Huh. A while back I wrote A Girl Called Alice, a crossover fic combining two of E. Nesbit’s sets of characters, the Bastables and the Psammead from Five Children and It, set during WWI. Nesbit’s children were just the right age to end up in the trenches or supporting those who are).
No way of knowing if she ever saw it, but Kate Saunders (whose book Beswitched I liked, because it reads like a cross between Nesbit and Angela Brazil) has written Five Children on the Western Front – the original children who met the Psammead grown up and in WWI. Sadly, it currently seems to be out only in England and not in e-book format (though it can be ordered from US resellers). The Guardian seems to like it a lot. I think I’m going to have to buy a hard copy – I wouldn’t be surprised if this one never does get issued in the US.
Come to think of it, I’ve been encountering Nesbitiana a few places lately – I know I recently saw those same kids (Squirrel, Anthea, Cyril and Jane) somewhere or other, but I don’t remember where at the moment. And there’s an unmistakeable allusion to The Railway Children and to Nesbit herself in Pratchett’s latest book, Raising Steam. I first found Nesbit because Edward Eager was always having his characters praise her, so it’s nice to see more recent books mentioning her.
Oh – and while writing about books, I should mentioned that The Penderwicks in Spring came out last week, and is every bit as good as earlier Penderwicks books. Some time has past, but this book focuses on Batty, who was about 4 in previous books and is now coming up on 11 so it’s aimed at the same demographic of readers as the earlier books. I’ve read that there will be another gap between this and the last book, but there’s a new sister, Lydia, who’s just a toddler here so I’d guess it will center on her. Ben, who was two in earlier books, has grown into an engaging second grader who is very much his own person and easily distinguished from any of his siblings. It’s clearer than ever that the Penderwicks are lucky enough to have a very understanding set of adults; I was thinking about that, because it’s not very common in kids’ books. Normally for the kids to be able to have adventures, the adults have to be removed either in the literal sense, by death or absence, or by their own remoteness. Or less often (but more realistically for me) the parents are just find but don’t really understand the kids or what they’re thinking and doing. If I try to think of parents as understanding as the Penderwicks I keep going back to Little Women and Alcott’s other books (and I don’t think the March parents were nearly as good as Jo and her sisters think they were, though I understand why Louisa May needed to tell herself that story. But Rose’s uncle seems better, as do Polly’s offstage parents). With the addition of two new siblings, the Penderwicks don’t mirror the Marches as closely as they did in previous books anyway – though one plot development is hinted at here that’s all too close to Little Women, so I’m hoping that doesn’t materialize.