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Review: The Children Who Lived in a Barn, by Eleanor Graham



Pages: 224
Original date of publication: 1938
My edition: 2008 (Persephone)
Why I decided to read: Persephone catalogue
How I acquired my copy: Persephone shop, September 2011


The Children Who Lived in a Barn is a children’s novel, set in an English village. When Mr. and Mrs. Dunnet are called away to be with a sick relative, they leave their five children (Susan, Bob, Joseph and Samuel the twins—called Jumbo and Sambo—and Alice) at home to manage by themselves. When the children are evicted, they move into a local barn, which they quickly make into a cozy home.

It’s a charming story. Of course, the logical side of my brain keeps poking holes in the story line—there’s no way in real life that these children, the oldest of whom is 14, would ever be allowed to stay at home by themselves or live in a barn. But the fantasy is part of the charm of this novel, and I’m sure that if I’d read this growing up, I would have enjoyed it much more. The novel kid of reminds me of the Bobbsey twins, mixed with the Boxcar Children series that I read when I was younger.

I liked watching how the five children managed, particularly under the direction of Susan, who seems so much older than 14, and Bob, who seems much older than 13 (it’s always in novels that children seem older than they really are!). The ending is of course completely implausible, a bit of a dues ex machina with a heavy number of coincidences in order to wrap up the story, but I kind of liked it, in an odd way. Part of the fun of children’s books is how escapist they are; things don’t have to make sense, which is something I tend to forget when I’m reading! In all, an enjoyable book, but since I’m out of practice in reading children’s books,I didn’t like this one as much as some of the pther Persephones I’ve read.
This is Persephone No. 27.

Comments

Karen K. said…
I thought this one looked interesting, maybe I was just intrigued by the illustrations. I still haven't read it it but it reminds me of the Boxcar children too!

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