Mystery of the Skull (Secret Seven) Paperback – 12 Jul 2018
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She brings enormous fun and energy to an all-new mystery, striking the delicate balance of remaining faithful to Blyton's originals while appealing to contemporary children. (The Bookseller)
Butchart recreates all the adventure and charm of the originals (Independent i)
This is a brand new Secret Seven story written by Pamela Butchart and illustrated by Tony Ross. It's set in the same world and time as Enid Blyton's original series and is perfect for anyone who loves a mystery to solve. (Mini Travellers)
Solve the mystery with the Secret Seven - everyone's favourite detective club!See all Product description
From the Publisher
Secret Seven: Mystery of the Skull
A brand new series of Blyton's much-loved mystery books.
Using the original characters, setting and concept created by Enid Blyton, the brilliant Pamela Butchart and Tony Ross have revived the Secret Seven with as much excitement, intrigue and adventure as ever before.
About the books . . .
The Secret Seven are back!
Everyone's favourite detective club has returned! These new mysteries are perfect for long-time Secret Seven fans, or children who have just discovered the joy of Blyton.
Nail-biting new mysteries
Join Peter, Janet, George, Jack, Pam, Colin and Barbara as they follow clues, question suspects, unravel dastardly plots and dabble with danger, in these thrilling stories.
Illustrations and intrigue
Tony Ross brings our favourite characters to life with his fantastically stylised drawings. Full-page illustrations engage young readers and add to the exciting suspense.
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With ample servings of sandwiches and cake, several moonlight adventures and significant levels of danger, this new adventure is a welcome return to a world that I’m pleased to revisit.
At first I was concerned that the book would feel dated, being that the originals were set in the 50s and 60s, or that the book would be obviously modernised but I was impressed to note that neither is the case. There is no obvious technology in the book but nothing to suggest that it couldn’t be set in the modern era either, making it accessible to a new generation of readers.
I don’t think this book (and others that I expect to follow in the series) will appeal as a children’s / adult crossover in the same way as, for example, the Harry Potter books have but it will appeal to the original fans of The Secret Seven and I think the innocence and simplicity of the story would be perfect for new readers of all ages.
For transporting me back to the world of amazing Enid Blyton-esque story telling and for a very clever, intriguing story I give The Secret Seven: Mystery of the Skull by Pamela Butchart and Enid Blyton four stars. I definitely would recommend this book to fans of Enid Blyton stories and to young readers. I will certainly be looking out for any new additions to the series.
My daughter and I love Pamela Butchart’s other books, but we were slightly underwhelmed by this effort. It just didn’t feel enough like the Secret Seven (we’ve recently been reading the originals). There were some positives - we liked the fact that Janet was much more of an ‘equal’ to the boys than in the original books. However some of the language felt very wrong.
Not a bad attempt, but wish that just a little bit more editing had been done to remove the ‘Butchartisms’ and keep the writing style more authentically Blyton.
This is where Pamela Butchart has stepped in and created a continuation of sorts and a reboot in others, taking the original characters and the context of their adventures, the way that children get curious and involve themselves in adventures but gently reinterpreting and revising the dynamics and behaviours to suit a much more modern mindset. Other than a few little bugbears I love this new Secret Seven, possibly more than the original as I won't have to explain so much to my daughter!
Butchart retains the cosy legacy of the original with its joyful celebration of children's friendship, of preoccupation with food, especially biscuits, old fashioned cakes and more, the elements of danger or being caught but ultimately being brave and escaping, pondering over clues and collecting of evidence in notebooks, the badges, the passwords and Peters bossy obsession with passwords, Jack's annoying little sister Susie and the plot developments that occur because of Scamper the dog. The essential elements are there and feel comfortingly familiar.
But there is equally much changed for the better. butchart's writing style and language is undoubtably post modern, it's tight and efficient where Blyton would take a page to describe the scene of Peter and Janet waiting in the shed in a slightly pedantic slow manner like a still life, Butchart gets the scene set and interactions and dialogue going all at once in a much more brisk manner. My 4 year old daughter responds far better to this than Blyton's of which she takes a good few chapters to warm up but is good for getting her sleepy at night!
The most powerful thing that Butchart does for this rebooted septuplet is how she actually gives the girls personalities and things to do other than basically domesticated subservient 'shall I play mother?'s round the refreshments and squealing or a being a plot device for inspiring a boys thought or simply repeating back a conclusion of what the boys have discovered. These girls have sass and skills, are playful and give as good as they get with the boys and whilst they admittedly may not enjoy it they confidently get dirty and stare danger in the face too in order to solve a mystery- even if it's in pug slippers and the boys do not lead all the action anymore.
There are a few little bugbears but they do not detract from the joy of the book a minor point is that some of the language jars with the setting which doesn't say it's in the same timeframe but at the same time doesn't refer to modern technologies- things like being scared of being grounded seem odd in the mouths of Blyton's characters but I can understand how it's aimed at the 21st century child's frame of reference.
The second one is a personal one, the children of Blyton's original books were children for far longer than it seems we allow children in the modern world so we saw 'tween' children playing imaginary games and such, extended games in the woods or similar, this play element seems very much lacking in Butchart's book, other than Pam and Barbara dressing up as witches and some delightful laughing at bad Scottish accents there's very little play in this book which was part of the magic of Blyton's books. Maybe I'm silly and nostalgic but I want my children to know its wonderful (and healthy) to play even if it's not 'cool'.
In light of everything though I have to give this a big 5 stars, and I'm excited as to where Pamela Butchart can take these beloved characters with readers of a wholly different mindset and world from the original and please, can we do the Famous Five next?