By: Enid Blyton
Illustration by Quentin Blake
ISBN : 9781444908657
George is used to being alone. A girl who would prefer to be a boy doesn’t want cousins she’s never met before ruining her holidays. Julian, Dick and Anne are excited to be meeting George and before long they help her realise company can be fun.
There is a shipwreck off Kirrin Island, a legend about missing treasure, a map and a mystery. If only the cousins and George’s faithful dog TImmy can keep on the right side of Uncle Quentin, maybe they will get to the bottom of it all.
Illustration by Helen Oxenbury
Back at Kirrin Cottage for the Christmas holidays, the five are sure there won’t be any time for adventure, not with three of them having to study with a tutor. Then they hear a tale of secret passages and find a mysterious map. Added to that it seems there is a thief at Kirrin Cottage. That’s not all, George doesn’t like their tutor but then she doesn’t like anyone who doesn’t like Timmy. The question is why doesn’t Timmy like the tutor?
Illustration by Emma Chichester Clark
Holidays at Kirrin are supposed to be a fun time but that is a little hard with Mrs Stick and her horrid son around. Things take a turn for the worse when George’s mum gets taken to hospital and Mr Stick turns up. With such a difficult situation to deal with the cousins think there is someone up to something on Kirrin Island. How are they going to find out what is going on? Then George has a plan and they may be on the trail of smugglers. Who was that screaming? And what do the Stick’s have to do with any of it? The five find themselves entangled in another mystery.
Illustration by Oliver Jeffers
Kirrin Cottage is badly damaged in a terrible storm, so the five are shipped off to stay at Smugglers Top with a scientist friend of Uncle Quentin’s. Fortunately his son Sooty is friends with the boys and it looks as though it will be a fun time. How could it not be when they are staying at a place filled with secret hiding places and underground tunnels. Of course a place such as this was designed for adventure and they find one. What is the mysterious signal from the tower and what is going on with Block?
Illustration by Chris Riddell
The cousins convince the adults to let them go caravanning and they decide to follow the circus that inspired the idea. They have a wonderful time picnicking and staying in fields. When they find the circus, Nobby is happy they followed but some of the other circus folk aren’t as pleased. The five don’t mind, when threatened they simply move a short way away so they can still enjoy the location and spend time with their new friends, Nobby and the ape Pongo. It starts out like any normal kind of holiday but Lou and Dan are up to something, the five know it and they simply can’t turn their backs on an adventure.
Book 13 in the series and one of my faves
This series is considered a children’s classic. My confession here is that as a young kid they were some of my favourite books, I devoured them. They still hold a special place in my heart and I want to share them with my kids, hopeful they will enjoy them too.
These stories are still loved today, they hold a timeless appeal especially for children longing for stories filled with mysteries and adventure. What’s not to love about four kids and their loyal dog, solving mysteries, finding treasure and foiling the bad guy’s plans?
The style is very innocent, ‘it’s all simply swell’, unfortunately it is also a little dated. Some children will love these, they will be the ones who can see past the ‘gollys’ and such and even treat it like a kind of escapist fantasy (seriously 11-14 year olds allowed to take off in horse drawn caravans by themselves for weeks at a time?). Probably not the books to go for if you are trying to get a reluctant reader to read but revisiting all these years later I still think they have something to offer. In a time where so much is pushed at our children it doesn’t hurt to go back to more innocent times.
The versions I have featured here are the beautiful 70th anniversary covers designed by five wonderful children’s illustrators. I am so happy to add them to my bookshelf.
(I received mine from the publisher but mostly because even 30 years later I can tell you without looking the first sentence from the third book, ‘”George dear do settle down and do something,” said George’s mother.’ And know I don’t know why that has stuck with me for so long.)