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I used to read the Secret Seven books when I was a young girl, then moving onto the Famous Five, Mallory Towers and St Clare's novels. Enid Blyton is a fantastic author, and so I was thrilled when my mum bought Harry the first of the Secret Seven books as a treat recently, and he was quite intrigued to read it. It's had a cover overhaul, with a nice modern look to it, with computer imagery depicting a scene from the book, although I have to say it has quite a dark look to it. I told Harry to expect some rather old-fashioned language and a story set in a time that wasn't quite the same as the world we live in today, but he absolutely loved the book, and now we're eagerly collecting the rest of the series.
The Seven children, Peter, Colin, Jack, Janet, Barbara, Pam and George, have formed a secret society together, aptly named The Secret Seven. Together, they want to solve mysteries and be known around their village as crime solvers, but aren't quite sure about how to stumble upon one. When they are playing a game in the snow one day, Jack notices someone being taken into the old house at the bottom of the lane, although no-one lives there. The seven are determined to find out who is being held prisoner in the house and why!
As you can see, it's a bit of a mystery story, and I have to say Harry really loved it. We haven't read anything like this before, we tend to read funny books (his favourites being Roald Dahl and David Walliams), so I was interested to see how into the concept of a mystery he would be able to get. Luckily, he loved it and was always trying to guess what was going on, eager to read the next chapter and find out more with the children. Blyton's writing is brilliant, moving along at a pace which allows the story to develop without leaving it too bogged down in detail, as these books are probably aimed at children reading with an adult of around 6 years plus, or a little older if they are reading alone. It's easy to follow the tale though, with lots of explanation, constant referring back to what has happened, and of course some exciting adventure thrown in too.
I have to be honest and say I struggled to keep up with the names of the children and who saw what, but Harry seemed not to have that problem. He was always able to tell me the next night what had happened in the previous chapter, and followed the story with ease. He didn't seem to comment on the differences in their lifestyles to his, such as being allowed out on their own without their parents, and children trying to solve mysteries alone (which I certainly wouldn't let Harry be doing!), but he was totally into the idea of it, and was eager to see if the Secret Seven could solve the mystery.
This book was fabulous to read, and we enjoyed every page, so much so that when we finished this one, we straight away got the next book and have already devoured that too! Blyton is certianly one of the greatest children's authors of all-time, and these books, despite it being over 60 years old, still appeals to its target market even now - children love to read about other children, and that makes stories such as these timeless. The publishers have done a great job with the cover, giving it a modern feel and Harry was fascinated by the fact the story was first published in 1949... that's even older than Grandad he said excitedly! A wonderful chapter book for those children perhaps just starting chapter stories, and a great mystery to be solved by its young readers. A wonderful story to be shared.
Published by Hodder Childrens Books. ISBN: 978-0340917541. RRP: £4.99.