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Five Children on the Western Front

(Five Children #4)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,179 ratings  ·  212 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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Sharon Lawler No, I didn't read any of the others. This can stand alone. …moreNo, I didn't read any of the others. This can stand alone. (less)
George I thought of answering, "Do your own homework!" But with the question now 54 days old, that would be both rude and almost certainly irrelevant. So my …moreI thought of answering, "Do your own homework!" But with the question now 54 days old, that would be both rude and almost certainly irrelevant. So my apologies for the thought-crime.

The primary settings are a house in Kent and offices in London, England, 1914-1916; the Great War in Europe, same period; divers other places and times briefly accessed through unreliable magic; and an epilog in London, 1930.(less)

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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
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 08, 2015 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 sch ...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
Daisy 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
Sophie Crane
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, favorites
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 ...more
Robin Stevens
Nov 13, 2014 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.
Abi Elphinstone
Jan 06, 2015 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 progres ...more
Oct 12, 2014 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. ...more
Jan 12, 2015 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 wa ...more
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 ...more
Amanda Milburn
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Andi C Buchanan
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
*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
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
DNF. It was so slow and I didn't really like the writing style. ...more
May 09, 2015 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 r ...more
Nov 01, 2016 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
Ethan Suppaya
Jun 17, 2016 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
May 19, 2016 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
Oct 16, 2014 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
Jan 12, 2015 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
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
 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
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Margaret Bamford
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Alex  Baugh
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-i
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
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
Monica Edinger
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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 ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Five Children (3 books)
  • Five Children and It (Five Children #1)
  • The Phoenix and the Carpet (Five Children #2)
  • The Story of the Amulet (Five Children #3)

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