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Then There Were Five (Melendy Quartet) Paperback – January 22, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Melendy Quartet Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Favorites from the 1940s series that began with The Saturdays, these stories of rural adventure feature the four Melendy children. In the first book, they befriend an orphan and dam a local stream. In the second, the younger boys receive a series of mysterious letters. Enright's own drawings are reprinted. Ages 8-12.

Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“The Melendys are the quintessential storybook family...[their] ardent approach to living is eternally relevant.” ―Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Series: Melendy Quartet (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; 3 edition (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312376006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312376000
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have read and reread the Melendy Family series -- all four books -- since I was about 8 years old, and that's closer to 40 years ago now than I care to think. These books all have stayed with me emotionally, are all well loved -- and all absolutely are worth discovering as an adult if you missed them as a child.
But "Then There Were Five" remains my favorite of the four. It is the most like a "real" (grownup) novel in its plot, in the way the characters grow and change, and in the very vivid scenes set throughout. I still get shivers from the description of Mark and Rush spying on Oren and his pals at their illegal still, and especially from the chapter about the fire that sends a homeless Mark to live with his friends, the Melendys. The dark edges, to me, are what make this book the most compelling of the series. Yet it also brims with all the familial love and good-natured humor of the other Enright works.
This book, which originally ended the Melendy series ("Spiderweb for Two" came years later), is the one that stands out as a truly dimensional narrative work. I've always thought it would make a terrific family film, if one could only be made that was faithful to the World War II period and to the characters as well as the basic plot.
One of the things I love about Elizabeth Enright is how she educates her young readers while she entertains them. In "The Saturdays," I learned a bit about Wagner's "Siegfried" through Rush's trip to the Metropolitan Opera, and what petits fours were through Randy's tea with Mrs. Oliphant. In "The Four-Story Mistake," through Mona's radio acting job, I learned that radio was just as important to the 1940s as TV to the 1960s.
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Format: Paperback
The Melendy Family books have been favorites of mine for over 30 years -- and getting closer to 40. This is a series that truly deserves to be called classic. *Then There Was Five* continues the kind of adventures and discoveries the Melendy kids had in *The Four-Story Mistake.* There's a new boy introduced in this book, the Mark who makes five. He and Rush get into a pretty hair-raising adventure involving Mark's guardian, the nasty Mr. Meeker. (Don't worry -- Mona, Randy, and Oliver have adventures, too.) As a child I didn't pick up on all of the nuances of this book. As an adult, I can. (The scene with the social worker makes me howl with sympathetic laughter.) If this book was a childhood friend, you'll be glad to meet it again. Parents, this is a good series. Buy it for your children (and if you haven't any children, buy it for yourself). Ann E. Nichols
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Format: Hardcover
The third Melendy novel has a darker undertone than the preceding two, with the introduction of Mark Herron, a lonely orphan befriended by Rush and Randy, and his guardian-cousin, the fearsome Oren Meeker. There are thrills and heart-clutchers a-plenty--Rush and Mark spying on an illegal whiskey still, a vividly described house fire--but they're nicely leavened by the lighter incidents like the character of Mr. Jasper Titus, rural gourmand, and the resolve of Mona and Randy to undertake the canning of the family's victory-garden produce. World War II, also, is a more looming presence (the time seems to be the summer of '42), as the family's ancient car, "the Motor," is up on jacks "for the duration" (they get around by way of a one-horse surrey!), Rush and Randy start a scrap drive "for the soldiers," and the Melendys' beloved father takes a hush-hush war job in Washington, which ultimately leads to the kids being left on their own when housekeeper Cuffy is unexpectedly called away to help an injured cousin. But in the end everything comes out right, as it should in a juvenile. This is the book to which Enright was leading up with the previous two, and perhaps the best she wrote. The whole trilogy would make a splendid miniseries on TV (is any executive reading this? I'll even do the script!).
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Format: Paperback
This is my favorite book of childhood, read over and over again; it always appeals and soothes. I think it represents all that one would want for oneself, as a child, and for one's children--adventure, exploration, self-reliance, humor, sympathy. A great book, the best by this very talented author.
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Format: Hardcover
I agree with those who say that this is the best book out of the four. It's definitely the most complex, and has the most character development. Mark, who was an abused child long before that became a catch-phrase, is sketched out wonderfully. Oren's sister, who he mentioned early on, must have been a good influence on him, because he's resilient, kind and intelligent, despite what he has to put up with from Oren. I agree with Rush when he said the Melendys were the lucky ones, to get Mark for a brother!
Although I did think Rush was pretty rude, barging in every day while the girls were canning, and demanding to be fed immediately! Did he think that just because Mona and Randy didn't have a five-course meal ready and waiting, that they were going to let the guys starve? And it's not like they'd been doing nothing! God bless Mr. Titus for helping them out!
My favorite bits were when Rush and Mark spy on Oren and his pals at the still---that was real adult talk, but still appropriate for a kids' book: not easy to bring off---and the auction and fair. I loved when the Delacey brothers showed up and bid on the boar. "The three of them should be very happy together"---good one, Willy!
And I felt so bad for Oliver when he fell down the well! That was a good device, too. For so long, he'd gotten so little attention because he didn't demand any, and look what finally happened. It forced the other kids to realize how much they cared about him, and show it, and they handled it themselves, showing how capable they were. Good for them!
And I also liked when Cuffy was leaving to visit her cousin and had to cram weeks worth of nagging into an hour. "Close the windows whenever it rains! (Duh!) Call me long distance if anything goes wrong! (And that will help, how?) Don't forget to feed the DOGS! (Like they'd let you!)"
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