Welcome to post number 5. You know the drill – there might be spoilers here if you’ve not read (or can’t remember) these books. Again, we are extremely lucky that these books were even written. After succumbing to her readers’ requests to continue the series beyond the planned 6, Blyton then intended to finish the series with book 12 Five Go Down to the Sea. But as before, she was inundated with pleas from her readers and continued the series. Hurrah!
FIVE GO TO MSYTERY MOOR, 1954
The Location: Captain Johnson’s horse riding school near Milling Green and the surrounding moor – once called Misty Moor, now known as Mystery Moor
The ‘Baddies’: A group of gypsies who travel to the moor regularly.
Significant other characters: Sniffer, one of the gypsy kids, Henry(ietta) – a girl from the riding school who also likes to act like a boy
The Plot: The girls are staying at a riding school, and George is well and truly sick of a girl there who dresses and acts like boy. When the boys came back from a school trip and join them things get worse as they mistake Henry for a real boy. Due to overcrowding at the school, the Five decide to borrow tents and go camp on the moors. They follow ‘patrins’ laid out by Sniffer, a gypsy boy they met at the stables when he brought his injured horse for care. They camp out on the moor, near where the gypsies are – and they are shining some sort of light at night. A plane then starts dropping lots of small packages of money in the area. The Five gather them up – sure something funny is going on – and decide to head back to the stables. One of the mists the moor is famous for rolls up and the group gets separated. The girls are captured and it’s down to Timmy to get help.
My favourite parts: The tragic and slightly creepy tale of the Bartletts as told by the blacksmith, and he clever re-use of George’s bright idea from Five on a Treasure Island to trick the men.
FIVE HAVE PLENTY OF FUN, 1955
The Location: The Five are back at Kirrin for this adventure
The ‘Baddies’: Enemies of Elbur – an American scientist working with Uncle Quentin
Significant other characters: Berta, Elbur’s daughter, Jo the gypsy girl who we’ve met twice before and her fair friend Spiky.
The Plot: The daughter of Uncle Quentin’s friend is reportedly in danger – people have threatened to kidnap her it order to learn scientific secrets. Elbur has said he would give away all his secrets in order to have his daughter returned, and in exasperation Uncle Quentin arranges for Berta to come and stay with them at Kirrin. She arrives in the dead of night, and to George’s annoyance she has brought her pet poodle, Sally. Strange flashes – the sun glinting on field glasses perhaps – are seen from Kirrin Island, and the family suspect people may know where Berta is. She is then disguised as a boy, and when Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin leave for a few days, she sleeps in Joan’s room in the attic. George takes Sally out to the kennel at night to get some peace, and is taken by mistake. In her nightwear she apparently looks more like a girl, and after all she is carrying a poodle, so to the men she must be Berta. It’s then up to the rest of the Five to find out where George is (the police, though very attentive, are never very good at solving crimes) with the help of their old friend Jo. Meanwhile Berta goes back to being a girl, one with a new name, and is taken in Joan’s sister. They track George down to a fair in another village – but she’s already been moved on and they have to do a spot of breaking and entering to rescue her.
My favourite parts: Jo’s literal interpretation of Julian’s “do NOT take my bike”, which meant she simply took Dick’s instead, the scamp! Also, Uncle Quentin’s inability to get Berta’s name right, as he always seems to be one step behind. As soon as he remembers there’s a girl called Berta staying, she becomes a boy called Leslie. By the time he’s got that straight she’s a girl again this time called Jane.
Five on a Secret Trail 1956
The Location: A common near Carter’s Lane
The ‘Baddies’: Prisoner Paul’s cronies.
Significant other characters: Guy and Harry Lawdler
The Plot: George goes off camping, in a huff, because people are laughing at Timmy wearing a collar to protect some stitches behind his ear. Anne soon joins her and they do a bit of exploring – running across a strange and slightly annoying boy a few times. That night Anne sees a light and hears noise coming from half ruined cottage near by but George doesn’t believe her. The next night it pours with rain and they shelter in the cottage – and they both see people standing outside, and a man looking in the window at them. They’re pretty scared – even tough old George, so they decide to pack up and head home. Before they get very far Julian and Dick show up, and feeling braver they all decide to stay, only to witness a spooky light and noise show clearly designed to scare them away. The five pretend to pack up and leave, hoping they will then catch the baddies in the act. Julian and Dick spy on a group of people who seem to be searching the cottage for a stone slab of a certain size, which is near water. They don’t find what they’re looking for, but the five now know what size of stone to look for. They find one of the strange boys at the archaeological site, and he tells them he has a twin and who has been kidnapped. Together they find the right stone slab and enter the secret passage and find some blue prints. They find the kidnapped twin and get caught by the bad guys but they are the Famous Five and that has never stopped them before.
My favourite parts: How they figure out the “friendly country woman” is not all she seems, the confusing appearances of a strange boy until they figure out it’s a pair of twins as well as a well-hidden secret passage. The end is quite amusing, too, as they discover the scientist hasn’t even noticed his blueprints have been stolen.
Next post: Books 16-18