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I was, a very happy, Enid Blyton child. I grew up with bookshelves filled with the Famous Five and Secret Seven, and dragged my uncle into more caves than I care to remember to search for smugglers.
The Famous Five, for those of you who have somehow missed out on finding out about them, is a group composed of four children - Julian, Dick, Anne and their cousin George, and the dog, Timmy. Together the five of them are allowed what seems an amazing amount of freedom in today's world, biking off on their own all over the place, camping over on the island George owns. They spend most of it fighting crime, because the Famous Five world is one with pirates and smugglers around every corner. (Of course all of those pirates and smugglers are easily defeated by children, because this is a world where being caught and hit on the head never results in concussion, and where children are easily able to outwit hardened criminals. But you know, suspension of disbelief and all that.)
If the Famous Five carries a fault in today's world, it's that it can be viewed as a little old-fashioned. That's not just because of the terrifying amount of freedom the kids are allowed but, more particularly, for the attitudes towards women in the books. While George (Georgina) is a tomboy, and very determined to keep up with the boys in all things, this is viewed as very much an oddity by the other characters, and Anne by contrast is a very traditional girl, happy to make her brothers sandwiches and wash up for them. Personally I think this warrants no more of a discussion of why things are different now at most, but your views may vary depending on how you feel about such things.
This is an excellent starter pack towards the Five series - if you can find it. The other problem with the Famous Five books is that they have repeatedly been allowed to go out of print. This IS available second hand on Amazon for £22.50. However for that price (over £3 per book, secondhand!) I would recommend ignoring Amazon and trotting off to your nearest carboot sale. There you will almost always find a couple of the Famous Five books series second hand, and can collect the series in dribs and drabs. It may be out of order, but the Famous Five series doesn't really have the sort of continuity that would make that matter.
I noticed some Enid Blyton books in one of the many charity shops we have in Haywards Heath town center,and started to read Her books although I am older now.
I used to read Her books in the library lesson in Senior School .
I am now enjoying Her books as much as I did then ,she is a superb writer .
the first one i read was:*Five go down to the sea*I couldnt have a holiday this year ,so I enjoyed sharing the description of the famous fives holiday.
The setting was in Cornwall on Tremannon Farm.
The farmers wife is a wonderful cook ,you can almost taste the food with Enids descripton .They started with high tea with salad new potatoes ,a huge ham home made salad cream ,with fruit cake to finish,with cherry tart,they had a difficult journey to get there so enjoyed this meal very much.
Dick, julian ,Anne ,George,(Georgina) shh dont let Her hear,she is a tomboy and prefers the boys name .Not forgetting Timmy their dog.
They are all set for an adventure as usual ,a strange light in a tower that is nearly a ruin,they find out more from a boy called Yan and His grandfather .
it involves ancient wreckers wont tell you to much.
The farm also have some rather strange visitors called the Barnies vey like circus folk ,there is never a dull moment in this
story ,with enids talent of making the reader feel almost as if they are participating, this is a very good book.
Come take a trip down memory lane with me, as I relive the reading habits of my childhood. You see I was quite an early reader and soon outgrew all those Peter and Jane books (does anyone else remember them?) and in order to satiate my ever growing hunger for the written word my parents began to buy me the different series of books written by Enid Blyton. There were quite a few different sets of books, including The St Claire's, Mallory Towers, and Secret Seven, but my favourites were those that featured The Famous Five. They were full of adventure, and it seemed (to me at least) that they were able to go places and do things that I could never imagine being able to and of course it was nice to see the children win out.
---The Famous Five---
So who were the Famous Five then? I hear you ask, well hold on and I'll tell you.
The oldest of the group, Julian was the sensible one who always seemed to have the last word on any matter. I guess he acted as a stereotypical big brother, always trying to look out for his younger siblings and cousin. He was also, in my opinion the boring one, I'm sure the gang would have a lot more fun (and been in a lot more danger) if he hadn't always pointed out the "sensible" action.
Dick was much more fun and impulsive. He was much more irresponsible and impulsive, but still fiercely protective of his family and especially ..
The youngest of the group, Anne, was your stereotypical girly girl. Although she was happiest playing Mother, and scared in most of the situations the gang got themselves in she would always be just brave enough to do her bit.
And now my favourite character, and one I could really relate to. Georgina was Julian, Dick and Anne's cousin and lived in a remote village with her eccentric father, she'd never been to school and had no idea how to relate to other children. She had a wicked temper, and would fly into rages, which I always thought were quite cool. But the best bit, she was a tomboy, insisted on being called George, and was every bit as good as a boy. Now you may think it's strange that I related so well to her, but I was a tomboy at the age I first read these books, refused to wear dresses and had my hair cut short, much to my parents disgust.
The final member of the Famous Five was Timothy, better known as Timmy, George's faithful and super brave dog. I'm not sure if we were ever told what breed Timmy was, but I always imagined him as a Labrador (probably because that's the breed my family had).
Enid Blyton wrote a total of 21 adventures for the Famous Five, and there were later books written by another author (who I can't remember), although it wasn't strictly necessary to read the books in order, due to the fact each was a complete story, doing so improved the reading experience as events in previous books would be referred to.
The very first book Five On a Treasure Island saw the group meet up for the first time as Julian, Dick and Anne are sent to their Uncle Quentin's house for the holidays. It's here they meet George, who they think is very strange, who tells them she owns her very own Island (Kirren Island). As a mysterious someone tries to buy the Island, the children try to find out why and save their Uncle from financial ruin. Right I'm not going to tell you the rest, but what follows is adventure, a few scares and a lot of fun.
Each of the books follows a similar vein, with the children meeting up in the school holidays, and finding themselves faced with a mystery that needs solving, and an adventure that needs, well, adventuring. Oh and there was always loads of Ginger Beer.
---The writing Style---
The writing style is fairly simple and there were no words that I had real difficulty with (I was about 6 when I started reading these), and it was able to keep me glued to the pages, so much so that I'd often get in trouble for reading under the bedcovers. Enid was able to give enough description to imagine I was there, without being so overly descriptive that I was tempted to skip pages, which is quite a skill.
What I loved so much was the fact that living in a tower block in North London, I was able to escape into a world where children could roam the countryside. OK, I now know that even in the '70's when I first read these it was unlikely that children would have been allowed to go off on their own for weeks at a time. But when I was reading the books, I was there, whether it be on a murky moor or on Kirren Island.
Looking at the books now, I can see that the in era in which it was written, children were given far more freedom to be children. There was no TV or computers to keep them amused, so they would have adventures and spend time exploring their environments.
---Who are they suitable for?---
I first started reading these books at about 6, but was considered an early reader, and had already gone through the school's reading system. I would imagine that any child of that age would love to have the books read to them though. Amazon puts them in the 9-11 age group, but I would think that if your child is a confident reader then they should be able to read them even if they are below that age. All my books have now been passed on to my 9 year old daughter, who is not a very confident reader, but is enjoying them.
Just writing this has brought back great memories of reading these books, I think they really did help fuel my love of the written word. I found the characters believable, even though the books were set some decades before I was even born, and that I could see people I knew in them. I always felt I was most like George, while my younger sister was more like Anne, and somehow this added to the pleasure I got from the books. I've now passed my collection on to my children, who beginning to get the same sort of pleasure out of reading them as I did, so I would say they were definitely worth the 99p each that my parents paid for them over 20 years ago. And I would say they are worth buying for any child who loves to read.
The 21 books are available from Amazon at 4.99 each, but you would probably be able to pick them up from boot sales or even dare I say it jumble sales.
The complete series is :
Five On A Treasure Island
Five Go Adventuring Again
Five Run Away Together
Five Go To Smuggler's Top
Five Go Off In A Caravan
Five On Kirren Island Again
Five Go Off To Camp
Five Get Into Trouble
Five Fall Into Adventure
Five On A Hike Together
Five Have A Wonderful Time
Five Go Down To Sea
Five Go To Mystery Moor
Five Have Plenty Of Fun
Five On A Secret trail
Five Go To Billycock Hill
Five Get In A Fix
Five On Finniston Farm
Five Go TO Demon's Rocks
Five Have A Mystery To Solve
Five Are Together Again
The Famous Five are one of the most lovable and immersible worlds ever created in literature. The Famous Five are Julian, Dick, George, Anne and of course Timmy the dog, all of whom get into a lot of adventures (21 in all), with Enid Blyton?s charming narrative depicting their activities against the backdrop of rural England. The world in itself provides a fantasy as relevant today as it was fifty years ago when these books were written. The stories are always tucked into the children?s moments between dull reality, and always take place during the holidays when the children come home from their schools. The cottage which is George?s home, and all the other places they visit are the sweet countryside where there are cottages, picnics, bicycle trips, home-made food, islands, seashores, and always a thrilling ADVENTURE. The characters are chiselled with a very few words, there are no swirling descriptions of the scenes, but that is what fuels a child?s imagination and make the reader think for himself. Compare that to today?s readymade cartoons and children?s storybooks and you will realize how proactive these books are - they make children long to do something, experience life, love nature and be happy within. As a child I worshipped Enid Blyton. Did you know that she wrote the first Famous Five book in 1942 (??Five on a Treasure Island??) when she was more than 45 years old? The books are brimming with childhood innocence and old world values, an element sadly missing from current children?s books which are read in formative years when their imagination must be developed. There is nothing better in a child?s life than knowing that children all over the world share the same emotions, dreams and ideas, which are pertinent to their small protected world giving a sense of belonging and initiating discovery. Children who read Enid Blyton grow up with strong psychological mind-frames, having traits like faith, hope, contentment and unity with na
ture. The subtle tones in Blyton?s books radiate a warmth that no toy or gift can match. These books are truly outstanding gems of literature which no other fiction can match, and will never lose their charms with young as well as old readers.
Enid Blyton is a well known childrens writer, having written more than a hundred books, she is the 3rd most translated writer. Depicting the adventures of five children - Julian, Dick, George, Anne and the loveable Timmy the dog in different settings, the characters are realistic and never fail to capture any childs' imagination. Enid Blyton was a schoolteacher while she wrote some of these books, and while reading them it shows, she really has got an amazing insight into the minds of young children. Credit has to be given to her for writing a series of adventure without any murder, rape or violence. Something which cannot be said for many modern children's' writers. The only thing controversial in her book, more recently now than when they were originally written is that the books do contain occasional sexist and racist remarks which have been removed by some publishers. An example of this is that Anne, the only girlie girl, is often left behind in the Fives' adventures. Sometimes the books could almost be 4+1. With Georgina the tomboy, referred to as George throughout the books, Anne is left alone. Yet it has to be bared in mind that she was simply writing in the style of her time. Together with Noddy, the Famous Five has been one of her best known series. A book which never fails to capture to attention of any child. This nook can also be enjoyed by many adults. Though the language and grammar may be slightly limited, the book is a great read for adults searching for their inner child and children alike. Like Harry Potter this book is one that children don't grow out of - with the catching plots and sharp tone of phrase. Recommended for all ages.
While every child nowadays, who isn't illiterate or severely post-modern, has read the Harry Potter books, and every vicar, however 'Christian cool' and alien they be, has read the bible, so generations of children have got caught up in the adventures of Enid Blyton's Famous Five. No not a group of cheesy pop stars, but a gang of four fearless and thrill seeking kids, and their dog. They were the ultimate crime fighting outfit. Scotland Yard: 'We have a new case, send out the famous five' Julian: the eldest of the them all and, not surprisingly given the name, a bloke. He would always be the leader, the sensible one, probably the one who cooked the scrambled egg and wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up. If they had them in those days. Dick: the second boy (once again not surprisingly) who had such a remarkable personality that I cannot remember anything about him. George: the eldest girl (aha, now this IS surprising) who wanted to be a boy (I'll talk about this later). Owned Timmy the dog. Often confused old farmers by having short hair and (presumably) picked her nose and passed wind like all other 'typical' boys. May have even played with Action Men...(thats enough, Ed) Ed: someone I've just made up to keep control of this opinion (real name Eduardo Bog) Anne: the final member of the humans (a girl, and no NOT a boy called Andy wanting to be a girl) who was a complete wuss, girly, chicken etc. She was the one who was always scared, afraid of the dark, and always irritated me by pretending to be a housewife whenever they set up camp. Timmy: dog. There were 21 novels written about these five, and usually the plots were as follows: 1) The five go and stay on an island/farm/camp site. 2) Nearby there is a castle/ruined castle/old house/strip club 3) They talk excitedly about the holidays/half term 4) wierd things happen in the m
iddle of the night (hear strange sounds, see strange things, play strip poker) 5) The five spot a couple of men up to no good (you know what I mean) 6) The Five investigate! 7) The Five uncover a terrible plot to steal/smuggle/escape/kill innocent hamsters 8) The Five are captured (apart from one of the gang and Timmy who escape) 9) The Five escape and trap the stupid bad men therefore solving all that needs to be solved and stopping such awful crimes that were about to be commited. Basically exactly like Scooby Doo apart from the fact that the dog didn't talk, and the baddies weren't dressing up as a ghost or a vampire. As well as the usual plot, there were many other aspects of a Famous Five adventure to look out for: 1) Kindly farmer and wife who lends the children some eggs and milk. 2) Lashings of ginger beer. 3) Julian says at the beginning of every novel: 'Lets hope we don't run into another adventure like we always do!' 4) Julian says middle of novel: 'Looks like we've found ourselves in another adventure!' 5) Julian says at end of novel: 'Wasn't that a great adventure!' ^) Another child they befriend, usually a gypsy or identical twins. They may seem like simple books for children but I think the books work on many levels: 1) George is a symbol for female sexuality. Obviously a lesbian, she represents the freedom of sexuality, while the others represent a society where acceptance is the norm. 2) In an age where pets are treated badly, Timmy is part of the gang therefore showing that the books were simply allegories for a time when animals lived equally with man, and solved mysteries equally with man. What is so wonderful about the books, is that being set around 50 years ago, they are nothing like life today. Kids cycle, camp and walk around on their own and are allowed to. The baddies always lose instead of being killed b
y a mob of vigilantes after the trial, and its always summer, alawys exciting and always imaginative. If Enid Blyton had lived today this would probably have been the modern update: '...the children were eating breakfast when mum walked in. "Sorry guys, that b*stard father of yours is trying to get custody of you. I'll be in court for a couple of days. Why not take the boat out and camp on Skull Island?" George, wearing her 'proud to be a lesbian' t-shirt shook her head. "Nahh. We're just like genna watch tv and play on the computer." Just then she had a message from Julian on her mobile. "George, meet me @ off licence 8pm" it said. That night the five got together, bourght lashings of beer, got incredibly pissed and lost their virginity. Julian said "wasn't that a wonderful adventure" although Dick didn't quite agree...' I decided to catch up with the original stars of the novels, now in their 60s, and found out what life was like for them now. Julian: age 68, retired astrounaut, unmarried. 'I suppose I did enjoy the adventures we had, but I always wanted to do something silly, I was always the sensible one. After the books I did all the things I'd wanted to do, became a transvestite, got addicted to heroin and lived with a pig. But I'll never regret it.' Richard: aged 65, novelist. 'It did get irritating when fans came up to me and said "Hi Dick, how're you hanging?!" but thats part of the fame game. I was going to write up all our adventures like Dr.Watson, but they'd already been written, so I wrote about pencils instead.' Anne: aged 63, married with three kids. 'All I ever wanted to do was to become a housewife, and thats what happened.' George: died aged 20. A tragic early death for the lesbian icon, through drink and drugs. She once said 'F*ck off I'm a woman, can'
;t you tell?' and 'the pressures of fame were too much.' Timmy: died aged 15. 'Woof woof woof, bark, bark, bark, woof, woof, miow oink, woof' The last book (novel number 22) was never published as it had the five going camping one day when absolutley nothing happened. No strange noise or sounds, no odd behavious by sinister men. Even the local shop had run out of ginger beer. After this disaster Blyton stopped writing. The great adventures of these intrepid children may be forgotten as a generation of young 'ens get into Harry Potter, but for me they changed my childhood and many others as well. Highly recommended.
I loved the famous five adventures. No matter what they were up to they always got the best of the adult culprits. They were fearless and the moved around their local environment at will. The adults they knew were always kindly, if at times stern, and a cream tea was on offer at some stage of the story. What would Enid have written about had she been writing now? Not a lot. Broken homes, abuse and bullying. The stories are of a time gone by - so what it may never have existed - but they were ideals we held dearly and have lost at a great cost. We need to get children to see what is possible and what can be. That the way we live today is not a given. Even if we ignore the dream childhood we will always be left by a gripping narrative which will thrill the imaginative child.
Meet Juliun (Ju), Dick, Anne, Georgina (George), Anne and Timmy the dog for 21 weird and wonderful adventures involving kidnapping, smuggling, robbery and dectective work. With 21 books to choose from (start with Five On A Treasure Island): Five on a Treasure Island, Five Go Adventuring Again, Five Run Away Together, Five Go To Smuggler's Top, Five Go off In A Caravan. The list is endless so you can't really go wrong. Enid Blyton has really depicted the Five's thoughts and feelings as they go on their mysterious adventures. Originally there were only going to be 6 books but there was an urge to write another 6 and then another 9. Adults would find the storylines a bit boring but to a 7 year old it is a cliffhanger that will make them want to keep reading on.
Series: The Famous Five / For opinions on the 21 novels featuring the mystery-solving quintet, Julian, Anne, Dick, George and Timothy the dog.