Five Children on the Western Front

256p. Delacorte. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780553497939; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780553497946.
Gr 5–8—This continuation of E. Nesbit's "Five Children and It" is set 10 years after the original series ended, during World War I. The Psammead, the magical and ancient sand fairy who took the children on their original adventures, has returned without control of his magical powers, and the youngest children in the family, the Lamb and Edie, try to protect him from discovery. The Psammead's magic returns at intervals, with temporary wish fulfillment and travels through the past to understand why the Psammead lost his powers and how he can redeem himself. Their adventures include visits to both the battlefront and the home front, where the Great War's effects on families and roles for women are very clear. The war affects different members of the family, from the older brothers, who join the British Army, to one of their sisters, who works in a war hospital, to the younger children, who make efforts to help their family and older siblings. The human toll of warfare is clearly and realistically presented, and while some characters find happy resolutions, the family is changed forever. This story stands alone, but it may motivate readers to return to the original books.
VERDICT A dramatic, heartrending look at World War I's far-reaching consequences for families and individuals. This book will appeal to both historical fiction and fantasy fans.

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