Five Children on the Western Front

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Five Children on the Western Front

Five Children on the Western Front

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The children have now grown up: Cyril is off to fight, whilst Anthea is at art college, Robert is a Cambridge scholar, Jane is at school, and even the Lamb is now the grown-up age of 11. Like, one time Anthea is nursing a distressed patient and suddenly hits on the idea to tell him stories about the Psammead to calm him down, and the Psammead takes full credit for this.

and now the fourth is going to be permanently ingrained in me as the time I read snatches of this while sweeping hay in feedlot while the rain pounded and Katriel tried to coax the feral black cat to her. Kate Saunders began her career as a professional actor but moved into journalism following the publication of her first novel, The Prodigal Father, in 1986, for which she won the Betty Trask Award. However in this case, Kate Saunders has mastered a sequel and you will not be disappointed with this follow up. One of the characters in this tender, clear-eyed and humorous novel remarks of the years before 1914 that "there were still happy endings in those days".Not only in what their future held in relation to the great war but also, to an equal extent, in relation to departing the wonderful age of innocence that Nesbit had let them experience in her own trilogies.

Interestingly, the author makes a very strong attempt at equating the atrocities of the Psammead’s past (which are always told in retrospect and are never seen firsthand) with the atrocities being committed as part of the war. It is up to them, and the others when they can be around, to help the Psammead discover what's happened to him. It's a worthy continuation of a fantastic series, that should be read by old and new fans of Nesbit's alike.

There are still a few adults around who can recite "In Flanders Fields" but that is about all that is remembered about a war that changed society and civilization. I can say that the broad idea of these characters encountering the war will stay with me and provoke thought and feeling. The Psammead, ‘a compact furry ball of deep sulking’, is brilliantly characterised and Saunders makes his journey towards self-awareness and empathy both heart-breaking and terribly funny.

As a standalone book, I'm not entirely sure Five Children on the Western Front "works" - but it comes close. Emotionally the last few chapters are tough and this book will certainly stay with you and that’s a good thing. Realizing that he has reappeared for a reason, apparently to repent for all his evil deeds when he was a minor god in ancient times, both the Psammead or Sammy as he comes to be known in Cyril's letters home, and the children (mostly Edie and The Lamb thanks to being the only two left at home) set out to discover just why he's reappeared now. Saunders hadn't done enough to communicate any emotional connection between the Psammead and the character in question, or the children as a group. Confronting issues of class, disillusion, meaningless war, and empathy, the book transcends its source material and is all the better for it.It's sad to see this character profoundly injured and that character die, but the book is so quick to an assurance that everything is all right really. And all right - my version wouldn't have been a terribly original concept; the grown-up who loses the power to see/believe in the fantasy creature any more.

Once again we meet the five children and their Psammead in Kate Saunder's novel Five Children on the Western Front, her novel inspired by Five Children and It.I've never read Five Children and It but I'm familiar with the story from 90s TV series, so I already had hazy memories of the Pembletons and Psammead. The other approach would be to take these children more as symbolic of a generation, to use the iconic nature of these characters to serve as avatars of a generation, heightening the experience of a generation into this idea of four carefree moppets plunged into the worst ind of adult reality. That would be fine if the particularity came from the characters' themselves - but they too were rather thinly sketched.

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