April A-to-Z: must-read books
The Adventure Series (1944-1955)
by Enid Blyton
I’ll keep this short as there is little to say outside the observations I’ve already made about Treasure Island and the Chronicles of Narnia earlier this month.
These eight novels follow the adventures of a four-pack of British cousins (and a parrot) whose mom/aunt informally dates a fellow we perceive is wrapped up in some kind of Secret Service type work, if I correctly recall. Plot twists keep putting the kids in those hair-raising situations which are breeding grounds for kid-magic: high stakes jeopardy where adults are not available to intervene, and so the kids must dig deep into their nascent maturity in order to save the day.
It must be about thirty four years since I read this delightful series, rushing through them in a couple reading-manic weeks, but I well remember feeling intimately connected to the characters and emotionally charged by the thrills, mysteries and dangers of their circumstances.
This is great stuff for kids if you can find these books (I have access to early-edition hard covers of each). Especially great for girls perhaps, as these adventures are not generally male-centric.
Don’t let the age of these books sway you. They were already a little foreign in my reading experience, already 20-30 years old and set on another continent. But the culture gap only serves to make them more interesting. I often run into other adults who remember reading these books and it seems they are universally loved.
A passage from The Castle of Adventure:
They crossed over to the sink. The old-fashioned pump had a handle, which had to be worked up and down in order to bring up water from some deep-down well.
Philip stared at it in a puzzled manner, his eyes going to a puddle on the floor, just below the pump.
“What’s the matter, Philip? said Jack.
“Nothing much – but where did that water come from?” said Philip. “It can only have been there a day or two or it would have dried up.”
Jack looked up to the dark old ceiling, as if he expected to see a leak in the roof there. But there was none, of course! He looked down at the puddle again, and he too, felt puzzled. “Let’s pump it a bit and see if water comes up,” he said, and stretched out his hand.
Before he could reach the handle Philip knocked his hand aside, with an exclamation. Jack looked at him in surprise.
“See here, Freckles,” said Philip, frowning in bewilderment. “the handle of the pump isn’t covered in dust like everything else is. It’s rubbed clean just where you’d take hold of it to pump.”
Dinah felt a prickle of fright go down her back. Whatever did Philip mean? Who could pump up water in an old empty castle?
They all stared at the pump handle and saw that Philip was right.
The Island of Adventure (1944)
The Castle of Adventure (1946)
The Valley of Adventure (1947)
The Sea of Adventure (1948)
The Mountain of Adventure (1949)
The Ship of Adventure (1950)
The Circus of Adventure (1952)
The River of Adventure (1955)