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First edition: 1942
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Illustrator: Eileen A. Soper
Price: £3.99 & Free Delivery with Amazon Prime or £2.81 second hand.
The very first Famous Five adventure, featuring siblings Julian (12 years), Dick (11), Anne (10), not forgetting their tomboy cousin George (also 11) and her beloved dog, Timmy
The three siblings go on holiday to Kirrin Cottage where their Uncle Quentin and aunt Fanny live - along with their cousin Georgina - who insists on being called George.
George is a solitary girl and has an island belonging to her family out in the bay - which even has a ruined castle to explore. So the adventures begin with picnics on the island, a sunken wreck and tales of lost gold ingots.
Well like many of us of a certain age we are well acquainted with Enid Blyton and The Famous Five.
This story is the first in the Famous Five series which ran for 21 books.
This is a good place to start if you have never read their stories as it shows how the five from the title came be be together on these marvellous adventures.
Julian, Dick and Anne are three siblings and ended up staying with their crank scientist uncle Quentin. Also there was Georgina - a tomboy who would not answer to her name but who insisted on being called George. The fifth member of the gang of adventurers is Timmy - George's dog.
Written way back in the earl 1940s these stories can come across as a little dated - both in their set-up and the language the use. Of course they like drinking ginger beer and people are called 'bricks'. The family that the three siblings comes from seems upper middle class - the children all go to private boarding schools. I can remember as a child how fascinating their lives sounded. You could imagine them clambering over rocks in their sensible Clarks sandals - in the traditional style that is now hardly ever seen.
Of course when you hear and read the stories as a child you accept them as great adventures, reading them as an adult is different and you can see how children should never have been left to get into the scrapes and dangers that these four do - but as with an good children's novel it always works out in the end.
In this story the get caught in storms, go down rust ladders, use axes and get kidnapped and held prisoner. Of course back in the 1940s children did have a lot more freedom and run about and get into all sort of adventures too - so it seems more surprising to us of the modern generation that it did when written.
However stories for children are escapism and these were innocent times. They take picnics and have great fun with the dog, they go out in rowing boats and find a ship wreck - something we would all have liked to have done as a child.
I think the phrase 'lashings of ginger beer' has virtually become part of the English language now - but apparently it never appeared in the books.
These Famous Five stories reflect a bygone England, but the adventures that children liked to have - visiting a secret island, hunting about ruins etc are perennial ones that all children would fantasise about and love to do - if the got the chance.
I am sure these books are still popular - probably often bought by parents or grandparents who have fond memories of them. However I am sure that these would make great bedtime reading for children - as we used to often do - a chapter a night (this book has 17) - and then we would be waiting for the next night to see what happened in the story.
Not full of colourful pictures like modern children's books, these allow the child to make their own images in their imagination - which of course makes the best pictures of all.
May seem dated for todays urban kids but for me its a breath of nostalgia when times were simpler.
If you are buying a copy of this book please be aware that some recent reprints have doctored the language somewhat and 'improved' it - well not in my view - as if you are reading the Famous Five please try and read an original version. Amazon seem quite confused as to which version the are selling - as the have the old cover but the description states it is:
'New and contemporary cover treatment brings The Famous Five into the 21st Century! Charming and traditional adventure storylines have been updated for a new generation of readers.'
The cover shown above is the more modern one - but I am sure I saw the older version a few days ago.
Personally I think if you are going to read these at all go for the original and full version - otherwise why bother.
Apparently Enid Blyton based the character George on herself -and I must admit I went through a phase of wanting to be called George as well!
For enthusiasts there is an Enid Blyton Society - www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk
Also if you prefer to listen to the stories the books are all available as audio on YouTube.
===Would I Recommend?===
===Full Famous Five Series===
Five on a Treasure Island (1942)
Five Go Adventuring Again (1943)
Five Run Away Together (1944)
Five Go to Smuggler's Top (1945)
Five Go Off in a Caravan (1946)
Five on Kirrin Island Again (1947)
Five Go Off to Camp (1948)
Five Get into Trouble (1949)
Five Fall into Adventure (1950)
Five on a Hike Together (1951)
Five Have a Wonderful Time (1952)
Five Go Down to the Sea (1953)
Five Go to Mystery Moor (1954)
Five Have Plenty of Fun (1955)
Five on a Secret Trail (1956)
Five Go to Billycock Hill (1957)
Five Get into a Fix (1958)
Five on Finniston Farm (1959)
Five Go to Demon's Rocks (1960)
Five Have a Mystery to Solve (1962)
Five Are Together Again (1963)
This was one of the first proper novels that I read. Can you call Famous Five books novels? I was sick, in bed, with a bottle of Calpol and I remember my mum bought me this book. I had never heard of Famous Five up until then. I was about eight or nine and had never come across the Enid Blyton books in my school, despite being quite a keen reader.
The book seemed very long to me back then and I wondered how I would ever get through it. The premise seemed exciting though, a group of kids on an island discovering hidden treasure.
If you have never read a Famous Five book then you will be in for a right treat. Blyton's language takes you back to a simpler time, when there few cars on the roads, people spoke so dreadfully awfully posh and everything was quite jolly!
The Famous Five are Julian, his brother Dick and sister Anne and cousin George and her pet Timmy the dog. Blyton crafted dozens of similar adventures where the gang would get together and wind up solving mysteries. This book fleshes out their characters well. Boys will aspire to be like headstrong Julian, while tomboy girls will admire George and her gutsy nature. Less assertive girls will identify with meek and well meaning Anne, so there is a character for everyone.
Alongside our gang, we also get to meet George's parents. The lovely Aunt Fanny, who dotes on the five and the moody and slightly creepy Uncle Quentin, who spends a lot of time 'in his office doing work,' though this is never fully explored...I have my doubts!
The location of the book is splendid, set in a sleepy seaside town called Kirrin. The kids flit between Kirrin cottage and George's secret island. This is where they chance upon some treasure. But no Famous Five book is complete with some pesky thiefs. The bad guys are menacing without being too scary and should create just the right levels of tension for younger readers. Blyton also likes to write about food and there are many references to picnics and hampers...yum!
A well written, charming and addictive book that brings back fond memories of times gone by.
Five on a Treasure Island is the first in the series of "Famous Five" books by Enid Blyton. It was originally published in 1942 and was followed by another twenty books in the series by the author.
There are five key characters in the Famous Five group, from which the book takes its name. Julian is the oldest of the group, he has a younger brother, Dick, and a younger sister, Anne. They go to visit their cousin George, and her dog, Timmy. As with the other books in the series, the three siblings come and stay at George's house, and are looked after by Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin, a famous scientist.
The books are inevitably escapism, and I first read this as a child. The books do show their age a little in their language, but they are innocent books which remain classics of their type. Many children really do enjoy reading about the adventures, and anything which encourages children to read can only be positive!
In this first novel the three siblings, Julian, Dick and Anne, get to meet George for the first time, and find that she is initially quite sceptical of them, as she is an only child and not used to the company. Her actual name is Georgina, but she is a real tomboy, and prefers the name George. After gaining their trust, George introduces them to her dog, Timmy.
Nearby to where George and her family live is an island, called Kirrin Island, which is owned by her family, although it is at risk from sale due to lack of money. The group of them visit the island and take part in a real-life treasure hunt after some gold on the island is found, and some other people there try to obtain it by trespassing. As with other Blyton books, all ends well and George's family get to find the gold, leaving them enough money to avoid needing to sell it.
This is of course just a brief plot line, but is similar in essence to the others books in the series. One or more of the children, or Timmy the dog, get caught up in trouble, but the others are always able to get them out of it. Much as the book and the series is a bit of a cliché, it's a great read and really does hold the attention.
The character development is good, and readers can understand the inter-action between the characters. A similar set-up was used in another series of books by Enid Blyton, The Secret Seven, where the bonds of friendship and the bonds of siblings are used as part of a bigger group. This adds a depth to the book and adds a little realism.
If you want to buy this book new, the paperback version is available for 4.99 pounds at full retail price. However, at the time of writing, you can buy it from Amazon for 3.49 pounds including postage.If you're happy with a second hand copy, you can pick these up at sites such as eBay and Amazon for just a couple of pounds including postage. Alternatively you can pick up sets of the books, making them cheaper per book.
Much as some of Enid Blyton's books have been deemed as a little out of date, this is still a great adventure, and every child should try to read at least one of these adventures books by Blyton, there's a good chance they'll be hooked and will want to read more!
Brothers and sister, Julian, Dick and Anne, are disappointed to find that their parents are going away on their own for a summer holiday. However, when they find they are going to stay with their Aunt Fanny, Uncle Quentin, and Cousin Georgina in Kirrin, they are thrilled. On arrival, however, Georgina, who prefers to be known as George is not welcoming, preferring her own company. Slowly, the others win her round, particularly because they love her dog and faithful companion, Tim. George has her own island, Kirrin Island, and the chidren are thrilled when she takes them over there, even more so when a wreck off the coast of the island resurfaces. Apparently, there was once gold on the ship; can the cousins work out where it is hidden? Or will other interested parties reach the treasure first?
The Famous Five and Enid Blyton were a mainstay of my childhood. From about the age of six when my mum bought me my first Famous Five book, I devoured them, loving every minute of the freedom and adventure that the Five together enjoyed. And it is an addiction that remains with me to this day - even though I don't have children, every few years, I will have a catch up, and although some of the old magic is gone, I still find them a very entertaining and comforting read. I can't wait until my little niece is old enough to read them to see whether they have the same effect on her.
With hindsight, the characters are incredibly stereotypical, for all the twist on Georgina wanting to be a boy. Anne is the baby of the family, timid and innocent. Julian, as the oldest, is the boss, responsible and, at times, over-bearing. Dick, being a year younger than Julian gets away with occasionally silly behaviour and is definitely the joker of the family. And then there is tomboy George, who resents her sex, and wants to be seen as one of the boys. Tim is the fifth member of the team, and despite his dogginess, is a very important one, something I could identify with as a pet-loving child. Yet there is something charming about this mixture; as a child, I saw myself as being more of a Dick (!) than anyone else, finding Julian too bossy, and I think most children will do the same. And at least, with George, there is an attempt to show that people don't always have to fit into a particular mould.
As a child of the seventies, I remember Enid Blyton books being banned from libraries, because of their apparent racism, sexism and classism. That isn't immediately apparent in this first book, although there are elements of classism - Tim being left with the fisher boy, Alf, for example, because dogs weren't allowed in Uncle Quentin's house. Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny are not rich, but nor are they the level of the fisher people, having once owned much of the land around Kirrin, and that is made very clear. However, I'm not sure that children would look at it this way - I know I didn't - and if parents are concerned, they they should just make it clear that the book was written a long time ago (it was first published in 1942) when times were different. There is, of course, also the issue of Dick and Fanny, which is bound to be met with sniggers from older children - again a simple explanation of different times, different names should put paid to that!
For children, the story is incredibly addictive. The idea of hidden treasure on an island with a castle and dungeons and four children and a dog being the first on the scene is just so tempting, and I can remember finding it hard to put the book down as a child. As an adult, there are all sorts of questions that spring to mind, such as why had nobody looked for the treasure before, what sort of science Uncle Quentin studies, and who on earth would let children aged 9-12 stay anywhere on their own for a night, let alone an island? However, this is all adult baggage and not something that children would let bother them (unless they're too smart for their own good!). And of course, there is always the knowledge that the good children will win through over the bad and greedy adults, but that doesn't stop the heart racing as we read about Dick climbing down the well, or Julian and George being locked in the dungeons!
The language used in the books is very simple - as I mentioned, I first read them at six and didn't have any problems. And although there are occasionally some old-fashioned terms - ice-creams, for example, always seem to be referred to as 'ices', which I used to think was a slush puppy type thing - they are so few and far between that children of the twenty-first century are unlikely to be too puzzled. And the chapters are of a perfect length - short enough for young readers not to get bored, but long enough to be exciting.
I have to mention the illustrations. Although the latest edition of the book I had was published in the 1990s, the illustrations that I remember from my childhood copy is the same. They are by a lady called Eileen A Soper and, although old-fashioned, they accompany the story perfectly. Today's children might find them slightly strange, but I think it will help them understand that the story was set in a different time, when Nintendos and mobile phones were unheard of. There are other versions of the book, but I think it is worth ensuring that the illustrations are by Soper.
It was a real pleasure to re-read this book, even though I am nearly forty now, and I think most children will enjoy it too. The fact that the books are constantly in print has to be a good sign too. Of course, parents have a right to veto their children's reading and if anyone feels that the classist/racist parts of Blyton's stories are unacceptable then prevention is the key. Personally, I think it is all good clean fun, just a little old-fashioned, and in any case, there is little that is worrying to be found in this particular book. Highly recommended.
The 1997 version (the one I currently have, although there are later versions available) is available from Amazon for £3.99. Published by Hodder Children's Books, it has 192 pages. ISBN-10: 0340681063
The Famous Five series...such legendary books that I am sure my review will not do justice to them! Enid Blyton must be one of the greatest authors who ever lived and in my opinion; she can easily be classified among great Shakespeare, Bronte, Austen, and the rest. I love the Famous Five series so much that I not only devoured each book as a child, but I still re-read them even now!
I have a special attachment with "Five on a Treasure Island" because this is the first famous five book I ever read. In fact, this is the first book in the series (published in 1942). Having read all of the series, I must say that this book does set the tone for the rest of the stories. This is the book where Blyton introduces the characters of George, Dick, Julian and Ann, not forgetting Timmy the dog. The introductory language is simple, precise and straight to the point- which I believe would help children in not only understanding, but familiarizing themselves with the Five. George, for example, is already being introduced as a somewhat spoiled tomboyish child in Five on a Treasure Island- and this image will stick through all the series. However, Enid Blyton depicts George as being a lovable character, despite all her misgivings. Any one, child or adult, can see the impact and influence of her cousins over here. By the end of this book, she is already sharing her precious island with them!
This book also starts in depicting the investigative talent of the Famous Five. The plot is simple: Julian, Dick and Ann sent to spend their holidays at their aunt's and uncle's place in Kirrin Cottage. There they meet their cousin George and her dog Timmy. When they find a wooden box on a shipwreck, the Five decide to investigate and this takes them on their very first adventure ever! This book moreover shows the life of George and her family before we know them as being wealthy. Somehow, it will help in understanding Uncle Quentin's obsession in his work later on.
I personally believe that this first book is the best one in the series. It is light, warm and guaranteed to touch the heart of readers of all ages! The adventure portrayed in this one is slightly less complicated than in the other books, but "Five on a Treasure Island" is more centered on the growing relationships between the children. In addition, the book has some vivid description and imagery which will once again, help in understanding the other books which follow Treasure Island. George's scowl, for example, is described in such a way that whenever someone picks any other Famous Five book, the person can have the image of Geroge's scowl in his or her mind. Blyton does not give too many or too little description- just the right dose for you to imagine and invent your right Geroge Scowl!
There is a reason why I am still reading this book today. This is quite a masterpiece in my opinion. For parents who are looking for some nice vocabulary and phases to teach their kids, this is also the book for them.
Overall, a great adventure-filled read!
My Review Of The Famous Five: Five on a Treasure Island -by Enid Blyton.
Enid Blyton is possibly the best known writer of children's books (and certainly my all time favourite) and her Famous Five stories are arguably the most the best known series of books... So if you're not familiar with Blyton, and you want to treat your child to a wonderful book (or if you're reliving your childhood and re-reading this book as an adult -a more popular pastime among adults than you might think -lol!) this is a great place to jump into Blyton's wonderful world of adventure!
All the Famous Five books are based around two brothers Julian and Dick (aged 12 and 11 respectively), their sister Ann (aged 10), along with the most important character; their cousin George (short for Georgina -aged 11) and George's dog Timmy.
George incidentally, is based on Blyton herself; and represents to me the awkward outsider/misfit with a short temper and a heart of gold. As a child I found George the easiest character to associate myself with....
Plot Outline (non spoiler)
Five on a Treasure Island is all about when the Julian, Dick and Ann go to stay with their cousin George at Kirrin Cottage. George's parents are in financial difficulty and decide to sell George's beloved Kirrin Island...
... which is a supposedly worthless little island with a ruined castle that has been in the Kirrin family for generations. After a Sudden storm an old ship is thrown up from the sea bed and onto the rocky shores of Kirrin Island...
...and connected to the ship is a legend of hidden gold!! George and her cousins then engage in a race against time to find the gold, save the island and help George's parents; Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin in the process.
I always loved this book as a child - it's a classic. Full of adventure, gentle days and exciting moments; Blyton's pacing is masterful... Blyton's is a world where children can roam free without worry or danger (a far cry from today!) and the 'five' are always trying to do the right thing, even though they have very human frailties...
Blyton's writing is often criticised (by people who can't write for toffee -lol!!) for not having more character depth to the characters -but make no mistake this writing style is very deliberate.
I for one wouldn't have enjoyed this book half as much if the all the detail had been sketched to the characters. But because Blyton gives the reader room to project themselves into the book, a young reader (as I did) can very easily 'become' one of the 'five'...
What greater gift can a children's writer have than to encourage a young reader to use their imagination. Blyton is and remains the supreme Queen of children's books - as Five on a Treasure Island yet again proves...
I loved this book as a child, (I still have my original copy -lol!) I love any excuse to read Blyton to my young nephews and probably the best endorsement of all; if I'm honest I have still love any excuse for re-reading it now!
Five on a Treasure Island is the very first book of the Famous Five adventure stories - it's ideal reading material for children of all ages (say about 7 or 8 up to about 99 lol!) and I heartily recommend it!
Hope you found my review of some help, and good luck with your bargain hunting!!
The Famous Five series consists of 21 individual books focusing on four children and their dog and all the adventures they get in to. Written by the amazingly talented Enid Blyton who also brought us the similar Secret Seven series and of course Noddy and Big Ears the books were first published way back in the 1940s. I first came across them as a child when my mum gave me her collection and shockingly the stories have aged very well.
The stories primarily focus around three siblings Julian, Dick and Anne Kirrin who are sent to spend the summer holidays with their Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin by the sea. Their relatives also have a daughter of their own - Georgina [or George as she prefers to be known] who has a mongrel dog by the name of Timmy.
- Plot -
As the first book in the series, the story takes a lot of time establishing the main characters and their personalities. Julian is shown as the leader with Dick the more comical character, Anne is the youngest and most 'girly' of the group whilst George is presented as lonely, awkward and iniatlly difficult. We discover that George has no friends and is forced to keep the existance of her beloved dog Timmy secret from her parents after her father banned him from the house. After a lot of selfish behaviour on George's part and a variety of ups and downs it's not long before a strong bond of friendship forms between the four and they start exploring an island that is owned by George's ancestors. The island is a crucial setting for a number of stories later on in the collection. In this instance the children discover a ship wreck off the coast of the island which contains a treasure map showing the user where to find some gold bars hidden in the dungeons of the island.
As the children plan to find the gold and help George's family escape from apparent poverty, Uncle Quentin plans to sell the island to some men who it turns out are only intrested in purchasing it to get their hands on the very same gold. A final confrontation occurs in which the gang get the better of the criminals and claim the gold for their own.
On the offset it's clear to pick out various points from the book that would raise a few eyebrows in today's society, the name Fanny for one as the Kirrin's Aunt and the tomboyish nature of George is over dramatised to the extent of almost transsexualism. That said it's highly doubtful that children will pick up on such a thing though the characters all do seem to be terribly stereotyped throughout the collection though more so here as though Blyton intended to emphasise the differences between them. That aside, the story is a perfect blend of right and wrong whilst allowing a child's imagination to flourish.
This book in particular is not one of my favourites in the series though the language is perfect for a younger audience and is easy to understand and flows quite steadily throughout as the plot unfolds piece by piece. The characters are not described in a lot of detail which leaves a lot open to the reader's own interpreatation but the bonds formed between them is definately something that will appeal to a wide generation of readers.
What is presented here is a great adventure story for youngsters to seek their teeth into and even now, over 50 years on from its original year of publication the characters and themes still shine through magnificently and provide a wonderful story. The negative things I've pointed out are something I never would've even dreamed of thinking up back when I was reading the books with excitement and awe.
It's an impressive start to the magical Famous Five series and sets the foundation for much better stories to come.
When I was a kid, my mum introduced me to a magical series of books by the children's author Enid Blyton. This series was the Famous Five, and featured five children and a dog who solved mysteries. Blyton wrote 21 books in the original series, and the books are magical to me, as they give me a sense of nostalgia.
The first of the 21 books is entitled Five On A Treasure Island, and was first published in 1942. It tells of three siblings Julian, Dick and Anne Kirrin, who are sent to their cousin Georgina's house in Kirrin Bay for the summer holidays. They meet Georgina (or George as she prefers to be called) as well as her mother, Aunt Fanny, and her father, their Uncle Quentin. After a few initial stubborn episodes, George finally accepts her cousins are going to be there for the whole summer, and shows off her father's island out in the sea, which he has promised will be George's, as well as her dog, Timmy, who is a secret as her father would not approve and is kept for her by one of the fisher boys in the bay. The five travel to the island, but instead of having a few days' relax, they uncover a plot to fins hidden treasure and some ruthless villains. The Famous Five have their first adventure!
Blyton's writing style is very much geared towards children. The passages are short and the story unfolds with ease so as to not confuse. The dialogue is very 1940s, with many of the phrases I found amusing, merely because they just aren't used any more. The characterisation is very simple yet effective, and the book is a magical one to read. I recommend you give it a go. They are ideal for getting a child to read, and as soon as my son is old enough to be reading lengthy books, I will introduce him to the Famous Five.