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Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

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While exploring the environs of their summer home, five brothers and sisters find a Psammead, or Sand-fairy, in a nearby gravel pit: "Its eyes were on long horns like a snail's eyes, and it could move them in and out like telescopes; it had ears like a bat's ears, and its tubby body was shaped like a spider's and covered with thick soft fur; its legs and arms were furry too, and it had hands and feet like a monkey's." The Psammead is magical and, every day, the ancient and irritable creature grants each of them a wish that lasts until sunset. Soon they find their wishes never seem to turn out right and often have unexpected - and humorous - consequences. And when an accidental wish goes terribly wrong, the children learn that magic, like life, can be as complicated as it is exciting.

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