We’ve finally reached the final part of this series, and the last of the books I had as a child. Those were The Secret of Cliff Castle, Smuggler Ben, The Boy Next Door, The Treasure Hunters and The Children of Green Meadows.
THE SECRET OF CLIFF CASTLE AND SMUGGLER BEN
I had the Collins two-in-one “Mystery Stories” edition of these books, with yellow boards. The original editions of both these books were published under the pseudonym Mary Pollock. The title “Mystery Stories” was printed on the spine, but the individual titles were only inside, so somebody wrote the titles on the front cover and drew a box around them (honestly, my relatives just had no idea how to treat books properly!*) I definitely read Cliff Castle as a child, but I’m not sure I ever read Smuggler Ben, which is odd considering they were both in the same book!
Cliff Castle was illustrated by George Brook (who did some of the Secret Seven titles) rather than the original illustrator W. Lindsay Cable (illustrator of Malory Towers). I think Cable’s illustrations are better than Brook’s, but on saying that I prefer Brook’s in this book probably due to their familiarity.
Smuggler Ben had illustrations by G.W. Backhouse instead of those from the first edition by E.H. Davie (illustrator of The Adventurous Four and two of the Secret Series). Blackhouse’s illustrations are decent enough – they were done in the 50s so there’s no sign of modernisation in them. I do prefer the original Davie illustrations though, as hers are just cleaner and have better drawn faces and expressions (having never read the version with Blackhouse’s work probably influences me there.)
THE BOY NEXT DOOR AND THE TREASURE HUNTERS
These were in another two-in one, but this time a modern paperback. Like the 2 in 1 above, though, I only read the first title as a child. I read The Boy Next Door perhaps once or twice, and somehow never read The Treasure Hunters despite the interesting title. In fact when I bought it in hardback as an adult I was completely unaware I already had a copy! I don’t think the cover of this book particularly inspired me to read it – it looks a bit like a spy novel to me.
The illustrators are not credited for this book, though The Boy Next Door‘s illustrations are recognisable as Gilbert Dunlop’s work (illustrator of most of the Barney Mysteries). I like Dunlop’s distinctive style of illustrations (and of course they are unmodernised) and I think they’re just as skilful as the first edition illustrations by A.E. Bestall. Information from the Society forums suggests the illustrations for The Treasure Hunters are quite modern – which would have been a sure turn-off to me had I read it as a child. (Thanks to Spitfire over at the Enid Blyton Society Forums for the illustration information here – she saved me another trip into the loft to check the book.)
THE CHILDREN AT GREEN MEADOWS
I liked this story as a kid, but I think I only read it a couple of times. I had a fairly modern (1992) hardback Dean edition . The cover doesn’t really remind me much of the story or the characters (though I know there were children, animals and stables in the story I have to consciously think about the story before details come to my mind), and it wasn’t illustrated so I think that has influenced how much I liked the book.
In the interest of completeness I just want to add that I had a red board Dean & Son copy of Tales of Toyland which despite being a favourite of my mum’s, I never read.
And on that bombshell we have reached the end of my childhood books.
*For further proof here are a couple more pictures of the Mystery Stories book.