Posted 20 hours ago

Five Children on the Western Front

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The idea was that the children and their friends all conveniently represented people that the Psammead had wronged in the past -- warrior maiden, escaped slave, scholar, etc -- and the Psammead could make amends through them. In addition to describing the three eldest children's involvement in the war, Saunders weaves in a parallel narrative regarding the Psammead's inglorious history as a desert god, which echoes the tragedy unfolding in France.

They carry the story and observes what happens to the bigguns, the original five children during the War to End All Wars. This book illustrates wonderfully how hard the war was, not just on the soldiers, but on the families (and Sand Fairies! Before this last adventure ends, all will be changed, and the two younger children will have seen the Great War from every possible viewpoint – factory-workers, soldiers and sailors, nurses and the people left at home, and the war’s impact will be felt right at the heart of their family. sometimes I get into stupid dumb idiotic moods where I desperately look for a good book to read bc I read/watched something that completely changed my brain chemistry (in this case it was Why Didn't They Ask Evans?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. It should come as no surprise that WWI affects them, although somehow you don't think of that when you read the original books. All of the children have nicknames-Cyril-Squirrel, Robert-Bobs, Hilary-Lamb, Edith-Edie, Anthea-Panther and Jane-Puss.

The children wish for all kinds of adventures but when one goes terribly wrong, the Psammead agrees to fix it only if the children promise never to ask for another wish but the children decide instead they never want to see their sand fairy again. This naturally begs the question of whether or not you would have to read Five Children and It to enjoy this book.An imperative to shorten this book might have encouraged Saunders to work out what was at the core of her book and what were weeds that needed to be pulled. I've read the original trilogy countless times so when I heard that there was a continuation of the story being published I was horrified, for want of a better word. Edie, the youngest of the children, is adorable – and perhaps the character who feels the Psammead’s magic most keenly. Even so, Saunders does a good job of fleshing them out enough that you begin to get a little sick in the stomach wondering who will live and who will die. The Psammead's slaves worshipped him, and he admits that some of them "died in horrible circumstances" – though, as he says, "My dear Lamb, everyone kills a few slaves!

There are moments of both joy and horror that Saunders carries off with considerable aplomb, and one simple, heart-breaking image at the end of the story that pretty much makes the whole thing worthwhile. The youngest in the whole family, this young girl starts off in the book not even being born yet and is brought up to be, in my opinion, the most touching person in the book!

We've skipped ahead a decade and along with Cyril, Robert, Anthea, Jane and The Lamb (real name Hilary! it was hilarious reading about the Pemberton's adventures with the Psammead (haha I don't know if I spelled that right) and the Phoenix. However, Mick Wiggins’ humblingly warm cover and the prospect of meeting the psammead again was too much so I picked it up. Kate Saunders' Five Children on the Western Front is both an homage and a goodbye to this twilight time. 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.

also "to the next adventure" there are not words to express what i feel every time i read those words.She loves the sand fairy despite his faults (‘Edie thought the Psammead’s yawns, when his mouth went from horizontal to vertical, awfully sweet’) and it is she who believes he will be redeemed.

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