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Stacks Image 281
C/o The Bartons UK edition book cover
Front cover, British edition, with Matt Day and Olivia Harkin.

I didn't realise until years after I got the book that they're in character, both doing the "poofter test"; with Matt bending his fingers to look at his nails (Olivia stretching them) and crossing his legs at the knees (Olivia putting her right lower leg on her left leg's knee).

British readers (judging the book by its cover only) after having seen the series,
wouldn't get this reference.

Click on the picture for a better look.

Photo by me.
As a tie in to the show, Jocelyn Moorhouse wrote a children's book based on the series.

The book is also titled
C/o The Bartons, although in some databases "(Plus)" is added to the title. (Plus), however, merely is the publisher's series of books where this title is a part of. The other books in the (Plus) series are not C/o The Bartons related.

Release
The book was released in Australia (1988) and the UK (30 March 1989).

There's also a Spanish translation of the book, titled "The Bartons, what a family!" (Los Barton ¡vaya familia!) which is removed from the series by not including photo's from the cast at all (even though the show was broadcast in Spain by Antena 3; see Broadcast History in the Series section).

The German edition is titled Sechs Bartons (the TV series was titled "Die 6 Bartons" there). This is the only edition still (October 2020) widely available new and sealed.

Plot
Moorhouse merged several screenplays from the series into a largely coherent story line. One of the differences between the book and the series, is that the story lines are more clearly connected to each other. The show did this, but the book does it better.

For example, the story lines of Half-Time and Musical Rooms directly follow each other in the book (there are four episodes between them in the series). In the Musical Rooms episode, Anthony and Paul fight because Paul makes too much noise during Anthony's study time. In the book however, the fight is about Paul leaving the field during the footie final and causing Banksiawood to lose the finals to Mirandavale, which happened in Half-time.

Some episode's stories are missing completely (see below) while others are severely shortened ("Musical Rooms") or merely referred to ("Beautiful Beetroot"); usually to make way for the overall plot.

Below is a handy little table that shows what episode is in the book and in what form.


Episode story line
In book?
In the book?
The Siege of Barton's Bathroom
Expanded
The Barton League of Bird Lovers
Expanded
Half-Time
Expanded
Mr Snoller's Black Bag
No
Three Little Pigs
No
The Great Billycart Aid Race
No
Position Vacant
No
Musical Rooms
Shortened
Beautiful Beetroot
Referenced
Bartons on the Beach
Expanded
Suspected
Expanded
Bye Bye Bartons
Expanded
Cast group  photo

Cast group photo, taken during the shoot of The Great Billycart Aid Race and used on the back cover of the book.

LTR: Olivia Harkin, Frankie J. Holden, Matt Day, Ben Toovey, Jennifer Jarman-Walker, Michael O'Reilly



Note that, although The Great Billycart Aid Race is not part of the book, the cast photo on the book's back cover is clearly from that episode's shoot.

The episodes that are missing, all involve the Snollers. That makes the Snollers the only main characters exclusive to the television series.

What's most striking about the book, is that the readers get a look inside the characters thoughts; to read what they're thinking in most situations. That adds another layer of depth to some important scenes. When I first read the book, I'd seen every episode lots of times. But watching them again after reading the same story in the book, including the characters thoughts, shone a new light on some of them and on the characters' motivations.

For instance, the scene in
Bartons at the Beach where Elly gets burried up to her neck in sand by Lee, and Lee then taking "advantage" of the situation by trying to kiss her, was already uneasy to watch in the episode itself. But after reading that Elly was terrified of what Lee could do while she's defenceless, mustering up all her courage to prevent her voice from trembling while she calmly warns Lee she's about to scream for help, puts that scene in a whole new light. That was very powerful.

The same goes for Paul's experiences on the football field and, later, with Petal Moochmore. Paul's insecurities and overthinking are key in both stories, and he's overwhelmed by emotions. Although Matt did a terrific job in those episodes, conveying what Paul was feeling in both cases, the thoughts that Paul has in those moments is where book's strength lies; Jocelyn Moorhouse really is a very good writer.

The book also fills in some blanks. Watching the show, Anita goes from being obsessed by Vince Capaletti to being in love with Paul Barton without an explanation. In the book however, Anita sees Paul walking off the football field in tears after she just witnessed Vince and Susan kissing; the book mentions that this moment, as Anita would realise years later, is the moment she fell in love with Paul.


Los Barton spanish edition book cover

Cover of the Spanish first edition of the book.

No cast photos this time; what a shame. I wonder if readers of this edition even knew there was a whole TV show about it. And yes, that's Mr Jensen wearing a cap for some reason in the lower left corner.

Click on the image for a better look.

Photo from unknown source; used under "citaatrecht". See the legal disclaimer.

Differences between the book and the series
There are a few differences between the book and the series. Most notably, as previously mentioned, The Snollers do not appear
and none of the stories involving them are present in the book. The only episode reworked into the book where the Snollers would appear, is Bye Bye Bartons. But the "scene" where Elly says goodbye to them was, of course, left out.

Also different, is Elly's age. In the series, Elly is eleven, going on twelve (she turns "eleven-and-a-half" during Musical Rooms), roughly lining up with Olivia's actual age during the shoot (Olivia turned twelve during the shoot of the final episode). In the book, Elly is twelve, going on thirteen.

Where "TV Elly" is still not at all interested in boys as we leave her in her tree in the final shot of the last episode, "Book Elly" notices Vince taking off his shirt on the very last page of the book… and suddenly understands Anita's earlier obsession over him.

Talking about the tree: in the book, Elly's favourite branch of the tree is the 23rd one from the ground up (33rd in the Spanish edition for some reason). That's pretty high up, so I guess that's why they made her perch on a branch a lot closer to the ground in the series.

Mr Jensen is much more menacing in the book. Mainly because of the suggestion he is some kind of traumatised veteran who went into early retirement because of what he went through. The softer side of Mr Jensen, seen in the show, is not present. The two episodes where Mr Jensen helps Elly (The Great Billycart Aid Race and Three Little Pigs) are not in the book, and he doesn't smile after hearing the Bartons aren't moving and Elly telling him the tree is staying too.

Also different is the location of Banksiawood. In the book the suburb is confirmed to be part of the Melbourne metropolitan area, about a 90 minute drive from the coast (in the series this was never mentioned, although Robert reads the Melburnian newspaper The Age).

Mirandavale is situated adjacent to Banksiawood in the book, unlike in the series where it's a two hour drive between the two suburbs. Apparently still too far apart for Robert wanting to drive it everyday though.

The final, notable difference, is that it was Vivienne Bone's family that was escorted through the house when it was up for sale. Vivienne was the Emu Patrol leader in Beautiful Beetroot and in the book she's the girl that found Elly's fish disgusting while looking in her room. In the scene in the show this was an unrelated, unnamed girl. The girl's remark that the fish "must have a disease" could even be a nod to the nickname Vivienne gives Elly in Beautiful Beetroot that went lost in translation because of the change.


Of interest in the book are the acknowledgements (well, to Barton nuts like myself that is): Jocelyn Moorhouse thanks the actors that appeared in her short film by name. As information about the short is scarce (to the outside world, where I linger), this gives a valuable insight into who was in it. In fact, the pages on the short on this website would've been a lot duller if it wasn't for this page in the book.


Where to get the book
The English language editions of the book are currently not in print, but pop up from time to time on auction sites like eBay or by third party sellers on Amazon. The British edition is most common; the Australian edition is much rarer. As the show had a prolonged exposure in the UK by being repeated in 1991, I imagine the book sold better as well.

Expect to pay around 20 euros/33 Australian Dollars/18 British Pounds for a copy of either English language editions in great condition or around 7 euros/11 Australian Dollars/6 British pounds for a good but clearly previously read copy; don't pay more. Occasionally a better deal comes along.

Which edition should I get?
Textually, there's no difference between the Australian and British editions; the British version even includes the "poofter test"
in all its glory. The covers differ slightly. Other language editions vary textually (not only in language, but occasionally removing or replacing references to Australian culture, like omitting the John Williamson song "True Blue") and, in case of both Spanish editions, also aesthetically (removing all references to the TV series from the cover and replacing them with illustrations by Javier Vázquez).

The two Spanish and the German edition are easier to get your hands on, but, of course, are not in English. If you don't mind reading
warum Elly gegentlich in ihren lieblings Baum klettern will, the German edition is still available new and sealed from various online stores.

Notes
  • There are two Spanish language editions; textually identical but with different illustrations.
  • The second Spanish edition came out in 2003, making it the newest edition of the book.
  • According to Libros Alcaná, the Spanish language editions were translated from the German edition. I was unable to verify this though.
  • Even though the television series' title was shortened to The Bartons in the UK, the book carries the full title (C/o The Bartons).
  • In Germany, the television series' title was changed to Die 6 Bartons while the book is titled Sechs Bartons; "sechs" means "6".
  • The German edition was first available in Austria in 1990 and released two years later in Germany under the same ISBN number. Both versions of the book are identical.
  • The cover of the German edition features the same photo of the cast on billycarts as is on the back of the English editions. In both cases, Elly seems to be wearing a yellow blouse. In reality, that blouse is red and black as seen in the episode The Great Billycart Aid Race. The colour change is perhaps caused by the printing technique or the picture was recoloured (as a grey scale version of that photo also exists and was included with the press kit).


Editions available

Click on the covers for a better look



C/o The Bartons Australian edition book cover
Australian Edition

C/o The Bartons

Puffin Books Australia, 2 June 1988

ISBN13: 9780140327922




C/o The Bartons UK edition book cover
British Edition

C/o The Bartons

Pengiun Random House Children's Books, 30 March 1989

ISBN13: 9780140342574




Los Barton spanish edition book cover
Spanish Edition
(First edition)

Los Barton ¡vaya familia!

Ediciones SM, 1991 & 1999


ISBN13: 9788434829831

Translated by Pilar León
Illustrated by Javier Vázquez




Los Barton spanish second edition book cover
Spanish Edition
(Second edition)

Los Barton

Ediciones SM, 18 July 2003

ISBN13: 9788434829831

Translated by Pilar León
Illustrated by Javier Vázquez




Die Sechs Bartons German edition book cover
German Edition

Sechs Bartons

Austria:
Hoch Wien (Vienna), 1990
Germany:
Hoch Stuttgart, 1992

ISBN13: 9783777904443

Translated by Elfi Gross






 

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