Logo: The Walrus and the Carpenter, from the illustrations to Lewis Carroll's "Alice Through the Looking-Glass", 1872
Image: E. Nesbit - 7 books in 1 - The Railway Children, Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet, The Story of the Amulet, The Story of the Treasure-Seekers, The Would-Be-Goods, and The Enchanted Castle.
"I love E Nesbit I think she is great
and I identify with the way that she writes"
J K Rowling
Edinburgh International Book Festival, 15 August 2004
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Available from local book stores in the US and UK
Paperback: ISBN 0954840100
Hardback (hardcover): ISBN 0954840127
|Classic stories by much-loved children's author E. Nesbit. This book contains seven full-length novels.
Set in a 1900s England of steam-trains and magic, generations of children have thrilled to these exciting adventures.
When the children in these stories aren't preventing a train crash, you'll find them getting wishes from the sandy Psammead, flying on a magic carpet, travelling through time with an enchanted Egyptian amulet, hatching the egg of the mythical phoenix, or using their magical ring to explore an enchanted castle!
The brothers and sisters created by E. Nesbit have the convincing and realistic feeling of being a real family - they're usually disagreeing with each other, but they're always cheerful about it. They try to be good but are always in trouble of one kind or another.
With a subtle ethical message underlying their exciting plots, these novels have been recommended childrens literature for many years.
This '7 books in 1' edition is an ideal gift for any child who loves reading, or any adult who wants to bring some magic into their life!
Click here for a sample excerpt from the book
Free Teachers' Notes and Student Activities (need Adobe Acrobat):
If you enjoyed Harry Potter, you'll like Nesbit's books too. In fact, J. K. Rowling recommends E. Nesbit!
Live Interview with J. K. Rowling, Scholastic.com:
Question: "Are there any books you would recommend to your fans to read while they await Book 5? "
J. K. Rowling: "Loads! Read E. Nesbit, Philip Pullman, Henrietta Branford, Paul Gallico. Just read!"
'Let me tell you a story', J. K. Rowling, Sunday Times, 21 May 2000:
One of my favourite books is the story of the six Bastable children, who set out to restore the "fallen fortunes" of their house: The Story of the Treasure Seekers, by E Nesbit.
I identify with Nesbit more than any other writer. She said that, by some lucky chance, she remembered exactly how she felt and thought as a child, and I think you could make a good case, with this book as exhibit A, for prohibition of all children's literature by anyone who can't.
'From Mr Darcy to Harry Potter by way of Lolita', J. K. Rowling, Sunday Herald, 21 May, 2000:
The first of my chosen books is the famous story of the six Bastable children, who set out to restore the "fallen fortunes" of their house: The Story Of The Treasure Seekers by E Nesbit.
Nesbit churned out slight, conventional children's stories for 20 years to support her family before producing The Treasure Seekers at the age of 40.
It is the voice of Oswald, the narrator, that makes the novel such a tour de force. I love his valiant attempts at humility while bursting with pride at his own ingenuity and integrity, his mixture of pomposity and naivete, his earnestness and his advice on writing a book. According to Oswald, a good way to finish a chapter is to say: "But that is another story." He says he stole the trick from a writer called Kipling.
E. Nesbit is required reading for university students of Harry Potter too: Harry Potter's Library: J. K. Rowling, Texts and Contexts - see under Harry's Family Tree.
E Nesbit constructs a believable scenario in which Roberta can blossom ... into a true girl hero.
Sunday Times, 4 October, 1998
"What books should I read to become a writer?" "The short answer is ... all the children's books of E. Nesbit."
Washington Post, 20 July, 2003
E Nesbit's The Railway Children is one of the most enduring pieces of children's literature.
Newsquest Media, 19 August, 2004
The quintessential children's book.
Daily Mail, 17 October, 2003
The New York Review of Books, 'The Writing of E. Nesbit':
After Lewis Carroll, E. Nesbit is the best of the English fabulists who wrote about children (neither wrote for children) and like Carroll she was able to create a world of magic and inverted logic that was entirely her own.
'Revivals and new arrivals', Commonweal, 5 November, 1999:
To the litany of persons who shaped this century, let me add the name E. Nesbit, whose stories precipitated a still evolving revolution in wonder. E. Nesbit ushered in a new era of children's fantasy literature. Before Nesbit, such literature fell into two types: either the entire action took place in an exotic or fantastical setting, or the child character (Dorothy or Alice) traveled from this world into a fantastical one. But in Five Children and It, a group of middle-class Edwardian children find a prehistoric, ill-tempered thing called a Psammead right in the gravel pit behind their house. And each day, corresponding to each chapter, he reluctantly grants them a wish that results in a new adventure in their very neighborhood.
Locating the fantastical in everyday life was Nesbit's great and enduring innovation. (E.T. actually looks like the Psammead!). Also new was the magic itself: comical, human, and wildly unpredictable rather than supernatural, dreadful, and weird. Even Nesbit's tone heralded change. She spoke directly and archly to her young readers, reminding them of novelistic conventions even as she overthrew them. And she was blessedly true to the boredom, embarrassment, pleasure, squabbling, vexation, and thrill of a childhood summer day. She once wrote: "When I was a child I used to pray fervently, tearfully, that when I should be grown up I might never forget what I thought, felt, and suffered then." Her prayers were efficacious.
Nesbit inspired the best magical storytellers of this century.
'Dirda's Dozen; A Writer's List Of the Stylish And Influential', The Washington Post, 5 July, 1998:
In Nesbit's work - for instance, "Five Children and It" or "The Enchanted Castle" - you find school holidays turned into a time of fantastic, yet cozy, adventure: Into the ordinary world of childhood erupts the Arabian Nights, complete with sand fairies, mysterious amulets, flying carpets, dragons, treasure hunts and statues that come alive.
Nesbit is one of the first modern writers for children to avoid both didacticism and the killing tone of grown-up condescension. From her spring Edward Eager, Joan Aiken, Daniel Pinkwater, Roald Dahl, Diana Wynne Jones, Madeline L'Engle, the Boxcar Children, and all those fantasy stories in which magic intrudes to transform the quotidian.
I have read that Noel Coward--that most consummate sophisticate--could find comfort only in E. Nesbit's books as he lay dying.
'Style' magazine, 'Partners in crime: E. Nesbit and the art of thieving':
Catching a burglar in the act of creeping into her family's nursery, the youngest heroine of E. Nesbit's The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904) "[knows] better" than to succumb to fear. For Jane, despite her youth, "had read a great many nice stories about burglars, as well as some affecting pieces of poetry, and she knew that no burglar will ever hurt a little girl if he meets her when burgling".
Elaborating on the conventions of this Victorian mini-genre, Nesbit explains that in all the cases Jane had read of, [the thief's] burglarishness was almost at once forgotten in the interest he felt in the little girl's artless prattle. [... But Jane] could not at once think of any remark sufficiently prattling and artless to make a beginning with. In the stories and the affecting poetry the child could never speak plainly, though it always looked old enough to in the picture. And Jane could not make up her mind to lisp and "talk baby," even to a burglar. And while she hesitated he softly opened the nursery door and went in.
Rock and trees and grass and bushes, with a rushing sound, slipped right away from the face of the cutting and fell on the line with a blundering crash that could have been heard half a mile off. A cloud of dust rose up.
"Oh," said Peter, in awestruck tones, "isn't it exactly like when coals come in? if there wasn't any roof to the cellar and you could see down."
"Look what a great mound it's made!" said Bobbie.
"Yes," said Peter, slowly. He was still leaning on the fence. "Yes," he said again, still more slowly.
Then he stood upright.
"The 11.29 down hasn't gone by yet. We must let them know at the station, or there'll be a most frightful accident."
"Let's run," said Bobbie, and began.
But Peter cried, "Come back!" and looked at Mother's watch. He was very prompt and businesslike, and his face looked whiter than they had ever seen it.
"No time," he said; "it's two miles away, and it's past eleven."
"Couldn't we," suggested Phyllis, breathlessly, "couldn't we climb up a telegraph post and do something to the wires?"
"We don't know how," said Peter.
"They do it in war," said Phyllis; "I know I've heard of it."
"They only CUT them, silly," said Peter, "and that doesn't do any good. And we couldn't cut them even if we got up, and we couldn't get up. If we had anything red, we could get down on the line and wave it."
"But the train wouldn't see us till it got round the corner, and then it could see the mound just as well as us," said Phyllis; "better, because it's much bigger than us."
"If we only had something red," Peter repeated, "we could go round the corner and wave to the train."
"We might wave, anyway."
"They'd only think it was just US, as usual. We've waved so often before. Anyway, let's get down."
They got down the steep stairs. Bobbie was pale and shivering. Peter's face looked thinner than usual. Phyllis was red-faced and damp with anxiety.
"Oh, how hot I am!" she said; "and I thought it was going to be cold; I wish we hadn't put on our" she stopped short, and then ended in quite a different tone"our flannel petticoats."
Bobbie turned at the bottom of the stairs.
"Oh, yes," she cried; "THEY'RE red! Let's take them off."
They did, and with the petticoats rolled up under their arms, ran along the railway, skirting the newly fallen mound of stones and rock and earth, and bent, crushed, twisted trees. They ran at their best pace. Peter led, but the girls were not far behind. They reached the corner that hid the mound from the straight line of railway that ran half a mile without curve or corner.
"Now," said Peter, taking hold of the largest flannel petticoat.
"You're not"Phyllis faltered"you're not going to TEAR them?"
"Shut up," said Peter, with brief sternness.
"Oh, yes," said Bobbie, "tear them into little bits if you like. Don't you see, Phil, if we can't stop the train, there'll be a real live accident, with people KILLED. Oh, horrible! Here, Peter, you'll never tear it through the band!"
She took the red flannel petticoat from him and tore it off an inch from the band. Then she tore the other in the same way.
"There!" said Peter, tearing in his turn. He divided each petticoat into three pieces. "Now, we've got six flags." He looked at the watch again. "And we've got seven minutes. We must have flagstaffs."
The knives given to boys are, for some odd reason, seldom of the kind of steel that keeps sharp. The young saplings had to be broken off. Two came up by the roots. The leaves were stripped from them.
"We must cut holes in the flags, and run the sticks through the holes," said Peter. And the holes were cut. The knife was sharp enough to cut flannel with. Two of the flags were set up in heaps of loose stones between the sleepers of the down line. Then Phyllis and Roberta took each a flag, and stood ready to wave it as soon as the train came in sight.
"I shall have the other two myself," said Peter, "because it was my idea to wave something red."
"They're our petticoats, though," Phyllis was beginning, but Bobbie interrupted
"Oh, what does it matter who waves what, if we can only save the train?"
Perhaps Peter had not rightly calculated the number of minutes it would take the 11.29 to get from the station to the place where they were, or perhaps the train was late. Anyway, it seemed a very long time that they waited.
Phyllis grew impatient. "I expect the watch is wrong, and the train's gone by," said she.
Peter relaxed the heroic attitude he had chosen to show off his two flags. And Bobbie began to feel sick with suspense.
It seemed to her that they had been standing there for hours and hours, holding those silly little red flannel flags that no one would ever notice. The train wouldn't care. It would go rushing by them and tear round the corner and go crashing into that awful mound. And everyone would be killed. Her hands grew very cold and trembled so that she could hardly hold the flag. And then came the distant rumble and hum of the metals, and a puff of white steam showed far away along the stretch of line.
"Stand firm," said Peter, "and wave like mad! When it gets to that big furze bush step back, but go on waving! Don't stand ON the line, Bobbie!"
The train came rattling along very, very fast.
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