Edith Nesbit and I have a slight problem. I loved her books once I had discovered them in my childhood library, but I don’t think I ever owned one. And that’s probably why I can’t remember much. Some I do know I read, others I am no longer sure whether it’s because I know the title (which would have been different in translation, anyway) due to Nesbit’s books being so well known, or if I did read them.
I am almost certain I read Five Children and It. But can I recall a name for the Psammead? No, I can’t.
Jacqueline Wilson’s Four Children and It was inspired by Nesbit’s story, rather than being a modern sequel, which is A Good Thing. Some sequels are fine, but this is much better for being a typical Jacqueline Wilson, borrowing the Psammead and – temporarily – Nesbit’s child characters. So don’t read it if you crave more Nesbit.
What I am hoping is that JW fans will now want to read Nesbit’s books, and perhaps also other old classics. The wish to share something with someone you admire is a great way to try new paths.
We have a modern setting of two siblings, Rosalind and Robbie, being forced to spend part of their holiday with their Dad and his new family, with (horrible) stepsister Smash and their halfsister Maudie. On a picnic they encounter (well, dig up) the Psammead, and Rosalind the reader recognises him, and the children end up asking him for wishes.
Much to the parents’ consternation they end up having picnics every day, and disappearing on wishes. Some good, some pretty bad.
They meet Nesbit’s original children, and they meet Jacqueline’s PA Naomi. They didn’t ask for that one, but she does play herself rather nicely in one wish, along with Bob the chauffeur. (I bet she doesn’t ever need to wipe JW off with wet wipes, though…)
Eventually the children learn to like each other, and get on rather better than they did at first. And we learn to be careful what you ask for. You might get it.