Looking at my 2021 reads so far (since we are heading towards the end of the year), I realised that I hadn’t read/re-read a single Blyton book in 2021, which is quite rare for me. So, to remedy that I picked up the first of a series I’ve been planning to read for a while, and one I hadn’t read as a child, the Family Series, its first entry being The Caravan Family which turned out to be a really simple, charming book.

In The Caravan Family (1945), we meet three children, Mike, Belinda and Ann who have been living with their mother and Granny while their father has been away the past two years (given the time, most likely in the war, though this not specified). Now that Daddy is back, the family decide to find a home of their own, dreaming of the lovely little cottage (which they’ve even named Cherry Cottage), with Ann wanting to have cows (which is strange since it turns out she is scared of them). The family look but fail to find anything suitable, the one ‘perfect’ cottage they find (on a hill with lovely views and running up the walls) turning out to be beyond their means. As they go on, Daddy’s remark that they might ‘find a home around the very next corner’ turns out fortuitous as they come upon two old caravans in a field. To Ann this seems the right answer; ‘How I wish we lived in a Caravan’, and while their mother is somewhat reluctant, they soon begin to approve the idea and buy the two Caravans. Granny, initially horrified, begins to see that this won’t be so bad at all (till they find a ‘real’ home)—with running water and stoves which not only cook but heat up the caravans—and she too, warms to the idea. And so begins the process of repairing, cleaning and decorating the caravans and turning them into a home.    

The caravans are ready and the family move in, starting a life very different to what they’ve been living. All three children are excited about it, and do their chores eagerly. To their mother’s surprise, their appetites improve and they enjoy every moment of country life, heading down to the farm for eggs and milk, doing their chores and immersing themselves in the country atmosphere. Soon it happens that the farmer whose field they’ve been living on needs it back for his own use, so they must take their caravans and move on. Horses are bought (Davey and Clopper) and they set off, starting another part of their adventure.

This is a book with a really simple plot—simply a family buying a caravan and living and travelling in it, but it was full of charm and a delightful read all through (this is a very short book; just about half-an-hour to forty minutes).

The family preparing the caravan and turning it into a home was lovely to ‘watch’—as the children and Granny pick curtains and rugs, blankets and eiderdown; bright, happy colours are chosen for the outsides (yellow and red) and the things they need are fitted in. Their first evening there is also lovely with the children enjoying a tea with fresh eggs from the farm, and going to sleep to the song of a nightingale.

Blyton’s knowledge of nature and animals shines through in the book as she describes the lovely honeysuckle, moon daisies and yellow sorrel, ripening blackberries; yellowhammers and nightingales; bats and bees; and of course, the farm animals—cows, geese, horses, and dogs. I liked how she incorporated titbits of information without it seeming too much like a lesson—we learn about hay-making, milking and butter-making, and also cows and their four stomachs (to my shame, I only very recently discovered that they didn’t have upper teeth—this is brought up here as well, with poor Mike thinking Buttercup the cow has lost all her upper teeth).

The three children Mike, Belinda and Ann are done well—likeable and good-natured but also believable; they take to their chores in their caravan life happily and willingly, though we learn that earlier they were lazy and untidy; Belinda is afraid of bats, and Ann of cows and geese but as our story progresses, they learn to overcome that fear (I liked that Daddy says—‘it is because you don’t know enough about them that you are afraid of them’—true indeed for many, may be most of our fears.) (Mike’s observation that ‘boys must look after their sisters’ may jar a little with modern readers.)

Being a Blyton book, of course, there is food—fresh eggs and jam, butter, milk and cakes, but I somehow felt there was less of it than I had expected (in some of those Findouters’ books, they really gorge).

This was a lovely read about the simple pleasures of everyday life (which is not without its hard work), and of the calm one gets from immersing oneself in nature. Needless to say, I absolutely loved it.

The original illustrations by William Fyffe can be seen on the Blyton Society Page here.

The childrens’ further adventures take them on boats and cruises, to the seaside and a farm again, and I can’t wait to get to them.

Find my previous Blyton reads and reviews here


15 thoughts on “Book Review: The Caravan Family by Enid Blyton

  1. I did not know this about cows’ teeth either!! This does sound charming, I really like books that have plenty of detail about how something is done, whether that’s setting up a home, fitting out a shop, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My mom didn’t either; I only found out having come across a children’s book on NetGalley titled Cows Don’t Have Top Teeth (https://www.netgalley.co.uk/catalog/book/237284)–now I’m wishing I read it; this one did have detail on hay-making, butter churning, and some info on cows as well (stomachs, teeth, differently shaped hooves as compared to houses and such). I like how Blyton uses her knowledge of animals and nature (which of course come across more in her non-fic) in her stories as well.


  2. Wonderful review Mallika. I loved Enid Blyton as I child, and introduced my older grandson to her a number of years ago with The Famous Five and Secret Seven series. I must see if I can find this series for Luke. ❤📚


    1. Thanks so much Sandy🙂 Blyton was a favourite with me as a child as well–i spent hours reading the findouters, faraway tree, st Clare’s, the famous five and others. This series was new to me though and am glad I found it. Hope you manage to get your hands on it and Luke enjoys them. They are available through faded page online in case he’s ok reading ebooks.


  3. Sounds delightful! I was a huge Blyton fan in my childhood, but mostly the various mystery series. I’m pretty sure I never read this one. And I had no idea about the cows’ teeth so your post has been educational as well as enjoyable! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too; Like you I read mostly the mystery/adventure ones but also the school stories, circus ones, Faraway Tree and many of the assorted collections. This was a lovely read and I’m planning to pick up the rest of these as soon as I can 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, this is different from most of the Blytons I remember reading, and one I think I might, like you, rather enjoy — more, anyway, than the now clichéd tales of children beating adult baddies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think as an adult I’ve ended up coming across more Blytons that appeal to me in a different way now like this one. You might also like the Six Cousins series (two books)–again a farm setting but books which deal with more serious themes–like family breakdown (book 2)–than Blyton usually goes into.

      I will admit, I do enjoy going back to the ‘detective’ stories as well!

      Liked by 1 person

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