(C) Ages 8-10, Book Reviews, Fantasy, Middle Grades
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*The House of Arden by E. Nesbit

The House of Arden by E. Nesbit.  NYR Children’s Collection, 2006 reprint.  260 pages.   

Reading Level:  Middle Grades, ages 8 – 10 House of Arden

Bottom Line:  Two children,  a surprise inheritance, a missing father, and a mouldiwarp are all parts of this time-travel adventure by classic British author, E. Nesbit.

Step back in time to another time, a time when girls wore petticoats and aunts took in boarders if there was not enough money.  This is the time of The House of Arden.

Edred and Elfrida are happy, even if their aunt does need to take in boarders, but then something wonderful happens.  The children learn that they have inherited a castle, the family castle, and Edred is now Lord Edred.

While their aunt is busy settling affairs, Edred and Elfrida are busy having adventures at their new home.  As they quickly discover, there is a secret at Arden Castle: a secret treasure that would restore the castle to all its former glory.

Aiding the children is the mouldiwarp, a small, white mole who is capable of turning back time and can be summoned by poetry.  (Not any rhyme mind you, it must be original and relevant!) In their quest for Arden’s lost treasure, Edred and Elfrida visit Arden Castle throughout the ages.  Along the way, they have many interesting adventures and meet many interesting people.

House of Arden is a classic, perfect for a family read-aloud.  Note the interaction between the siblings; E. Nesbit understood children and perfectly captures sibling interaction in all its multidimensional, bickering glory!  Her prose is beautiful, and something as simple as a walk becomes quite interesting under her pen:

The children walked to the castle along the cliff path where the skylarks were singing like mad up in the pale sky, and the bean-fields, where the bees were busy, gave out the sweetest scent in the world–a scent that got itself mixed with the scent of the brown seaweed that rises and falls in the wash of the tide on the rocks at the cliff foot.

Do Eldred and Elfrida find the treasure?  You will have to read and find out!

Cautions: none

Overall Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

  • Worldview Rating: 4.5
  • Artistic Rating: 5

Categories: Middle Grades, Fantasy, Discussion Starter, Character Values
Discussion Points:
1.  E.  Nesbit likes to use big words, but she often explains what they mean.  Did you learn any new words as you were reading The House of Arden?

2.  If you could go along on an adventure in The House of Arden, which one would choose?

3.  “It is much more difficult than you would think to be really nice to your brother or sister for a whole day.” Have you ever tried this?  Could you do it for three whole days, like the children?  Do you think it would become easier over time?

4. “It is wonderful how much more polite you can be to outsiders than you can to your relations, who are, when all’s said and done, the people you really love.”  Do you think this is true?
Cover image from Amazon

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