Last year (2015), I took a wonderful trip down memory lane when I read The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit. So this year I decided to read another of Nesbit’s children’s classics: the magical Five Children and It.
In this tale Nesbit swept me back to the Victorian, English countryside. This time to follow siblings; Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane and their baby brother, the Lamb. Who are left alone during their summer holiday, while their father is working and their mother goes to care for her sick mother. As the weather is fine and the maid wants them from under her feet, they got out to play almost everyday. On one such day, they mistakenly dig up a cantankerous Psammead (sand fairy), in a gravel pit. They return each day as ‘It’ will grant them a wish that lasts until sunset, but often these wishes have absurd and disastrous consequences.
In The Railway Children I really liked middle-class siblings Roberta, Phyllis and Peter, and I enjoyed watching them grow as characters. So I was interested to read about another (larger) set of siblings. The 5 children that discover ‘It’ are inquisitive, clever, argumentative and can sometimes be rather naughty. Making them slightly less likeable but realistic and rather amusing at times. Sadly though no one sibling stood out from the group, except for ‘the Lamb’, I couldn’t really distinguish Robert from Cyril or Anthea from Jane. Still a fun family to read about but I couldn’t help comparing with Nesbit’s well-drawn railway children. If I’d read the books the other way round I probably wouldn’t have noticed so much!
Unlike The Railway Children I haven’t seen the film of Five Children and It; although I vaguely remember a TV series when I was a young child. By vaguely I mean I remember little to nothing about it so this was a completely fresh story for me. I really enjoyed the children’s quaint and eccentric adventures that arose from their childish and often spur-of-the-moment wishes. I particularly enjoyed the day they had wings but fell asleep atop a bell tower and when they awoke their wings were gone! Then when they found themselves in a besieged castle or another when surrounded by red Indians. And as for ‘It’, the grumpy sand fairy, I thought he was wonderful and rather naughty (I swear he knew what trouble those wishes would cause!).
Five Children and It was a charming, magical children’s classic for me. I didn’t love it as much as The Railway Children, however I do look forward to reading the next in the series: The Phoenix and the Carpet. Good read.
Have you read this or watched any of the films/TV series?