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Then There Were Five (The Melendy Family, #3)
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Then There Were Five (The Melendy Family #3)

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,212 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
A summer that promises to be eventful turns into something extra special when the four Melendy children become friends with the orphan Mark Heron. Mona, 13, recites poetry. Rush, 12, is a bit mischievous. Miranda, 10, dances and paints pictures. Oliver, 6, is calm and thoughtful. Their father is a writer, so beloved housekeeper Cuffy plays mother.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 1st 2002 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (first published January 1st 1944)
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Emily of New Moon by L.M. MontgomeryGone-Away Lake by Elizabeth EnrightThe Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan AikenBallet Shoes by Noel StreatfeildThe Borrowers by Mary Norton
Forgotten Kids Books of Quality
45th out of 525 books — 196 voters
Charlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteThe Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. SeussThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. LewisHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Best Kids Books Ever
342nd out of 815 books — 642 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This story is a charming, nostalgic trip to a simpler time, when kids explored the outdoors, swam in swimming holes, searched for Indian arrowheads, and fished for jumbo catfish. A livestock auction and homemade fair with a variety show of local talent provided enough excitement for weeks. As a young teen, I learned about the Perseid meteor shower every August from reading this book. Luna moths and monarch butterflies inhabit its pages.
This middle grade novel was first published in 1944, and WWI
Jul 04, 2011 Melody rated it it was amazing
Practically perfect, especially at the beginning of summer. I want a kitchen full of glowing canned goods, and a well full of gentians. I love, love, love this book. And we get to see Randy writing TATSINDA!

This is without a doubt my favorite Melendy book, what with all the botanizing. And the excitement of meeting Mark, and the evil Oren. The Melendy kids are a little more grown-up, and their world is so lovely that one wishes one could walk inside the pages and sleep in the cupola. Eve
Aug 17, 2010 Qt rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful, beautifully written Melendy book. (This is #3). It takes place mostly during summer, and is a great book for summer months. I really, really love the descriptions, and how the Melendy siblings--and their friends and family--feel so real and so likable. These are among my favorite books :-) And after reading this (and also "Seventeenth Summer" by Maureen Daly), it's almost a let down to go back to reading "ordinary" books that aren't as beautifully written :-D
Feb 02, 2012 Jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juv, audiobook
I'm continuing to enjoy these episodic stories - I love the way Enright captures the children's perspectives on everyday and extraordinary things. A favorite moment in this one is when Mona and Randy learn to can.

It's fascinating that Enright was writing these first three books (The Saturdays, The Four-Story Mistake, and this one) during WWII - they were published between 1941 and 1944. The war is a subtle but constant presence in the background, and knowing that the war was still going on as E
Jun 11, 2007 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
Another lovely book in the Melendy family quartet. Enright has a deft hand with characters and a gentle love for her story. Great stuff.
Jul 12, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it
I'm totally enjoying Elizabeth Enright's Melendy Quartet, in which this book is the third volume. The kids (Mona, Rush, Randy, and Oliver) are all satisfying characters (though I feel like Mona's a bit less developed than the others, or maybe I'm just less interested in her), and their country-adventures in this book are fun to read about. But more than the adventures or the characters, what I think I love most about these books is the way that Enright captures the texture of the Melendy family' ...more
Wayne S.
Jun 21, 2013 Wayne S. rated it it was amazing
The Melendy children, fifteen year old Mona, fourteen year old Rush, twelve year old Miranda (Randy), and seven and three quarters year old Oliver, live with their father, their housekeeper Cuffy, and their gardner/handyman Willy Sloper, in The Four Story Mistake, an old house in the countryside near the villages of Braxton and Carthage, NY. Mr. Melendy, a widowed professor of economics, has been hired by the government for a secret, World War II related job, and must go off to Washington. Mona ...more
Jun 16, 2015 Charity rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids
Parts of this book were very powerful and/or very amusing, but the gender roles seem to be getting more strict now that the girls are getting older, and I find that a little wearing. It's extra wearing since I recognize that in our household, I tend to reinforce these gender stereotypes by doing most of the cooking and cleaning, not because it's my duty as a woman to cook and clean but just because people are hungry and things are messy and someone's got to do something about it. The result is t ...more
Jul 08, 2012 Sylvia rated it really liked it
Although written 70 years ago, this story of the four Melendy siblings' summer adventures in the countryside captivated my girls. Several elements were so old fashioned that I could only describe them by hearsay (telephone operators that connected and listened in on calls, horse and carriage rides, war rations), but the story of the siblings embarking on summer projects, befriending a boy with an abusive cousin, and figuring out the meaning of courage and friendship was timeless. I liked the old ...more
Jan 13, 2015 Namratha rated it really liked it
The perfect lazy summer read. I just discovered this series recently and can't wait to lay my hands on the other instalments. Cozy, warm, dappled with sunlight and splendid characters, this book was a good blend of realistic fiction and nostalgic enchantment.
Feb 12, 2013 Melody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: heard, favorites
Beautifully narrated, which is such a relief. One worries, especially when old favorites are at stake.

I love this book best of any of Enright's work, which is saying a lot. It's a perfectly splendid book, full of botany (gentians!), fauna (luna moth! bats!), the best children ever, the most congenial adults, and most of all, Enright's tender, lyrical, transcendent prose. Do yourself a favor- read, re-read or listen to this one right away.

"Used-to doesn't mean anything any more, Randy. The used-
Jul 28, 2015 Hessie rated it really liked it
I felt this book had a little slower start than the previous two as well as more serious themes including child abuse and neglect, accidental death by fire, alcoholism to name a few. Still appropriate for young children, but it was helpful that we read it aloud as a family as my kids are quite sensitive and wanted to talk over some of the situations. There's still plenty of fun and pure essence of what makes childhood wonderful. Excellent characters and writing. I love sharing these stories with ...more
Jan 25, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
Then There Were Five is probably the darkest of Enright’s Melendy series due to Mark’s situation, but it still has tons of happy feelings, lightheartedness, and fun amid the seriousness. The dark material is dealt with quite well and carefully for a children’s book, and things that may be treated with more detail in YA and adult novels are glossed over or implied rather than directly stated. It’s a good way to show different family situations without either ruining or romanticizing the Melendy f ...more
Feb 26, 2010 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kidlit-history
I am still slightly annoyed with the library for taking their own sweet time in getting this book to me. But it was so worth the wait! More summer adventures, more of the fabulous Melendys, and yes, I admit it: I teared up a bit when Oliver declared the best part of his birthday was Mark becoming part of the family.

Love, love, love these books. Hate that it took so long for me to find them, but so grateful that they're a part of my life down.
Josh Ang
Jan 01, 2015 Josh Ang rated it really liked it
The 3rd of the Melendy quartet sees the children happily settled into their house in the country, the Four-Storey Mistake. Their days as city kids are long behind them and they are enjoying their summer swimming in the brook, building dams, fishing, and traipsing through the woods. As is evident in the earlier two books, the reality of the war lurks in the background, and in this instalment, Enright makes clearer that Father works in Washington in a top secret job related to the war, which takes ...more
Sep 05, 2007 Sam rated it it was amazing
The third book in the "Melendy Family" series by Elizabeth Enright. It's one of my favorites from that series, and again is an excellent children's book. I highly recommend it, but suggest you read the first two books first to get the idea of what is going on.
Sep 06, 2007 Julie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who loves children's books
the melendy children - mona, rush, randy, and oliver - are perhaps my favorite figures in children's literature. these wonderful books from the 1940s have been recently re-released.
Oct 08, 2014 Caleb rated it it was amazing
I liked it. It's about how their father is away in Washington DC a lot and then Cuffy goes to watch some of her cousins while she goes to the hospital for a week. While they're gone they promise to be like angels, but they don't do everything so good. Then there's a fire and turns out there's a kid. They were collecting stuff for WWII and there was a kid and the fire was really big. He lived with his mean cousin and so then he lived with them for awhile. His name was Mark and they really liked h ...more
Jane Irish Nelson
Didn't like this quite as much as the first two in the series. Not sure why. But still really enjoined re-reading it, as I didn't remember very much of the story.

Summer has arrived, and the four Melendy children are enjoying it, despite that fact that Father is away in Washington, DC. Rush and Randy decide to collect scrap for the war effort, and meet other people in the environs: the Addisons, Mr. Titus, Mark Herron and his cousin Oren Meeker. Mark they particularly like, and their friendship w
Jun 30, 2016 Tory rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, five-stars
Getting to know all the neighbors. The introduction of Mr. Titus. CANNING! The gorgeous children's fair and auction. Mark. <3

There aren't enough good things to say about the Melendys. They're all fully-developed characters with huge emotions, distinct personalities, and so many fun traits. You have no choice but to adore them all.

"As they trudged out to the pasture Mark stooped and picked something out of the grass. It was one of Oliver's handmade tickets. Mark looked at it in the faint light
These books have progressively grown on me as I continue through in the series. I think this might be my favorite yet. It was so wonderful that I'm tempted to give it 5 stars. I love the kids, the marvelous illustrations, and Enright's vivid and wonderful descriptions and talent for painting a mood or a scene. As usual, the Melendy children do get into some cringe-worthy scrapes (view spoiler) but they come out okay. ( ...more
Sheryl Tribble
Aug 29, 2014 Sheryl Tribble rated it liked it
As a kid, I loved this book every bit as much as The Saturdays or The Four Story Mistake. As an adult, while I still love parts of it as much as ever, I'm more aware of its flaws. One of Enright's strengths is that her characters are interesting and complex; but this story has bad guys, and her bad guys are boring and predictable. Mark is a little too saintly for my tastes as well, but he fits alright. The bad guys are in a different key, and the change is jarring for me.

Still, there are magical
Rea K
Jun 11, 2015 Rea K rated it really liked it
Awwww. These kids. I sort of like the kids books where nothing horrifying happens to the children. It's nice to have something that isn't constant threat of death or doom that kids can read. I liked not having the constant threat of death and doom. I mean, mishaps happen, but not mishaps that are going to result in death and torture.
Makes me want to go back and be a kid again. I swear, kids have so much more imagination.
Sep 04, 2007 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who love children's series
Shelves: favorites, goodgirls
I was lucky enough to score a first edition of this book at The Chatham Bookseller in Madison, NJ, and it was probably the best 5 bucks I ever spent. This was another one of those recommendations from the Betsy-Tacy ListServ that I had always meant to check out. When I finally sat down to read it, I was not disappointed. Enright depicts a family filled with 4 artistic children. There's something old-fashioned, yet sophisticated about this book. The kids follow their dreams (painting, writing, da ...more
Joel Simon
May 19, 2012 Joel Simon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, children
Another winner from Elizabeth Enright. This, the third book in the Melendy Quartet, finds the Melendy kids fully adapted to their strange and interesting house (known as the Four Story Mistake, which we learned about in the second book in the series) when they meet a new boy in the neighborhood, named Mark. Added to the four Melendy kids, Mark is number five (hence the title, Then There Were Five). The adventures are exciting, creative and wholesome. As with the prior books in the series, you wo ...more
Namitha Varma
Mar 24, 2016 Namitha Varma rated it it was amazing
I liked this the best of the Melendy Family quartet so far. All those descriptions of food and nature.... and the children all growing up smart and considerate and kind... This book really made me wish I lived in the village with a farmhouse and a barn and hills to climb up and brooks to wade in. Oh dear, so lovely!
Sep 28, 2014 Gwen rated it really liked it
This is a great story. While there are some anachronisms, (only the girls cook and clean, the family has a housekeeper), the characters are still fresh, and the story of how they get a new member of the family is wonderful. A childhood favorite that is still worth reading, at least for me.
Nevada Libert
Sep 19, 2014 Nevada Libert rated it really liked it
what a good book! loved it soooo much these are really good books. i love mona i want to be like her i am already learning william shaksper and that makes me feel like her.

Sep 08, 2014 Denise rated it really liked it
Enright has such a beautiful and visual way of writing. I am amazed over and over while reading her books with the perfect phrasing to make you feel like you are in the story. That said, I do find the choice of some of the outdated language (savages, etc.) offensive and off-putting.
Mar 18, 2010 Shelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: youth, historical, vintage
I think my biggest issue with this series is that they are a little too adventurous/melodramatic. Coal gas scares, house fires, etc. I like my classics to have an air of real life and not soap operas. (Even when one of the characters stars in one!) So when I saw that they were about to adopt a poor little abused orphan boy, I rolled my eyes and prepared to skim a lot. But I liked Mark, and I liked seeing them all grown up a bit. I still wish there was more Oliver and Father, though. My favorite ...more
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Elizabeth Enright (1907-1968) was born in Oak Park, Illinois, but spent most of her life in or near New York City. Her mother was a magazine illustrator, while her father was a political cartoonist. Illustration was Enright's original career choice and she studied art in Greenwich, Connecticut; Paris, France; and New York City. After creating her first book in 1935, she developed a taste, and quic ...more
More about Elizabeth Enright...

Other Books in the Series

The Melendy Family (4 books)
  • The Saturdays (The Melendy Family, #1)
  • The Four-Story Mistake (The Melendy Family, #2)
  • Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze

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“The summer,' Randy explained. 'I'm going to appreciate it. I'm going to walk in the woods noticing everything, and ride my bike on all the roads I never explored. I'm going to fill a pillow with ladies' tobacco so I can smell it in January and remember about August. I'm going to dry a big bunch of pennyroyal so I can break pieces off all winter and think of summer. I'm going to look at everything, and smell everything, and listen to everything so I'll never forget --” 3 likes
“Did you know that a bee dies after he stings you? And that there's a star called Aldebaran? And that around the tenth of August, any year, you can look up in the sky ant night and see dozens and dozens of shooting stars?” 3 likes
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