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Edith Nesbit

book review E. Nesbit (1858-1924)
Edith Nesbit
wrote children’s fantasy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Nesbit’s first great success was The Story of the Treasure-Seekers (1899). Her most celebrated book remains The Railway Children, published in 1906. Her great gift was the ability to create child characters who are real young human beings behaving naturally. Her unhappy marriage gave her much experience with children; as well as bringing up her own four by her philandering husband, she consented to bring Bland’s illegitimate offspring into her household. We have presented those books of Edith Nesbit’s that are easiest to find.

The Book of Dragons: Wonderful dragon stories for kids

The Book of Dragons by Edith Nesbit

Edith Nesbit writes the most clever and charming children's stories. I love them. The Book of Dragons is a collection of eight delightful tales about dragons:

“The Book of Beasts” — Lionel, a young boy, is summoned to be the king after his great-great-great-something-grandfather dies. In the library of his new castle, he discovers the Book of Beasts and opens it. Out flies a red dragon who eats a soccer team and an orphanage. King Lionel must outwit the dragon with some help from a hippogriff and a manticore. This story is pretty funny and it, as well as the narrator’s voice in the audio edition I listened to, reminded me a lot of Neil Gaiman.

“Uncle James, or the Purple Stranger” — This ... Read More

Five Children and It: Charming children’s fantasy in the public domain

Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit

Five Children and It combines eleven stories that Edith Nesbit wrote about five siblings who discovered a wish-granting fairy called The Psammead in the sandlot of the house they recently moved into. The stories were originally serialized in shorter form in Strand Magazine in 1900. The first story (the first chapter of the novel) tells how the children moved from London to Kent, explored their new house and yard, and found the Psammead. He grumpily agrees to grant the children a daily wish that will end at sundown.

Each chapter tells the story of a single day, how the children wish for something, and how it goes wrong. Usually they wish for something obvious like beauty or money, but sometimes they accidentally wish for something they didn’t really want granted, such as when Cyril carelessly wishes that his baby brother would grow up. The consequences are always unexpected and usuall... Read More

The Phoenix and the Carpet: Nesbit was an innovative children’s writer

The Phoenix and the Carpet by Edith Nesbit

The Phoenix and the Carpet is Edith Nesbit’s sequel to Five Children and It, a collection of charming children’s stories published in 1902 which told how five siblings discovered a sand fairy which granted them a wish each day and how the children kept bungling what they wished for.

In The Phoenix and the Carpet, the children accidentally set fire to their nursery (while playing with fireworks!) and a new carpet must be brought in. This, unbeknownst to their parents, is an enchanted carpet which contains the egg of a rather arrogant but good-natured phoenix. When the phoenix hatches, it teaches the children how to use the magic carpet and off they go on a series of adventures which usually have unfortunate endings but occasionally produce happy side effects. The adventures are fun and exciting, occasionally hilarious, and sometimes scary.

T... Read More

The Story of the Amulet: A charming classic

The Story of the Amulet by Edith Nesbit

The Story of the Amulet is a sequel to Edith Nesbit’s famous story collection, Five Children and It, in which five siblings discover a wish-granting sand fairy named The Psammead. Each story in Five Children and It tells of a single day when the children ask the Psammead for something they think they want. Their wishes always backfire and give Nesbit the opportunity to humorously illustrate the adage “be careful what you wish for.” At the end of Five Children and It, the siblings have learned their lesson and promise to never ask the sand fairy for another wish, but they mention that they hope to meet the Psammead again someday. And indeed they do in The Story of the Amulet. The children wander into ... Read More

The Enchanted Castle: Nesbit is a master of children’s literature

The Enchanted Castle by Edith Nesbit

Like most children's fantasy adventures, The Enchanted Castle begins with several displaced children, removed from their usual situation due to unfortunate events, and finding their independence in new surroundings. In this case, Gerald, Jimmy and Kathleen find themselves staying at Kathleen's school over the summer holidays in the care of her French teacher. But adventure is on the way, as soon they find a secret path into a beautiful garden where a young princess lies asleep in the centre of a hedge maze.

Of course, she's not real a princess, only the housekeeper's niece, but soon her games of make-believe come astonishingly real as the children discover that her ring is really magical and capable of granting any wish they desire! Of course, being children, their wishes usually lead them to trouble; and in a book full of living statues, dinosaurs, headless ghosts, bu... Read More

More speculative fiction by Edith Nesbit

The House of Arden — (1908) Ages 9-12. Publisher: The famous Arden family treasure has been missing for generations, and the last members of the Arden line, Edred, Elfrida, and their Aunt Edith, have nothing to their names but the crumbling castle they live in. Just before his tenth birthday, Edred inherits the title of Lord Arden; he also learns that the missing fortune will be his if — and only if — he can find it before the turns ten. With no time to lose, Edred and Elfrida secure the help of a magical talking creature, the temperamental Mouldiwarp, who leads them on a treasure hunt through the ages. Together, brother and sister visit some of the most thrilling periods of history and test their wits against real witches, highwaymen, and renegades. They find plenty of adventure, but will they find the treasure before Edred’s birthday?

E. Nesbit The House of Arden, Harding's Luck, The Book of Dragons, The Magic City, Wet Magic, These Little Onesbook review E. Nesbit Harding's Luck

 The Magic City E. Nesbit fantasy literatureThe Magic City — (1910) Ages 9-12. Publisher: When young Philip Haldane builds a play city out of odds and ends, the fantastic creation comes to life, and he and new stepsister Lucy are magically transported into it. Now they must try to save the Magic City by fulfilling an ancient prophecy — despite a mysterious adversary determined to steal their glory for herself. How Philip and Lucy come to forge a friendship and together triumph over impending disaster makes for a riveting read.

book review E. Nesbit Wet MagicWet Magic — (1913) Ages 9-12. Publisher: When four siblings journey to the seashore for a holiday, one of them unwittingly summons the sister of a mermaid who is captured by a circus, and the children set out to save the imprisoned being. After a daring midnight rescue, the children’s reward is an incredible journey beneath the waves and into the hidden kingdom of the mermaids. But they soon find themselves in a race against time as they struggle to prevent a war and save their new underwater companions! Here is a triumphant tale by one of the finest storytellers to ever write for children, and a pioneer of fantasy literature for this age group.

book review E. Nesbit These Little OnesThese Little Ones — (1909) Ages 9-12. Story collection. Publisher: “It had been a good day; lessons had been easier than usual, and teacher had read them a story of some naughty little boys who had thrown a dog into the water and aimed stones at it, and about a good little boy who had saved its life; and of how the dog had loved him ever after.” Thus begins “The Dog-Dream,” one of the 10 stories in this poignant and sometimes bittersweet collection of tales about the tragedies of childhood. Some of the other Nesbit stories included are: “The Criminal,” “The Ashpits,” and “Thor and the Hammer.”