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1001 Stories Collection

Five Children and It

1001 Five Children And It
Added on 28th August 2020

Author Edith Nesbit
First published 1902
Publisher T Fisher Unwin, London, UK

Be careful what you wish for - especially when a cantankerous sand fairy is involved.


While digging in a gravel pit, Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane and their baby brother known as the Lamb uncover a Psammead, a wish-granting sand-fairy. However, the Psammead’s magic only lasts until sunset, and the children’s wishes never turn out as expected. The siblings soon learn to be careful what they wish for…

Why we chose it

A classic story about magic and wishes – and the trouble that magic and wishes can lead to. E Nesbit weaves fantasy and real (Edwardian) family life in a very satisfying way and children today still enjoy the adventures of the children and the Psammead.

Where it came from

Edith Nesbit (1858-1924) was an English author and poet, best known for her children’s fiction. After the death of her son, Fabian, Nesbit decided to create a new class of children’s fiction which blended the realms of fantasy and reality. By basing the children in Five Children and It on her own family, Nesbit was able to remember Fabian through the character Robert.

Where it went next

Five Children and It has inspired countless authors, from C.S. Lewis to J.K. Rowling, and has never been out of print since it was first published. A film adaptation of the story was released in 2004, following several television remakes, including a BBC series written by Helen Cresswell in 1991.

Associated stories

Five Children and It is the first of the Psammead Trilogy, which also includes The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904) and The Story of the Amulet (1906). Helen Cresswell wrote a sequel, The Return of the Psammead in 1992. The adventures of the Psammead have also been continued by several contemporary authors, including Jacqueline Wilson in Four Children and It (2012), in which four modern children find the Psammead in a sand pit, and Kate Saunders in Five Children on the Western Front (2014). Saunders realised that the older children in the story would be old enough to find themselves in the trenches in the First World War and reunites them with the Psammead in 1914 just as Cyril is about to leave for the war.

Added on 28th August 2020

Author Edith Nesbit
First published 1902
Publisher T Fisher Unwin, London, UK