Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Phoenix and the Carpet (MG)

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.

I first read The Phoenix and the Carpet last June, but completing the trilogy last week really made me want to revisit them all. I just love and adore the fantasy world created by E. Nesbit! All three of the novels are magical. The children meet several magical creatures (the Psammead, the Phoenix) and find several magical objects (the Carpet, the Charm).

The children--Cyril, Robert, Anthea, Jane, and Lamb--can be naughty. Not so much Lamb. But the other four, well, they can be TROUBLE.

So how do they meet the Phoenix? How do they get a magic carpet? Well, it all starts when the children decide that it would be a very good idea, a very fun idea, to try out their fireworks--to make sure they work properly--INSIDE the house, inside the nursery to be precise. And when one of the fireworks seems to not be lighting, one of the children pours paraffin on it while another lights it again. While the results are not horribly tragic, the nursery must be repainted/repaired, and a new carpet is a must. The carpet that replaces the old is magical, of course. And inside this roll of carpet is an egg. But not an ordinary egg. Though of course, they don't know that until it accidentally falls into the fire in their nursery. And the Phoenix emerges....

And thus the adventures begin. The Psammead is not completely absent from this second adventure, though the children themselves never ask him directly (face-to-face) for wishes. Still, the Phoenix makes good use of him...because truth be told...the children need to be rescued more than once!!!

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.

Favorite passages:

You can always keep the Lamb good and happy for quite a long time if you play the Noah's Ark game with him. It is quite simple. He just sits on your lap and tells you what animal he is, and then you say the poetry piece about whatever animal he chooses to be. Of course, some of the animals, like the zebra and the tiger, haven't got any poetry, because they are so difficult to rhyme to. The Lamb knows quite well which are the poetry animals. (34)

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 white 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)

When people have hurt other people by accident, the one who does the hurting is always much the angriest. I wonder why. (102)

"I wish we could find the Phoenix," said Jane. "It's much better company than the carpet."
"Beastly ungrateful, little kids are," said Cyril.
"No. I'm not; only the carpet never says anything, and it's so helpless. It doesn't seem able to take care of itself. It gets sold, and taken into the sea, and things like that. You wouldn't catch the Phoenix getting sold."
It was two days after the bazaar. Everyone was a little cross--some days are like that, usually Mondays, by the way. And this was a Monday. (117)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana said...

I think I am going to check this out.

Charlotte said...

This is my own second favorite Nesbit--The Story of the Amulet I think is my favorite, but it's hard to be sure! I'm reading Phoenix to my boys right now, and they are liking it too!