The Island of Adventure – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition?

I finished comparing The Secret Island a few weeks ago and have decided to do another Island based story, The Island of Adventure. I’m anticipating quite a lot of changes around the character of Jo-Jo/Joe and I’m quite looking forward to seeing just how much has been altered.

My own copy of the book is a 1955 8th impression and my modern copy is a Macmillan one from 2001 (on loan from Stef).


Naturally, as we have seen with all the other titles I’ve looked at, queer is removed from the text. In this first instance it is replaced with odd.

The description of Kiki gets changed, probably as there is no parrot that is scarlet and grey with a big crest on its head. I think there’s possibly a cockatoo or other bird like that though. On the colour dustjackets Stuart Tresilian illustrates Kiki as white and yellow which is how she is described in the new text – A white parrot with a yellow crest on its head.

While I’m willing to admit Blyton may had made an error in describing Kiki I don’t see why there can’t be a scarlet and grey parrot in her fictional world.

Dinah still has quick impatience and a quarrelsome nature in the modern edition, but instead of Philip thinking that she might upset things a bit he thinks that it might not be so peaceful. I’m not sure why that had to change. Either way he implies that Dinah being there would cause trouble.


This chapter also had one use of queer which then became strange.

As I thought, Jo-Jo has become Joe. At this early stage he has only been briefly described by Philip and hasn’t appeared in person, so I’m sure there will be more changes once we meet him. He is described as a handyman servant in the original text and this has been changed to a handyman helper. While it’s true that in Britain at least people don’t have servants any more, even if they do employ staff, this book is so firmly set in a past age that it seems silly to update things like that. How many modern houses require you to carry buckets of water to a tin bath for example?

The other change is equally as pointless I think. It’s said that Jack had never had a boy for a friend before. That becomes a real friend before. Why? They didn’t write boy friend which could be mistaken for boyfriend. He’s had a girl for a friend perhaps, if you include Lucy-Ann certainly, but not a boy.

That’s not all that many changes so far then. Six, between the two chapters. I’m anticipating a lot more once we get to Craggy-Tops and meet Jo-Jo/Joe though thankfully I won’t be counting every time his name is changed.

Sadly the Macmillan hardback isn’t illustrated so I won’t be able to compare the illustrations. As far as I know most of the various reprinted editions use the Stuart Tresilian illustrations anyway , but it can be interesting to look at whether or not they’ve used them all, whether they’ve resized them and if the new text matches the pictures. But never mind, it gives me a little bit less work to do in the end!

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7 Responses to The Island of Adventure – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition?

  1. chrissie777 says:

    On my very first trip to England in May 1981 I bought a set of 8 new Macmillan Adventure hardbacks which were published in 1979 (I still have the bill from Foyle’s in London for £ 30,25 for all 8 volumes from 5/5/81) and I do believe that they have the original text. This 1979 volume has 45 illustrations with the cover illustration included. My old German hardback copy has only 22 of the Tresilian illustrations. I was thrilled when I returned from England and compared the illustrations between the British and the German hardbacks and discovered that I now have a lot more illustrations :).


  2. Wendy Brydge says:

    Wow, I’m ashamed to admit this, but I never really thought about how the actual text would change from edition to edition. Feels kind of sacrilegious. It’s like… would you change facts and details about history because now some might find it offensive? Of course not. Books are just documented history — whether factual or fictitious. They represent the thoughts, attitudes, events and preferences of a specific time in the past. I don’t think they should be “updated”, or made politically correct. Can you imagine the uproar if suddenly they started painting over sections of Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintings to make them more “acceptable”? O_o And as you say, why can’t a parrot be red and grey in Blyton’s made-up world? All these changes are kind of taking the fun of it.

    Would love to see them preserve the original cover art too. I’m not a fan of updated illustration either!


  3. Francis says:

    I would hate to read the updated version but you are doing a valuable service by highlighting the changes Fiona.


  4. Rose says:

    I am so sad they’ve changed Jo-Jos name. Why? How can a name be deemed racist? -note there is a white singer called JoJo so surely it cant be allowed for a white woman to have the name but not a fictional black man? isnt that racism removing his name and description, so children no longer know he is black? Enid was quite forward thinking giving a black man a major important part in her story, which was unusual in the 1940s. Jo-Jo was my favourite character, i loved the name, it gave him a sense of mystery and fun, (“Joe” is very American to me and sorry but it is normal, and therefore boring, no intrigue) I remember Jo-Jo as a lovable character who you couldn’t help liking even though i think he was a “baddie”.
    it just isnt right to change words in a book,in case people are offended. im sure there are plenty of books out there now which would offend me, but i choose not to buy them. doubt if they’ll be edited and re-issued so i can read them. id like to know who decided what was offensive and what wasn’t because we are all offended by different things. But considering new books have summer cover pics on a winter story, or say jeans when it was clearly a hot day at the beach, it sounds like they havent even read her books, just auto-correct words. it ruins the books, they really arent Enid Blytons anymore. i wanted to replace my yellow paged battered books, now i sadly cant. i never in a million years thought someone would be allowed to sabotage her writing. no ones done it to Dickens, Shakespeare and other works of art which could be deemed offensive to a variety of people and have very olde English. im very sad i never bought a copy just to keep nice!


  5. Grace Jones says:

    Jo jo was one of my favourite characters, it seems racist to remove a black man from a book, Enid Blyton having a main character as black is forward thinking and NOT racist. If Enid Blyton was racist she wouldnt include any black people in her books, yet in the secret mountain a young african boy is a hero. And if his depiction was racist, so is mowgli in Jungle book, the fact is it is racist to expect tribes in hot countries to wear what we wear, they should be respected for how they want to live & wear, eg kalahari ppls wear same as mafusa. I loved the names she made up, children were the heros. I want to rebuy the books but want the original names, shillings etc (dont see imperial being removed from other authors, is this sexism against Enid?)

    Tanyrate, do you know which publications, dates, have original words please for adventure series, famous five, secret series.

    I have hardback prestine condition full set mallory towers dated 1994, they are originals, shillings pictures etc

    Thanks a million if you can help


    • Fiona says:

      I don’t believe it that Jo-Jo should be removed either, but I wouldn’t have an issue if modern publishers chose to make a few minor edits to his speech, eye rolling etc and to reduce the number of times he is described as ‘the black man’. There is a lack of black characters in the majority of children’s books published even now – so removing ones that are there certainly doesn’t help. Blyton has a few – Jo-Jo, Sam the paratrooper and Mafumu come to mind, so they aren’t even all baddies.

      I’m not sure that we can blame sexism for the edits to Blyton’s works. I think there are several factors. First, most of her contemporaries are no longer in print and so have avoided the updatings that way. Secondly, her works (and I don’t think this is attributable to her gender or sex) have for a long time been considered of poor quality so she has never reached the ‘classic’ label as given to, say, A.A. Milne, Beatrix Potter or E. Nesbit.


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