Five Children on the Western Front

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Five Children on the Western Front

Five Children on the Western Front

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I'm not a fan of most of these modern retellings of children's classics that people assume children need because the originals are too old fashioned. A sequel to a book published more than a hundred years ago is a bit more of a challenge than writing one published, say, fifty. This fits in nicely with the originals but I must admit, it was blindly obvious to me that a character that was supposed to be a cockney, was coming out with these kind of archaic sayings too!

Comfortably blending fantasy elements with an English period piece about a close family, Saunders doesn’t shy from the tragedies of WWI, but handles them with a tender sadness, eschewing any hints of sentimentality or melodrama. For example, at one point the Psammead is taken to the future to speak at length with the deposed Kaiser, and the two find they have a lot in common. One would be to be interested in what these particular characters informed by their particular histories would experience within the wider context of WWI?It's not a deal-breaker, but it does make some of the book's revelations feel a little bit inconsequential. We are made by friends and family and the knowledge that somewhere out there sleeps a Psammead, or that there's a wardrobe which leads to Narnia.

The idea was that the children and their friends all conveniently represented people that the Psammead had wronged in the past -- warrior maiden, escaped slave, scholar, etc -- and the Psammead could make amends through them. then I decided to reread a children's book I've read three times already instead of touching a single book on my literal thousand book goodreads TBR thumbsUP. The book deals with two worlds – the childlike one (where sand fairies are kept hidden in the attic and children grow up to be famous explorers and have waterfalls named after them) and the adult world (where countries are torn apart in war and families are broken apart at the arrival of telegrams).In this highly acclaimed sequel to the much-loved Five Children and It, we rejoin the five children on the eve of World War I. With the other children growing up and less interested in their old friend, especially since he isn’t quite what he used to be, the exploring and adventures are left to the two youngest.

What I expected when I requested this book from the library was a novel written for adults, one of those books like Geoff Ryman's Was that looks back on a childhood classic with a wistful, knowing, even unsettling air. Although it is a darker and sadder story as the Pemberton family face World War I, I still loved every moment of it.

A hand poured wax seal to finish it all off – great for keeping and putting in a journal or scrapbook as decoration!

There is ample opportunity for that to be played with in the central fantasy: in Nesbit's own Psammead mythology, only children can see and believe in the Psammead, not adults (except in exceptional cases like the Professor's which is an exception that in itself helps us to understand what is being framed as the major difference between most children and most adults). The children have now grown up: Cyril is off to fight, whilst Anthea is at art college, Robert is a Cambridge scholar, Jane is at school, and even the Lamb is now the grown-up age of 11. Fast forward to October 1914, when Cyril is a lieutenant about to depart for France and Anthea is sketching nudes at art school. Anthea then makes an off-handed comment that when she looked at the photos on the wall she saw plenty of ladies who looked like young versions of their mother but she couldn’t find the boys.And all right - my version wouldn't have been a terribly original concept; the grown-up who loses the power to see/believe in the fantasy creature any more. The sand fairy of their childhood has become a creature of stories and memory - until he suddenly reappears. I think novels have moved on since then for the better, they are far more complex and so more than just tell a good story now. The Lamb and Edie are playing in their Kentish garden when out of a sandy hollow pops the mythical creature their older siblings have often talked about. The rest of the siblings go back and forth between being glad it is here and being upset at how selfish and self centered the Psammead is.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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