303R: WWII evacuated kids hiding in English country house ruins. (Solved!)

C​hildren’s fiction book set during WWII in England.​ A group of evacuated children, abandoned or lost are hiding from enemy troops in ruined building or cellar in rural England.

​The oldest girl is the “mum” taking care of the little ones.​ They make it homely using stencils of pineapples?  (that may be a different book?)

When they are finally rescued by friendly troops, they are given treats by soldiers: a bar of chocolate and one orange to share between them. The youngest girl slowly unwraps chocolate foil like it is priceless treasure, but ultimately decides the orange is the best thing she has ever eaten.


4 thoughts on “303R: WWII evacuated kids hiding in English country house ruins. (Solved!)

  1. Possibly not helpful, but wow this has some similarities to Twenty and Ten (1952), republished as The Secret Cave (1973), by Clare Huchet Bishop. It’s set in France, and ten Jewish children are being sheltered at a school for gentile children, and have to hide in a cave when the German soldiers come along. What strikes me in particular is the piece of chocolate being treated like a treasure, the treats being given by soldiers, and the orange being even more valuable than the chocolate. Either one book borrowed heavily from the other, or maybe you’re mixing two books? Hiding from enemy soldiers in England seems unlikely, since the Germans never really got a ground presence in England during the war.

  2. I remember this book, and I think Meg is correct. The children are not hiding in England. They are in Europe. I don’t remember the pineapples, but the chocolate unwrapping, and the oranges are exactly as described! I read it as a Scholastic edition in the early 70’s. The Secret Cave cover is a match!

  3. The stencilled pineapples come from *Back Home*, by Michelle Magorian. This is set immediately post-WW2 and the main character is Rusty, who has been an evacuee in America, and returns to her parents in Britain to find that after several years away she hardly knows them. Her father sends her to a horrible boarding school in the hope that she’ll lose her American habits and fit in, and she runs away at weekends to a tumbledown (bombed?) house which she decorates and repairs, including stencilling a pineapple on a table as a symbol of hospitality.

  4. That is a perfect match on two books I loved as a kid!

    Thanks all for helping untangle my childhood understanding of children in WW2. I will find copies for my own kids to read.

    This is a great site for people like me who devoured books as a kid but never cared much who wrote them or what they were called.

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