on 11 August 2010
This book is not Enid Blyton's original text but an edited version. It is an outrage that this is not made more clear. If I want to read Enid Blyton, I want to read the original words, not a doctored 'modern' version. Apparently the original (first folio) version is still available so you might want to look for that instead of buying this one. I would give the original version 5 stars, incidentally. I loved the Famous Five books as a child.
UPDATE: Amazon is currently adding reviews of each version of the book, to all versions of the book. I was reviewing the 2010 EDITED edition but I see that my review is appearing under the first folio (original) edition too, so please check carefully which book you are ordering. Amazon: I urge you to separate the reviews. The edited 'modern' version is a significantly different book from the original version. The same applies to other books by Enid Blyton that have been doctored.
This is the start of the Enid Blyton series of `Famous Five' books. This first book sets the scene, introduces us to Julian, Dick, Ann and their cousin `George' Georgina and of course Tim who is just as important as his human counterparts (he is a dog) and is probably the most important.
Julia, Dick and Anne go and spend their holiday with George and get to experience her Kirrin Island where her ancestors built a castle. Here a shipwreck is thrown up by the storm, and the legend of the gold ingots that were onboard lead the five to find out if it was true. Some others also have this idea and when George's father Quentin sells the island it becomes a race as to who will find the ingots first.
There is much debate about Blyton's writing and style. I chose to reread the original story and not the ones that have been `updated' to appeal to a more modern politically correct audience. Just in case we offend anyone! I think books should be read in their original format, language and all. I implore any new readers to read the original to experience the true Blyton.
None of it offended me when I was a child all I was interested in was the stories and characters. I do not think it has made me a bad person or made me view the world and the people in it differently because I have read Blyton. I have read the first few pages of the up to date Five on Treasure Island and abandoned it very quickly for fear of being offended by the politically correct madness of it!
on 25 January 2011
Chapter one, this edition: She wants a good talking to.
Chapter one, older editions: She wants a good spanking.
on 8 February 2011
Well, these books were all on sale at a local discount bookshop - all hardback too (nice!) and I have to say, what a trip down memory lane. I grew up on many books, including the Famous Five adventures. I am now almost 26 and I couldn't resist getting a few additions to my sort of Famous-Fiveless bookshelf.
I loved the books back then and I'm happy to say I love them, reading them all again now. George is still one of my all-time favourite children's literature characters, Anne still annoys me (in a very endearing way), Dick still makes me laugh and I still roll my eyes at Julian, who seems to think he knows best (which I think is big brother's privilage). I am continuing my trip along memory lane with a sudden (and familiar) obsession with the series.
Alright, Enid Blyton books never are as twisted, humerous and devious as - say - Roald Dahl (another writer I'm very fond of and who I adored in my younger days) and certainly not as dark as a few famous fairy-tales. It's all very ideal and quaint and sugary sweet and a bit 'jolly-hockeysticks' in places - but it's still wonderful. I can see why today's children might find Enid Blyton a little too pure and maybe 'boring' for thier liking, but I don't think you can get away from the fact these books are just filled with adventure - adventures that children can cope with. Realistically, I mean. It's not about saving the world and a race of special aliens - and that's fine by me.
These are books of the time when it was written and reflect a few attitudes that were prominant at the time - I get a feel of children should be seen and not heard, girls should like dolls and not do anything too dangerous, the woman is the mother and should run the home, the father is a studier and works and should be left to do so. But again - it's of the time and I think, if anything, it makes a more realistic world. If you can call their world realistic - it's how children view the world, so I suppose it is realistic enough. I think I thought it was all very realistic and took it as a reflection of their era when I first read it. Reading it now, I have a few 'erm ...' moments, but it doesn't spoil the read.
What does spoil the read for me this time - and the reason I can't give it five stars - is the way the P.C. brigade (or whoever it is) had stepped in and spoilt some of the writing and language that Enid Blyton originally used. Firstly - why change the children's books - children are less likely to pick up on some of the things that have been removed and more likely to just sit back and enjoy the Five's adventures. I'm not saying it's an overly bad thing, I just find it takes away some of the original quality - the copies I and others read as kids were littered with words like 'spank' - so why change it?
Secondly - surely if there is a problem with words like 'spank' or phrases such as 'needs a good spanking' (which was replaced by 'needs a good talking to') then why leave us with characters who are called Dick and Aunt Fanny. Might be just my opinion, but surely, those two names come with more connotation than the word 'spank' ? Don't get me wrong - I would've been upset if they had changed the names (they changed Aunt Fanny to Aunt Francis in the 96 tv series, which I can understand why, but don't understand why they didn't change the name Dick or even the character Nobby's name to go with it - plus a modern-media production is different to the classic literature). If they're going to interfere with classic literature, why not just completely purify it and make a proper job of it instead of nit-picking phrases that were completely harmless when it was written.
To turn that last sentence on his head - why do they have to interfere at all - why not just leave it alone and let it be the piece of classic adventure, innocence and child-hood it was intended to be. They're the ones who read things into it and cheapen it - not the audience. Yes, there might be a few bubbles of laughter at the phrasing - but so what? People at the intended reading age of these books find every subtle connotation funny.
on 29 May 2004
These comments apply to the whole Famous Five series, not just this book. Enid Blyton wrote several series based around groups of children having adventures (The Secret Island series - also excellent, the Secret Seven,) but the Famous Five is the one that seems to stand out, possibly because of the magic extra ingredient of Timmy, the faithful and resourceful dog.
Enid Blyton has been criticised for being too 'middle class', and it is true that the children are ruthlessly polite and well-spoken (and they do sometimes have lashings of ginger beer), while there is frequently an additional child involved who starts out selfish and spoilt, but learns to be 'nice' through association with Julian, Dick and co. However, the stories are none the worse for that.
It is also true that she endlessly recycles the same plot ingredients of secret passages, ruined castles, kidnappers and smugglers, jolly farmers' wives etc, but that is largely where the appeal lies, at least for younger children. My daughter is five, and I honestly thought she was probably too young when I bought one of the books as a 'filler' on a larger order from Amazon, but in fact she was hooked from the start, and in a year or two will be able to read them for herself.
There is something magical about reading a couple of chapters at bedtime, and hearing her say she can't wait to find out what happens next, whilst speculating on the likely identity of the mystery figure in the tower (or whatever). There is also a surprising amount of humour, one example (from Five Get into Trouble) being where the children discover that the 'baddie' is planning to give Timmy poisoned food. They bury the poisoned food safely, before pretending, with feigned innocence, to feed leftovers to the baddie's chickens, sending him into a rage. My daughter found this hilarious, and I raised a smile or two myself.
I remember these stories from my childhood, and I would like to think that in due course my daughter will pass them on to her children. So, ignore the carping of the PC brigade and indulge yourself and your children in one of life's enduring pleasures.
on 19 August 2005
Yes, it might not be the best story around (Blyton or otherwise), but this is the most powerful book I have ever read. I have no idea when I read it first but it must have been before I started secondary school and I can't remember reading it when I was 10/11. This means I must have been 9 or below and still very young.
Reading it now is but a shadow of what it meant to me when I was a child but then the posibilites seemed endless. Yet, my new reading has left me with a re-born spirit, that I really can do anything I want. It is up to me.
As I re-read this book I did feel some of the magic that touched me when I first read it. It is a wonderful tale that says to me, get out there and live it (as most of Blyton's books do). What stops us is ourselves!
Many years ago this book taught me that there is a world out there to explore. Reading it again tells me that the world is still there, it is simply up to me to find it and live it.
on 29 May 2000
My seven year old son has discovered Enid Blyton in a big way! He describes the book as "brilliant, because it was an exciting treasure story. The way the characters are described helps make it a really exciting read. The best bit of the book is when two of the five get trapped by the bad guys. I won't tell you anymore. I would tell everyone to read it,as the words are clear and it is easy to understand the story.
on 9 February 2011
Like the last reviewer I am thoroughly disgusted that the publishers have "updated" the text. I was looking forward to a big nostalgia trip, but no lashings of ginger beer here by jove! This is hardly replacing a racially offensive toy with naughty teddies and I see no reason whatsoever for butchering these classic stories. What next - The Lion, The With, and the Ipod?!! Surely contemporary children are just as capable of appreciating a period story as we were?
on 30 January 2013
that this book had to be updated in language. No longer is the called "Timmy"... for some reason perhaps modernisation this has been shorted to "Tim". Trying to bring the language of this book into the 21st century loses so much of what made the Famous Five books so great. Very disappointing.
on 12 March 2001
Not the best famous five story, but it sets the scene for the others. George, in particular, develops through this book, but the others do too. I'd advise reading this one before any of the other stories, and although the others do not matter so much, the characters age and develop further through the series. Dispite Enid Blyton not being as popular now (PC and all that) I would still say she, and particularly the famous five, is essential for all children's bookshelves.