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Five Children and It (Five Children #1)
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Five Children and It > Five Children and It - Week 4: Chapters 9-11 and Whole Book

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message 1: by Carol (last edited Feb 07, 2017 11:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carol (carolfromnc) | 632 comments If you've finished the book, what adventure was your favorite or worked the best, as a plot device? What are your final thoughts on the book, the characters, Nesbit's writing, or anything else you consider important or interesting?


message 2: by Suki (last edited Feb 07, 2017 10:01PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 60 comments *CAUTION- CONTAINS SPOILER ELEMENTS*

I was quite disappointed in the book. When I ordered the book and read the desciption, I thought the idea of the sand-fairy was very enchanting, and the wishes angle really intrigued me. I guess I also expected more from the story because it was chosen as part of Penguin's Drop Cap series. When I read the book, I didn't really like the stories of the wishes, and I thought the children to be kind of like cardboard cut-outs (even the author refers to them collectively as "it", rather than as "they" or "them", which I found startling and off-putting).
The adventure I enjoyed the most was "Wings". The idea of wings and flying were lovely, and probably the most realistic seeming of the wishes. I also enjoyed the scene in "Grown" where Martha carried the grown-up Lamb into the house. The two adventures I disliked most were "Being Wanted" and "Scalps"- I just found them to be creepy.
Overall, I thought the idea of an odd little wish-granting creature to be a really good one, I just didn't really like the way the story was carried out, and I didn't like the preachy and moralistic tone that sometimes crept into the narrator's voice.


Carol (carolfromnc) | 632 comments I finished the book last evening and enjoyed it immensely. Having said that, the last 3 chapters, including "Scalps" were the least memorable or enjoyable for me, and the ending seemed abrupt.

*SPOILERS FOLLOW*

I thought the most successful aspects of Five Children and It were the world-building, the authentic relationships between and amongst the children, and Nesbit's writing style. I could relate to the children and their emotions. They were described and interacted in a way that fit their ages and I found them to be differentiated in age-appropriate manners. The author's writing style struck just the right tone for me, between communicating a moral and having fun. The vocabulary didn't strike me as dumbed-down for children, but it also was not as flowery and ornate as Frances Hodgson Burnett's contemporaneously written works (not that there's anything wrong with that, I hasten to add) and was a style I found highly appealing. Five Children and I reminded me, more than anything, of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and its series' mates by Betty MacDonald.

For 75% of the book, the adventures worked for me, and I think my pre-6th-grade self would have adored this book because it doesn't talk down to children and is sufficiently complex to appeal to adults. (In contrast, there's no point in my life when I would have enjoyed most of what is sold as YA because I find the characters shallow and the ones I've read have exhibited some of the worst writing the world can produce.) The sexist and racist elements grated on me but were tolerable, if accepted as progressive for 1902, until I encountered "Scalps" which made me want to take a shower. YMMV. The last story with the mother and the jewelry was unsuccessful for me, and I am not certain why - although I suspect that the mother's involvement in the story makes it less of an adventure and more of a problem, less charming and imaginative and more dire.

I wish (pun intended) the Psammead had been a more fully developed character and that Nesbit had chosen to develop a relationship between the Psammead and the children that involved more than scolding and grumpiness and requests. I could imagine that I would have enjoyed It being more of a fully-developed being with which the children engaged and there could have been some interesting tension at the end of the story when the children have to choose not to encounter It any more, and end that relationship (vs simply not receiving any more wishes).

As with the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series, Five Children and It ultimately felt like a series of short stories, some of which were more successful than others, and not a single narrative with an arc the then compels and drivers the reader toward a conclusion. If not for reading this novel with this group, I can easily imagine having stopped one day in the middle of the book, turned to something else, never finishing our book -- not because I wasn't enjoying it but because there was little compelling me toward the next chapter or the conclusion other than mild curiosity. This isn't a huge drawback from my perspective because the book is quite short and a fast read.

I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's experiences with these last 3 chapters and the book, as a complete experience.


Ginny (burmisgal) | 183 comments Carol wrote: " The sexist and racist elements grated on me but were tolerable, if accepted as progressive for 1902, until I encountered "Scalps" which made me want to take a shower. ..."

This chapter comes from Cyril's reading of The Last of the Mohicans (which I have never read, but suspect it was worse.) Also, our book was published in 1902. Peter Pan was published in 1911 and had an exciting section with the "red Indians". Ch. 10 ends with the Red Indians being granted their wish--to be "in their native forest once more!" A wish I am sure that many of our First Nations people would still make. Is is possible to share this chapter with children today in a positive way? Has anyone done it?


message 5: by ☯Emily , The First (new) - rated it 4 stars

☯Emily  Ginder | 1101 comments Mod
Ch. 10 ends with the Red Indians being granted their wish--to be "in their native forest once more!" A wish I am sure that many of our First Nations people would still make.
Thought-provoking comment.


Carol (carolfromnc) | 632 comments Ginny wrote: "Carol wrote: " The sexist and racist elements grated on me but were tolerable, if accepted as progressive for 1902, until I encountered "Scalps" which made me want to take a shower. ..."

This chap..."


I can't imagine why not. It's a great teachable moment to use in asking a child reader about the assumptions the characters make about the wished-for Native Americans.


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

☯Emily  Ginder | 1101 comments Mod
The children make a lot of assumptions throughout the book and the author shows their misconceptions. Some examples are having money or good looks doesn't bring happiness or satisfaction, gypsies don't steal children, or warfare is not pleasant and can be quite dangerous.

This book was published in 1902. Many of the young men reading this book when it was first published would have died in World War I. As the current USA leader would say, "So sad."


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