Friday, April 16, 2010

E Nesbit, time travel and breakfast

The Noodle is so absorbed in The House of Arden that he won't come out and make himself some breakfast. He will pop out from time to time to tell us where (or when) the children and are and to marvel at the nature of the Mouldiwarp, but then he is straight back into it. I started reading it to him a few nights ago, but he is leaping ahead without assistance.

He is a young person who highly values time travel.

The thing I like about E Nesbit's attitude to time travel is that you probably can't change the present from the past, but the past can certainly change you. And then it's up to you to choose the sort of future you want. So you don't get any Homer Simpson style donut-rain anomalies, but you do get a happy ending.

Of course, the other thing I like so much about E Nesbit is the way her children bicker and fight all the time. Frequently they have little in common with each other, except the books they have read and the fact that they are brothers and sisters. Children who have not read the same sorts of book s are viewed with a deep suspicion, something that also finds it's way into C S Lewis's books. It's a bit of a way of being awfully snobbish, while pretending not to be snobbish, and also I should think the sign of a rather balloonish ego in the author. The author's books, naturally, being just the right sort for the right sort of children to read.

I won't get into all the patronising class issues in Nesbit, except to say that A S Byatt might have forced me to stop gliding over the top of it all quite as easily as I used to. Which is no doubt a Good Thing and all.

The Noodle has only really loved The Railway Children of Nesbit's otherwise. The husband (who is not so much a fan of children's books or fantasy - having grown up watching telly and not reading much) read him The Phoenix and the Carpet but I'm not convinced either of them enjoyed it a great deal.

From a bibliotherapy point of view (a point of view I am really quite opposed to) it is no doubt good for only-child Noodle to read about other families and for over-protected Noodle to at least read about children rampaging around the countryside pretty much unsupervised. I know I used to rampage quite a lot more than junior does, but I am not sure if I was a few years older - I can't remember which level of rampaging goes with which age.

Certainly there is not much rampaging at 38, alas.


mimbles said...

I loved Five Children and It as a kid but when I tried to reread it recently I couldn't get past the first chapter. The stuff I too used to be able to glide over was just too jarring.

Roger Parkinson said...

The noodle amazes me, he's such a cool kid. As for rampaging, we still do it fairly often, there is no sensible age to stop.