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Five Children and It (Five Children #1)
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Five Children and It > Five Children and It - Week 2: Chapters 3 -5

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message 1: by Carol (last edited Feb 05, 2017 06:55AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carol (carolfromnc) | 633 comments Chapter 3 presents us with a frequent challenge for contemporary readers of classic fiction: how to respond to passages that have racist overtones. Here we have the children encountering a group of gipsies [sic], who are individually and repetitively described as "mahogany" and whose children are "ragged." And yet the structure of the chapter is that the episode with the gypsies follows an attempted kidnapping of the Lamb by an extraordinary wealthy/upper-class woman, two of her employees and a number of other folk encountered along the way, each of which are presumed to be white. And the chapter ends with (view spoiler)

I'm not endeavoring to take us down either a book-banning or political route and if this topic didn't cross your mind in reading Chapter 3, there's nothing wrong with that, of course. If it did, were you satisfied with Nesbit's turn toward the unexpected and positive? Do you think the scene is Nesvit's way of trying to change hearts and minds of young readers growing up in a culture where negative views of gypsies were prevalent? Is racism (and sexism, which this novel also offers aplenty) troubling to you in classic works or do you give them a pass because they are products of their time?


Carol (carolfromnc) | 633 comments I'm at page 100. Is anyone else as puzzled as I am that these children go out every single day without a solution to the lunch/hunger problem? On day one, I bought into it. This is day 3-4, and yet here we are again trying to steal food (and rationalize it as not stealing, or hope some adult will feed us out of pity) to get through the day? Perhaps I need more coffee, but Nesbit seems a more thoughtful writer than her handling of this practical issue indicates. Humph.


message 3: by ☯Emily , The First (new) - rated it 4 stars

☯Emily  Ginder | 1109 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "I'm at page 100. Is anyone else as puzzled as I am that these children go out every single day without a solution to the lunch/hunger problem? On day one, I bought into it. This is day 3-4, and yet..."

I did consider it as an issue briefly. However, I don't think the children think that getting food will be an issue based on what they are wishing. For instance, they asked for money, so why would getting food be a problem? Two wishes were unplanned (I'm on chapter 6) and, to a child's mind, why would having wings interfere with getting food?

I do wonder why bathroom issues haven't been addressed even obliquely, especially after eating the meal on top of the church and then falling asleep. One of the children should be crying that they need to "go potty" when they were locked on the roof. Lamb never has a dirty diaper when he is part of the adventures.


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

☯Emily  Ginder | 1109 comments Mod
I was impressed with how Ms. Nesbit handled the gypsy stereotypes and even addressed it when she had one of the gypsy women say "Us gypsies don't steal babies, whatever they may tell you when you're naughty. We've enough or our own, mostly."

I view books as a product of their time and it looks like this author was less racist than many of her contemporaries.


message 5: by Carol (last edited Feb 08, 2017 04:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carol (carolfromnc) | 633 comments ☯Emily needs to protest again wrote: "Carol wrote: "I'm at page 100. Is anyone else as puzzled as I am that these children go out every single day without a solution to the lunch/hunger problem? On day one, I bought into it. This is da..."

Your explanation on the food issue makes perfect sense. I had missed the bathroom challenge. You're so right! And wouldn't it have been fun (not) for the girls to use the restroom whilst bearing wings?


Carol (carolfromnc) | 633 comments ☯Emily needs to protest again wrote: "I was impressed with how Ms. Nesbit handled the gypsy stereotypes and even addressed it when she had one of the gypsy women say "Us gypsies don't steal babies, whatever they may tell you when you'r..."

True, indeed.


Bunyip (best_bunyip) ☯Emily needs to protest again wrote: "I was impressed with how Ms. Nesbit handled the gypsy stereotypes and even addressed it when she had one of the gypsy women say "Us gypsies don't steal babies, whatever they may tell you when you'r..."

Yes! I agree with this. I am totally satisfied with progressive stances, even if they are only relative.

In this case I was probably more than satisfied; the way Ms. Nesbit's frank and articulate writing style works when applied to this resolution is kind of... charming? I was charmed by this chapter. I read it as: "You don't have to believe the dark things adults say about the world. You can be more sensible than your prejudiced parents."


message 8: by Ginny (last edited Feb 08, 2017 01:42PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ginny (burmisgal) | 184 comments I grew up on a ranch, the oldest of 6 children. Sometimes we did need to take the baby, and that would definitely limit our adventures. What I really have no memory of was a toilet problem. We just relieved ourselves out of doors with very little fuss. Certainly for the boys it was no issue at all. And for little girls wearing dresses and stockings, not much of an issue either.

I do remember sometimes carrying a snack, but it was not a big part of the events. I think we always managed to get home for dinner and supper.

I think the consequences of the adventures in this book are very real. The fulfilling of wishes creates the conflicts, and then the children must be very resourceful problem solvers to get out of the difficulties they find themselves in. Sort of the opposite from the usual. Magic and fantasy are often used to solve problems--especially in Disney versions of fairytales. The whole fairy godmother thing. The Psammead seems to be a good fairy, but its generous granting of wishes just causes trouble.


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