The Children Who Lived in a Barn
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The Children Who Lived in a Barn

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  96 ratings  ·  17 reviews
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.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published 2001 by Persephone Books (first published 1938)
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I first read about this book in the Persephone catalog and was drawn to it because its story of junior housekeepers was similar to a children's book I loved, "The Boxcar Children" by Gertrude Chandler Warner.

In "The Children Who Lived in a Barn," five children have to fend for themselves in 1930s England when their parents disappear in a plane crash. They're so plucky and can-do that they set up a makeshift household in a nearby barn (their mean landlord evicted them for not paying rent) and the...more
First published in 1939 (reprinted in 1955), this is a story that seems astounding today. Parents get a note that granny's sick and fly off, leaving four children to fend for themselves. The landlord throws them out and they go "live in a barn," literally. Resourceful, intelligent kids whose parents need parenting. Almost a time travel experience since the world was about to change dramatically with the advent of the war. Without intending it, the book prefigures the experience of thousands of c...more

The story begins with an arrival of a telegram announcing that Mrs Dunnet's elderly mother is very unwell. With very little hesitation it is decided by the Mr Dunnet, the pompous father who enjoys spending time away from his family in his study, that he and his wife will go and visit his ailing mother-in-law in Europe. This is all very well however they decide to leave their children fending for themselves. Children reading this book would finding this storyline very excitin

I'm sure I probably give out five-star ratings too frequently, but until goodreads comes up with the ".5" modification, I'll continue to trend upward...

Written in the depth of the worldwide Great Depression, this novel by Eleanor Graham centers on the five Dunnet children who are called upon to hold down the fort while their parents travel to France when a relative dies. When the parents don't return after several days, and those days stretch into weeks, they find themselves scrambling to avoid...more
I absolutely adored this book when I was 11 years old. The very (audacious) thought of one's parents simply disappearing (!) and being left to cope by oneself - the mind boggles! I also wished desperately at that time to be a member of one of those huge sibling groups where everyone cooperated. It was my idea of heaven.
There are so many British books for children like this. The kids in Swallows & Amazons rumble around quite on their own, and even the Narnia kids seem largely unsupervised by...more
Helen Kitson
Reprinted by the wonderful Persephone Books, this is a novel for children originally published in 1938. It's not brilliantly written, and it begins very shakily indeed - five childen are left 'home alone' when their parents receive a telegram informing them that the children's grandmother is seriously ill. That the parents of children ranging in age from 7 to 13 would simply leave them to fend for themselves for an unspecified period of time beggars belief, but if you can swallow that there are...more
Victoria Sigsworth
Excellent book. Written by Eleanor Graham who also wrote "The Family at One End Street" which I read as a girl. This is the adult version of this book. It also has lovely illustrations which I personally enjoy and gives the book a life of its own. The story is very easy to read but holds interest all the time and builds up to a good climax. I'm pleased it had the ending I wanted. As it's written in the 50's , this needs to be remembered when reading it as it's clearly set in the time before mode...more
This book was interesting -- I think it's the only children's book published by Persephone books, and the story follows five children whose parents up and disappear, and after being turned out of their house, find themselves living in a barn and struggling to keep up appearances, feed themselves and everything all while attending school.

What surprised me was how almost everyone in the book was unsympathetic -- the main character, Sue, is awesome, but she pretty much ends up doing everyone's wor...more
A Persephone children's book; fun story from the 1930s about five kids whose parents disappear. The children are forced to leave their home, but a kindly neighbor lets them move into a barn. Graham is fairly realistic in showing what the children have to deal with. Poor, 13-year-old Susan bears the brunt of responsibility for the family and I was exhausted by all that she does. Any CrockPot user will appreciate the appearance of the haybox.
**Slight Spoiler Below**

The reappearance of the parents...more
This a sweet little cosy read - which I finished very quickly. The children are engaing in an old fashioned way, and the situation they find themselves in - while it feels unrealistic to an adult - would read like a huge adventure to a child reader I suppose. I always find with books originally written for children from this sort of period - that they're written in such a different way to modern children's books, wordier with greater depth, and better description. Its this which probably make th...more
This is a great book I have read about 6 times. You end up not feeling sorry for them but instead being envious of them having this great adventure and just having an amazing time living in a barn and looking after themselves. The children are all really lovable even the mischievous twins, Jumbo and Sambo.
An amazing read that is so quick and easy and light that you will easily finish in a day because you cant put it down and then you will start to wish, as I do, that there is a sequel or series...more
In this 1938 English children's book, the parents of five children disappear while on a trip, and the children end up living in a friendly farmer's barn on their own for the spring and summer. The everyday descriptions of life in the barn root this fantasy in the real, with the haybox slow cooker, 4 a.m. washings, egg gatherings and other chores. When things are difficult, the oldest child, Susan, remembers her mother's sayings "Let the odds come to the end", and "Never mind, trudge another mile...more
One of the books that made the most impression on me as a child, and that still has valuable messages about strength and courage and the importance of independence. I remember reading it at Alice's age and wanting to grow up to be like Sue; as an adult, I'm all the more impressed by Sue's determination to do what has to be done, and love her all the more.
I'm so glad I reread this!
Carey Combe
Apr 20, 2011 Carey Combe rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bettie
A wonderful book, easy to overlook the ludicrous plot developments (the parents not trying to get to their children at all, the landlord evicting them etc) and enjoy the fabulous evocation of a childhood without adults. But the most interesting this is that it is pretty subversive with the children supporting and helping each other while the majority of the adults behaving with pretty much total indifference to their welfare. Lovely.
I read this book as a child, in a Dutch translation. I loved it. I found it again recently and still like it.
As I read it everything was very familiar. I must have read it many, many times.
Enjoyable enough, although in no way a complicated read.
Aubrey Clifton
Aubrey Clifton marked it as to-read
Sep 16, 2014
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Sep 05, 2014
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Aug 08, 2014
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Aug 01, 2014
Samantha Guido
Samantha Guido marked it as to-read
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Julie Gaspers
Julie Gaspers marked it as to-read
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Eleanor Graham was a book editor and children's book author. She became an editor for Heinemann and Methuen Publishing and a reviewer of children's books for papers such as The Sunday Times. During the Second World War, she became editor of Penguin's children's imprint Puffin Books. After her retirement in 1961, she received the Eleanor Farjeon Award from the Children's Book Circle.
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