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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wings and the Child, or the Building of Magic Cities, by E. Nesbit

A blog I occasionally read recently touted this as a free-for-Kindle book, the title intrigued me, and I know I like Nesbit (at least as an author for children's books). I enjoyed reading this book, but then I often enjoy reading about how to raise and educate children. Nesbit's prose, however, was a delight in itself, and would render reading her work a pleasant task, no matter the subject of which she wrote. Mrs. Nesbit wrote this book because first she built magic cities with her son, then wrote a book for children in which the children build a magic city and then become small enough to enter the city (called, surprisingly enough, The Magic City), then received letters from her young readers asking if they could build magic cities, then built a magic city which was put on display, at which teachers and parents asked her to write a book to guide them in allowing their children to build magic cities. A magic city is a city made of various materials at hand. The magic is in the imagination. Mrs. Nesbit, happily, ranged far from that topic. Her descriptions of what it is like to be a child alone are worth the reading of the book, but the whole book is worthwhile. I would only edit somewhat the length of her discussion of specific, practical ideas for building a city. The philosophical section of the book is by far the best (though, of course, I do not agree with everything she asserts; she seems to dismiss teaching children to read by phonics, and she favors redistributing wealth, for two instances). I would recommend this book to parents, teachers, and anyone generally interested in reading about the best way to raise and educate children. The book is short. By the way, I do not know why, but when I write a blog post on my iPad, it shows up in separate paragraphs in the rough draft, but publishes as one paragraph. I shall have to consult my IT dept (AKA DH).


  1. Oh, I meant to say that her discussion of appropriate playthings spells out, and in much better prose than ever I could have managed, what sort of toys I think children should have. That was probably the best part of the book.

  2. I read this because of your recommendation, and have basically the same reservations. From reading much of her children's literature, I was actually surprised at how trinitarian she seemed to be, though she still lists toward universalism way too strongly. I loved the parts about toys, and what kind of games are fun. I also appreciated that she values memories of being a child so highly, since I have experienced all the reactions of grownups who don't remember just as she described.

  3. I had thought perhaps you might have such an excellent recall of your childhood; some things you'd said in conversation seemed that way. I have also found other authors speaking of their childhood in such vivid ways. Katherine Paterson does, for instance (I'm reading a book by her right now).