The Mitchells Series

The Mitchells: Five for Victory

Book cover: 'The Mitchells: Five for Victory'
Author(s): 
Hilda Van Stockum
Copyright: 
1945
Publisher: 
Bethlehem Books
Series: 
The Mitchells
Binding: 
Sewn Softcover
Number of pages: 
236 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This is a charming and thoughtful story of an American family of five children during World War II (based on Hilda Van Stockum's own family) whose father is away at war. The family is very real with plenty of worries and troubles...but they manage to find joy with each other. For independent reading, it could be one your children's first full-length chapter books.Wit and wisdom make it a can't miss for adults as well (a perfect read-aloud). This has been a favorite with our family (for children as young as four or five) for many years.

Washington D.C. is an exciting place to grow up and the children are enchanted with pets, clubs and a mysterious girl who has just moved in down the street. Mother's attempts to take in boarders and a visit from Uncle Jim and "Mr. Jenkins" keep them busy while Father is away. Pets and babies are particularly memorable characters.

There is an aspect of the story that might be troubling for young children sensitive about adoption. A neighbor who considers adopting a war refugee decides not to because the child doesn't get along with the lady's son. The fate of adopted children is discussed rather carelessly by this lady (in terms of "well, my son has to come first") and the mother of the Mitchells doesn't have any good comebacks to resolve the issue. The story resolves nicely, however, as the girl ends up finding her grandfather, but this segment might need a little explanation. My sister-in-law (who has two adopted children) found the issue troubling and put the book aside until her children were older.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
12-12-05
Reviewed by: 

Canadian Summer

Book cover: 'Canadian Summer'
Author(s): 
Hilda Van Stockum
Copyright: 
1948
Publisher: 
Bethlehem Books
Series: 
The Mitchells
Binding: 
Sewn Softcover
Number of pages: 
180 pages
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Canadian Summer continues the story of the Mitchell Family (this is the second book in the series) several years after World War II. Baby Catherine has joined the family. Father is back from the war and has moved to Quebec for his job. He has difficulty finding housing for the family, but finally makes arrangements and sends Mother, Granny and the children up on the train. Upon arriving, the ladies are shocked to find that accomodations consist of a remote ski cabin lacking electricity or running water. Doctors and stores are many miles away and transportation is nearly impossible. Wild animals and a big lake worry Mother, but intrigue the children. Of course they discover the pleasures and difficulties of rural life and have many interesting and humorous adventures.

Hilda Van Stockum is a gifted storyteller whose motherly (and grandmotherly) experience is evident in all of her books. The little details and stories, so grounded in the truth and reality of large loving families, are just plain wonderful. These books are highly recommended.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
12-12-05
Reviewed by: 

Friendly Gables

Book cover: 'Friendly Gables'
Author(s): 
Hilda Van Stockum
Copyright: 
1960
Publisher: 
Bethlehem Books
Series: 
The Mitchells
Binding: 
Sewn Softcover
Number of pages: 
165 pages
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Friendly Gables is the final book in the Mitchell's Series and our favorite of the bunch.The family has recently settled into a large, comfortable house in Quebec. Mother has just given birth to twins and a cranky nurse comes to help. The children are adjusting to life in Canada - including French schools and a boy who's itching to pick a fight with "Yankee" boys.

Six-year old Timmy has my children in fits of laughter every time they hear about the toothache in his tummy and his exclaims of "Good News!" They are enchanted by the Mitchell's story-telling games, their secret-hideaway in the attic and their twin baby brothers. There are of course many humorous adventures and many wonderful tidbits about family life. Despite frustrations and set-backs, in the end they see that kindness is the best policy.

This is the kind of story that we pick up when we're having a bad day, read a chapter or two aloud, and feel much better afterwards.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
12-12-05
Reviewed by: