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Book Report: Five Children and It

Your Humble Blogger has been reading children’s books lately. Well, and that’s not really a surprise, as even though my Perfect Non-Reader has taken to Reading, she still lets the old man read her a book now and then. No, but I’ve been picking my own children’s books, and reading them myself, so there.

I’m sure I read Five Children and It when I was a child myself, as I was dead keen on E. Nesbit and read all of her stuff I could get my hands on. One of the things I loved about Ms. Nesbit’s style was that it always seemed as if she were telling me a story. That is, the story wasn’t just something that happened to be in a book, but an actual story that an actual grown-up sat down to tell me, albeit by writing it in a book. I’m still a sucker for that; it’s why I prefer The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings. Anyway, it’s great stuff.

Not, you understand, that I think any Gentle Reader would necessarily like it. If you aren’t a mad anglophile, this book probably isn’t for you. It’s not just the children pooling their money and finding they have only four-and-six. It’s not just the Eton collars and the Norfolk suit with nine pockets. It’s not just that things are either beastly or ripping. It’s not just the dreadful dialect spelling. It’s the whole nature of the thing, the whole, well, Englishness of it all. The whole tea-time fair-play poor-family-making-do-with-only-two-servants-and-Cook not-too-dusty-chap Cyril and Anthea Englishness of it. Now, I glory in that, myself, but I couldn’t blame a fellow for feeling it wasn’t quite on, if you see what I mean.

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,


Nesbit's style reminds me a lot of Burt Standish's style in the Frank Merriwell books. The writing feels affected briefly, and then you fall into it and it just feels right.

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