I’m Liz McCarthy, one of the two UMASCS Librarians. One of the best parts of my job is discovering things – whether that’s finding interesting material in our collections, adding items to the library or simply learning new things about our collections from a researcher.
Earlier this summer, I found a charming little book at a London bookseller’s shop, and I thought it was a perfect fit for us. It’s a tiny book, only about 10 cm tall, called Come to the Farm. It was published as part of a series called Tuck’s Better Little Books, and one of what were often called ‘Air Raid Booklets’. Published during the war, these small economic booklets (mainly for kids) could easily be carried in your pocket to an air raid. The subjects ranged from pure entertainment (bedtime stories, fairy tales) to educational or propaganda material (Brave Boys in War, I’m a Land Girl).
In Come to the Farm, two children named Joan and Peter explore a farm for the first time, learning about the buildings, animals and work as well as the answers to such pressing questions as ‘Why do the roads and hedges twist about so much?’ and ‘What do pigs eat?’ It’s ‘the most exciting day they’d had for months’, and it may be that the book was designed to help young children feel more secure about evacuations to the countryside. Although evacuations had largely scaled down by 1942, the uncertainty of the war made the possibility of further moves a very real one.
Come to the Farm is part of our Children’s Collection, but it touches on other areas of relevance to our readers and researchers. MERL researchers may be interested in the descriptions of farm life to children, and the wartime farm focus certainly complements our Evacuee Archive. Please do call up the book and take a look!