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The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit
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The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904)

by E. Nesbit

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Psammead Trilogy (2)

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1,147137,123 (3.93)74
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    Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Following Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet is the second in the so-called Psammead Trilogy, named after 'It', the sand-fairy.
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This sequel to "Five Children and It" is even more delightful than the first novel. This time the children come into possession of a phoenix and a magic carpet that grants them three wishes a day. Their adventures take them to all sorts of exotic places and humorous situations. There is one scene that takes place among "copper-colored natives" somewhere in a tropical location that is cringe-inducing because of the stereotyped and patronizing view of the "natives", however, I must say that the depictions of "natives" in this book, and in the prior one are not malicious. I would say the depictions are naive, as in what these turn-of-the-century children imagine from their own books. In fact, what the children were reading is mentioned often in both books, and, it seemed to me, the books they were reading (19th century adventure books for children-Last of the Mohicans, Robinson Crusoe, etc.) are the impetus for these encounters with "natives". The Phoenix is also a wonderful character, as is the narrator. Enjoy! ( )
  Marse | Mar 14, 2016 |
This middle volume of the trilogy that began with Five Children and It and concludes with The Story of the Amulet deviates somewhat from the other two because the Psammead gets only a brief mention, and because in this volume the children live with both of their parents and their younger brother—the Lamb—in their home in London. Consequently, there is less loneliness and sense of loss in this volume than in the other two. In both of the other volumes, circumstances have forced the children to spend a protracted period away from their familiar London home and their father; in Amulet, their mother and the Lamb are absent as well.

A continuing theme throughout The Phoenix and the Carpet is, appropriately enough, the ancient element of fire. The story begins shortly before November 5, celebrated in England as Guy Fawkes Night. Traditionally, children light bonfires and set off fireworks on this night. The four children have accumulated a small hoard of fireworks but are too impatient to wait until November 5 to light them, so they set off a few samples in the girls' bedroom. This results in a fire that destroys the carpet.

Their parents purchase a second-hand carpet which, upon arrival, is found to contain an egg that emits a weird phosphorescent glow. The children place this egg near the fire: it hatches, revealing a golden Phoenix who speaks perfect English.

It develops that this is a magical carpet, which can transport the children to anywhere they wish in the present time, although it is only capable of three wishes per day. Accompanied by the Phoenix, the children have exotic adventures in various climes. There is one moment of terror for the children when their youngest brother, the Lamb, crawls onto the carpet, babbles some incoherent baby talk, and vanishes. Fortunately, the Lamb only desired to be with his mother.

At a few points in the novel, the children find themselves in predicaments from which the Phoenix is unable to rescue them by himself; he goes to find the Psammead and has a wish granted for the children's sake. In addition, in the end, the carpet is sent to ask the Psammead to grant the Phoenix's wish. These offstage incidents are the only contribution made by the Psammead to this story.

The Phoenix and the Carpet features some intriguing depictions of London during the reign of Edward VII. At one point, the children and their supernatural bird visit the Phoenix Fire Insurance Company: the egotistical Phoenix assumes that this is his modern-day temple, and the insurance executives must be his acolytes. The children also have an encounter with two older ruffians named Herb and Ike who attempt to steal the Phoenix.

Possibly the most interesting chapter in this novel occurs when the four children attend a Christmas pantomime at a West End theatre, smuggling the Phoenix along inside Robert's coat. The Phoenix is so excited by this spectacle that he unintentionally sets fire to the theatre. In Edwardian times, many theatres in Britain and the United States were fire-traps, and it was not unusual for a conflagration in a theatre to produce hundreds of deaths. This chapter is vivid and highly convincing, but all ends well when the Phoenix magically reverses the damage: no one is harmed, and the theatre remains intact.

One aspect of The Phoenix and the Carpet that is atypical for children's fantasy fiction is the fact that, in this story, the magical companion does not treat all the children equally. The Phoenix insists on favouring Robert- the child who actually put his egg in the fire, albeit by accident- over his brother Cyril and their sisters. This is a mixed privilege, as Robert is lumbered with the duty of smuggling the Phoenix past their parents at inconvenient moments.

In the novel's final chapter, the Phoenix announces that he has reached the end of his current lifespan and must begin the cycle again (apparently on the grounds that life with the children has left him far more exhausted than he would have been in the wilderness). Under the Phoenix's direction, the children prepare an altar with sweet incense, upon which the Phoenix immolates himself. The magical carpet has also reached the end of its span, as it was never intended for regular walking, vanishing with the Phoenix's egg. There is a happy ending, with the children receiving a parcel of gifts from an unknown benefactor, and Robert receiving a single golden feather. But the feather has vanished by the evening and it is truly the last of the Phoenix and the Carpet.

The last volume in the series, The Story of the Amulet, contains a minor episode in which the children travel thousands of years into the past and encounter the Phoenix, who does not recognise them because, in his linear timeline, the events of the previous book have not happened yet. ( )
  mrsdanaalbasha | Mar 12, 2016 |
See comments on my other copy. I am struck by how much the phoenix in this book matches the personality of the phoenix in David and the Phoenix, but I sup[pose the latter, having been written later, could have been influenced by this. I believe this was our original copy and nearly loved to death --the cover is getting loose. ( )
  antiquary | Apr 7, 2014 |
Originally posted at FanLit.

The Phoenix and the Carpet is Edith Nesbit??s sequel to Five Children and It, a collection of charming childrenƒ??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.

... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/the-phoenix-and-the-carpet/ ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
The second of the Five Children series. While my personal favorite was te Psammead in the first viklume, the Phoenix in the second story, vain but wise, is a very distinct personality, whose rather forsoothly language sticks in my mind. ( )
  antiquary | Sep 30, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
E. Nesbitprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Millar, H.R.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
TO HUBERT

Dear Hubert, if I ever found
A wishing-carpet lying round,
I'd stand upon it, and I'd say:
'Take me to Hubert, right away!'
And then we'd travel very far
To where the magic countries are
That you and I will never see,
And choose the loveliest gifts for you, from me.

But oh! alack! and well-a-day!
No wishing-carpets come my way,
I never found a Phoenix yet,
And Psammeads are so hard to get!
So I give you nothing fine--
Only this book, your book and mine,
And hers, whose name by yours is set:
Your book, my book, the book of Margaret!

E. NESBIT
DYMCHURCH
Dedication
To
My Dear Godson
HUBERT GRIFFITH
and his sister
MARGARET
First words
It began with the day when it was almost the Fifth of November, and a doubt arose in some breast—Robert's, I fancy—as to the quality of the fireworks laid in for the Guy Fawkes celebration.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014036739X, Paperback)

It's startling enough to have a phoenix hatch in your house, but even more startling when it talks and reveals that you have a magic carpet on the floor. The vain and ancient bird accompanies the children on a series of adventures through time and space which are rarely straightforward, but always exciting. This book is a sequel to "Five Children and It".

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:35 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The popular sequel to ' Five Children and It ', full of wit and magic.

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