Five Children on the Western Front Paperback – 2 Apr 2015
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Outstanding 2015 Costa children's winner asks deep questions about courage and tyranny. (Independent)
It is an irresistible read for a wide range of readers . . . Comfortably blending fantasy elements with an English period piece about a close family, Saunders doesn't shy from the tragedies of WWI, but handles them with a tender sadness, eschewing any hints of sentimentality or melodrama. (Publishers Weekly)
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. (School Library Journal)
Best Children's Books of the Year, 2017. *Designated Outstanding Merit (Bank Street College of Education and Children’s Book Committee)
Five Children on the Western Front is Kate Saunder's incredible, heart-wrenching sequel to E. Nesbit's Five Children and It, set on the eve of the First World War. The five children have grown up - war will change their lives for ever.See all Product description
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They selected the book based on the cover, the blurb and the opening paragraph (Hence the title they've chosen for this review). They have decided they'd rather not finish the book for reasons outlined below.
"I like it because it is a little bit weird and funny at the same time. The chapters are quite long. I think the kids will get their wish and stop the war in the next chapter. It's a little bit similar to Sky on Fire. I'm not sure I'd like to read on." Year 5 boy, 9.
"I enjoyed the sense of humour the children shared and the old fashioned English. I didn't like when it seemed to get a little bit boring. The first chapter '9 years later' is really good because it tells you a little bit of what to expect in the rest of the book. I don't think I want to finish reading it, though." Year 5 girl, 9.
"I liked the humour but most of it put me off. I didn't like the time setting. I can't recommend this to people because it just let me down. I don't think there was enough reference to previous adventures. It lacked in mystery and a hook to encourage me to read on. The Psammead did make it slightly more interesting." Year 5 boy, 9.
"I had my head stuck in the book, until after a while, it became unappealing because the detail chases away moral, but it is historical, informative and comical. I liked it but if you are not one for serious magic and war time adventures, then I recommend that you do not select. I think it is humorous and a little emotional but I sniggered aloud multiple times. The wording choice is amazing. I can recommend reading this if you study wartime from different perspectives. Good for educational comprehension. If you liked "Friend or Foe" by Michael Morpurgo, this can have the same feel to it." Year 5 girl, 9.
The biggest thing they seemed to struggle to enjoy was the pace of the adventures and the same tone to the original, which is set 100 years ago. They also commented that they'd probably prefer to see the Psammead come into modern day Britain.
I, on the other hand, a 33 year old teacher, loved it and I'm a little disappointed that it hasn't captured the children's imaginations as I expected it to. I'm not giving up, yet :)
Firstly there are really six children and “It” is now only known by the name Psammead. Instead of just being on new adventures the author felt the need to create a darker past for It. The idea behind the story and It helping the children as their lives were changed by war was good but there was no need to create an extra layer in a children’s book. Magical adventures were all that were needed. One of the characters compares It’s journey in this book to that of Scrooge’s and the adventures are more like Scrooge being shown his life playing out. I don’t know how much the 2004 film reflected the original story but I would not recommend Saunder’s sequel to any lover of the film.
I love the nostalgia of being reunited with the children and Psammead but it is heartbreaking to be reminded of the devastation of the 1st World War
On a generation.
It feels particularly poignant to have read it over Christmas and to be finishing it in the year of the centenary of the Somme. Later this year I will be attending the Somme memorial at Thiepval which will remind me again of the great losses amongst a generation of brave young men and women.
Well done indeed to Kate Saunders. I am hugely confident that E. Nesbitt would have approved