Illustrated by H. R. Millar
A beautiful Folio edition of Edith Nesbit’s classic children’s novel, Five Children and It, featuring the original, evocative 1902 illustrations by H. R. Millar.
‘The cheerful, child-centred anarchy of Five Children and It is still my inspiration and delight.’
In a sunny corner of southern England, set deep in the countryside, stands the White House. The moment the five children – Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane and baby brother, the Lamb – set eyes on their new home they know it’s ‘a sort of Fairy Palace’. Only a few days pass before they do, indeed, find a fairy living nearby. ‘But not at all like any fairy you ever saw or heard of or read about.’
‘My all-time favourite classic children’s author’
Edith Nesbit’s 1902 novel Five Children and It is still one of the best-loved fairy stories in the English language. A magical tale convincingly set in the real world, it is credited with beginning a literary tradition that has influenced writers from C. S. Lewis to J. K Rowling. Unsurprisingly it has never been out of print and over the years it has inspired countless film makers with its graphic visual blend of the everyday and the astonishing.
The awakening of the grumpy Psammead – or wish-granting sand-fairy – is one of the great scenes of children’s literature. With a characteristic lack of sentiment Nesbit’s children merely feel intensely curious and not at all terrified of the peculiar furry creature that emerges crossly from the sandy depths of the gravel-pit. ‘Let me alone’ are the Psammead’s first words to the fascinated children – and with that we are swept into an exhilarating adventure where nothing is quite what it seems and children are given centre stage.
‘For really there is nothing like wings for getting you into trouble. But, on the other hand, if you are in trouble, there is nothing like wings for getting you out of it.’
Each morning the children hurry to the gravel-pit to meet their new friend. But each wish he grants lasts only until sunset, leading to unforeseen predicaments. The children’s desire for extreme beauty and boundless wealth ends in their discovering that neither has made them happy. Having wings seems like another good idea, but forgetting that your wings will disappear punctually at sunset can leave you in a pretty beastly fix.
The Folio edition of Edith Nesbit’s 1902 tale includes the original line drawings by H. R. Millar, one of which features as a charming binding design. The characterful period images perfectly complement one of the best-loved fairy stories in the English language.
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