This is sort of proto-Nesbit; a book like The Adventures of a Brownie evolves into Five Children and It, which evolves into The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which evolves into Harry Potter... Brownie isn't as clever or funny as Nesbit, but there are touches of humor, and it's not all treacle and sweetness (the unnamed children have sainted mother though, and an absent father, similar to Nesbit's Railway Children, I think).
Craik also wrote The Little Lame Prince; I own a copy of this as well from around that same time period.
The Adventures of a Brownie by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Adventures of a Brownie is sort of a proto-Nesbit; a book like this eventually evolved into Nesbit's Five Children and It which evolved into The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobewhich eventually becomes Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (with some stops and diversions along the way). Brownie isn't as clever or funny as Nesbit, but there is some pointed humor. Mainly aimed at the poor servants, who are always getting their comeuppance from the brownie. Victorian upper class children probably had to put up with some abuse by servants (and vice versa, I'm sure), grumpy cooks and gardeners who had to take care of someone else's children, and Brownie surely appeased some of that. This certainly isn't a great work of children's literature (the illustrations leave much to be desired) but when I was in third grade, I loved it so much when my elementary school library discarded a copy, I was given it. It stayed in print for many, many years.
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