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The Five-and-a-Half Club (1942) by Margery Bianco and Mabel O’Donnell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Five-and-a-Half Club was a gift from a dear friend. This was his favorite book as a child, and I can see why!

The inside cover of my book has an inscription that was blacked out by a previous owner in marker, but you can see that it said “To Jason, from Grandma Blanche”. There is another blacked out inscription on the next page, but unfortunately, it is unreadable. There is also a small stamp that says ‘property of lincoln center’. in purple. It was published by Row, Peterson and Company.

I loved this book! It is a really pretty story about a group of kids who form a little club called – you guessed it! – The Five-and-a-Half Club. The club’s name came after lots of names were suggested, but none seemed to fit. Finally, they landed on The Five-and-a-Half Club, because there were 5 older children – Bill and Martha Strong, Ann and Jimmy Baker, and Sally Green who are all about 9 – and one six year old little boy, Bobby Wells. He would be the half…. but he must not know that he is the half!

Next comes the problem of where the clubhouse would be. They had a fantastic idea! Old Mr. Riley, Sally’s next door neighbor had an old shed in his backyard that had come to disrepair due to non-use. Perhaps he would let them use the shed for their clubhouse. But sometimes Mr. Riley can be cranky if his leg was bothering him, so they were a bit hesitant to ask. It was decided that, since it was Sally’s direct next door neighbor, she should be the one to ask for the shed.

Old Mr. Riley was planning on tearing down the shed, anyway, so he agrees to let the children use his shed, on just a couple conditions. They must not worry Mrs. Riley, who was in her house most of the time, and they must make sure his pride and joy — his garden — was weeded every week. Of course, the children promise, and the venue is set!

The children fix up the place, keep the garden weeded, and even get a pet bunny! Oh, the fun they have!

But there’s a lot more to the above story, so I don’t want to give much more away. The joy really is in the reading! The wording is a bit quaint sometimes, though you have to expect that in most older books, It gives it that much more charm. What I mainly noticed while reading the book is the way that the authors seem to really understand children. These are things that innocent, well brought up children really would do during their summers at home. I could even relate to some of the thoughts that the children had, and definitely felt the same way they do on many occasions.

The other important thing I noticed was the illustrations. Gorgeous illustrations all throughout were done by Margaret Ayer, who illustrated tons of children’s books, as well as writing and illustrating some of her own. Her lovely pictures add a lot to the story, and it just wouldn’t be the same without these very ones!

I believe that this book was first published in 1936, but my edition is from 1942. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of the authors, Margery Bianco, aka Margery Williams aka Margery Williams Bianco, is the author of The Velveteen Rabbit! This makes me really want to read that book, which has been on my radar for some time now. Mabel O’Donnell is mostly known as a co-author of readers of this type.

If you can get your hands on this charming volume, I highly recommend it. I would be very interested in reading other Alice and Jerry Books.

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Donnie
Donnie
10 months ago

Thanks so much for the nice review of this special book. 🙂

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