Who wrote this book and when?
Edith Nesbit published this book in 1907.

Has there been a film version?
Apparently there was a 1979 TV series on this show, but that’s about the extent of the information I could find on it.

Who are the important characters?
Kathleen/Cathy – a young girl with 2 brothers
Gerald/Jerry – the oldest of the three siblings
Jimmy – the youngest of the three siblings
Mabel – the niece of a housekeeper at the Enchanted Castle
Mademoiselle – the French woman taking care of the children for the summer

What’s it about?
Three siblings are forced to stay at a school over the summer instead of returning home to their family. Jimmy, Gerald, and Kathy charm their way past the French teacher one day and go out in search of adventure in the nearby village. They are shocked and delighted to hear of an Enchanted Castle nearby, and even more surprised when the stories turn out to be true. They not only discover the castle, but an invisible princess and a magic ring which supplies wishes…at a price.

Why is this book a classic?
It is one of the very first children’s adventure stories ever written.

Do you recommend I read this book?
Yes. And “Five Children and It” by the same author.

Why did this book make your list?
Because it came as a companion to “Five Children and It” and I had never read it.

Has it won any awards?
No.

Favorite quotes:
“And he had that extraordinary feeling so difficult to describe, and yet so real and so unforgettable – the feeling that he was in another world, that had covered up and hidden the old world as a carpet covers a floor. The floor was there all right, underneath, but what he walked on was the carpet that covered it – and that carpet was drenched in magic, as the turf was drenched in dew.” – p257

“Everything was pleasant that day somehow. There are some days like that, you know, when everything goes well from the very beginning; all the things you want are in their places, nobody misunderstands you, and all that you do turns out admirably. How different from those other days which we all know too well, when your shoelace breaks, your comb is mislaid, your brush spins on its back on the floor and lands under the bed where you can’t get at it – you drop the soap, your buttons come off, an eyelash gets into your eye, you have used your last clean handkerchief, your collar is frayed at the edge and cuts your neck, and at the last moment your suspender breaks, and there is no string. On such a day as this you are naturally late for breakfast, and everyone thinks you did it on purpose. ” – p 296

“The only people one is allowed to tell lies to are the Ugly-Wuglies; they are all clothes and have no insides, because they are not human beings, but only a sort of very real visions, and therefore cannot be really deceived, though they may seem to be.” – p 307

Anything else?
Edith Nesbit’s husband had a long-term affair with another woman and two children through her. Nesbit not only hired the woman as housekeeper after finding out about the affair, but adopted and raised the two other children as her own along with her own three biological children. She is also cited by JK Rowling (Harry Potter) as one of her all-time favorite (or “favourite”) authors.

Personal thoughts:
Nesbit is one of the most amazing children’s authors I’ve ever come across. It’s hard for people today to appreciate her for what she is, considering the deluge of children’s works available today. It’s sad that very rarely do you even hear of people knowing who she is. But Nesbit truly was the first to begin writing modern stories for children that weren’t simply a few sentences long – but were complex, imaginative, and sometimes scary. She wrote like an adult speaking to children, in a way that I can say best reminds me of C.S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia. And I don’t think it’s literary blasphemy to state that Nesbit came before Lewis, so I should say Lewis reminds me of Nesbit. At any rate, this is a glowing example of Nesbit’s creative force and her voice is one which I hope will continue to entertain children for a very long time.

Advertisements