Book ID: five kids, orphaned and hiding it, 70s
April 12, 2021 7:39 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine on Facebook is trying to remember a book about orphans living on their own, which she read circa 1980-ish.

My friend: "I'm pretty sure I had it as a scholastic book in the late '70s / early 80s. I know it was made into a movie. Gosh I remember so many images from that book that I probably only read once or twice. I think they were like five kids, the oldest were girls and they were working hard to try and keep the family together and hide the fact that the parents were both dead."

She thinks Appalachia was the setting.

My friend's desire to find this book, which came up in a discussion on my Facebook page, has infected me. Any thoughts?

It's not The Boxcar Children.

The context it came up in was a discussion of the expression "Shank's mare." If you travel by Shank's mare, you are walking. She learned this expression from this book.
posted by Orlop to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Sounds like Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt, a favorite of mine as a kid. It was set in Connecticut and Maryland, though, not Appalachia, and featured four kids. It looks like it was indeed made into a movie.
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds at 7:48 AM on April 12, 2021 [5 favorites]

I also came to say Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:49 AM on April 12, 2021

Best answer: Where The Lillies Bloom? “Mary Call has promised her dying father to keep her brother and sisters together forever in their home in the Great Smoky Mountains, and to never to take any help from strangers. She is determined to keep her word—and her pride. No matter what.” Made into a movie in 1974.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:51 AM on April 12, 2021 [10 favorites]

Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt? There was a lot about Chesapeake Bay.

On preview, Tillerman cycle as mentioned above.
posted by sedimentary_deer at 7:55 AM on April 12, 2021

There are several things that don’t match up with the Voigt book, primarily 1. the mom isn’t dead, she just leaves, 2. it’s more about them trying to find their grandma than trying to make it on their own, and 3. it’s not Appalachia.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:58 AM on April 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

One other strike against Homecoming: I've just searched the text for "Shank's" and "Shanks", and there are no matches.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:20 AM on April 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Is it Dear Lola? That book was later made into a movie called The Beniker Gang. It was one of my favorites back in the day.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:21 AM on April 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Was it definitely set in the USA? The Children who lived in a barn is a late 1930s British story about five kids who, uh, go and live in a barn.
IIRC the parents weren't dead, but missing (maybe in a coma?) so there's a happy ending. "Shanks pony" is likely to be used as a phrase in a book of this vintage; best test is to ask your friend if they remember the hay oven. Everyone remembers the hay oven...
posted by AFII at 8:26 AM on April 12, 2021

Best answer: Where the Lilies Bloom as someone else suggested. My aunt Alice, who was a "character actress", was in it. Lovely book, lovely movie.
posted by mareli at 8:27 AM on April 12, 2021 [5 favorites]

If not definitely in the USA - Nobody Knows is a 2004 Japanese movie (based on a true child abandonment case in Japan).
posted by Dotty at 10:24 AM on April 12, 2021

Best answer: This set of review flash cards for Where the Lilies Bloom includes the definition of Shank's mare. I think that's probably the book she has in mind.
posted by Redstart at 10:25 AM on April 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

Our Mother's House by Julian Gloag?
posted by Jane the Brown at 11:27 AM on April 12, 2021

Response by poster: My friend confirms it was Where the Lilies Bloom, and expresses her thanks.
posted by Orlop at 2:28 PM on April 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

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