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Five Children and It (1902)

by E. Nesbit

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Psammead Trilogy (1)

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4,454682,448 (3.88)180
When four brothers and sisters discover a Psammead, or sand-fairy, in the gravel pit near the country house where they are staying, they have no way of knowing all the adventures its wish-granting will bring them.

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» See also 180 mentions

English (66)  Spanish (1)  All languages (67)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
I kept seeing this title and remembered reading a book as a child with a similar title that I loved and wanted to know if this was the same book. NO. No, it was not. (The one I had been thinking of was much more of a horror story than this.) Anyway, I am so sad that I missed this absolutely delightful book back then. It does have several morals sewn in, but they're not overbearing and the adventures and characters are fun. Seems like this would be a good book to read aloud to your kids. ( )
  paroof | Dec 20, 2022 |
This book almost works as a collection of linked short stories; each chapter is a self-contained adventure in which the five children make a single wish each day, and the wishes invariably have unforeseen consequences. Most of the stories were okay given the time in which they were written, but wow did it get inappropriate in the last couple of chapters with the portrayal of Indigenous people. Also. the girls had naughty-sounding-to-modern-ears nicknames (Panty for Anthea aka Panther, and Pussy for Jane), which would be awkward for modern-day storytimes. And I was not fond of Nesbit’s almost ostentatiously prescriptive grammar: she seemed to go out of her way to say things like « everyone ate its supper ». She would obviously not approve of the singular they… ( )
  rabbitprincess | Aug 10, 2022 |
I know i read this last year but all record of it here is gone? Anyway, fun adventure fantasy story with classic wish granting shenanigans but the sexism was annoying and then there was a super racist chapter yikes ( )
  mutantpudding | Feb 3, 2022 |
Five children - Anthea, Cyril, Jane, Robert, and the baby, called Lamb - are taken to a summer house, and in the nearby gravel pit, they discover a Psammead, or sand-fairy, that grants wishes. Their wishes, of course, go wrong, one after the other, whether they are carefully thought-through or made impulsively. When they wish to be "as beautiful as the day," no one recognizes them and they are locked out of their house; when they wish for wings, they enjoy flight but get stuck at the top of a clock tower; when they wish for wealth, they are unable to spend their gold. Wishes for a besieged castle and for "Red Indians in England" likewise go awry.

The chapter "Scalps" is downright problematic and deeply uncomfortable, and the language is naturally somewhat old-fashioned throughout, as it was first published in 1902, but for those magic-loving readers willing to overlook the former and either put up with or enjoy the latter (the first-person omniscient narrator has a wryly humorous tone), this classic is still enjoyable, and certainly inspired many other beloved fantasy novels.

See also: Seven-Day Magic by Edward Eager


Trying not to believe in things when in your heart you are almost sure they are true, is as bad for the temper as anything I know. (165)

"But it's true," said Jane.
"Of course it is, but it's not true enough for grown-up people to believe it," said Anthea. ( )
  JennyArch | Jan 18, 2022 |
Basically its a kids version of the Monkey's Paw or Bedazzled. Get wishes, they turn out badly. Its quite good and while its a kids book so the horrible results can't be too bad, its still moving at times. If i was a kid this rating would no doubt be much higher. ( )
  wreade1872 | Nov 28, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
E. Nesbitprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bentinck, AnnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burlinson, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goodall, J. S.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kramer, DaveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Millar, H. R.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To John Bland.
My Lamb, you are so very small,
You have not learned to read at all.
Yet never a printed book withstands
The urgence of your dimpled hands.
So, though this book is for yourself,
Let mother keep it on the shelf
Till you can read. O days that pass,
That day will come too soon, alas!
First words
The house was three miles from the station, but before the dusty hired fly had rattled along for five minutes the children began to put their heads out of the carriage window and to say, 'Aren't we nearly there?'
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the original book by E. Nesbit. Please do not combine with any adaptation.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

When four brothers and sisters discover a Psammead, or sand-fairy, in the gravel pit near the country house where they are staying, they have no way of knowing all the adventures its wish-granting will bring them.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Five children find an "it", a sand-fairy called a Psammead. The sand-fairy grants them one wish each day -- and the children learn about unintended consequences, with humorous and ultimately serious consequences.

Available online at The Internet Archive:

Also available at Project Gutenberg:
Haiku summary
E Nesbit does it
again: do children never
learn? Of course they don't.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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