The Wonderful Garden, by E. Nesbit
A few weeks ago, the mood hit to read an E. Nesbit book I haven't read for quite a while: The Wonderful Garden. We have most of the Nesbit books here but apparently not this one, so I downloaded it (with illustrations!) for a buck on Kindle, figuring that was a pretty good deal to satisfy my whim.
Caroline, Charles, and Charlotte's parents are stationed out in India, and they've had to come back to England for school, to their disappointment, and they stay with relatives for holidays. They're quite excited when their wealthy and eccentric great-uncle invites them to stay in a house crammed with old treasures, and on their way they meet a boy who is clearly not at all thrilled to be spending the summer in the care of a schoolmaster. So when Rupert runs away from "the Murdstone man," they hide him.
They've also gotten into magic, in a way. They've got a new book, The Language of Flowers, and they spend a lot of time putting together bouquets to persuade people to do what they want. Once they find an old book of magic, they're unstoppable. Rupert is the sole skeptic, but then he has his own problems that need sorting out.
There is a lot crammed into this story, actually, between the garden and Rupert and the various people the three C's have adventures with. It's a fun read.
The great thing about E. Nesbit is that she wrote characters who were real children getting into realistic scrapes. They are not especially virtuous or clever, and they bicker and come up with schemes that will definitely not work out, and they want to help people but aren't necessarily very good at it.
Nesbit is also funny. I didn't necessarily get all the jokes when I was a kid, but she is poking fun at things in her dry way. I spent a lot of time laughing while I read!