Books for Children

The Paradise Barn series

There are five stories in the Paradise Barn series, set in London, and in a fictional country town called Great Deeping. The first takes place in 1940, and the last in 1945, the year the War ended.

Great Deeping is a fictional town in the Fens, a few miles north of Ely. The countryside is flat, with wide open fields and enormous skies.

There is a railway station there (it comes into all of the stories) and trains arrive from Cambridge and London. Its river is the Great Ouse, and the river and the railway run side by side as they skirt the eastern edge of the town.

The main characters are Molly Barnes, whose mother runs a guest-house, and her best friend Abigail Murfitt, who lives in a house by the railway and whose mother is in charge of the level-crossing gates. In the first story, a London evacuee called Adam Swales comes to live with Molly. The three of them become friends as the stories progress.

Other children come into the stories from time to time. Molly and Adam are in four of them, and Abigail is in all five. She is on her own in Operation Blackout. Paradise Barn itself stands in open country at the edge of the town. The three children spend a lot of time there and – with the permission of the farmer who owns it – they have a private den in a secret room there.


Paradise Barn Book Cover
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It’s September 1940, the darkest period of the War. The Blitz of London and other cities has just started, and evacuees are being rushed out into the countryside where they will be safer.

All through that summer a German invasion is expected and feared.

In the midst of all this killing, ordinary peacetime crimes continue to happen. Paradise Barn tells the story of three friends who find themselves caught up in a murder mystery. Molly and Abigail have always lived in Great Deeping, a small town in the country. Adam is an evacuee from London. Together they set about solving the crime – only to find that it is more complicated than they had expected.


Book cover for Operation Blackout
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This is the second story in the series and – like the others – it is set in the country town of Great Deeping, and in London. The Barn itself doesn’t come into this story. Molly is ill, and Adam is in Wales. But Abigail – with three new friends – is very involved, and Hilda Pritt too.

The story begins a few weeks before Christmas 1940, when the London blitz is at its worst. A ten-year-old girl is dragged naked from the rubble. After a few weeks in which she is homeless, hungry, and cold, she finds her way with other evacuees onto a train that passes through Great Deeping.

Meanwhile a German boy related to Adolf Hitler is being prepared at a Nazi training school to be parachuted into England – near Great Deeping. The English girl and the German boy find themselves caught up in a deadly war-time mystery. The situation requires all their courage and cleverness, as well as the help of Hilda, Abigail, and a strange woman with a three-legged cat.


The Deeping Secrets Cover
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This is the third story in the series. It starts immediately after the end of Operation Blackout, in the spring of 1941. Molly is recovering from her illness, and Adam arrives back from Wales.

It is a story about enemy spies and sabotage. There is a plan to blow up an entire freight train loaded with explosives when it is travelling through Great Deeping.

Molly, Abigail and Adam stumble upon this plan. Can they prevent the explosion? Can they save the town from annihilation?

Will they escape alive?


Hidden Lies Cover
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In the spring and early summer of 1944 the whole country is expecting an attempt to land allied armies in enemy-occupied France. Unless this happens there will be no chance of defeating Germany. No-one is meant to know when or where the landings will take place.

But someone does know. He is Cassie’s Uncle Peter, who seems to know everything about the invasion. But when he dies in mysterious circumstances, what will Cassie do, left on her own?

She quickly finds that she is being hunted by mysterious and menacing people.

Luckily, she discovers new friends – Molly, Abigail and Adam, and a younger boy called Edward. The five of them set out to find out what has happened to Uncle Peter.

The story ends on the eve of D-Day – and everything changes for Cassie and Edward.


Everyone a Stranger
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Everyone A Stranger (winner of the EAST ANGLIAN CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2014).

The story takes place in 1945 as allied armies are closing on Berlin. Although the War is coming to an end, London and the south-east are suffering a renewed blitz of V1 ‘doodlebugs’ and V2 rockets. When peace does finally arrive, Molly and Abigail must learn to live with strangers in their homes – their fathers, returned from the fighting, and Abigail’s annoying cousin Ivy from London. It is a strange and difficult period in their lives. Neither of them is prepared for an event that will turn their friend Adam into a different person. In an uncertain post-War world, they must all make decisions about their future.


Click on any of the book covers to be taken to their Amazon pages, where you can purchase a copy online.