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Moon and fairy

Enid Blyton's 'Adventure' books

I've been reading these two books over the past couple of weeks for a children's book challenge I've been doing - the idea being that you read books you loved as a child. For that reason I chose The Valley of Adventure and The Castle of Adventure, both by Enid Blyton, as two of my choices. These two books belonged to my brother and I have to admit I covetted them. This envy lasted a year or so until my reading level was good enough to cope with them, I would have been eight or nine I suppose, and then my brother let me have them as he was by then too old for them. And thus started my childhood love affair with the books of Enid Blyton, particularly this series of 'Adventure' books involving the characters of Philip, his sister Dinah, Jack, his sister Lucy-Ann and Jack's parrot, Kiki.


The Valley of Adventure starts with the children excited about going for night-time trip in Bill Smugs' plane. Bill is a policeman they are friendly with who has recently learnt to fly. Due to a mix-up they end up on the wrong plane, shots are fired outside on the tarmac, the plane takes off and the children, hiding behind some crates, quickly realise they've been taken off by criminals who don't know they're there. When the pane lands they manage to sneak off and see that they've landed in a remote valley surrounded by mountains. They head upwards and find themselves a cave near a waterfall to hide out in. They spy on the criminals, pinch their food and generally make a nuisance of themselves until things take a more serious turn when they discover the criminals have a prisoner. They're ill-treating him and thus the children eventually discover what actually *is* going on.

The Castle of Adventure starts with Dinah and Lucy-Ann waiting to go home at the start of the school holidays and looking forward to seeing their brothers. The children all live with Phillip and Dinah's mother who has hired a cottage in a hilly region (my guess was Wales but they didn't actually say) for the holidays. When the children arrive they're excited to discover a castle at the top of the hill but disappointed when they're told not to go near it because it's too dangerous; there has been a landslide and the place could collapse. Of course, that doesn't put them off! Jack's eagerness to find an eagle's nest takes them to the castle which seems impregnable until they eventually find a way in helped by, Tassie, a local urchin. It's a creepy place, made even creepier by the fact that they soon realise the castle is occupied when they had been told it was abandoned. Jack gets permission to spend a couple of nights up there trying to photograph his golden eagle family and that's when the adventure really begins.

It was fascinating reading these two books after what must be almost 50 years. I read quite a lot of YA fiction now and it was interesting to compare modern books for children and ones written 60 years ago. A couple of things quickly became apparent. Firstly, how much more freedom children had in those days - fictional ones anyway. These children were aged from 11 to about 14 and wandered willy-nilly all over the place, unsupervised, all day and sometimes at night. They also had an unmarried male friend of mature years and no one thought anything of it. I fancy they would these days. The other thing I noticed was how much more interesting the boys were than the girls. Blyton gave the two boys hobbies such as bird watching (Jack) and a fascination with animals (Phillip). The girls apparently did nothing. Did Blyton prefer boys to girls? I believe she had two daughters so I find that hard to believe. But it did seem to me that the boys definitely played the major role and the girls were almost 'allowed to tag along'. I tried to remember her other series, which I also read avidly, but only The Famous Five came readily to mind. One girl in that who played a major role in adventures was 'George' but George was a girl who very definitely wanted to be a *boy*. So make of that what you will.

Of course none of this was apparent to an eight year old discovering adventure fiction for the first time. I devoured Enid Blyton books like there was no tomorrow; talk about escapism from a hum-drum life! And now my grandaughter is reading them and it's great fun chatting to her about exactly these books because she clearly loves them too. I am glad though that Enid Blyton is not all she reads, we all make sure she reads a variety of authors because I really don't want her getting the idea that boys have all the fun and are somehow *better*.

All that said... I *did* enjoy my trip down memory lane with Enid Blyton.


No need to blush, I read quite a lot of children's books - I picked up a copy of Heidi in the library today and then put it back again for another time.

I haven't actually read these particular Blytons though since I was a child, which is a shame as they were great fun and a fascinating exercise in seeing, like you said, children from a bigone age. How polite they were, how educated, and independent. I suppose I just thought it was a shame that she hadn't stressed that the girls were interesting too. *But* this based on rereading only two of the books, there are eight (?) so I should read them all and then judge. And I plan to... I need to find a copy of The Island which is the first book and I don't have it. I have four hardbacks and two paperbacks.

R loves them! In fact she got so carried away telling me all about one of these that I had to stop her because I was about to read it myself and didn't want to know the whole plot! LOL. Her fav. Blytons are actually the 'R' mysteries though, Rilloughby Rair, Rockingdown etc. and having read some of those with her I can see why, they're very funny (there's a mad dog called Loony.)

I haven't actually noticed too many of the kind of book you mention for R's age group, though I'm sure they exist. She reads mainly fairy stories, wizards, humorous stuff, and animal stories such as Dick King Smith. W & K wouldn't let her have anything too adult and I don't blame them for that. Childhood is short enough as it is.
It's good to know I'm not alone.

Oh, really? *Nods* Oh, yes, they were polite!!!

There are eight, yes. She had intended to stop at six, but a flood of letters wanting more encouraged her to write another two.

I personally don't have an issue with the whole boy/girl thing - I don't tend to notice it, as such. I've honestly never thought about it. But then maybe that's partly because I don't have daughters or a grand-daughter.

*Smiles at the image of R* I don't think I ever read the 'R' mysteries as a child. The titles certainly don't ring a bell.

Maybe they don't for her age, which I think is good, as you say, childhood is short enough as it is. Did you see the news item last week where they were interviewing some children who thought they childhood was over at 12? And one girl said how upset she got (she was 10) when she was treated as a child.