Two editions of this book, the first and a later hardcover. I read it on my iPhone.
This is the longest, and my favorite of Nesbit’s “Psammead” trilogy about four British children who find magical items that get them into all kinds of trouble. Here they’ve rediscovered the Psammead or sand fairy, captured and put on display as a monkey, which it slightly resembles. They rescue the sad creature, and while it can no longer grant them wishes, it does lead them to a magical amulet. Through it’s archway, grown huge with the right words, they walk into ancient Egypt, Babylon, Tyre, Britain, and even Atlantis. They’re searching for the Amulet’s other half, which will give them their heart’s desire…in this case, the return of their baby brother and parents.
In addition to the usual bungling on the children’s part, and all kinds of dangerous people and places, the book has plenty of humor, but also some deeper currents. Nesbit clearly put a lot of thought into the historical settings she visits, and also into the character of the “learned gentleman” living upstairs from the children, based on a real man who helped Nesbit with her research.
For those who think magical adventure stories began with Tolkien, or even Harry Potter, the three books in this series (the others being “The Five Children and It,” and “The Phoenix and the Carpet”) will open their eyes to one of the past masters of the form.