Large Families

Picture Books

 

The Five Chinese Brothers – Claire Hutchet Bishop

“Once upon a time there were Five Chinese Brothers and they all looked alike..” all very clever, each with an extraordinary ability which they use to convince a ruling judge of their innocence. Very wise brothers.

 

 

 

 

Princess Pam Fell Into the Jam – Cecilia Egan

“A jolly king and queen had twenty-four daughters..” A hilariously funny rhyme about Princess Pam and her naughty sisters, whom are unique individuals, each natural princesses, who end up having a massive food fight. A hit with the children.

 

 

 

The Story About Ping – Marjorie Flack

Ping the duck lives on the Yangtze River with his father, mother, two sisters, three brothers, eleven aunts, seven uncles and forty-two cousins.  One evening when he is late responding to the Master’s summons to return home, to avoid a spanking he hides out for the night. In the morning he embarks on many a dangerous adventure on the River, he returns gratefully to his family, to the security they offer, much wiser. A family favourite.

 

 

Tawny Scrawny Lion – Kathryn Jackson

A childhood favourite of mine, The Tawny Scrawny Lion who is hungry, feared and lonely is ‘adopted’ by a rabbit who takes him home to dine on carrot stew with his “five fat sisters and four fat brothers..” The lion has plans to dine on the rabbits not the stew but their hospitality wins him over.  We also have another, The Tawny Scrawny Lion and the Clever Monkey.

 

 

The Poky Little Puppy

The Poky Little Puppy, is inquisitive and marches to his ‘own drum’.  His escapades lead him along with his four brothers, exploring into the ‘wide, wide world’. We also have The Poky Little Puppy’s Naughty Day, both classic Golden Book childhood favourites.

 

 

 

The Mouse With The Too-Long Tail – Bani McSpeden

“Mr and Mrs Mouse were the proud parents of fourteen children… but their fifteenth child was known as The Mouse with the Too-Long Tail..” In the beginning of ‘our’ mouse sees his tail as constantly interrupting his enjoyment of activities, next he spends time trying to disguise his tail in a variety of hilarious ways, finally he embraces his uniqueness and is happy with who he is.  Another favourite, ours has been read so often it is sadly falling apart.

 

 

Surprise for Mrs Bunny – Charlotte Steiner

Eight little bunnies want to surprise their mother with painted eggs for her birthday.  Each decide what colour they want to paint their eggs, finding colour inspiration from colours in the natural world.  Poor Jolly was sad as he did not have a coloured egg for Mama’s basket but then, his egg had the biggest surprise of all.  So much love into each gift:)

Chapter Books

Families Of Four Children

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

The story of the four March girls who live in American during and after the Civil War with their Mother, their Father is away at War.  The girls are pretty Meg, tomboy Jo, shy Beth and vain Amy. To be honest I’m not a Little Women fan, I find the ‘girlishness’ of most of the characters insipid and irritating, though I realise I mightn’t be popular saying so. Next book in the series is Good Wives.  I am however a Jo fan, I relate to Jo which is probably why I like Little Men and in particular Jo’s Boys.

 

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall is another huge hit! A family of four girls, who like the Melendy family are raised by their widowed father, are an absolutely fascinating blend of personalities, we love these sisters. Who can resist a family with characters such as a four year old who always wears butterfly wings and is called Batty. Sequels are Penderwicks at Point Mouette and Penderwicks on Gardam Street. We always love sequels with our favourite friends, time to re-read with our younger children. Highly recommended.

 

 

We LOVE, LOVE the Melendy Family Quartet by Elizabeth Enright. The series opens with The Saturdays, a family of four children, their father and housekeeper Cuffy who live in New York city. The children Mona is 13, Rush 12, Randy 10.5 and Oliver 6 are intelligent and extremely creative. In the second book The Four-Story Mistake the family moves to the country into an unusual architectural house. Then There Were Five and Spiderweb For Two are the last two books in the quartet, where Mark a close friend who becomes a brother joins in the tales. The children are totally likable and interesting and are very close knit, we enjoy not only reading about their adventures but reading about their interactions. We’ve read these a few times over the years. Highly recommended!

 

The Moffats – Eleanor Estes

We actually haven’t read the Moffats, they sit waiting on our shelves, however they sound delightful, similar in parts to Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, a widowed mother and her children, although the children sound rather adventurous and rambunctious.  Set in American during World War 1. Sequels are; The Middle MoffatRufus M and The Moffat Museum.

 

 

Linnets and Valerians – Elizabeth Goudge

Set in England in 1912, four siblings are sent to live with their Grandmother after their mother dies, father is away in the army. Grandmother is too strict so they make their escape in a pony cart and set off, eventually ending up at their Uncle Ambrose’s home.  Once there the children solve a mystery that ‘hangs over’ the local village through a series of adventures. Interwoven through the story are touches of ‘pure magic’, more detailed reviews to explain.  A new find which we enjoyed last year.

 

Bobbsey Twins – Laura Lee Hope

The Bobbsey’s live in Lakeport, America, Father is a prosperous lumber merchant, Mother is home full time and the children are two sets of twins. Bert and Nan are 12 and Flossie and Freddie are 6, they have lots of adventures and often solve mysteries. Written for 8 year olds, I remember the series with fondness from my childhood, however re-visiting as an adult the formulaic plots becomes ‘old’ quick and the racial typecasting of that era is a concern. The children have read them, though they haven’t held interest for long.

 

The Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

The most well known book of the chronicles is The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in which 4 siblings are sent to the country for safety during the War.  They discover another world on the other side of the Wardrobe, a world in which Good vs Evil and they become Kings and Queens of Narnia. Lots of sibling interaction, children confronting their weaknesses and growing in their strengths. Some of Chronicles are about Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, others introduce different characters. Another I really must re-read to our younger children. Recommended.

 

 

Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

The four Walker children set sail in The Swallow for Wild Cat Island, however their plans are disturbed by the fierce Blackett sisters. A battle ensues, in which afterwards all six children join forces for a memorable summer. A marvelous series, 12 books in all, full of adventures, sailing, fishing, swimming, camping, secret codes and carrier pigeons.  Our older children were wildly keen on the Swallows and Amazon books, though the younger ones have yet to become fans. Recommended.

The Bantry Bay series by Hilda Van Stockum is about the O’Sullivan family who live in country Ireland in the 1930s, the older children Brigid and Michael are responsible and warm and the twins Liam and Francie are adventurous and mischievous. The series opens with Cottage at Bantry Bay and continues the adventures of the O’Sullivan family with Francie On The Run and Pegeen, the illustrations are delightful. Interwoven throughout is the Catholic faith and Irish wisdom, history and culture.  We’ve read the Bantry Bay books a few times already, a huge family favourite:) Highly recommended.

 

 

 

The Boxcar Children – Gertrude Chandler Warner
Four orphaned children appear in a town, frightened to live with their unknown Grandfather they make a home for themselves in an abandoned red boxcar.  We only have the first of this series, admittedly I haven’t read it though the children have read it to themselves, there are hundreds in the series.

 

Families Of Five Children
 

Happy Little Family – Rebecca Caudill is the story of the Fairchild family, in particular Bonnie(4) who at times finds it frustrating to be the youngest of five, as her siblings consider her too young to join in the fun. Set in the Kentucky hills one hundred years ago. We really enjoyed this book and plan to one day purchase the sequels; Schoolhouse in the WoodsUp and Down the River and Schoolroom in the Parlor

 

 

 

 

Smoky-House – Elizabeth Goudge

A story about John Treguddick and his five children who live in a west country village in England. I actually haven’t read the book, flicking through I note it’s about smugglers and fairy-folk, but for some reason it seems a bit of a strange book.  Suzannah shares a more comprehensive review.

 

 

 

 

 

The Children Who Lived in a Barn – Eleanor Graham

A book that I read in my childhood and the story stayed with me.  Five siblings are looking after themselves whilst their parents travel, when they receive news their parents’ plane is lost and their money dwindles they set out to look after themselves. They move out of their rented home into a nearby barn and set up house.  Their independence and resourcefulness appealed to me as a child, I never questioned ‘how’ they were able to achieve all this.  Might be time to re-read this.

 

 

 

Family Conspiracy – Joan Phipson

Joan Phipson is an Australian author who often writes about families, the outback and resourceful siblings. In Family Conspiracy the children band together to earn money so Mother can have an operation she needs. Solid family solidarity, I’ve long been a fan of any of Joan Phipson’s books.  The Common Room has a more detailed review.

 

 

 

Five Little Peppers And How They Grew – Margaret Sidney

Another book set long ago. Times are tough for widowed Mrs Pepper and her children but they have a positive outlook and the children are keen to help Mother, their attitudes are impressive. Lovely book.

 

 

 

Caddie Woodlawn – Carol Ryrie Brink

Thinking about Caddie Woodlawn always brings back a special memory.  Several years ago when our oldest was nine and we had five children we read the entire book in one day.  The children begged for more and more, so I read and read until the entire book was finished! Caddie lives in frontier America and is an adventurer who loves hunting and plowing and making friends with the Indians. We loved Caddie so much, the children begged for more stories of Caddie, fortunately we found the sequel Magical Melons

 

Families of Six Plus Children

 

Eight Cousins – Louisa May Alcott

After her father’s death orphan Rose Campbell moves to ‘Aunt Hill’ to live with her six aunts and seven boy cousins. Previously her life was quiet and she was treated like a delicate flower but when her enlightened Uncle Alec arrives he insists she has freedom and joins in the fun with her boisterous cousins. Certainly a freedom not granted to many girls of the Victorian era. A truly lovely book full of admirable virtues from both the boys and Rose.

 

 

Ten Kids, No Pets – Ann Martin

The ten children in the Rosso family want a pet, their Mother does not. She says, “No pets, 10 kids is enough” (I’m with the mother;) However they move from the city to the country and the children have a plan. The sequel is Eleven Kids, One Summer. Admittedly the books are Apple paperback so normally what I would call ‘fluff’ however they are books about large families so they made the grade. I must admit I haven’t read them,though the girls have.

 

The Story of the Treasure Seekers – Edith Nesbitt

A series written a hundred years ago featuring the Bastables, six lively,motherless children who live in dreary London.  As their father has lost his money the children are left to their own devices and decide to seek their fortune, thus embarking on many adventures.  They argue like real children but believe in honour and bravery. I have yet to read these but I understand the first book to be the best, reviews of the sequels The WouldBe Goods and The New Treasure Seekers aren’t so enthused.

* Edith Nesbitt was a founding member of the socialist Fabian society, and I’m uncertain has to how much/if this influenced her children’s stories.

 

 

First Farm in the Valley – Anne Pellowski

The first book in the Latsch Valley Farm books features 6 year old Anna, one of 10 children.  The family have emigrated to America from Poland to the a valley in Western Wisconsin, many of their neighbours have also emigrated from Poland.  The series follow the everday lives of a farming community, their Catholicism and their Polish roots are entwined throughout the stories as they farm in Wisconsin in the mid 1800s. The sequels are; Winding Valley Farm: Annie’s StoryWillow Wind Farm: Betsy’s StoryStairstep Farm: Anna Rose’s StoryBetsy’s Up and Down Year. 

 


Seventh Pebble – Eleanor Spence

When the Connells move to the mining town of Hollybush Flat, Rachel Blackwood makes friends with the family of seven children, the town however is not so friendly, the Connells are Irish, Catholic and poor. A tale of prejudice, yet also courage from Rachel, one to engender deep discussions, the children have yet to read the book.

 

 

 

All of a Kind Family – Sydney Taylor

In the early 1900s five little girls live in New York with their parents, five bonded sisters, who have a surprise one night! The All of a Kind Family is Jewish and their faith is interwoven throughout the book, as well as the girls enjoyment in the everyday, plenty of simple fun. We really enjoyed this book and our plan is to one day have the complete set. The rest of the series includes, More of All Of A Kind FamilyAll of a Kind Family UptownAll of a Kind Family Downtown and Ella Of All Of A Kind Family.

 

Seven Little Australians – Ethel Turner

One of my absolute childhood favourites! The seven Woolcott children are very mischievous and rebellious, their mother is dead and their step mother is very young and ineffectual, so the children ‘run wild’.  I devoured this book as a child and cried for a week at the conclusion of the first book.  I also love the sequels, The Family at MisruleLittle Mother Meg and Judy and Punch.  I love Mother Meg best.

 

Children on the Oregon Trail – A Rutgers Van Der Loef

Another childhood favourite which I couldn’t wait to read to the children. A book that you love as a child but when you read as a parent you are a little surprised. This is a very realistic, tragic account of the seven Sager children who set out for Oregon with their parents, who died of fever along the way! Separated from the wagon train 13 year old John manages to get his six younger siblings including a newborn thousands of kilometers along the wagon trail to Oregon! Absolute tale of tenacity, bravery and pure survival, impressive!

 

The Mitchells: Five For Victory – Hilda Van Stockum

Five for Victory is the first in the Mitchell series, set in the 2nd World War whilst their father is away fighting in the war. A real mix of characters, the older ones strive to be responsible and contribute towards the War effort, the younger ones are a real handful and keep their mother and grandmother busy.  Father comes home after the War as does Uncle. The sequels are Canadian Summer and Friendly Gables, in which the children have many adventures and mishaps, grow older and three more babies, including twins are added to the family.   I’ve read this to a few ‘sets’ of children thus far, one of our absolute favourites.

 

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