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Five Children and It

Five Children and It

4.0 26
by E. Nesbit, Gillian Avery (Introduction)

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Caldecott medalist Paul O. Zelinsky brings to life the magical adventures of five children who stumble upon an ancient and grumpy sand fairy with the power to make wishes come true. The fairy grants the children one wish a day, and soon dreams of untold riches, flying, and other marvels become reality. But it Isn't long before greed and misunderstandings begin leading


Caldecott medalist Paul O. Zelinsky brings to life the magical adventures of five children who stumble upon an ancient and grumpy sand fairy with the power to make wishes come true. The fairy grants the children one wish a day, and soon dreams of untold riches, flying, and other marvels become reality. But it Isn't long before greed and misunderstandings begin leading to one hilarious disaster after another, and the children start to wonder whether It might be best to wish that their fairy return to the sand. A wonderful, timeless tale, perfectly complemented with Paul Zelinsky's twelve warm and funny paintings.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Their first time in the country is filled with magical escapades for five children in this classic tale of adventure. Cyril, Athena, Robert, Jane, and baby brother, Lamb, are exploring the land around the house their parents have rented for the summer when they find the sandpit. They decide to dig a hole straight through to Australia. Their plan is interrupted when Athena discovers a magical creature hiding in the sand. It is a Psammead, and it can grant wishes. In fact, it must grant wishes, but it is a crabby creature and limits itself to one each day. Worse, none of the wishes seem to turn out right. When the children want to be beautiful, they are ... but their maid can't recognize them and refuses to feed them lunch. When the children want to be rich, they are ... but they can't spend the outdated coins. And so it goes. Luckily for the children, the Psammead's magic wears off at sunset. Even the worst results can be borne out until sunset ... or can they? Paul O. Zelinsky's delicate watercolor plates are a good match for E. Nesbit's humorous story about magic in the real world. An Afterward by Peter Glassman explains the influence this work had on subsequent children's literature. 1999, Books of Wonder/William Morrow, Ages 9 to 12, $32.95, $22.00 and $4.99. Reviewer: Heidi Green
Children's Literature
This classic early 20th century British chapter book portrays the innocence of childhood when five children visit their new house in the country. Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane and their baby brother who they lovingly call "Lamb" are ready to explore their new surroundings while their mum and dad are off on their own duties. They cannot wait to visit the nearby quarry where they very accidentally wake, from a many-years sleep, a peculiar looking and wish-granting sand fairy also known as a Psammead. The Psammead is a furry creature with a spider-like body, bat's ears and snail-like eyes. He has been asleep for thousands of years and he is not very pleased that he has been awakened. The children's first wish is to be beautiful, but when they arrive home looking very different, their nursemaid chases them outside as if they are stray urchins. The children know they can go to the Sammyad (their pet name for the creature) to remove the wish. They then wish to be rich and, of course, unintended consequences occur and bring the children back, rethinking their wishes. They enjoy many adventures and young readers will enjoy their wishes and the strange creature that grants them. Finally, a wish gone bad places the children in the position of letting an innocent man be charged with a crime or losing all the wishes granted by their furry "friend." This book is a classic that should be on all library shelves. 2004, HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 8 up.
—Sue Reichard
From the Publisher
"I love E. Nesbit – I think she is great and I identify with the way that she writes. Her children are very real children and she was quite a groundbreaker in her day." - J.K. Rowling

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.05(w) x 7.73(h) x 0.52(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Beautiful as the Day

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?" And every time theypassed a house, which was not very often, they all said, "Oh, is this it?" But it never was, till they reached the very top of the hill, just past the chalk quarry and before you come to the gravel pit. And then there was a white house with a greengarden and an orchard beyond, and mother said, "Here we are!"

"How white the house is," said Robert.

"And look at the roses," said Anthea.

"And the plums," said Jane.

"It is rather decent," Cyril admitted.

The Baby said, "Wanty go walky"; and the fly stopped with a last rattle and jolt.

Everyone got its legs kicked or its feet trodden on in the scramble to get out of the carriage that very minute, but no one seemed to mind. Mother, curiously enough, was in no hurry to get out; and even when she had come down slowly and by the step, and with no jump at all, she seemed to wish to see the boxes carried in, and even to pay the driver, instead of joining in that first glorious rush round the garden and the orchard and the thorny, thistly, briery, brambly wilderness beyond the broken gate and the dry fountain at the side of the house. But the children were wiser, for once. It was not really a pretty house at all; it was quite ordinary, and mother thought it was rather inconvenient, and was quite annoyed at there being no shelves, to speak of, and hardly a cupboard in the place. Fatherused to say that the ironwork on the roof and coping was like an architect's nightmare. But the house was deep in the country, with no other house in sight, and the children had been in London for two years, without so much as once going to the seaside even for a day by an excursion train, and so the White House seemed to them a sort of Fairy Palace set down in an Earthly Paradise. For London is like prison for children, especially if their relations are not rich.

Of course there are the shops and theatres, and Maskelyne and Cook's, and things, but if your people are rather poor you don't get taken to the theatres, and you can't buy things out of the shops; and London has none of those nice things that children may play with without hurting the things or themselves -- such as trees and sand and woods and waters. And nearly everything in London is the wrong sort of shape -- all straight lines and flat streets, instead of being all sorts of odd shapes, like things are in the country. Trees are all different, as you know, and I am sure some tiresome person must have told you that there are no two blades of grass exactly alike. But in streets, where the blades of grass don't grow, everything is like everything else. This is why many children who live in towns are so extremely naughty. They do not know what is the matter with them, and no more do their fathers and mothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, tutors, governesses, and nurses; but I know. And so do you, now. Children in the country are naughty sometimes, too, but that is for quite different reasons.

The children had explored the gardens and the outhouses thoroughly before they were caught and cleaned for tea, and they saw quite well that they were certain to be happy at the White House. They thought so from the first moment, but when they had found the back of the house covered with jasmine, all in white flower, and smelling like a bottle of the most expensive scent that is ever given for a birthday present; and when they had seen the lawn, all green and smooth, and quite different from the brown grass in the gardens at Camden Town; and when they had found the stable with a loft over it and some old hay still left, they were almost certain; and when Robert had found the broken swing and tumbled out of it and got a lump on his head the size of an egg, and Cyril had nipped his finger in the door of a hutch that seemed made to keep rabbits in, if you ever had any, they had no longer any doubts whatever.

The best part of it all was that there were no rules about not going to places and not doing things. In London almost everything is labeled "You mustn't touch," and though the label is invisible it's Just as bad, because you know it's there, or if you don't you jolly soon get told.

The White House was on the edge of a hill, with a wood behind it -- and the chalk quarry on one side and the gravel pit on the other. Down at the bottom of the hill was a level plain with queer-shaped white buildings where people burnt lime, and a big red brewery and other houses; and when the big chimneys were smoking and the sun was setting, the valley looked as if it was filled with golden mist, and the limekilns and oast houses glimmered and glittered till they were like an enchanted city out of the Arabian Nights.

Now that I have begun to tell you about the place, I feel that I could go on and make this into a most interesting Story about all the ordinary things that the children did -- just the kind of things you do yourself, you know -- and you would believe every word of it; and when I told about the children's being tiresome, as you are sometimes, your aunts would perhaps write in the margin of the story with a pencil, "How true!" or "How like life!" and you would see it and very likely be annoyed.

Five Children and It. Copyright © by E. Nesbit. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Winner of the 2012 Fifty Books/Fifty Covers show, organized by Design Observer in association with AIGA and Designers & Books

Winner of the 2014 Type Directors Club Communication Design Award

Praise for Penguin Drop Caps:

"[Penguin Drop Caps] convey a sense of nostalgia for the tactility and aesthetic power of a physical book and for a centuries-old tradition of beautiful lettering."
Fast Company

“Vibrant, minimalist new typographic covers…. Bonus points for the heartening gender balance of the initial selections.”
—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"The Penguin Drop Caps series is a great example of the power of design. Why buy these particular classics when there are less expensive, even free editions of Great Expectations? Because they’re beautiful objects. Paul Buckley and Jessica Hische’s fresh approach to the literary classics reduces the design down to typography and color. Each cover is foil-stamped with a cleverly illustrated letterform that reveals an element of the story. Jane Austen’s A (Pride and Prejudice) is formed by opulent peacock feathers and Charlotte Bronte’s B (Jane Eyre) is surrounded by flames. The complete set forms a rainbow spectrum prettier than anything else on your bookshelf."
—Rex Bonomelli, The New York Times


"Classic reads in stunning covers—your book club will be dying."

Meet the Author

English author and poet Edith Nesbit (1858–1924) is best remembered as E. Nesbit, the name she used for all of her children's books and stories. She achieved fame for Five Children and It, The House of Arden and The Railway Children, which has become one of the most loved classics of English literature.

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Five Children and It 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Five Children and It is a true classic. I enjoyed reading it very much. It is a lovely story that made me laugh from beginning to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This books can be enjoyed by anybody no matter thier age. I know it is meant to be for small children but I first read it when I was 16 and I really enjoyed it. And, if you are a fan of The Chronicles of Narnia, you will probably especially like this book. The children in this book are very reminiscent of the Pevensies. I highly encourage everybody to read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the *very* few classics I read and liked as a child. Now, of course, I have a much greater appreciation for classic literature, and this still remains one of my favourite stories. The characters are completely endearing and of course, I love the Psammead ('It'). I highly recommend this to anyone, child or adult, looking for a classic that reads fairly quickly and is highly enjoyable!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this 'book' on tape/cd and although I'm 24 I totally loved it. It was so cute, funny, and smart. I can't wait to listen to it with my own kids!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I was 8 (9 years ago), I attempted to read C.S.Lewis' Narnia series, and scared myself silly. My thirst for fantasy was later quenched by Edith Nesbit's psammead series (the 'psammead' is an Egyptian sandfairy that these books are centered on). Psammy and I hit it off immediately. This whirlwind fantasy series is aimed at a slightly younger audience than Lewis' series; they are far more child-friendly, and each book is a pretty quick read. Additionally, the use of Egyptian and other middle-eastern mythology provides an interesting break from most children's European-based fantasy books. I recently recommended this series to a cousin who claimed he liked to read 'Harry Potter and nothing else.' He, too, was swept away by the five children's adventures with It.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, Five Children and It, was the best book by Edith Nesbit. I loved following the adventures of Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane, and the Lamb. The Lamb was my favorite character even if he wasn't a major main character. My favorite chapters were 'Being Wanted' and 'Grown Up', both involving the Lamb. I really recommend this book. It's on my top five list of favorite books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books of the type. I've read it many times since I first picked it up at the age of nine or so, and enjoy it more at every reading. The sand-fairy's personality is...well, just read the book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a great book and even though it is written on a younger level it is enjoyable for all ages. I also liked the illustrations, I just wich that they were in color. I read in a book called 'Journey to Narnia' by Kathryn Lindskoog that C. S. Lewis loved to read E. Nesbit books when he was young. I have only read 2 of her book but I am on my third. Feel free to E-mail me if you have any questions or whatever.
Anonymous 3 months ago
It was a fun story to read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book, set in England a while ago, is full of fun fantasy. When one of the children innocently wish something, it spins out of control. E. Nesbit is a delighful author and this book is great! A must read!!!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved Five Children and It. This was the first book I read by Nesbit. She's an awesome author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooring do not read this book 1 star
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this is a grate book I would strongly recomend this book to any child anywhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
you should read it. i havent read it yet but by looking at the other reviews thst have been posted it looks good.
Adam Witiak More than 1 year ago
Watched the movie and it was great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Funny but some words are discorect