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Seven Little Australians (The Woolcots #1)

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  3,354 Ratings  ·  152 Reviews
Judy's father, Captain Woolcot, found his vivacious, cheeky daughter impossible - but seven children were really too much for him and most of the time they ran wild at their rambling riverside home, Misrule. Step inside and meet them all - dreamy Meg, Pip, daring Judy, naughty Bunty, Nell, Baby and the youngest, 'the General'. Come and share in their lives, their laughter ...more
Paperback, 177 pages
Published 2010 by Penguin (first published 1894)
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ErinGrace11101999 The first time I attempted to read this book, I was about nine years old. I couldn't quite get into it then, so I forgot about it for many years.
I…more
The first time I attempted to read this book, I was about nine years old. I couldn't quite get into it then, so I forgot about it for many years.
I picked the book up at age fifteen and I loved it. It is most certainly the book that is the nearest and dearest to my heart. I relate to both Meg and Judy so much.
I am now sixteen, and I have read this book over eight times in the past six months. Something about the style of writing is really comforting and soothing. It is also a nice quick read too (only 173 pages in length, though that may just be my copy).
As long as you can appreciate and/or understand old timely language, there's really no age limit, so to speak. Though I personally wouldn't recommend it for the under-eight crowd. It's far too grown-up and complex for them.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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MaryG2E
This book has never been out of print since it was published in 1894. Undoubtedly the story holds a special place in the hearts of many generations of Australians. It is indeed a classic. Having said that, I must confess that I was a tad underwhelmed by it.

While written in 1894, this is a surprisingly modern book in many ways. Turner's prose is lively, fresh, immediate and direct. Some of the passages could have been written yesterday. How like a 21st century family are the Woolcots, with their
...more
notgettingenough

The book begins.


Before you fairly start this story I should like to give you just a word of warning.

If you imagine you are going to read of model children, with perhaps, a naughtily inclined one to point a moral, you had better lay down the book immediately and betake yourself to 'Sandford and Merton' or similar standard juvenile works. Not one of the seven is really good, for the very excellent reason that Australian children never are.


Sigh. It's true, it's true.

Pop Bop
Mar 09, 2014 Pop Bop rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Sparkling, Jolly, and Tender

If you're an American browsing through odd Kindle freebies, as I was, you might be surprised to discover that this book is a gem and a treat. Published in 1894, "Seven Little Australians" is considered a classic, if not the classic, of Australian children's novels. I understand that at least as of 1994 this book was the only novel by an Australian author to have been continuously in print for 100 years.

So, does it live up to that intro? Yes.

The story is simple enough
...more
Kathleen
Dec 01, 2011 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19th-century, ebook
Seven Little Australians is an excellent children's novel that isn't just for children! I loved the characters because they were so real. The Woolcot family consists of Captain Woolcot, his six children from his first marriage (ages 4-16), his second wife (Esther, age 20), and their 1-year-old son. The step-mother's youthfulness added an interesting element to the family dynamic.

I might have given this book five stars, but the ending is unnecessarily tragic, and it seemed like the author didn't
...more
Marianne
May 16, 2011 Marianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seven Little Australians is the first of the Woolcot Family series by Australian novelist Ethel Turner. Set in the late 19th century, it details a few months in the lives of Captain John Woolcot, his young (20 years old) wife Esther and their family at their house, Misrule, up the Parramatta River. There were six children he had by his first, now dead, wife: Meg(Marguerite), 16, Pip (Phillip), 14, Judy (Helen), 13, Nellie, 10, Bunty, 6, and Baby, 4, and his and Esther’s baby, the General (Franci ...more
Lisa
Mar 07, 2017 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
No 2 in my attempt to get through some Australian kids' literature. This was an attempt to be highly realistic and was a bit tragic. No romanticization. Some lovely descriptions of both suburban and rural life in early 20th century.
Darcy
Aug 22, 2015 Darcy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Natasha Lester
Jan 27, 2013 Natasha Lester rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book aloud, a chapter a night, to my four and a half and six and a half year old daughters. When I began reading the first chapter, I thought that they might not choose the book again the following night. The language is obviously somewhat old-fashioned - the book was published in 1894 after all. But as Ethel Turner writes, she addresses the reader - she is telling the story to them. The book begins, 'Before you fairly start this story I should like to give you just a word of warning ...more
Jessica
Feb 06, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a charming little novel, but very much a product of its time.

Chapters in the beginning read almost like a serial, with each chapter containing a small, self-contained little narrative with uncomplicated complications and neat resolutions that lead into the next chapter with ease. However, as the book progresses, the stories elongate and spread across multiple chapters leading to a tragic - but not unpredictable - end.

With a large cast, she at times struggles to differentiate the charac
...more
Thom Swennes
The more the merrier I thought as I started reading Seven Little Australians. Six of the children are from the first marriage of an army captain. After his wife’s death he remarries a girl of nineteen. The soon have another child of their own and the family moved into a fine home and tried to lead a serine and peaceful life. I stress the word “tried” as the children (like probably most siblings) were constantly bickering among themselves. The children ranged in age from 17 years to under a year. ...more
Sarah
Nov 19, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I re-read this today for my children's literature course and was surprised by what a brute the Captain (their father) is - I never really noticed it when I read it as a child. He's awful. He makes it perfectly clear that he doesn't like or understand his children and considers spending any time at all with them on par with having teeth pulled. When Judy makes him look after the youngest alone for an hour he's so mad he sends her off to boarding school despite the protests and tears of the entire ...more
Fatima Azhar
Jul 07, 2016 Fatima Azhar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Broke my heart.
When I started reading this book, I had a sudden surge of nostalgia. It is very similar to books I used to read when I was a kid. This book focuses on family, sibling relationships and naughty children. (i.e. Naughtiest Girl, Nanny McPhee etc). And how the cleverest one among them "Judy" is considered to be the instigator of mischief (she usually is). All the kids have different personalities and different ways of dealing with things.
The 19 year old wife seems to love the kids an
...more
Sharni
What a gorgeous story. I'm glad I didn't resist my urge to buy this edition at the bookshop the other day...
I think I must have seen the miniseries when I was quite small because I remembered the ending (although absolutely nothing else).
Magda
Mar 19, 2009 Magda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Somewhat like E. Nesbit's stories until the last couple of chapters in which Gloom and Despair replace the sweet little adventures (which are a bit boring, but still), causing the author, as he says, to simply give up in sorrow ... so not much of a denouement or ending. In fact, the ending reminded me of the opera Xerxes: everything is going along at a reasonable pace, and then it's like someone looked at his watch and said, "Okay, people, let's wrap this up in the next five minutes!" and that's ...more
Sean Kennedy
Aug 16, 2015 Sean Kennedy rated it liked it
Man, the father was an unsympathetic prick in this book. He singles out one of his daughters as being the chief instigator of troubles in the family, ships her off to boarding school, is going to send her back but then a tree falls on her and kills her, and then he's all "oh, this is terrible". Buddy, you were a terrible father and the six little Australians that are left should keep you in the dungeon and never let you out.
CLM
An Australian classic which is enjoyable despite the harsh father who is like Captain von Trapp without the charm.
Rachael
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tien
I think I would have enjoyed this story a lot more if I read this at a much younger age. This is, of course, one of those classic books that everyone (or at least most Aussies) would have read in school that I have missed out on, being an immigrant. But I am catching up!

It was an easy story to read and enjoy on a fine weekend. In between, we went to a birthday picnic where children were indulged in sugar-y goodness and lots of play in the sun. So, I had the same sort of image in my head when I w
...more
Ellen
When my mother saw that I was reading this book, her first reaction was "Oh, I remember that. It's so sad!" But she did like it (as a TV miniseries, I don't know if she actually read the book). When I told my grandmother I just finished reading it, she said she loved the series as well.

This book is not my genre. I'm a YA and/or sci-fi fantasy reader and writer. It felt like a comment on that particular time in Australia's history. Not that it gave a very Australian history lesson. It did however
...more
Ania
Dec 07, 2011 Ania rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: die hard aussie historical fiction fans, sad growing up stories fans,
Shelves: australia, abandoned
I have to admit, I didn't like it.

It was charming at first as the children are rambunctious and full of spirit. Nonetheless, the book didn't pull me into their world. The entire time I was envisioning the Von Trapp Family except without the singing: the military distant father, a bunch of children, a wife so young she's practically the older daughter's age and one of the children (the 8th little Australian?)....

description
The Von Trapp family from "The Sound of Music"

Don't get me wrong, I like the simila
...more
James Perkins
As an Australian, I was supposed to read this book as a child. I didn't. I am also supposed to like it. I don't. There are too many people to follow to get any feel for characterisation. The writing style is antiquated and often hard to read because of the odd vocabulary and turns of phrase. After announcing the differences between Australians and the British at the start, the story then outlines the behaviour of any children, who only happen to live in the Australian countryside; they could be ...more
Heather Pearson
Set in Sydney, Australia in 1880's, seven children get into all sorts of mischief even though they are trying their best to behave. Ranging in ages from sixteen to one year, the Woolcot children are mostly left to their own devices. Their step-mother Esther, the birth mother of only the youngest, is just twenty and has no experience with children. Their father is a military man and expects his children to behave and only to show up when he expects them to.

I have been wanting to read this book fo
...more
Janelle
I read this over twenty years ago as a teenager. Didn't think much of it then, so I think it's time I had another look to see if I can change my mind.

2015 Update Well apparently my reading tastes have changed little in the nearly thirty years since I was a teenager, although I now have a clearer idea why I don't enjoy certain books. In this case, my dislike of this book doesn't stem from the quality of writing, but rather the characterisations and plot. As a teen reader I think I found the child
...more
Finitha Jose
Jan 24, 2014 Finitha Jose rated it it was amazing
Thought I have grown out of reading children's books, but we never will be. More so when the story line concerns with seven naughty ones. But be warned, these are not the peppermint children of 'Sound of Music' for the "very excellent reason that Australian children never are". Even their house bears the name 'Misrule' and that is what the story is all about; the little anarchist kingdom that runs behind a military strict father and their subsequent growth to maturity through sometimes painful e ...more
Lisa T
Oct 04, 2014 Lisa T rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lauren
Well, it wasn't godawful, but it was still too Enid Blytony, let's get belted by father and then have a picnic type of book for me to ever want to read it again. Granted, I'm not the target audience, although I'd find it hard to believe that children of this era would really take to it either. But yeah ... not a lot to say about this one. The characters weren't interesting (wild-child Judy is okay, I guess), their shenanigans weren't amusing - actually, the dad yelling that everyone was "demente ...more
Gwen
Sep 12, 2012 Gwen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gwen by: website for Louisa May Alcott's house in Concord MA
Shelves: ya-fiction
This book feels like a cross between Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (for the descriptions of sibling relations), Freckles (for the ending), and The Sound of Music. I don't know nearly enough about Australian frontier life (although somehow I feel like it takes place close-ish to Sydney) in this time period to be able to judge the accuracy of Turner's take on Australian family life, but I'm not sure I'd either read more in the series or recommend it to other fans of children's/YA literatur ...more
Sasha
Aug 07, 2013 Sasha rated it really liked it
This is an interesting short read and a classic of Australian children's literature. But it is most interesting as a look at the way family dynamics have changed. The father , captain Woolcott, is aloof. With no understanding of his own children. His 2nd wife is only 20. His 1st wife having died about 3 years before the story is set. He has 6 children from his first wife and 1 from his second. The kids range in age from 1 to 16. And all are used to doing pretty much whatever they please. All the ...more
Jordan
Jun 23, 2014 Jordan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uni
Eh. The book was alright, nothing special. Started off a bit boring, then I started to get more involved in the story because it became more interesting, then it reached the part where they went on holidays. This whole part to me felt unnecessary and boring. There was nothing really driving the section and it felt like it had just been chucked in to make the book longer. Then the ending came which was a little bit of a shock, but development to any character except Meg and Bunty was pretty poor ...more
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Born in England in 1870, Ethel Turner came to Australia with her mother and sisters when she was 10 years old. She showed a great love of literature while at school and in her late teens launched a literary and social magazine in Sydney with her sister Lilian Turner. Ethel kept diaries for a remarkable 62 years, recording the details of her full and eventful life. In January 1893 she recorded in h ...more
More about Ethel Turner...

Other Books in the Series

The Woolcots (4 books)
  • The Family at Misrule (Woolcots, #2)
  • Little Mother Meg (Woolcots, #3)
  • Judy and Punch (Woolcots, #4)

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“None of the seven is really good, for the excellent reason that Australian children never are.” 16 likes
“and then ah God” 2 likes
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