This put me in mind of Ballet Shoes, the theatrical element and the children taking responsibility for a family's poor finances, grown-up and capable children. And it could well be just as well-regarded as Streatfeild's classic.
A farming family, Hannah and her siblings are managing without their mother well enough, their father struggling to pay the bills but just about scraping by. Hannah dreams of writing a famous play, which her father sees as a waste of time.
But a rise in rent and a local theatrical competition coincide - can Hannah putnon a play to win the prize money and help stop her dad from losing his farm?
At heart, it's a simple plot, but there's actually a lot more depth to the story than that, with a wonderfully realised young love story that I found very realistic, rivalry with a richer student, descriptions of farm life, some amazing detail of Hannah's play and preparation.
For of course what is a play without a theatre in which to perform it? Hannah and her friends must find a venue. Is there somewhere on the farm? Hannah proves herself a more at hand capable director, and I adored the siblings and their relationships (though Martha I didn't warm to).
Hannah and Lottie (her best friend) are a very likeable pair of heroines and their scheme is one I really invested myself in. Even the side plot where they try to sell some 'valuable' candlesticks goes in interesting directions.
I thought this was very intelligent and honest writing for the age group. Easy to read with emotional depth and some great characters that are smart, capable and warm.
I look forward to the sequel.