What’s it all about?:
Robert, Cyril, Anthea, Jane, and Baby brother “Lamb” find an ancient Psammead sandfairy who grants them one wish per day. But whatever they wish turns wrong. They try “beautiful as the day”, “wealth beyond avarice”, angel wings to fly, defending a besieged castle, raiding Red Indians, and more. Diamonds for Mother on her return is the last straw.
What did I think?:
Hello everyone and welcome to our first Kid-Lit read of 2015! This year we have mixed it up slightly and have chosen six classic works of children’s literature and six more modern reads (published post 1980). Our first classic read is Five Children and It which was originally published in 1902 from a series of stories published in The Strand magazine. The story involves five children who have moved from London to the Kent countryside and one day, while digging in a gravel pit, unearth an old, tired and very disgruntled Psammead or “sand-fairy,” who has the ability to grant wishes. It agrees to give the children one wish a day on the condition that it will disappear at sunset. The children are delighted with their good luck but unfortunately their wishes don’t quite go to plan.
For example, their first wish “to be as beautiful as the day,” leads the servants unable to recognise them and as a result, they are shooed away and locked out of the house until sunset when the spell breaks, and the children (very relieved to be just ordinary) are able to return home. They decide as a group to be much more sensible with their wishes so the next is to be rich beyond their wildest dreams. The gravel pit becomes full with gold guineas that they gleefully fill their pockets with and head to town unfortunately to find out that these coins are no longer in circulation and no-one will accept them as legal tender. In fact, they get into a bit of trouble with the police when one of the townsfolk questions how the children have managed to amass so much gold. Luckily, all ends well when sunset arrives and the gold simply disappears, leaving the police scratching their heads and doubting their own minds as to whether it was there at all!
One of my favourite wishes is when the children wished for wings (a wish that is probably still one of mine, as an adult) and everything seems to be going so well for them until they fall asleep upon a church bell tower, sunset arrives, heralding the disappearance of the wings and they find themselves locked up on the tower with no way to get down and a LOT of explaining to do. I loved the adventures that the children had with all the wishes that the Psammead granted them, albeit quite a few by mistake… how often have we all uttered the words “I wish…” but luckily we haven’t had a sand-fairy there to grant them for us? For example, living in a castle under siege may sound fun but it’s definitely a situation that we wouldn’t want to find ourselves in, as the children quickly find out.
I never actually read this children’s classic as a child, but I do remember watching and enjoying the BBC series that was made of it and have quite a clear picture in my mind of how they portrayed the Psammead. Reading the story as an adult was also an enjoyable experience even if the Psammead in the book isn’t quite what was shown on the TV series (where are the eyes on stalks?!). I think it’s a great story that has stood the test of time and that children would still love nowadays. I didn’t realise that E. Nesbit wrote a couple of other stories about the Psammead and I may have to look into them to see what other wishes that tricky little sand-fairy grants.
For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):