Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Treasure Seekers, E.Nesbit

Whenever I'm home now I take the opportunity to see what's on the shelves and read a real book. You have to believe me when I say most of them recently have been for adults, it's just that I decided to start writing reviews at a particularly child-literature-heavy stage. The Treasure Seekers (1899) is an old book of my Mum's and I love the Railway Children-also by E Nesbit- so I thought I'd give it a whirl. 
It is such a sweet story of adventure and mischief, quite fitting of an age where to live in Lewisham was not something to be feared.
Dora, Oswald, Dicky, Alice, Noel and Horace Octavius (HO) Bastible have no Mum and think their Dad is on the brink of financial ruin, so set about trying to 'restore the Bastible fortune' through any means possible.
Their schemes include digging holes in the garden, trying to sell home made alcohol and kidnapping their next door neighbour, who they get annoyed with for crying rather than playing along with being chained up in a makeshift prison. Another scheme involves Dicky desperately trying to get ill so they can test a new medicine on him. But all attempts to catch a bug are futile and when Noel gets a bad cold instead and is confined to bed, Dicky feels cheated. 
In the end, despite all the unsuccesful attempts at restoring the Bastible fortunes it all works out thanks to an 'Indian relative,' who mysteriously turns up. And this is where the fun really started for me. Oswald says, 'he didn't look like an Indian but just like a kind of brown, big Englishman.' Brilliant. Then the children proceed to interrogate him about wigwams. The racial icing on the cake, however, comes when the Indian gentleman himself says 'and as to young Oswald, he's a man! If he's not a man, I'm a n*gger!'

All in all a jolly good read for the under-ten child of the early 1900's!


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