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Five Children and It (Five Children #1)
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Five Children and It > Five Children and It - Background and Reading Schedule

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Carol (carolfromnc) | 682 comments E. Nesbit was born in Kennington, Surrey in 1858. The death of her father when she was four years old and the continuing ill health of her sister meant that Nesbit had a childhood absent focused adult attention, and frequent moves. Her family moved across Europe in search of healthy climates for her sister, only to return to England for financial reasons. Growing up, she lived in France, Spain and Germany in addition to various locations in Great Britain. Her education came from a combination of periods in local elementary/grammar schools and the occasional boarding school but predominately through reading. Nesbit wanted to be known as a poet and in her teens had a poem published. This gave her greater confidence to write more, both for adults and children, but it is for her 60+ children's books (including those on which she collaborated with other authors) she is best known. She distinguished herself from other writers of her time by writing about children as they were, and rewriting conventional adventure stories to present them with female characters in lead roles.

Her friends included HG Wells and George Bernard Shaw. She also was a political activist and a follower of William Morris and she and her husband Hubert Bland were among the founders of the Fabian Society, a socialist organization later affiliated to the Labour Party. Nesbit was an active lecturer and prolific writer on socialism during the 1880s.

Five Children and It was published in 1902 and is the first novel in Nesbit’s Psammead trilogy, which consists of Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904), and The Story of the Amulet (1906). In Five Children and It, a group of siblings (Anthea, Robert, Cyril, Jane, and a baby who is referred to as the Lamb) find the Psammead in a sand quarry near their home in the English countryside. The Psammead is a sand fairy able to grant wishes. This classic takes us to Edwardian England, where horses and buggies were the most common form of transportation, and servants looked after the children.

Interesting links and articles (which may, necessarily include spoilers):
http://www.foliosociety.com/author/ed... (biography)
https://lit4334goldenage.wordpress.co...
http://muse.jhu.edu/article/271157

Reading Schedule: Five Children and It has 11 chapters, so we will read and discuss it at the below pace.

Feb 1-4 – Chapters 1-2
Feb 5 -11 – Chapters 3 - 5
Feb 12 – 18 – Chapters 6 - 8
Feb 19 – 28 – Chapters 9 - 11

I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on this book.

Who will be participating?


message 2: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum Alas! My books are in a terrible turmoil while waiting for their permanent home to be built (and the frozen weather is causing the delay), and although I found The Story of the Amulet, The Phoenix and the Carpet, The Story of the Treasure Seekers, The Book of Dragons, and the one I want to see made into a movie, The Enchanted Castle, no Five Children and It. If it should come to light soon, I'll join in!


message 3: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum I just found The Wouldbegoods...


Carol (carolfromnc) | 682 comments Karlyne wrote: "Alas! My books are in a terrible turmoil while waiting for their permanent home to be built (and the frozen weather is causing the delay), and although I found The Story of the Amulet, The Phoenix ..."

I think I want to visit your house, notwithstanding the turmoil, if you uncovered that great group of Nesbit works!

I did the easy thing (for me) and got it from the library, but I shall cross my fingers that you bump into a copy of it this month!


message 5: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum Carol wrote: "Karlyne wrote: "Alas! My books are in a terrible turmoil while waiting for their permanent home to be built (and the frozen weather is causing the delay), and although I found The Story of the Amul..."

I'd check the library, but it would require driving a couple of miles on icy roads to get there. If the weather improves, I will!


Ginny (burmisgal) | 190 comments Starting my read of "it" tonight!


message 7: by ☯Emily , The First (new) - rated it 4 stars

☯Emily  Ginder | 1209 comments Mod
I got it out of the library yesterday. I was surprised to find that it was not an easy book to find. The librarian said that the book was extremely popular in England, but not as much in the US.


Carol (carolfromnc) | 682 comments ☯Emily needs to protest again wrote: "I got it out of the library yesterday. I was surprised to find that it was not an easy book to find. The librarian said that the book was extremely popular in England, but not as much in the US."

We (Americans) are a tad less respectful of classic children's lit then our English friends, I expect. i wonder if she would say the same of Pollyanna or Little Lord Fauntleroy. I think, yes.


message 9: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum Carol wrote: "☯Emily needs to protest again wrote: "I got it out of the library yesterday. I was surprised to find that it was not an easy book to find. The librarian said that the book was extremely popular in ..."

I wonder how she knew that it was very popular in the UK? I'm guessing that she meant it would be readily available in their libraries? I wonder if the classics are read more in the UK than the US... I know that in the small libraries I've been to in our area, the classics are seriously lacking. If people don't read them, they go by the wayside because of space constraints.


message 10: by ☯Emily , The First (new) - rated it 4 stars

☯Emily  Ginder | 1209 comments Mod
I just read part of a history of Edith Nesbit here: http://boryanabooks.com/?p=696. It includes spoilers.

It ends with this comment from Noel Coward: “I am reading again through all the dear E. Nesbits and they seem to me to be more charming and evocative than ever. It is strange that after half a century I still get so much pleasure from them. Her writing is so light and unforced, her humour is so sure and her narrative quality so strong that the stories, which I know backwards, rivet me as much now as they did when I was a little boy.”

There was a copy of The Enchanted Castle next to his bed seventeen years later when he died.


message 11: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum ☯Emily needs to protest again wrote: "I just read part of a history of Edith Nesbit here: http://boryanabooks.com/?p=696. It includes spoilers.

It ends with this comment from Noel Coward: “I am reading again through all the dear E. Ne..."


Sweet, sweet story! Makes me wonder which book I will leave with a bookmark in it...


message 12: by ☯Emily , The First (new) - rated it 4 stars

☯Emily  Ginder | 1209 comments Mod
Karlyne wrote: "Carol wrote: "☯Emily needs to protest again wrote: "I got it out of the library yesterday. I was surprised to find that it was not an easy book to find. The librarian said that the book was extreme..."

This children's librarian was very excited that we were reading it and she was very familiar with the book and its history. Perhaps this article explains why the book was not as popular in America. http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainm...


message 13: by ☯Emily , The First (new) - rated it 4 stars

☯Emily  Ginder | 1209 comments Mod
I have to agree with much in the article. I much prefer realism in a book as opposed to fantasy and I always have.


message 14: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum I just read your link, Emily, and I most definitely would not call Nesbit's life "sweet"! What a strange, strange bunch of people. I had to laugh at Hubert's stopping his daughter's elopement - apparently the "free love" he enjoyed did not extend to his children...


message 15: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum ☯Emily needs to protest again wrote: "Karlyne wrote: "Carol wrote: "☯Emily needs to protest again wrote: "I got it out of the library yesterday. I was surprised to find that it was not an easy book to find. The librarian said that the ..."

As a kid, although I was enthralled with the "true" stories of America, especially Jo and Laura, I also adored the fantasy of the Brits. I don't think I've ever consciously thought of it as truth vs fantasy, but it does seem as though what I loved about my still-favorite British authors was the way they moved above reality. Their stories were uplifting in a very different way from the moral uplifting of their American counter-parts. As I really think about it, though, I think a lot of it has to do with style. I often felt that I was being talked down to by the Americans, that they were stories written by adults for children, as opposed to stories written by adults for anyone. As an adult, although I do go back to Alcott and Ingalls, they are just about the only Americans in my re-read-children's list.


Carol (carolfromnc) | 682 comments There may be a more pedestrian explanation which is, when kids are young, their parents often present the books they most loved. Particularly before kids can read, but can understand chapter books read to them at bedtime or otherwise. The older a book is, the less likely that the then-current crop of parents includes fans, just as a factor of age and exposure. I know I certainly was excited to read Rumer Godden, Eleanor Farjeon, Walter Farley (the Black Stallion series), Alexander Key and other favorites to my kids, and, left entirely to their own devices, they'd pick up today's titles because that's what the library and book stores display most. Of course, I was the daughter of a bookseller, so my dad gets the credit for introducing me to Eleanor Farjeon and Little Lord Fauntleroy (though I was not a big fan of it).

I've not ever been a big fantasy reader, though I'm a fan of dragons, generally. Although I'm not more than a couple of pages into Five Children and It, I suspect it's no more heavy on the fantasy angle then the Narnia series which has had quite a long life on both sides of the pond.


message 17: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum Carol wrote: "There may be a more pedestrian explanation which is, when kids are young, their parents often present the books they most loved. Particularly before kids can read, but can understand chapter books ..."

Of course, that's probably true of parents who read to their children, but as soon as I could read, I hit the library on my own and my mother (bless her!) let me pick out whatever struck my fancy with no limits on either content or amount. I don't recall being read to whatsoever! I did read to my own kids, but not, generally the big books. We've always had a seriously big collection of kids' classics, so they were available, though, in addition to the library. I think in their case, it was one of those "What's Mom laughing (or gasping) about?! I need to read that book!" scenarios.


message 18: by Anastasia Kinderman, The Only (new) - added it

Anastasia Kinderman | 654 comments Mod
My copy has just come in at the library.


message 19: by Kimberley (new)

Kimberley Challman | 19 comments I just got my copy from the library. It took forever to get here. I have not read anything by E. Nesbit and am looking forward to doing so. I found the Atlantic article about the difference between American and British children's literature an interesting read. I had never thought about their differences - and why they are - before. When my kids were young, I read a variety to them - from the Little House books to the Chronicles of Narnia and everything between. It was my opportunity to read books that I never read as a child since I did not come from a big reading family. I could read well, just chose not to read very much. I do find they are inclined to read more fantasy, now that they are 17 years to YA, than other types. Fortunately, I did introduce my girls to Jane Austen, so they have a good appreciation for her.


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