The Children Who Lived in a Barn

I’ve just finished reading The children who lived in a barn by Eleanor Graham. What a book. The plot is very much like that of the more familiar Boxcar Children, which I remember loving as a kid. How romantic to go off and live in a railway car. How wonderful to still be a kid, and to be completely in charge of yourself. Amazing. I still remember the cracked pink cup one of them found at the dump to use.

Anyway, this is as romantic — they end up in a barn which they clean up — but the details are much more satisfying. People are good and bad — the insensitive teacher who arranges for the whole class to knit socks for the poor Dunnits is also really helpful in helping them to make and learn how to use a haybox, which seems to be a primitive form of crockpot. Susan (it’s always Susan) loses her temper and tends to take offense, but then she’s only 13. The missing parents are totally odd. The father is a useless, bad-tempered man with opinions. The mother goes along with his nonsense. Alice, the baby, is often a nuisance. It’s very real, and not at all smarmy.

It’s a very odd book.

I also see that this is totally the sort of book from which I got my ideas about housekeeping — also, my side of the mountain. I like the idea of living off bread and jam off cracked plates in a cabin while it rains outside. I can’t explain it, really, but it’s true.

It’s a very good book.


4 thoughts on “The Children Who Lived in a Barn

  1. I loved the Boxcar Children. And I always had these kind of fantasies as a child – living in barns, train cars, etc. But I always worried about school. They’re not in school! oh no! Dusty’s the same way. The kids in the book we’re reading have been shrunk by rats and are having all kinds of adventures. Dusty said, “But what about school? THey’re missing school?” The day in question happened to be a Saturday and she was relieved to realize they’d only missed two days of school so far. Whew!

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