Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Story of the Treasure Seekers and The Wouldbegoods (Hesperus Press)

Edith Nesbit was an English author who wrote children's book using the name E. Nesbit. She published approximately forty books for children, and was dubbed "the first modern writer for children" by her biographer Julia Briggs. Other authors of children's literature focused on fantasy themes and mystical lands, but she focused on reality and the harsh nature that it sometimes exhibited. This was on display especially in the books The Story of the Treasure Seekers and its sequel The Wouldbegoods,

The Story of the Treasure Seekers was Nesbit's first published story. It tells the story of the six Bastable children - Dora, Oswald, Dicky, Alice, Noel, and Horace Octavius (H.O.). The story is told from the point of view of one of the six children, but the narrator refuses to reveal who he/she is until the end. If you're an astute reader, you can figure it out easily enough. The Bastable children live with their widowed father. The family used to be much wealthier, but they are very poor now. They're not really sure why they are, but they realize that things are not how they used to be. Due to their lack of finances, the children do not attend school and are left with a lot of free time to do what they wish. They decide to use this free time to restore their father's wealth. Will they succeed? You'll have to read to find out.

The Wouldbegoods follows the same six children, plus an additional two neighbor children (Denny and Daisy) who have been banished from their mansion after a disaster involving a water hose and expensive stuffed animals. Dora urges the children to mend their ways and form "The Society of the Wouldbegoods." In this group, they look to perform good deeds, but there are two problems with their plans - They never go the way they are intended, and they do these good deeds for praise and glory and not because they are the right thing to do. Will they eventually realize that good deeds are their own reward, or will they just keep leaving a path of destruction wherever they go? As I said above, you'll have to read to find out.

These are two unique, but solid books of children's literature. E. Nesbit writes with a timeless quality and presents the world as it is, which was a bold innovation for children's literature. Like most series, the sequel doesn't live up to the hype, but it is not without merit. I especially like the Hesperus Press versions of these two books, because they had forewords by respected children's authors Julia Donaldson and Lois Lowry, respectively. If you are looking to introduce your children to some of the classics in children's literature, then you need copies of these books. The only disappointment is that Hesperus Press hasn't printed the rest of the books about the Bastable children, but I can always hope.

These books were provided to me for free by Hesperus Press in exchange for honest reviews. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!