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The Children Who Lived in a Barn (1938)

by Eleanor Graham

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2219122,695 (3.9)31
Suitable for both adults and children to read, this 1938 novel shows five children successfully looking after themselves when their parents go away and fail to return.
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    betsytacy: In Baby Island, two sisters are shipwrecked on a island with a passel of babies to take care of, and in The Children Who Lived in a Barn, a 13-year-old girl is left in charge of her siblings when her parents take a brief trip and don't return. Both books show the resourceful of children in the absence of adults.… (more)
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    Sakerfalcon: Resourceful children left to cope alone. Castaway Christmas is slightly more plausible, but both are enjoyable, old fashioned stories.

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» See also 31 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
An old-fashioned feelgood tale, set at the original time of writing, about a family of children who are forced to live in a barn after their parents disappear and the landlord throws them out. They make shift to look after themselves by cooking in a haybox, mending their own clothes, and doing odd jobs around the village, befriended by the schoolteacher and a local tramp, harassed by the District Visitor, who - aided by the respectable middle-class ladies of the village - plots to get them separated and sent to foster homes. It offers a stereotypical but informative and not over-romanticized view of life in rural England in the 1930s. MB 10-i-2018 ( )
  MyopicBookworm | Jan 10, 2018 |
The story is what it says -- a family of children (some of them old enough to make it fairly plausible) live on their own in a barn after their parents disappear, repelling the attempts of do-gooders to take them away, and living by the rule ""No begging, borrowing, scrounging or stealing." I suppose their self-reliance may be intended as a conservative moral lesson, but as a child I simply liked it as a story. ( )
  antiquary | Feb 28, 2014 |
An interesting and lively read. The main premise - of five children living mostly independently, helped by some neighbours and hindered/harassed by others - is clearly marked historically (some of the villagers think it entirely reasonable that a girl of not-yet-fourteen should be looking after her whole family by herself with no parents - but this is the 30s and in a rural setting). The powerlessness of the children in the face of antagonistic adults and the hard work needed to run a house - indeed, the impossibility of doing so long-term in the circumstances that they're in - is well-written, and even the happy ending is not too deus ex machina. ( )
  comixminx | Dec 18, 2013 |
(25 December 2011 – from Ali)

A charming book, half-remembered as I read it, so I must have absorbed the Puffin edition as a younger reader, about five siblings whose parents disappear. Set in the 1930s, a more innocent time, although obviously with more freedom, too, we see what happens when the village pulls together, in various ways, to support them when they move into a local barn. Sue struggles with the housework, her 11 year old brother does all the DIY, and the twins and youngest girl cause all sorts of mischief. I love it because it tells you exactly how they go about doing things, something reminiscent of the Swallows and Amazons books and very satisfying (not that I will ever feel the need to construct a haybox or cook a rabbit), and for the emotional sincerity. As other reviewers have mentioned, the part of the plot involving the parents is a little clunky, but it really doesn’t matter, as the book does what it sets out to do, and there are some great scenes and character development, as well as the excellently portrayed sibling relationships. A great read. ( )
1 vote LyzzyBee | Oct 2, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eleanor Grahamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gernat, MaryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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The whole family except Daddy were in the dining-room when the telegram came.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Suitable for both adults and children to read, this 1938 novel shows five children successfully looking after themselves when their parents go away and fail to return.

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Book description
This 1938 novel became a children's literature classic when it was reissued as a Puffin paperback in 1955; but Persephone Books has published it for both adults and children to read. It shows five children successfully looking after themselves when their parents go away and fail to return; and 'it is partly because of modern curtailment of childhood independence that Persephone Books (which has a cult following for its elegant resurrection of novels by women writers) has reissued the novel,' wrote Rachel Johnson on the "Daily Telegraph" Education page.Jacqueline Wilson observes in her Preface: 'Back in the fifties the book seemed entirely convincing. Reading it now I'm in my fifties it seems extraordinary...that the Dunnett children in the book were deliberately left on their own...Yet in spite of all her enormous household responsibilities the eldest girl, Sue, experiences a freedom and a sense of achievement not available to most Western teenage girls. She could certainly teach the teenage girls in my books a valuable lesson.'A starring role in the book is played by the haybox, which makes a lasting impression on every reader...
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