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The Famous Fives series of adventure books were written by Enid Blyton and published between 1942 and 1963.
The Five of the title are three siblings Julian, Dick and sister Anne Kirrin and their tomboy cousin Georgina together with her pet dog Timmy.
These are middle class children whose families have cooks and who attend boarding schools and have holidays abroad.
The Five are given lots of freedom in the holidays away from the adults which means that in every story they get into some adventure or mystery.
Five Go to Billycock Hill was the 16th book in the Famous Five series and was published in 1957.
The children have a week's holiday at Witsun and plan a camping trip.
Julian and Dick's friend from school, Toby, has told them that there is a lovely place near his farm called Billycock Hill where there is a butterfly farm and lovely caves.
The four children set off on their bikes with Timmy running alongside.
After some miles cycling they arrive at Billycock Farm and borrow tents to camp on the hill.
The children later visit the butterfly farm and the caves - which are scary.
Also nearby is a secret aircraft base when Toby's cousin works.
There then comes a stormy night and in the morning there is sad news.
However the Five are always undaunted and amid lots of excitement the story comes to a satisfactory conclusion.
The beginning of this story sees the Five pouring over maps to find the best route to Billycock Hill - which results in George's father falling over the map and getting even more grumpy - as he is a grumpy scientist to begin with.
The weather is glorious and the children set off on their bikes and cycle along - Enid Blyton describes the sea as being as 'blue as 'forget-me-nots'. they ride along quiet country lanes where the May flowers are now over but the pink wild roses are coming out here and there. As always Enid Blyton describes the countryside and nature in such a lovely and descriptive way you really do get a mental image of the scene. Some fields are descried as being 'golden with buttercups...nodding their polished heads in the breeze'.
They soon see Billycock Hill coming up in the distance - like a Billycock hat. Persinally I did not know what a Billycock hat was but in googling it seems it was an early name for a Bowler hat and was invented in 1849 - so you get an impression then of the shape.
Toby's family is busy and chaotic - his little brother Billy is young and cute and has a pet pig (which they called a pigling) called Curly. Billy and Curly feature quite a bit in this story.
The butterfly farm is an odd place - the men catch butterflies and moths to sell to collectors - it is not explained whether they are sold alive or for those displays people used to have - but perhaps it is better not to dwell on this anyway.
There is a lot of descriptions of different moths and butterflies and a good way to start chatting to children about the different sorts we can see in our gardens and out and about. One example is talking about the Privet Hawk Moth.
The children then explore the caves but are scared off by weird noises.
Toby takes the children to swim near the secret air force base - but they get told off for not heeding the warning signs to keep out.
A storm blows up and strange things happen - this time the children have a portable radio so can hear the news.
Sad news comes but is it correct?
Weird people are spotted and then a lost child causes everyone to panic - but thanks to the bravery of animals the story resolves itself in the end.
There is more emphasis on the naval base which Toby says is 'hush hush' and the butterfly farm in this story - as well as involving Toby and his family.
The solution to the mystery is more of a group effort.
We do not hear too much in this story about George and her insistence on being called a boy or of her going off in a huff - which in a way makes a pleasant change.
There are some comic elements to the story involving the little brother Billy and his cute pet pig.
As usual Enid Blyton insists on putting a lot of emphasis on the food the children have and around mealtimes.
Julian and Dick once again show themselves to be mature and polite boys and they are heart-warmingly kind to an old lady that is part of the story.
These Famous Five books are published in many different editions as well as CDs and also on Youtube.
This is a different sort of story as Enid Blyton has introduced more of a military secrets sort of story to the usual adventures. But as she was doing one of these books each year it must have been difficult to keep coming up with various adventure scenarios. Still an interesting adventure and don't go too deeply into the story as it was aimed at children. I liked the introduction of the butterfly elements as well as the cute little Billy. Plus I now know what a Billycock hat is!
Five Go To Billycock Hill is the 16th in the series of 21 books by Enid Blyton featuring the Famous Five. Many view the books as the best children's literature ever, and they are incredibly popular, and have been since their original publications in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. I agree with this viewpoint as they were my favourite books as a child and I still read them now from time to time.
The Famous Five are Julian, Dick and Anne Kirrin, their cousin George (Georgina) Kirrin and her dog Timmy. Five Go To Billycock Hill sees the Five camping out once more, this time near the farmhouse of Julian and Dick's school friend Toby. They are also near a Butterfly Farm, where the old Mrs Janes and her son Will live, and Toby's cousin Jeff is stationed at the nearby airbase. When two planes are stolen from the airbase and one of the pilots are rumoured to be Jeff, the Five are determined to find out what's going on, and of course, there are a couple of secret passages along the way.
I feel this is one of the weakest plots in Blyton's 21 book series. I actually found it hard going, which is rare for a Famous Five book, and it is almost like she was running out of plot ideas. It starts off well enough, but finishes weakly and is predictable from very early on. The writing style is aimed at children, naturally, and it does make it easier to read, but there are still moments of confusion where I had to reread it a little, and that was a disappointment. The book is 185 pages long.
The book was originally published in 1957. The copy I have was published in 1985, and it cost £1.50 at the time. Five Go To Billycock Hill is available from amazon.co.uk for £3.49.