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Five Children on the Western Front
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Five Children on the Western Front

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  679 Ratings  ·  141 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published October 2nd 2014 by Faber & Faber (first published September 30th 2014)
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james mcquilliam No I didn't read the other books I just read the five children on the western front and I understood it thoroughly.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
Dale Harcombe
Jan 30, 2015 Dale Harcombe rated it really liked it
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 ...more

‘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
My copy of this book came with blurbs of praises that says the typical "superb", "heartbreaking", "one of the best books of the year", etc. There are even some that went further to say things like "massively recommended" and "a book to fall in love with". This shouldn't be all that surprising, right? Considering how it's a winner of a book award? Well, I hate to tell you this ... but yes, it is all true. I am in full, whole-hearted agreement with all these words of praise.

Wait. What????????

LH 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
Abi Elphinstone
Feb 19, 2015 Abi Elphinstone rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Robin Stevens
Nov 14, 2014 Robin Stevens rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 12, 2014 Piers rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s, classics
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.
Sep 15, 2015 Fi rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
May 23, 2016 Alice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: carnegie-2016
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
Nov 27, 2014 Luna rated it liked it
Shelves: uk-authors
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
May 11, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it
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 ...more
Ms Cheryl Parkinson
May 19, 2016 Ms Cheryl Parkinson rated it liked it
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
Ethan Suppaya
Oct 16, 2016 Ethan Suppaya rated it really liked it
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
Monica Edinger
Jan 04, 2015 Monica Edinger rated it it was amazing
I learned about this title when it wasshortlisted 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 no
Mar 03, 2015 Stevie rated it really liked it
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
Fleur Hitchcock
Feb 06, 2016 Fleur Hitchcock rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
I probably did read 5 Children and It, when small, but I have long since forgotten it - and I tend to think of the Sand Fairy as a small Eddie Izzard. I wondered about the brutality of the First World War mixed with the story's magic, but I think Kate Saunders handled this brilliantly. Somehow she kept it light, and funny, and just as we shy away from the pain, so do the characters until the Sand Fairy faces up to it all. He offers support to the reader through an emotional minefield. It was ...more
Apr 08, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it
Perhaps appeals more to adult devotees of the original. But a fine, timely homage, using familiar characters, now grown up and old enough to die for King and Country, to make an uncomfortable point about war. The Psammead himself, though, sits uneasily amidst the history and the tragedy.
Saunders, without aping Nesbit's style, has an excellent sense of period, and much of the writing is enjoyably polished.
Tatum Flynn
May 17, 2015 Tatum Flynn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kidlit
I hadn't read the previous Five Children and It books, but the past history of the characters is slipped in so well that it didn't bother me at all, and I don't think I lost anything by reading this fresh.

This was wonderful. Involving, atmospheric, heartbreaking, wise, exciting, with three-dimensional characters you really care about. Caused a few tears. I hadn't read anything by Saunders before but I'll definitely search for her other books now.
Aug 29, 2014 Rachel rated it it was amazing
We cried from the very prologue. The children have seen and read '5 Children and It' and we were delighted to read this authorised sequel by one of my favourite writers. It is haunting, stunning, filled with pathos and the gravity of war. The children are older, the Psammead on its last adventure.They travel a little way into the future and their future is the First World War. It is a truly remarkable tale that will capture the heart of the reader.
Elizabeth Finney
Mar 10, 2015 Elizabeth Finney rated it liked it
Quite good - a little bit I could see the machinery underneath the story, working to get everyone to the right place at the right time. I have to think about the role of the Psammead in this book - it's different from E Nesbit's role for him, and felt a little awkward. This book straddled a line between fantasy and a war novel and that's a tough line. But I do love the characters and was happy to read about their grown-up selves.
Margaret Pemberton
Dec 28, 2014 Margaret Pemberton rated it really liked it

I loved this book. It helps if you have read the original by E Nesbit, but it really captures how the war changed class attitudes and blighted the lives of so many people. The salvation of the Psammead iw well done.
Sabine Edwards
Dec 16, 2014 Sabine Edwards rated it it was amazing
Completely beautiful & a fantastic update to the original Nesbit stories. The tone & addition of another sibling fit perfectly.
Kathryn Evans
Apr 27, 2016 Kathryn Evans rated it it was amazing
I adored this book - didn't want it to end! Respectful to Nesbit and yet fresh and relevant - oh my , loved it so much. Sad and hopeful and funny and just about everything you want.
Miss Davies
Apr 03, 2016 Miss Davies rated it liked it
Carnegie Shortlist 2016
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 ...more
[Audiobook version]

Technically this should be called Six Children On The Western Front, since the Lamb is no longer the baby of the family and has a younger sister, Edie. And Edie is the most adorable addition: Cyril and Anthea are grown up, Robert and Jane are teenagers, and so it's through the eyes of Edie (9) and the Lamb (11) that we keep that sense of childlike wonder and belief in magic. Although I did feel that the Lamb and Edie didn't speak or act like they were any older at the end of t
Nov 01, 2016 Becky rated it it was amazing
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
Ms. Yingling
Nov 22, 2016 Ms. Yingling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Library Copy

This is a continuation of E. Nesbit's Five Children and It, which I read a long time ago and don't really remember.

Cyril, Anthea, Robert and Jane are too old for Psammead and his adventures now, especially since WWI is brewing and they are all old enough to be drastically affected by it. Luckily for Psammead, the sand fairy, the Lamb and his younger sister Edie are just the right age. They dream of the sort of time and space travel that their siblings experienced, and make inadverte
Nov 04, 2016 Kalilah rated it liked it
Strange, because the story was both really pacey as well as really slow.
The prose was so swift and there wasn't much in the way of descriptiveness that it often felt like a race to get to certain points of the story as fast as possible, without using up too many characters in the word-count box.
The slow aspect of the story is in the plot itself. The middle of the story is quite the same as the beginning. It seemed like the characters were doing the same thing again and again, with a few small
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Kate Saunders (born 1960) is an English author, actress, and journalist. The daughter of the early public relations advocate Basil Saunders and his journalist wife Betty (née Smith), Saunders has worked for newspapers and magazines in the UK, including The Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Daily Telegraph, She, and Cosmopolitan.

She has also been a regular contributor to radio and television, with appe
More about Kate Saunders...

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“There are so many sad people nowadays that sadness looks normal.” 1 likes
“I hate the world sometimes," Anthea said. "The unfairness of it. I won't force you to see me if you don't want to - but nobody can stop me loving you, and I'll wait for you all my life if I have to.” 1 likes
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