Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Phoenix and the Carpet

The Phoenix and the Carpet. E. Nesbit. 1904. 224 pages.

It began with the day when it was almost the Fifth of November, and a doubt arose in some breast--Robert's, I fancy--as to the quality of the fireworks laid in for the Guy Fawkes celebration.

The Phoenix and the Carpet is the sequel to Five Children and It. It stars Robert, Anthea, Jane, Cyril, and Lamb. (Though Lamb isn't a big star in the novel, he does manage to steal a few scenes in this one!) If you thought the magical adventures for these children were over--now that they've returned to the city and are far from their Psammead--you'd be wrong. (The Psammead is the "It" from the previous book.) For the delightful-sometimes-dangerous adventures are just beginning. After an "accident" in the nursery ruins the carpet, the carpet is replaced with a magical one. And this magical carpet holds another secret--for within it was an egg. Not just an ordinary egg. No, the Phoenix hatches from this egg--once another "accident" lands it in the nursery fireplace. The children now have THE Phoenix and a magic carpet--so you see the adventures are just beginning. Do you think these children are any wiser this time around? Do you think their wishes will lead them into trouble? Or into trouble that they can't think themselves out of?

Some of my favorite passages:

On this particular Sunday there were fowls for dinner, a kind of food that is generally kept for birthdays and grand occasions, and there was an angel pudding, when rice and milk and orange and write icing do their best to make you happy. (52)
Mother was really a great dear. She was pretty and she was loving, and most frightfully good when you were ill, and always kind, and almost always just. That is, she was just when she understood things. But of course she did not always understand things. No one understands everything, and mothers are not angels, though a good many of them come pretty near it. The children knew that mother always wanted to do what was best for them, even if she was not clever enough to know exactly what was the best. (73)
There were many things I loved about this one. I loved the trouble that comes about when the wishing carpet makes its own wish--and brings back one-hundred and ninety-nine Persian cats. Of course, that is only the start of that particular mishap...

I also LOVED Lamb's scenes in this novel. In particular when this little one crawled onto the wishing carpet and started babbling. The carpet, of course, understands all languages--even baby ones--and Lamb and the carpet vanish. This puzzles the children, how will they get their baby brother back?! How can they ever explain to their mom what happened?! I won't tell you how this one resolves, but I just loved it!

I loved this one. I don't know that I love it any more than I do Five Children and It. I just know that I love E. Nesbit. I love her narrative style. I love her descriptions. And I am so very thankful I've discovered her! And I'm looking forward to reading more of her books.

Have you read any Nesbit? Do you have a favorite book? Which do you think I should read next?

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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