Communicating Humor in E. Nesbit’s Fantasy Trilogy
English & World Languages
The year 2006 marks the hundredth anniversary of book publication of the final volume of the Psammead trilogy-Five Children and It (1902), The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904), and The Story of the Amulet (1906)-a remarkable series of fantasy novels for children by an equally remarkable writer, Edith Nesbit. In this trilogy, Nesbit combined fantasy and history with the domestic realism and humor of her Bastable books-The Story of the Treasure Seekers (1899), The Wouldbegoods (1901), and The New Treasure Seekers (1904)-the books that established her reputation as one of England's preeminent writers for children. By doing so, she not only earned popularity with several generations of child readers, but she also established her claim to a position in the pantheon of important writers for children.
The essays collected in this volume celebrate the completion of the Psammead trilogy. Written by both established and new scholars in England, Canada, and the United States, these essays employ differing critical strategies and place Nesbit in various contexts to assess her achievement. In producing books with memorable comic moments, character-testing adventures, plausible child characters with real feelings and real limitations, and interesting and challenging thematic material, Nesbit produced in the Psammead trilogy books that children still read with enjoyment. Such fantasies truly are classics of children's literature. Teachers and students of children's literature and of British literature and culture will find this a valuable guide to critically reviewing and enjoying Nesbit's works.
White, Donna R. “Communicating Humor in E. Nesbit’s Fantasy Trilogy.” E. Nesbit’s Psammead Trilogy: A Children’s Classic at 100, edited by Raymond Jones. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2006. 111-33.