I realise that I have read this series in a most peculiar order and for anyone trying to follow the series, I’ve not helped. So I apologise. Nevertheless I have now read five out of the six of the series and omitted the first ever story of Mike, Belinda, Ann and their caravans (I have, you’ll be pleased to hear, just ordered a copy from eBay to make up for this fact). Leaving the whole saga of the misreading to one side, I hope you’ll continue reading and find out about the fifth book in the series, The Buttercup Farm Family.
The reason I mentioned about my not reading the series in order just now is down to the fact that I felt as though I had missed a big point of this plot when I first delved into the book. Buttercup Farm is put forward as a destination for the children to go and stay when Mummy and Daddy go away to America for a business visit-slash-holiday and Granny can’t look after them because she’s looking after someone else’s child.
Ann suggests Buttercup Farm, of which I assume has been spoken about before in the first book, because it’s suggested with an air of ‘well aren’t you silly for not thinking of it’. Auntie Clara and Uncle Ned own this farm and work very hard on it by all accounts and it would be a suitable place for the children to go while their parents are on holiday. Auntie Clara and Uncle Ned will look after them, Buttercup farm is close enough for them to go to school and come back to the caravans everyday as well as be able to help with jobs around the farm. Let’s be practical for a moment now (boring I know) but why not just stay there all the time if it’s so good for school and things? Anyway, Uncle Ned and Auntie Clara agree, saying they’d like to have the children and the caravans are moved, towards the end of the Christmas holidays.
The fact that this is happening in the Christmas holidays means that we get to see the transition of the farm through the year, which one would have to assume was Enid Blyton’s intent. We know from previous books and works that Blyton loves nature and animals, so are we really surprised when I say that, out of all of the Family books so far, Buttercup Farm is probably the strongest? Not only that but I think it was the one I enjoyed the most. Not only did she have a natural talent for mysteries but she has one for writing about animals as well, and life on a farm.
Life on the farm
The children throw themselves into life on the farm, Belinda takes on the task of looking after the hens. She feed them, collects the eggs, and mucks them out. When two of the hens get broody, the children get some hens eggs and ducks eggs for the hens to hatch. While the hens are on the eggs, the children explore more of the farm, Ann takes to the little lambs, and even gets to feed one whose mother doesn’t want to know about the poor thing. She calls the lamb Hoppetty because he jumps about an leaps about. He turns into quite a cheeky lamb, even trying to get upstairs to find Ann when she’s at school.
So Ann has Hoppetty and Belinda has her chickens, and Mike’s feeling a bit left out, because the girls have animals to care for. However, the sheep dogs have a litter of five puppies, and Mike falls in love with the puppies, but because they are from such good sheepdogs they are all sold to other farmers so Mike can’t have a puppy. Luckily for Mike though, one of the new owners backs out of the taking the last puppy, Rascal, and Auntie Clara convinces Uncle Ned to let Mike have the puppy. What his parents will make of that, I do not know because the issue never gets addressed, but all the children now have animals to care for and look after while they are on the farm.
Just towards the end of the book when the children are helping bring in the hay for the harvest their mother and father pop back up, having been gone an extra two months than their original six month ‘holiday’ and are pleased to see their children being so helpful.
I think this book works better than some of the others in the series because every page, pretty much has a new animal on it, and talks about all the different things that happen on the farm. I think its really good for younger children to see what farm life is like, find out information about the processes on the farm, and responsibility of looking after animals. These are lessons that Blyton teaches very well, and we have seen similar explains of her love of nature before. When Fiona’s baby is a bit older I plan on reading these books to him, so he can get the joy out of them at the right age, instead of the slightly more ‘realistic’ approach I take to them now.
The Buttercup Farm Family probably seems to have more story to it because of the animals and the different things the children do, instead of them waiting for things to happen, by and large. I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to any of you!
Let me know if you’ve read it and what you think of it below!