First Sentence: There were once four children who spent their summer holidays in a white house, happily situated between a sandpit and a chalkpit.
I believe that this is the final adventure of Cyril, Robert, Anthea, and Jane. The first adventure, Five Children and It, and the second adventure, The Phoenix and the Carpet, were both delightful. The novel has a sad beginning. Their father is off to Manchuria to be a war correspondent, and their mother and Lamb are recovering their health in Madeira. (Their mother has been sick, Lamb has not.) They have been left in the care of Nurse, they have been left in London.
One of the children has the idea that if they leave the house and go explore the city--on their own, with proper permission, of course--that it would cheer everyone up. And that works, in a way. For in their exploring they discover an old, old friend of theirs. Someone that they'd not seen since that oh-so-magical summer. Yes, the four children happen to find Psammead caged up and for sale in a shop. Of course, they have to rescue him. And he is thankful--to a certain extent. But though he may be grateful to be out of the shop, out of the cage, he does NOT want to become a toy for the children, a wish-granter. But not wanting to be completely mean and unsociable, he tells them of an amulet with magical powers. This amulet is also for sale, and if the children purchase it, well, they can have their heart's desire.
Sound too good to be true? Well, if they want their heart's desire they are going to have to prove themselves worthy--or clever. For the amulet they buy is only half of the magical charm. They'll have to find the second half of the charm and the pin that binds these two together in order for this charm to grant their heart's desire. What good is half a charm? Well, it's still plenty powerful! Especially if you like to travel through time! For this amulet--when magical words are spoken, when held in a certain way, in a certain direction, becomes a doorway to the past. The children can step through the amulet to the past on their quest to find the missing half.
And these time travel adventures are fun! They go to Babylon, Egypt, Tyre, Atlantis, etc. Will they ever find the missing half? Will their amulet ever be whole? While the four children may have slightly different ideas on how to go about the quest, they agree on what their wish will be, they know their heart's desire.
© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews