The Story of the Treasure Seekers - E. Nesbit, Cecil Leslie

I thought this book was charming & I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! Having two kids of my own, I had had some experience with E. Nesbit - most particularly, we had listened to an audiobook of The Railway Children years ago on a driving trip. In some ways, I think I enjoyed it more than kids did.

Nesbit's stories are so rooted in time and place - childhood in Victorian England - that reading them is a window into the past. It amazes me how much more freedom children had during a time that I (at least) think of as being quite restrictive than they have now. Teens and small children taking trains (alone) into London to visit with newspaper editors is probably an extreme that didn't really happen, but running wild on Hampstead Heath pretending to be highway men almost certainly did. There was a benign neglect to childhood that comes up again and again in the literature of the time - there were few institutions that exerted any influence at all over the lives of children.

There is certainly an argument that kids were more resourceful and able to entertain themselves then than they are today. Of course, it is also true that poor children were exploited because there were no child labor protections - chimney sweeps could be as young as six years old. But, I digress.

I thought that the first person perspective worked really well, and Nesbit hit the mark completely on voice. The way that the book described events was also convincing -

"I have often thought that if the people who write books for children knew a little more it would be better. I shall not tell you anything about us except what I should like to know about if I was reading the story and you were writing it. Albert's uncle says I ought to have put this in the preface, but I never read prefaces, and it is not much good writing things just for people to skip. I wonder other authors have never thought of this."

Nesbit was writing for both children and adults, I think. This book was accessible for children, but sufficiently charming to hold my attention as well. And the adventures were funny and delightful.