The third of Nesbit’s books about the Psammead and the children who encounter this wish granting creature. (And yes, before I am again accused of simply rewriting book blurbs, I know the Psammead only appears in two of the three books and only grants wishes to the children in the first…). This one draws heavily on Nesbit’s knowledge of ancient cultures (especially Egypt) and her involvement with Socialism.
The children, parted from their parents and desperate for their return, are living in London with their Nurse. One day, whilst exploring shops near the British Museum, they come across the Psammead in a cage and, at the same time, acquire half an amulet. On returning home with the sand fairy and the ancient talisman, they learn that if they find the other part of the amulet they will be able have their hearts’ desires – the return of their parents.
A series of time travelling events ensue in which the children and, later in the book, an adult scholar who lives upstairs, have adventures. They travel to Egypt, Babylon, Atlantis, and a Tyrenean ship bound for the Tin Islands. They also go into the future, one that resembles Morris’s vision and in which Wells is revered as a prophet.
As to be expected, despite the hair-raising adventures, all ends well. This is typical Nesbit fare. Well written, informative without ever being dull, humorous, and socially aware without ever preaching. All in all a wonderful piece of escapism with the Psammead as bad tempered as ever