The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904)

In this sequel to Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, the children, back in London now, burn a hole in the nursery carpet by “testing” a few of their Guy Fawkes fireworks indoors. Their mother buys a second-hand carpet to replace it, which turns out to have, rolled up in it, a phoenix egg. This they accidentally hatch by knocking it into the nursery fire. The carpet itself is an ancient Persian flying carpet.

The phoenix is the second of Nesbit’s bossy magical creatures. Unlike the Psammead that just wants to be left alone, the Phoenix thrives on attention and admiration. It is convinced that London must have a temple in its honor, and persuades the children to take it to the Phoenix Fire Insurance office (where the adults fall under the spell of the phoenix and are persuaded to have a ceremony in its honor, though the only hymns they can offer are their advertising jingles).

The carpet takes the children to a variety of places, such as to India where they get things to sell for their mother’s bazaar, and France where they find a buried treasure that saves a widow from having to sell her land. The adventures are more interesting than those in Five Children, but several of them still suffer from overuse of wishes-getting-them-into-trouble to create action. Still, Nesbits powers as a writer were increasing. Next up is the third book in the series, The Story of the Amulet.

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