Reader Reviewed Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders

Five Children on the Western Front

Written by Kate Saunders

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Shortlisted for the 2015 Guardian Children's Book prize - One of our Books of the Year 2014 - October 2014 Book of the Month - Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2014 Witty, tender and full of insights into life love and politics, this is a brilliant book in its own right as well as a worthy tribute to E. Nesbit’s classic Five Children and It. The year is 1914. Anthea, Robert, Jane and Cyril, who has just enlisted, are now grown up, the Lamb is a schoolboy and even Edie, an addition to the family since the original, is old enough to meet the extraordinary and magical Psammead when he re-enters their life. All the children are longing for some new adventures but has the Psammead still got his magical powers? As befits the serious times, the Psammead plays an invaluable role in helping the family understand the First World War while also sorting out problems from his own past. Action-packed, funny and thoughtful this is a book to fall in love with. ~ Julia Eccleshare

Although Kate Saunders' novel takes its inspiration from E Nesbit's Five Children and It, Five Children on the Western Front is an entirely stand alone novel and there is no need to have read the original classic.

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. Just before the beginning of the First World War, the Lamb and Edie find the Psammead at the bottom of the garden. He is the magical creature that they have heard so much about from their brothers and sisters. But the Psammead is here for a reason, and he has lost all his powers. Time is running out, as Cyril and Robert are about to go to war and the children’s lives are about to change for ever. This is a beautifully written and compelling sequel to Five Children and It. (Ages 8–11)
~ Andrea Rayner

Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Jemma Rubens, age 10 - 'This is a brilliant story, and I loved it!' Read full review >
  • Jennifer Bridgeman - 'An incredible book which belongs in every childs' house. It is hard to articulate in 30 words how moving it is. A must read in this year of all years. Superb.' Read full review >
  • Maddy Faulkner - 'This last adventure is a fantastic magical book which will bring the child out in everyone.' Read full review >
  • Amie Coffman, age 10 - 'I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It is a sad and funny family story and the writer takes time to describe the characters really well.' Read full review >
  • Evie Hollingshead, age 10 - 'A fantastic book that tells a lot about family life during the war time. I especially liked reading all the letters in the book and could imagine being a child during the war.' Read full review >
  • Sam Harper, age 10 - 'It made me think about what it would have been like to have lived during the War and also what it would be like to have my very own sand fairy!' Read full review >
  • Lucy Minton, age 11 - 'Kate Saunders brought the characters to life.  I also loved the story in this book.  I was on the edge of my seat.' Read full review >
  • Tomasz Hawryszczuk, age 9 - 'A beautiful story suitable for boys and girls from age 9-12 approximately.' Read full review >
  • Benjy Randall, age 10 - 'A truly amazing book, I couldn't put it down. A complete page turner.' Read full review >
  • Alice East, age 9 - 'I would recommend this book. It is a sequal to Five Children and It.  You don't need to read that book first but it might help to understand the characters better.' Read full review >
  • Ella  Hewitt, age 12 - 'I like all of Kate Saunders books...but this book really wasn’t for me unfortunately.' Read full review >
  • Charlie Swan, age 8 - 'This book is sad, happy and very imaginative.  I enjoyed reading it and would give it 10 out of 10!' Read full review >


Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders

Have you ever wondered what happened to the Five Children and It characters when the First World War began? Cyril is off to fight, Anthea is at art college, Robert is a Cambridge scholar and Jane is at high school. The Lamb is the grown up age of 11, and he has a little sister, Edith, in tow. The sand fairy has become a creature of stories ...until he suddenly reappears. The siblings are pleased to have something to take their minds off the war, but this time the Psammead is here for a reason, and his magic might have a more serious purpose. Before this last adventure ends, all will be changed, and the two younger children will have seen the Great War from every possible viewpoint - factory-workers, soldiers and sailors, nurses and the people left at home, and the war's impact will be felt right at the heart of their family.

Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2014.

The Costa award was judged by the Daily Telegraph’s deputy literary editor Lorna Bradbury, freelance reading development and children’s book consultant Jake Hope, and author Jonathan Stroud. They said: “This profoundly moving and magical story tackles the biggest themes – love, family and friendship – set against the horrors of WWI. Kate Saunders’ astounding achievement is to have created a modern masterpiece that captures the spirit of a much-loved classic.”

About the Author

Kate Saunders

Kate Saunders is the author of Magicalamity and Beswitched and many other books for adults and children. She is also an actress and a journalist. She has written for the Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Daily Telegraph and Cosmopolitan, and has contributed to Radio 4's Woman's Hour, Start the Week and Kaleidoscope. She lives in London.

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Book Info


336 pages
Interest Age: From 9


Kate Saunders
More books by Kate Saunders


Faber Children's Books an imprint of Faber & Faber

Publication date

2nd October 2014




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