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Five Children and It (Five Children, #1)
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Five Children and It (Five Children #1)

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  15,737 Ratings  ·  605 Reviews
The five children find a cantankerous sand fairy or '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.
Paperback, 237 pages
Published December 1st 1996 by Puffin (first published 1902)
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Carolin the stories were first published in a magazine in 1900. in 1902, they were published as a complete book.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 25, 2010 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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)
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 ...more
Aug 01, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 25, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books
Shelves: 501, childrens, funny
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
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 ...more
Apr 22, 2015 Samantha rated it it was ok
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. :(
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
Apr 23, 2016 Anna rated it did not like it
2-2,5 stars.
At first I thought I wasn't in mood for this book, but then I realised that even in my happiest and most cheerful moments I didn't enjoy this book whole lot.

I remember really liking the movie adaptation and laughing out loud few times while watching it, but I haven't got this effect with book, which disappointed me...:(
Didn't like any of the characters (humans, I mean, because Psammead was fun little dude - ha, he'd be furious for calling him "dude"), kids were really annoying and t
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
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
Oct 21, 2011 Lynai rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Aug 20, 2014 Hollowspine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
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
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 ...more
Ramona Wray
Nov 02, 2015 Ramona Wray rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 26, 2012 Sally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, ebook
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 ...more
Jul 02, 2010 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 13, 2010 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five Children and It tells the story of Robert, Anthea, Cyril and Jane and their baby brother, known affectionately as the Lamb. While holidaying in the country, their parents are both unexpectedly called away for various reasons, leaving the children to entertain themselves all summer. On the first day, they go to play in an old gravel pit and there they uncover a mysterious creature: a Psammead. These sand fairies have the ability to grant wishes which will last only until sunset. However, the ...more
Barb Middleton
Sep 12, 2013 Barb Middleton rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, classic
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 ...more
Kat  Hooper
Nov 11, 2013 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
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
Jul 19, 2010 Krista rated it liked it
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
Nov 26, 2014 Luna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-authors
As the book was first published in 1902 there are some things within the story that if the book was written now I’d probably have issues with but times change, so I let it go. Ultimately this is an imaginative children’s story that you find yourself enjoying from the moment you meet the Psammead.

Grumpy at being disturbed the Psammead still grants the children a wish a day, this wish will end by sunset and of course the wish never quite turns out how they expect.

I absolutely adored E. Nesbit’s wr
Aug 22, 2013 Chagall rated it it was amazing
Sorprendente! Ha più di cent’anni e non li dimostra. È una piccola enciclopedia del fantastico con la sua girandola di trovate e avventure. Ma è lo stile a far brillare queste storie. Fresco, ironico, pungente; la scrittrice mi ha convinto irrimediabilmente che la Terra è piatta. L’unica pecca è il mio povero inglese, che mi ha tolto il piacere di una lettura scorrevole, ma ne è valsa la pena. Assolutamente da riscoprire.
Elizabeth Moffat
Feb 08, 2015 Elizabeth Moffat rated it really liked it
Hello everyone and welcome to our first Kid-Lit read of 2015! This year we have mixed it up slightly and have chosen six classic works of children's literature and six more modern reads (published post 1980). Our first classic read is Five Children and It which was originally published in 1902 from a series of stories published in The Strand magazine. The story involves five children who have moved from London to the Kent countryside and one day, while digging in a gravel pit, unearth an old, ti ...more
Kate Forsyth
Oct 03, 2012 Kate Forsyth rated it it was amazing
I’ve read this book many times before but it never fails to enchant me. What struck me most on this reading was Edith Nesbit’s playfulness. Most contemporary children’s writers seem to have lost this quality – all is dark and earnest and pedestrian. I’ve made myself a promise not to forget to play.
Feb 23, 2015 Tracey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Review purely for the Librivox edition of Five Children and It - I love the book, but this was awful. Various narrators - unfortunately un-listen-to-able. How can you read Five Children and It and not be able to pronounce "Anthea" and "Psammead"??
Apr 08, 2012 Lucinda rated it really liked it
This is a heartwarming story that never fails to bring a smile to my face, and it is something that i love as much now as i did when i was a child. It is set during the second world war where five children are sent to relatives in the countryside, and there they encounter a strange and magical creature. This is a story that is centered around friendship and love and one that is beautifully touching and emotive, which will really touch your heart. The saying "be careful what you wish for" is the ...more
Jemima Pett
Sep 25, 2013 Jemima Pett rated it liked it
There’s a sort of mindset you have to put yourself in when you tackle some of the children’s classics. It doesn’t apply to all the classic children's books I’ve read, but it does apply to most of those written in the period 1930-1950. There’s a sort of suspension of belief, a need to be jollied along with the tale, and an understanding that children were just, well, different then. Maybe it’s just style. But it seems that readers of Five Children and It are expected to be wide-eyed at the advent ...more
Classic children's fantasy. Five children discover a Psammead, or sand fairy - a bizarre, foul-tempered little thing, pathologically frightened of water - in the quarry near their home. He grants them a wish per day - but somehow the wishes always seem to go wrong.

I'd actually not read any E. Nesbit before (so I suppose THE RAILWAY CHILDREN is next). This was delightful, obviously. I almost didn't want the magic to come in, I was enjoying the non-magical intro so much.

I do love the way we worke
Jul 24, 2009 Shel added it
Nesbit, E. (2004). Five Children and It. New York: Puffin Books.


Five children (thus the first part of the title of this book—although one of the five kids is a baby and is not involved in all of the events) leave their London home with their mother visit the countryside for a week. Within hours of their arrival they discover an ancient sand fairy living in a gravel-pit. The grumpy fairy grants the children one wish each day. The catch? The wishes only last one day and the kids never
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Edith Nesbit (married name Edith Bland; 15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924) was an English author and poet; she published her books for children under the name of E. Nesbit.
She wrote or collaborated on over 60 books of fiction for children, several of which have been adapted for film and television. She was also a political activist and co-founded the Fabian Society, a socialist organisation later connec
More about E. Nesbit...

Other Books in the Series

Five Children (3 books)
  • The Phoenix and the Carpet (Five Children, #2)
  • The Story of the Amulet (Five Children, #3)

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“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.” 6 likes
“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.” 2 likes
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