on 11 June 2004
This book is sooooooooo exciting! There is a talking parrot, the usual 4 children and an adventure. The children go for a night flight in Bills plane, but its the wrong one! They end up in a mysterious, lonely valley and discover bad people, caves, waterfalls, and much, much more. Warning - remember Enid Blyton books are full of brave boys and girls who do the housework, things arent like that anymore but the stories are great fun.
"The Valley of Adventure" was the third of Blyton's "Adventure" series books, and was published in 1947. It has the same title in the U.S. edition. While all of the main characters return and the general arc of the plot is similar to those in the other Adventure books, this is the book in which Blyton best established an exciting and adventurous locale and a particularly effective combination of secret places, hidden treasures and scary bad guys. It may well be that it is because of this combination that many readers identify this volume as their favorite from the Adventure series.
Of course, the book reintroduces Jack (the bird lover) and his sister Lucy-Ann (a bit on the timid side). They are orphans who are informally adopted by Mrs. Mannering because of their friendship with Mrs. Mannering's children and because of her great fondness for them. Mrs. Mannering's children are Philip (the animal whisperer) and Dinah (squeamish about animals, but level headed and independent). The cast is rounded out by Kiki, Jack's pet parrot and the comic relief. The children's ages range from 14 for Jack and Philip to 12 for Dinah and 11 for Lucy-Ann.
In each book the two sets of siblings find themselves on school vacation with Mrs. Mannering, (and by this book also with Bill Smugs, now a regular character, - Mrs. Mannering's friend and a member of an unspecified British secret service). Each book starts out with the family going on a simple, relaxing holiday, (here it's birding in the countryside), but mystery, suspense and skullduggery always rears its head about three chapters in. Here, the kids get on the wrong plane during a melee at the airport and find themselves in Austria.
"Valley of Adventure" is a bit more heavily plotted than some of the other Adventure books, so the action moves around more, there are more secret places, there are multiple escapes and there are more secondary characters with important roles than is usual. This book does feature the coolest hideout for the kids, (hint: it involves flowing water), and some of the best underground action.
This book recaps all of the characters, their relationships to each other, their various personalities and the group dynamics, (Philip teases Dinah, Lucy-Ann dotes on brother Jack, and so on), that will be consistent throughout the series. So, it's not necessary to have read book one, ("Island of Adventure"), or to have followed the books chronologically, but it probably would be helpful since the first book does establish all of the basics. (That said, each later book does rather efficiently set the basics out again, in the first chapters, for new readers.)
This is a stronger book from a girl's point of view, since the two girls are now much more involved in the most exciting parts than in the earlier book. Perhaps the strongest note, apart from the whiz bang adventure, is that apart from some teasing and the like all of the children trust and admire each other, and the siblings are loyal to each other and their friends. There is none of the incessant sibling conflict that is popular in many current books. There is no moralizing or preaching, but there is a powerful undercurrent of courage, bravery and doing one's duty that is always in the background.
Blyton was criticized by "serious" reviewers for using short declaratory sentences and an undemanding vocabulary. Her response was that she did not listen to any critic who was over 12 years old. That said, these are not light weight or simpleminded books. The characters have charm and individual personalities. There is no pretense of grand literary accomplishment, but these are exhilarating and suspenseful adventure tales, well told. It is a testament to their quality that most of the reviews at this site have been written by people who read the books in their childhoods and still remember them vividly.
And, these books do stand the test of time. Caves, tunnels, floods, deep holes, secret passages, hidden doors, underground rivers, abandoned buildings, creepy noises, mysterious lights and sounds - all of the standards of tween adventure - start here, in the hands of a writer who knew how to tell a gripping story.
If you have a tween or even younger reader who likes gung-ho adventure and imaginative larking about, then one of these is definitely worth a try.
THE ADVENTURE SERIES
THEY ARE THE BEST FOR A FIRST READ!
Enid’s ‘Adventure’ books (Jack, Philip, Dinah, Lucy-Ann and Kiki) were the catalyst which encouraged me to start reading more than 50 years ago. Thank you, Enid. The BBC, many libraries, local authorities and alleged educational experts have been completely wrong about the worth of the Blyton works. I can remember having substantial difficulty obtaining the original books. Quite a few shops would not stock them but they were wonderful stories for teenagers! The tales are great to read for their simplicity and straightforwardness.
When one did find copies of the book they were quite expensive all those years ago but great to own. I loved the letter on the back cover from Enid in some editions and the physical appearance of the books as well which I treasured as a youngster with the way in which the books were produced then making them somehow much easier to read.
It’s a delight to read these adventure stories again in middle age although recent editing has diminished some of the memories I have of the original editions and words used then (but I am now getting old).
Never mind… these books remain one of my best friends for life: they began my own reading adventure so do read these special adventures for yourselves.
on 16 February 2014
This should now be read as a book of a certian time and a classic with some old fashioned views, but I have read this to my grandchildren and I read it when I was seven years old, and found it very "grown-up, as it had criminals with guns down cavernous tunnels under the sea, which got me jumping up and down with delight. I remember saying out loud,"I cannot read this fast enough so that I can find out what will happen next, I'm so excited!". I read them all in order to my grand daughter, and enjoyed the strength and strong characters of the girls. The boys of course, were very old fashioned even to me, and rather sexist, and condecending to the girls but nicely protective of them, but I hoped the girls would overcome this and they did. Kiki the parrot was a good lovable pet to have and often gives spooky parts more atmosphere. I always considered these ADVENTURE stories, superior to other grouped children stories of Enid Blyton. Many people do not realise how much she actaully wrote on nature and animals for children which were very informative.
on 10 May 2000
Off on a night pleasure-flight piloted by their friend Bill Cunningham, the four children throw off the reins of adult supervision by getting on the wrong 'plane and being carried of to a beautiful, abandoned valley in Austria by a band of Nazi-treasure hunters. Left to their own devices, the children find a safe hiding place, relieve the gangsters of some of their food and so make life well worth living, rescue, and then lose, a brutally treated prisoner who knows not only the whereabouts of the treasure but also the way out of the valley (which turns out to be blocked)...An unputdownable adventure.
on 23 November 2000
Probably the best of the series. An offer of a night flight with their friend, Bill Cunningham, turns into a thrilling adventure when the 4 children board the wrong 'plane and are carried off to a beautiful, abandoned valley in Austria. Here, free of adult supervision, they get the better of a gang of international criminals on the trail of hidden Nazi loot, rescue, and then lose, a prisoner, find a perfect hideout which eventually leads them to the treasure and finally manage to arrange a daring escape from the valley for one of their number, Philip, in the gang's 'plane. Help arrives in the form of Bill Cunningham and the children and the elderly guardians of the treasure are rescued. An unputdownable adventure in the very best Blyton tradition.