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The Phoenix and the Carpet Paperback – July 7, 2016
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About the Author
Edith Nesbit (married name Edith Bland; 15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924) was an English author and poet; she published her books for children under the name of E. Nesbit.
She wrote or collaborated on more than 60 books of fiction for children.
Nesbit published approximately 40 books for children, including novels, collections of stories and picture books. Collaborating with others, she published almost as many more.
According to her biographer Julia Briggs, Nesbit was "the first modern writer for children": "(Nesbit) helped to reverse the great tradition of children's literature inaugurated by Lewis Carroll, George MacDonald and Kenneth Grahame, in turning away from their secondary worlds to the tough truths to be won from encounters with things-as-they-are, previously the province of adult novels." Briggs also credits Nesbit with having invented the children's adventure story. Noël Coward was a great admirer of hers and, in a letter to an early biographer Noel Streatfeild, wrote "she had an economy of phrase, and an unparalleled talent for evoking hot summer days in the English countryside."
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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When a new carpet is purchased and brought back to the nursery, the children find an egg rolled up inside. Now with no November 5th celebration (more consequences for the children's mischief), their parents at the theatre, the kids are bored. Time to try some magic. Nothing happens until Robert accidentally knocks the egg into the fire and what emerges is the Phoenix, a mythical bird. This is the start of some amazing journeys/adventures.
How does Cook disappear? Becomes a queen? What happens when the carpet is accidentally sold? How about 199 Persian cats, 398 musk-rats and a Jersey milk cow which a burglar just happens to know how to milk?!
I will say that these children are not always the politest to elders but this is a good talking point with your children. However, in their defense, they are left to their own devices a LOT! Originally written in 1904 this is the second in a trilogy by this author. (Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet, The Amulet) We have read them all and highly recommend. The chapters are long but our kids sit enthralled. Important to note that there are NO illustrations in this Kindle version. I purchased this book for my Kindle. I was not required to write a review but chose to do so. Thanks, Liz
The carpet (owned by the phoenix), which finds its way into the nursery, is magic. But as the children had discovered with the psammead, getting what one wishes for is not all it is cracked up to be. So the children find themselves in one not entirely desirable adventure after another.
The book is British, of course, since Nesbit is, and it was written over 100 years ago, so some of the settings and language may seem a little quaint. I found this rather delightful. These children who play in a "nursery" and have their "tea" are very much like the children today who may be reading this book.
I have given both The Five Children and It and The Phoenix and the Carpet to my granddaughter, largely because she enjoyed such books as Half Magic. When I send her books, I enclose a letter about them, and in this letter I reminded her that as Half Magic opened, the four children are walking home from the library, where they have just checked out yet another book by their favorite author, E. Nesbit. And since they can't wait to begin reading it, Jane starts reading to the others on their 2-mile walk home. They are forced to go to bed, but except for that, they do not stop their reading until the book is finished. In that narrative, Eager is I think reflecting his own love for Nesbit's writing. What was different about her treatment of magic is, it wasn't about fairyland, with dragons and ogres. It was about real children in the real world who encounter magic. The implication i think is that our own world has some magic in it.
Yes, it's a bit old fashioned--but so is "Wind in the Willows" and that continues to be a classic. This is a great book for a parent to read with a child. It's full of wonder, great characters, and opens a window on a by-gone age. Like all great children's classics, it's written in such a way that adults can enjoy the story every bit as much as the children.
It's too bad that E.Nesbit's books are so often overlooked by Americans. I found this book in the children's section of the public library when I was a kid (back in the 60s) and enjoyed it so much that I became a lover of fantasy for the rest of my life. If you loved the Narnia Chronicles, then be sure to check out "The Phoenix and the Carpet."