“ Author: Enid Blyton / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 04 November 2010 / Genre: Children's General Fiction / Publisher: Hachette Children's Books / Title: Five on a Secret Trail / ISBN 13: 9780340931738 / ISBN 10: 0340931738 / Alternative title: The Famous Five: Five on a Secret Trail - Enid Blyton / Alternative ISBN 10: 0340796294 „
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The Famous Five are four children and their pet dog who get into many adventures.
There are three siblings - Julian the eldest, his brother Dick and younger sister Anne. Together with their tomboy cousin Georgina (who insists on being called George) and her pet dog Timmy they have lots of exciting adventures during the school holidays.
These are middle class children who attend boarding school, have a cook at home and go for holidays abroad - this being way back in the 1940/50s.
===Brief Synopsis of Story===
This is the 15th book in the Famous Five series which were published by Enid Blyton from 1942 through to 1963.
This story starts with Anne and George camping out on the Common near Kirrin Cottage (George's home).
Later they are joined by the two boys, but as usual the holiday is not as quiet and peaceful as expected.
There is a ruined cottage on the Common, and a mysterious Roman dig taking place not too far away.
When the children see weird lights and hear frightening noises the story really begins.
There is also a case of mistaken identity which runs through the first part of the book and would be quite entertaining for children.
This book was published in 1956 and is one of the Famous Five stories I seem to recall the most.
The excuse this time for the children going off without the adults is that Timmy the dog has a cut by his ear. The dog therefore has to wear a large collar to stop him scratching the cut and George is so annoyed at people making fun of him that she takes herself and the dog off to the Common until the cut is healed.
George is later joined by Anne. To begin with the two boys are not there - they are on a schoolboy tour in France - very nice for the 1950s when most children never really went anywhere on holidays.
Anne and George are camping and set up their pitch near a little spring. They also see a little ruined cottage and Anne is always the practical one and says they had 'better look out for adders'.
While out exploring George and Anne meet a friendly boy and his dog. This boy is out doing a dig at the Roman remains - apparently his father had done a proper dig there first and then left the boy carry on with it - not the way we treat scheduled remains today!
However this boy is not really all he seems and sometimes he is friendly and other times not - and it takes over three quarters of the book before the mystery is figured out. At first they just think he is barmy.
One night there is a storm and the girls shelter in the cottage ruins - but they are frightened in the night and it is only the arrival of Julian and Dick the next day which stops Anne for returning to Kirrin Cottage.
The boys return from France as they are supposedly fed up of the food and join the two girls camping out.
Camping out like this sounds such good fun and once again Enid Blyton never fails to entrance us with her descriptions both of nature and also the vast quantities of wholesome food that the children manage to eat.
The Five visit the Roman dig and see some of the broken bits and pieces that the boy has unearthed - there is also an intriguing hole behind some slabs of stone - what can be behind it?
Some stone slabs have been lifted up at the old ruined cottage too - but there is nothing underneath so why would anyone go to all the bother?
Later of course the mystery and excitement really gets going and it is once again what the Famous Five do best - a mystery to solve, someone to rescue and some secret tunnels.
Of course the story is meant for children, the comic incidents with the weird boy are quickly figured out by an adult, and the weird hiding place which must have been used very recently but is now mysteriously very overgrown are a few loose its of the story - but why bother picking fault when you have ruins, Roman remains, vast Commons and springs, secret tunnels and stolen goods.
I think this story has always stuck with me as hiding in gorse bushes, exploring old cottage ruins and actually having a Roman dig to explore have always been my sort of adventure. The slight inconsistencies in the story are negligible and not worth worrying over as with these types of stories it is best to just go with the flow rather than pick holes in the plot. They are not too noticeable unless you disect them.
===Would I Recommend?===
Five On A Secret Trail is the 15th 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 On A Secret Trail sees the Five off on their own again, camping out and hiding from the weather once more. This time, the girls are out camping on a common on their own near a mysteriously abandoned cottage (there are lots of such buildings in Famous Five books) when they encounter a strange boy who is chatty one minute and the next pretends to ahve never met them. At night, there are strange noises and people secretly turning over stone slabs. Before long, the boys, Julian and Dick, join the girls, and the plot thickens rather than becomes clearer. Secret passages and hidden treasure once more crop up in the tale, and the Five are deep in adventure once more.
The book shows the Five back to a more familiar plot outline after a break away from the norm for a few books. The writing style is once again easy for an adult to read as it s geared for children. The inclusion of some of the characters provides a balance to the tale, and the words flow very easily. The book is 184 pages long.
The book was first published in 1956. The copy I have was published in 1985 and cost £1.50 at the time. Five On A Secret Trail is available from amazon.co.uk for £3.49.