Tag Archives: psammead

Friday Faceoff – Time travel is possible. Will explain later. #Brainfluffbookblog


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the object this week featuring on any of our covers or the story is an AMULET, so I’ve selected a book I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading, The Story of the Amulet – Book 3 of the Five Children series by E. Nesbit.


This edition was produced by Penguin Classics in March 1995. I love the artwork and the green-hued backdrop which gives a real sense of the drama and danger of a trip back to Egypt. But that clunky red something doesn’t remotely resemble any amulet I’ve ever seen – what a shame, given the wonderful lighting giving it centre stage. And my other peeve is that dreadful red text box plonked right across all that fabulous detail…


Published by Penguin Classics in March 2018, this is a much better effort. The colouring is attractive and I love the scene within a scene, giving a hint of the time travelling theme. The style, along with the children featured in the Egypt makes it clear this is a children’s story. I also love that font – this is my favourite.


Produced by Smk Books in March 2009, the amulet featured on the front of this cover is beautiful and draws the eye, while the font is attractive and easy to read. However, my concern is that there is nothing on this cover that informs the reader that this is a children’s book.


This Kindle edition is certainly eye-catching. But the golden rule must be that a cover should reflect the content and the etched figures being swallowed up as they enter that brooding gothic building give a sense that it’s a horror story. And it isn’t – it is a lesser-known book in one of the most famous early fantasy tales for children.


This is another attractive, striking contender, published by Virago in 2018. The warm yellow backdrop is welcoming and I love all the details on the cover that directly link up to the content. While the title is inoffensively clear, I do feel that Times New Roman is a bit joyless for one of the first time-travelling adventures written for children. It’s the main reason why this one isn’t my favourite – but what do you think?

Review of Four Children and It by Jacqueline Wilson


This modern makeover of E. Nesbitt’s classic story Five Children and It, could have been a wincingly purile dumbing down of a much-loved gem in children’s literature. But, of course it is in the hands of the very capable and experienced Jacqueline Wilson…

4childrenWe have been reading Wilson in our household since my granddaughter, reeling from her parents’ separation, seemed to need stories that reflected her own devastating experience. Her books were an immediate hit – and when I saw this book on the shelves, I couldn’t resist it…

Rosalind and Robbie don’t want to spend the summer stuck in their dad’s new house with irritating Smash and her glamorous mum. Dad’s biggest wish is for everyone to get along. So when he suggests a picnic in nearby Oxshott Woods the children grudgingly agree. That afternoon, in a golden sandpit, Rosalind makes a wish of her own and something extraordinary happens. It just might change their summer from weeks of rows and bickering into the best holiday these four children have ever had…

Rosalind and Robbie are part of a modern blended family – their step-sister, Smash, takes delight in tormenting them. In fact, the only thing they can all agree on, is that little Maudie, Dad and Alice’s daughter, is an absolute poppet – but that leads to squabbles over which of her half-siblings she prefers. Wilson’s unflinching depiction of what marital breakdown means to the children caught in the middle should be required reading for all divorced and separated parents.

Wilson’s storytelling doesn’t dodge the sadness – we both found the story quite emotional in places. But there are also places where we were laughing aloud. Smash’s comments were often astutely amusing – especially about the adults. As for the adventures that involve the four children – they are suitably madcap and Wilson’s sharp, pacey style made them compelling – I read aloud one afternoon for nearly two hours, because neither of us wanted to stop until we knew what happened next… But there is a big bonus for Wilson’s readers – she doesn’t only provide an engrossing, enjoyable story. Each of the main characters in the story is depicted with compassion, some humour and a large dollop of understanding – it’s a very neat trick to pull off. So many children’s books have the adults behaving like absolute idiots or tyrants – and while Wilson’s grown-ups often get it wrong, there is generally a sense that they are trying hard to do their best in difficult circumstances. It also means that while Wilson portrays the children as getting the raw end of the deal, she resists making them into total victims – and while she doesn’t have their parents magically getting back together, which is generally what most children would like to see, she does provide a shaft of hope that everything is going to get better.

Having recently re-read the original story, Five Children and It, I was struck by how much each magical adventure seemed to conclude with some moral lesson for Edwardian children. I can’t help thinking that Wilson’s trick of offering real comfort for children confronted with major family upheaval a far more valuable gift.