28 January 2020

The Children who Lived in a Barn

It was a kind aunt years ago who introduced me to Eleanor Graham's The Children who Lived in a Barn.

When Mr and Mrs Dunnet receive a telegam saying Mrs Dunnet's mother has had a serious accident, they arrange to fly at once to her. Set pre-WWII, they have no qualms about leaving their five children to look after themselves for a few days. Thirteen-year-old Sue is more than capable of caring for her younger brothers and sister.

Only the Dunnets are gone for much longer than a few days. In order to avoid problems with the landlord as well as the village busybodies interfering with them, Sue and her 11-year-old brother Bob along with twins Sambo and Jumbo and 7-year-old Alice take refuge in a local barn.

The children quickly realise that if life in the barn is going to work for them, they must have rules.

Rule Number One is: no begging, borrowing, scrounging or stealing.

Rule Number Two is: eat fair.

On pain of homes, orphanages and adoptions.

This is the fascinating story of how the children work hard to keep their independence while avoiding their enemies the dreaded DV (District Visitor), GP's wife Mrs Legge and the vicarage. But they find unexpected friends and help in the most unlikely of places along the way.

I love this book and was delighted to find a good quality secondhand copy. This is a story I enjoy coming back to over and over. It definitely deserves 5*.

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