I read this story as part of The Dead Writers Society Genre Challenge for January which was to read a book in the Action/Adventure/Travel genre and I chose this book.
Told be a unnamed narrator (which honestly you figure out quite quickly) readers find out that the narrator is one of the Bastable Children. There are six Bastable children in all and I am not going to lie, sometimes i got a bit confused by them all. The children are: Dora, Oswald, Dicky, Alice, Noel, and H. O. We find out that the family's fortunes have changed since the children's mother has died and it seems their father's business partner has absconded with the money from the business. So the entire book is the many schemes that the children hatch in order to get money to help out their father.
Our narrator was quite funny and I loved Nesbit pretty much letting readers in on the joke of the narrator telling us throughout the whole story which of the children is narrating the story. Eventually readers are told it quite plainly and I snickered because frankly if you hadn't been paying attention I could maybe see how that one got by you.
The various schemes the children try are clever and at the end there is some mischief that they get themselves into. I felt sorry for the children, but I loved about the book is that they have no idea how badly off they all are and when adults around them call them poor little beggars or are sad over their lack of a mother the narrator seems puzzled by it and proceeds to tell us that all of them are puzzled by it.
The writing really does read as if a child is telling the story which was a welcomed surprise. I don't really like children's books that have a supposedly child narrator speaking as if he knows the Queen's English from birth and can understand everything that is being said by everyone. I didn't give this book five stars just because honestly I thought the story should have been over a lot quicker than this book. After about the fifth scheme I did find myself growing bored with the children's ideas to figure out how to find treasure.
The setting in Victorian England was very well used. It was so weird to read about children having games of hunting in the forest and cooking up their game or just finding endless ways to amuse themselves. It made me smile a bit and reminisce about the games my brothers and friends played as children. I mean I used to be able to waste an entire afternoon in our backyard and we would play that it was a deep dark forest and we would be tracking animals in the bush and having to hide from attacks and the porch was our base of operations. We would then go into the house and make cheese sandwiches for lunch and pass that out and eat that with kool-aid, water, or any soda we had that my mother wouldn't yell at us for grabbing and using. Summer days as a child are long and magical and you wish that they would never end. So I definitely thank this book for causing me to smile and sigh and remember.
The ending was the other reason why I didn't give it five stars. We have a happily ever after for the children (which I was happy about by the way) but thought it all a bit odd and the ending was very rushed. I know there are other books in this series so if I get some time I will take a peek at them.