Four Children and It by Jacqueline Wilson
published 2012 chapter 7
[Four modern-day children have time-travelled to visit their Edwardian counterparts] She led us all into a beautiful nursery bedroom with a dog on wheels and a scrap screen and little complicated white clothes airing on a fender. A small boy stood up in his cot, shaking the bars, eager to be lifted out. He had fair curls and big blue eyes and very pink cheeks and looked extraordinarily like a little boy version of Maudie. Both toddlers pointed at each other, laughing. ‘There now! Let’s get you out, my little duckie,’ said Anthea, lifting him up. ‘He’ll likely be grizzling and grumbling all afternoon now because he hasn’t had his nap,’ said Martha, but the Lamb seemed in an exceptionally sunny mood. He nodded at all of us and gave Maudie a delighted hug.
[Martha] frowned at Anthea and Cyril and Robert, and positively glared at all of us. ‘I don’t know where you met up with those strange children, but they don’t look like proper gentlefolk at all. Look at the rags they’re wearing! They’re scarcely decent. I don’t know what your mother would say, Miss Anthea,’ said Martha. ‘She’d say, “How lovely to meet you and I hope you have a splendid tea,”’ said Anthea. ‘Off you go now, Martha,’ said Cyril – and she did. I wondered what it would be like to order adults around like that. Smash looked as if she’d like it tremendously.
I thought Maudie would like to play dolls too, but she had invented a new game with the Lamb called Walky Doggy. They took turns pushing the dog on wheels, running fast and frequently ramming it into the furniture – or us.
observations: This is one great follow-up book – Jacqueline Wilson is a wonderful writer, and one assumes she took on this task (a modern-day sequel to Five Children and It by E Nesbit – featured in yesterday’s entry) not because she needed the money but because she wanted to, perhaps because she loved the original. JW has sold more than 30million of her own books, so isn’t needing the boost.
The four children are a modern blended family, children shoved together for a summer holiday and not particularly getting on. As well as having a masterly way with plots, Wilson is very good on the small difficulties of the children of divorce, and this features in the book, along with some adventures parallel to the old ones, some very different ones, and this chapter – where the children from the old and new books meet up to excellent effect. This article , which we HIGHLY RECOMMEND, gives a detailed analysis of why Wilson is both good and successful - we described her as having cheerful integrity and no sentimentality, and that’s as true as ever. The children have problems with their father and nothing is going to be resolved too easily, no over-simple endings, but she sends them on their way with a bit more hope and calmness in their hearts. And also there are fantastic descriptions of the food at picnics – better than Enid Blyton even.
Links up with: Five children and it. Wooden dogs featured in this Saki story.
The photo is of a 19th century German picture, and can be found on Wikimedia Commons.