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Family stories

Dealing significantly with family relationships


Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea

Style: Good

Attitude: Fairly Positive

One story from two memoirs; the orphaned evacuee who wants to find his roots and his daughter who achieves this.

Two memoirs; the first of a London evacuee from WWII, sent to Australia, where he grew up with the idea of finding his elder sister in England, by sailing a yacht back to GB. He died and – the second memoir – his daughter did the journey alone and met her aunt.

Adventure, Biographical, Documentary, Family, Friendship, Growing-Up, Romantic, Seafaring, Thought-provoking

The Amber Cat

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

The imminent arrival of Robin's uncle Charley during Robin's bout of chicken pox causes his mother to reminisce about the days she spent with Charley, Nick and the slightly mysterious Harriet.

A combination of ghost story and family fun.

Family, Humorous, Spooky

The "Babysitters Club" series

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

There are over a hundred books in this series, all quite short, very popular with younger girls.

Generally positive feel. Young teenage friends taking responsibility in different situations. General acceptance of complicated family setups.

Family, Friendship, Girls, Growing-Up

Back Home

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Rusty is a 12-year-old English girl returning home after spending the war years with a family in the USA.

Honest efforts by a returning young evacuee to fit into now unfamiliar surroundings. Contrast between pre- and post-war expectations of conventional roles. Casting in a good light a more bohemian style of upbringing, less concerned with conventional taboos and more with children's freedom. Family tension and break-up.

Coping with, Family, Girls, Growing-Up, Historical, War

The Borrowers Afloat

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Pod, Homily and Arriety are forced to leave the house they share with their relatives because the humans who live there are going.

Classic, Family, Fantasy

The Borrowers

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Pod, Homily and Arriety Clock live under the floorboards of a house, borrowing from the humans to clothe, furnish and feed themselves.

Classic, Family, Fantasy

Caddy's World

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Caddy grows up quickly as her family focuses on her dangerously ill baby sister while her friends start to pull apart while trying to keep together.

Amusing family story. Friendship between four girls who are growing up. Problems faced cheerfully by a family whose newborn sister might not live. Realistic sibling relationships.

Family, Girls, Growing-Up

The Casson Family Series

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

The Casson family cope with everyday life, their friends, and each other.

Affectionate understanding in a realistic, if occasionally off-beat, family setting. In spite of the sometimes unconventional activities of the Cassons, the family setting is very robust with mostly unspoken affection at its core. Humorous and fresh with believable characters and situations. Eve & Bill are effectively separated. Tom's parents are divorced (and his father has had a daughter by his new girlfriend). Saffy's parents are an unmarried woman and a married man. Bill has a girlfriend in his London flat, and one of Caddy's many boyfriends looks for a while as though he's going to become Eve's partner, but in the end doesn't.

Family, Humorous

Cuckoo in the Nest

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

16-year-old Ralph Hollis is yearning for a career in the theatre, while his father is furious that he won't find real work.

A young man trying to do what he wants in life without going against his family. The support the family offers even with its spats and storms. The joy and companionship of working in a theatre.

Family, Growing-Up, Romantic, War

Dog Friday

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story begins with Robin in hospital after he has been attacked and badly injured by a dog.

Family, Friendship, Humorous

Double Image

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

David is resentful at having to spend a week with his grandad after his grandma has died, but discovers a story which his grandfather has kept hidden for many years.

Growing appreciation for the life led by ones grandparents, and the secret burden they've had to bear.

Family, Historical

The Exiles at Home

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Ruth, hiding in the school library when she's feeling ill, rashly fills in a form to sponsor an African schoolboy, writing her age in such a way that it looks like she's 18.

Slightly wacky but realistic family of girls. Determination not to let down the African schoolboy they've rashly promised money to. Their ingenuity in trying to get money for a good cause. Valuing older people.

Family, Humorous

The Exiles

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Mr & Mrs Conroy send their daughters to stay with their grandmother while they spend a modest windfall on having their house extended.

Unstated family warmth. Sense of honour and courtesy the girls show in public.

Family, Humorous

Forever X

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

The Shepherds (Anne & Jack with children Joy and Mel) are on their way to the Lakes when their car breaks down fortuitously near a B&B.

Family, Humorous

Foster Family series

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The parents of a girl take on a series of short- and long-term foster children.

A matter-of-fact series dealing with the various problems of fostering children

Family, Girls

Framed

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Dylan unwittingly becomes an art consultant to the National Gallery in exile when one painting a week is to be selected for display in London.

A quirky story using the difficulties faced by a small town and by one family in particular to highlight the effect art has on people. Family difficulties because of money problems. The efforts to make an unattractive town appealing.

Coping with, Family, Humorous

Gideon Ahoy

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story of Gideon, a 16-year-old deaf and retarded boy, who is given a job on a barge for the summer.

Family, Thought-provoking

Gideon the Cutpurse

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Peter & Kate are thrown back to the 18th century and are befriended by Gideon and his new employers, the Byng family.

Two youngsters making friends and mustering resources to return them home. Time travel and paradoxes. Big and small families. Peter's parents' effective separation and reconciliation. Life in the Past and the Present.

Adventure, Family, Friendship, Historical, Time-Travel

Goggle-Eyes

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Helen is upset about her mother's boyfriend; her friend tells Helen of the difficulties she had coming to terms with her own mother's "boyfriend" (both are middle-aged) whom she nicknames "Goggle Eyes".

Coping with, Family

The Great Harlequin Grim

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Glenn Jackson has to adjust as he is uprooted from his home in Burnley to a village in Cumbria, but his mother refuses to come without explaining why and he finds it difficult to fit into the village community.

Marital difficulties with some attempt at reconciliation. Implied and condoned dishonesty by the main character and others. Some sensuality between 14-year-olds. Commonsense portrayal of a character with hearing difficulties. Negative portrayal of a religious character.

Coping with, Family, Friendship, Growing-Up

Hatter's Castle

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

A man tyrannises his family, driving them to despair in one form or another.

Family, Gritty

The Haunting

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

8-year-old Barney Palmer is aware that he is being haunted by a small boy, whom he suspects to be the ghost of his great-uncle Cole, supposedly dead these 50 years, and special friend of his great-uncle Barnaby who has just died.

Family, Magic

His Banner Over Me

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

At the age of 4 Flora Gould (Gorrie) leaves Taiwan, where she was born to Canadian missionaries, to return with her family to Canada where she stays with her brothers and sisters until she is close to marrying.

Biographical, Family, Historical

Indigo's Star

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Indigo, returning to school after glandular fever, keeps his worries about being bullied from the rest of his family, except that Rose finds out and spills the beans, leading Saffy and her friend Sarah to barge right in and subdue the gang leader.

Affectionate understanding in a realistic family setting. Ill-feeling owing to separated parents taking new partners.

Family, Humorous

Jake's Tower

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Jake lives with his mother and her violent boyfriend.

Family, Gritty

Jimmy Coates: Killer

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Jimmy Coates is an ordinary 11-year-old, fighting with his sister, grumbling over his homework, until some people turn up at his house and try to take him away.

Genetically-engineered assassin child

Adventure, Family, Friendship, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Jimmy Coates: Revenge

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Jimmy Coates, along with his family & friends, is hiding safely from the British Secret Service in New York's Chinatown until he starts to experience painful headaches leaving images in his head which he believes point to an assassination attempt against the American President.

Enjoyable action-packed adventure with a certain family warmth and a thought-provoking core. Three genetically-altered assassin-youngsters with issues of free will and responsibility. Political-military complexities between three regimes. Deceptions and subterfuges between supposed allies. The loyalty of Jimmy's family and friends in difficult situations. Brutal action sequences between the youngsters.

Adventure, Family, Friendship, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Just Henry

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Henry, believing himself loyal to his dead father, initially despises certain other people and their ideals, but later learns that his father is less of a hero than he had thought and that the others deserve better from him.

Positive story about post-war attitudes and opportunities. A slightly tolerant attitude towards divorce and illegitimacy. Generosity and cheerfulness in difficult circumstances.

Family, Growing-Up, Moral Issue

Lion Boy

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Charlie Ashanti, the hero of the story, is able to speak Cat, which is not only the language of the domesticated variety but also that of the wild kind, such as lions.

Interesting and enjoyable. Question of animal intelligence.

Adventure, Family, Friendship, SciFi

A Monster Calls

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed

Conor is a boy who cannot accept the reality of his mother dying.

How a young boy copes with the impending death from cancer of his mother.

Boys, Coping with, Family, Fantasy, Gritty, Growing-Up, Moral Issue, School, Thought-provoking

The More the Merrier

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Ralph's family have invited the relatives around for Christmas Day, although not certain relatives who turn up anyway, and Ralph weaves his way skilfully through the chaos which ensues, trying to keep his own end up in the face of variously annoying relatives.

Family, Humorous

Over Sea, Under Stone

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

The Drew family and their Great Uncle Merry are staying in a Cornish house on holiday when the children find an old map which seems to lead to some treasure buried "Over the sea and under the stone".

Straightforward adventure story, slightly dated; ordinary family life

Adventure, Arthurian, Family, Fantasy

Pure Dead Brilliant

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Baci has invited her fellow classmates from the Institute of Advanced Witchcraft to stay, unaware that one of them is a demon from the Hadean Executive, after the legendary Chronostone.

Family, Humorous, Magic

Pure Dead Magic

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Luciano Strega-Borgia has gone missing after storming out of the castle, and his wife has to go on a training course for witches, so she engages a Nanny who sidesteps the younger Strega-Borgia's attempts to repel her and takes on the running of the house, which soon becomes a complicated business.

Family, Humorous, Magic

The "Pure Dead" Series

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

The general plot lines involve various or all of the family members finding themselves in self-imposed scrapes and trying to get out: Titus creates too many mini clones, Damp sends the family's pet rats off by email, the house roof falls in, Luciano is kidnapped by the mafia when he walks out after a row, Ffup finds herself giving birth to the Loch Ness Monster's baby, etc.

Fun; Close family; Some earthy humour

Family, Humorous, Magic

Pure Dead Wicked

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

The roof of Stregaschloss has collapsed, and the Strega-Borgias are forced to live in the local hotel while their house is being repaired.

Family, Humorous, Magic

Red Sky in the Morning

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

12-year-old Anna Peacock is determined to look after her baby brother Ben even though he is hydrocephalous.

Loving acceptance of a handicapped child. The stress this places on his familiy. General attitude of respect towards elderly or less capable people (including a harmless kleptomaniac). Anna's efforts to hold things together. Faith seen as meaningful if not entirely understood. Some vulgarity among teenage girls.

Coping with, Family, Growing-Up

Ring out Bow Bells!

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Dickon is apprenticed to Master Whittington, former mayor of London and head of a house of Mercers, although Dickon's own family are victuallers - old enemies of the clothiers.

Family, Historical

Saffy's Angel

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Saffy, the second of four children, discovers that she is adopted and is determined to regain the Angel her grandfather left her in his will as a mark of something which is really hers.

A lighthearted look at family and friendships. Cheerful and close family, although the father is effectively living elsewhere. Positive look at wheelchair-bound youngster.

Family, Humorous

The Sheep Pig

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Babe, a piglet, is won by the farmer in the village show, and is adopted by the farm's sheepdog Fly.

How a piglet on a farm is trained as a sheep-‘dog’ and wins trials

Animal, Family, Fantasy, Friendship, Humorous, Short

The Silver Sword

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

The story centres round the Balicki family set against the bleak landscape of war-torn Warsaw and the wreck that is post war Germany.

Classic, Family, War

Standing in the Shadows

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Grace, more tomboy than girl, is finding it hard to work as a kitchenmaid, especially when the male staff are leaving to join the army in France and her father needs help in the stables.

A conventional period story, unoriginal but inoffensive. Horror and uselessness of War. Challenge to traditional work patterns. Family strength even in disagreement. Old story about an illegitimate child.

Family, Historical

The Swish of the Curtain

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Positive → Edifying

As the summer starts, the Halfords move to Fenchester and strike up a friendship with the Fayne & Darwin families, prompting the youngsters to pool their talents and put on a play for their friends and acquaintances.

An undemanding story of youthful ambition and success. Dated but still very readable. Family tensions between children's ambitions and parental plans. Warmhearted generosity and good humour both in public and in private.

Classic, Family, Historical

The Tar Man

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Kate & her father have returned to the 20th Century unwittingly leaving Peter behind in the 18th and bringing instead the criminal Tar Man who uses his new-found abilities as a time-traveller to steal and plunder in this new century.

Slightly less interesting second story. Some nice family touches especially between the adult Peter and his father. Some uncondoned violence from criminal characters. Series starts to become mired in time-travel technobabble.

Adventure, Family, Friendship, Historical, Time-Travel

Treasures for Cousin Crystal

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Three children of (roughly) 1, 8 and 10 are put with a childminder when their parents are both forced to work away for a while.

Family, Humorous

Tree by Leaf

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Clothilde, a 12-year-old in 1921, lives with her family on the coast of America.

Family, Growing-Up

A Twist in Time

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Cosy (short for Cosima) finds herself getting used to a foster family just as she is starting at the school to which she's earned a scholarship.

Even if one were to extract the subplot of the ghost girl -- which is reminiscent of Charlotte Sometimes -- the story has a gently courageous feel: Cosy struggles hard because her Father's dead and she and her ill mother have kept each other going for years. At one point she gives in -- all her mother's efforts have only landed her in hospital -- but one of her foster sisters cajoles her roughly out of her mood and she goes on to make a good friend and do well at school.

Family, Girls

Victory

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Present-day Molly finds a fragment of the Victory's flag in the binding of an old book and starts to feel the echoes of Sam Robbins' life on board Nelson's ship at Trafalgar.

A lightweight pair of stories, each with its own poignancy, drawn together by the fragment of a flag from HMS Victory. Honest efforts of a family remarried after widowhood to get along. Brutality of life at sea in Nelson's Navy. Friendship and emnity on board ship. Cheerful and concerned family life. Very mild sexual references.

Family, Time-Travel, War

The Village by the Sea

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story of an Indian village family, roughly contemporary.

Family, Growing-Up

Wendy

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Wendy Darling, an inquisitive but innocent girl, learns more and more about the adult world as her family goes through difficult times.

Coping with, Family, Growing-Up

What Katy Did

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Katy Carr, a 12-year-old in turn-of-the-century America, has an accident through her own disobedience when she falls from a swing and injures her back.

Classic, Family, Girls

The Wind Eye

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Bertrand, a widower Cambridge professor with two daughters, has married Madeleine, a widow with a son.

Family, Magic, Time-Travel

The Wool-Pack

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Nicholas Fetterlock is the son of a Cotswolds wool merchant at the end of the 15th century when the wool had made such merchants and the country rich.

Classic, Family, Historical

Worlds Apart

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Susan lives with her mother and has no idea who her father is.

Family, Romantic

The Writing on the Hearth

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Stephen, whose father was bodyguard to his Lord of Suffolk, is under taken into the Lord's household when his stepfather remarries and his sister enters a convent.

Edifying and interesting historical read. Some ambiguous elements of witchcraft.

Classic, Family, Historical

Yaxley's Cat

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Rose, mother of Timothy (13) and Jane, is holidaying with her children on the Nortolk coast, partly to get away from her too-efficient businessman husband.

Family, Spooky