Penny Book Review: Five Children and It

five children and itSpoiler alert: I did not like this book. But first, let’s drink!

The kids in this book are obsessed with ginger beer. So I thought I’d go ahead and make a Ginger Rogers to get good and ready to dish on this masterpiece of racist turn-of-the-century children’s literature. (Is E. Nesbit alive still? Hang on, let me check…NO! Not by any means. Still, I’ll try to be sensitive here. It really was another time.)

I first heard of the Ginger Rogers from my brother and sister-in-law last month. It’s not an IBA-certified cocktail, so the directions for making it are sort of all over the place, but according to Imbibe’s recipe, it’s a mixture of gin, ginger ale, ginger syrup, and lemon juice, with a mint garnish.

And how does it taste? Not too shabby! I’m sure old Robert would be keen to drink this as an adult. It’s spicy from all the ginger, and flowery from all the gin. And a little bit sour from the lemon. So very nice.

(Excuse the lack of picture, by the way. I took a couple furtive snaps, but they came out grainy because it was night. If you really want to know how the cocktail looks, go make it for yourself.)

Now for my complaints about this book.

First off, the kids are idiots. They make stupid, stupid wishes, like wanting to be as beautiful as the day, and then when the wishes backfire (because OF COURSE) they blame it on the Psammead. Which, by the way, is named as a Psammead, not just “It.” But whatever.

Second off, the kids are idiots. I know. Again. They decide to think long and hard for a wish that won’t go wrong, wish for wings, get AN ACTUAL WARNING from the Psammead, and still end up wingless and on a rooftop after sunset. “Oh, oh. The Psammead keeps messing up our wishes!”

Third off, the kids are idiots! Still! They don’t manage to learn from their mistakes! Because after they’re housebound for all their naughty showing-up-after-dinner behavior, one of them sneaks out and asks the Psammead to grant whatever wish his siblings asks for next. Yeah, I know. After they had resolved not to make hasty wishes. WHAT IN THE WORLD?!

Moving on from the “the kids are idiots” complaint, I absolutely hate how they talk to their little brother, “The Lamb.” Take this example of how one of the girls talks to him: “Oh, my Lamb, don’t cry any more, it’s all right, Panty’s got oo, duckie!” How is the kid supposed to learn the Queen’s English with his older siblings talking down to him like this all day long?

And speaking of the Lamb, there’s a chapter in which he’s turned into an adult. And the author just can’t refrain from making fifty different parenthetical about how he insisted on being called by his actual adult name by the kids: “The poor grown-up Lamb (St Maur was really one of his Christian names) seemed now too bewildered to resist.” Every. Single. Time. Lamb. Is. Mentioned.

Guys, I could go on, but I won’t. In short, it was a disaster of a book, and how it ever ended up in the Drop Caps series, when there are so many other N authors in the world (Nabokov, Nietzsche, etc.) I can’t say.

Now excuse me while I finish drowning my sorrows over this book with the last of my Ginger Rogers.


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