parents are away with the Lamb. The children have found the Psammead in a pet store and now he lives in Old Nurse's attic. One afternoon, when the children are granted one more wish, they find themselves in the study of their old friend, the Professor named Jimmy in the year 1930. While the children are happy to see him, he is in the position of knowing their future and his tears makes for a very poignant beginning. The main part of the novel begins in October 1914. Cyril (now 22), Anthea (is 20), and Bobs (18 years old) are now young adults, Jane is 16 and in high school, the Lamb is 11 and there is a new addition to the family, 9 year old Edith or Edie, as she is called. To everyone's surprise, once again, the Psammead is found sleeping in the gravel pit of the house in Kent. The Lamb and Edie have always been envious of all the adventures their older siblings had with the Psammead and are very excited to see him back. That is, until they learn that he can no longer grant wishes. It seems the Psammead is stuck in this world until he makes amends for his rather cruel wrongdoings centuries ago when he was the ruler of his kingdom, and the only wishes that are granted are some of his own and always have to do with his past behavior. At the center of the novel, however, is the Great War and how it impacts everyone's life, even the Psammead. With England at war with Germany, Cyril can't wait to enlist and do his part for England. Bobs is still at Cambridge, postponinging his enlistment until he is finished; Anthea is in art college in London, and doing volunteer war work, where she meets and falls in love with a wounded soldier who just happens to be helping the Professor with his research which just happens to be related to the Psammead. Anthea is forced to see her young man secretly because she knows that her mother wouldn't approve of him since he is out of their class. And poor Jane desperately wants to go to medical school, which her mother refuses to allow, afraid she won't ever get married if she does go. Very often, when one author attempts to write a novel based on another author's characters, it just doesn't work. No so with Five Children on the Western Front. I thought Kate Saunders did an exceptional job capturing the personalities of each of the children and the curmudgeony Psammead originally created by Nesbit. It is easy to believe that these are the people the children would have grown up to be. Saudners has also done a good job depicting the impact of the war on both the home front and the Western Front. Food shortages, lawns turned into potato fields, young girls driving ambulances in London and in France, life and deatth in the trenches are all there. Saunders has also shown how the Great War was a dividing line between the traditions of the Edwardian era (represented by the children's mother) and modernity(represent by the children), especially in the ideas about class structure and the position of women in society. There are lots of humorous bits mixed in with the more sober moments, and the scenes of war are not a so graphic that they will scare young readers. The new addition of Edie is charming, especially her unconditional love for the Psammead, with whom she spends a lot of time just chatting and oddly, for such a grump, he seems to enjoy her company as well. I have to confess that it has been a long time since I read Five Children and It and probably won't re-read it now that I've read this novel. However if you want to read it, you can download it for free at Project Gutenberg. Five Children on the Western Front was published in England and I had to buy a copy through the Book Depository (free shipping), but it can be bought at Amazon. Hopefully, it will make its way across the pond soon, for everyone's enjoyment. Five Children on the Western Front is highly recommended for anyone who like a well-done combination of speculative fiction and historical fiction, and a novel with heart - bring tissues. This book is recommended for readers age 9+ This book was purchased for my personal library This review was originally posted on The Children's War

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Parkinson PhD

    This book, I think looks rather dull. But then it is about war and loss and sacrifice, and change. Essentially, it wasn't so dull that I couldn't read it, but I must admit, it didn't capture my imagination. My favourite aspect of the book was the Psammead. In the original, he is a funny, grumpy sand fairy. An original interpretation, that as a child, I enjoyed. I never read the books but loved the television series. However, even I could see that this new adaptation had issues. One expects a This book, I think looks rather dull. But then it is about war and loss and sacrifice, and change. Essentially, it wasn't so dull that I couldn't read it, but I must admit, it didn't capture my imagination. My favourite aspect of the book was the Psammead. In the original, he is a funny, grumpy sand fairy. An original interpretation, that as a child, I enjoyed. I never read the books but loved the television series. However, even I could see that this new adaptation had issues. One expects a book containing fairies to be filled with magic and wonder; much like the original, except in this one, the fairy has lost his magic. All because the author made him into some kind of tyrannical God who not only kept slaves, but killed many of them. He is still obnoxious, selfish and full of self importance, which leads to a lot of humour but it is somewhat lost when the story unfolds of how cruel he used to be. The losing of his power was seen as punishment until he learnt to be remorseful for his actions. The story is linked in with the war and shows how the young were the ones who sacrificed most of their lives, and although in the novel serious things happened, I missed and felt somewhat cheated at not reading about the character getting up to any mischief with their wishes... No flying (until at the very end, and only a very little bit is included) -it was all rather serious and dull. Which brings me next to the language. Even though this is a modern book, is does have the same feeling as Enid Blyton books, with plenty of 'goodo' moments as well as 'dear old boy...' This fits in nicely with the originals but I must admit, it was blindly obvious to me that a character that was supposed to be a cockney, was coming out with these kind of archaic sayings too! If the narrator hadn't said he was a 'common' sort and therefore there was issues of class and separation between him and his love - I never would have guessed. He spoke exactly the same as the 'posh' Pembertons - event though he was supposed to be as 'common as they come,' he still called others 'old boy' and 'chum.' Never heard a cockney like it! Taste and personal preference, as always, is what sways opinion in reviews and although I didn't hate it, I didn't like it. I prefer my books to be cleverly constructed and be multi-layered. This one, at best, had a couple of layers, and not particularly well constructed either. A good read if you like the old Enid Blyton type stories. I think novels have moved on since then for the better, they are far more complex and so more than just tell a good story now. The language does something too. This one at best, tells a story - and not much else.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Monica Edinger

    I learned about this title when it was shortlisted for the UK Costa Award and immediately ordered it from the UK. I'm a fan of Nesbit's original FIVE CHILDREN AND IT, but I'm not sure it is necessary to be familiar with it to enjoy this intriguing and elegantly crafted sequel. Nine years after their last meeting with the Psammead (a grumpy sandfairy), he suddenly shows up in his old gravelpit. Cyril, Robert, Anthea, and Jane are now young adults, the Lamb an active eleven-year-old, and there is n I learned about this title when it was shortlisted for the UK Costa Award and immediately ordered it from the UK. I'm a fan of Nesbit's original FIVE CHILDREN AND IT, but I'm not sure it is necessary to be familiar with it to enjoy this intriguing and elegantly crafted sequel. Nine years after their last meeting with the Psammead (a grumpy sandfairy), he suddenly shows up in his old gravelpit. Cyril, Robert, Anthea, and Jane are now young adults, the Lamb an active eleven-year-old, and there is now one more --- Edith, age nine. World War I has begun and is the center of this tale. It turns out that their old magical friend has a problematic history that he needs to resolve, most of all to feel some sort of regret. The young people's involvement with the war twists around the Psammead's not-so-pleasant behaviors of his far-off past in ways moving, exciting, and sometimes sad. There are references to their earlier experiences, the nature of wishing, and how to consider the past. Beautifully written, this is a tale that I hope sees publication and promotion in the US.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Vishvangi Tandel

    I really loved this book. it was hilarious and it also gave me a lot of advices on life. it was so interesting how the five children, now six including edie, all grew up. I was wondering throughout the whole book about the prologue. SPOILER ALERT. I never really knew why the professor was crying when Cyril, anthea, Robert, Jane and the Lamb visited him in the future 1930. Now I understand why he was crying. The prologue was linked with the epilogue, which was so clever of the author. I really en I really loved this book. it was hilarious and it also gave me a lot of advices on life. it was so interesting how the five children, now six including edie, all grew up. I was wondering throughout the whole book about the prologue. SPOILER ALERT. I never really knew why the professor was crying when Cyril, anthea, Robert, Jane and the Lamb visited him in the future 1930. Now I understand why he was crying. The prologue was linked with the epilogue, which was so clever of the author. I really enjoyed reading this book! I massively recommend it to everyone!

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