Though the chapters about the “gipsies” and the “Red Indians” are a bit squirm-inducing, I find this book really delightful overall and am always happy when I re-read it. Four children and their baby brother head to a country house in the summer; their parents are both called away suddenly, leaving the kids on their own with the servants. One day while exploring the nearby sand-pit the kids find a “Psammead or “sand-fairy” that grants a wish per day. Of course, their wishes never turn out quite as they expect, and each day brings some new tricky situation for them to get out of. I love all the bits of humor in the story, including some I definitely would not have gotten when I was a child. Like: the kids are arguing about whether it’s OK for them to take food and water when no one will give it to them, and one of them brings up Sir Philip Sidney, saying he took someone’s water and said “My necessity is greater than his.” The story of Sidney is the other way around, though, with him giving someone else water even as he was dying, saying “Thy necessity is greater than mine.” There are other funny moments, like when one of the girls doesn’t understand a French phrase the Psammead uses, though she takes French at school, or when one of the boys talks about “Emu Brand birds,” and of course the results of the kids’ wishes are often funny too.

2 Responses to “Five Children and It by E. Nesbit”

  1. Jenny @ Reading the End Says:

    It’s always interesting to reread children’s books and find them to be racist. It’s really hard to know what to do! Like, I absolutely loved the Edward Eager books as a kid, but PHEW they have some super racist parts, and it makes me question if I’d want to pass them along to my niece and nephew. I do not know the answer yet!

  2. Heather Says:

    Yeah, oof! There are arguments to be made for passing them on or not passing them on, and I’m not sure what I’d do in that situation either!

Leave a Reply

Subscribe without commenting