The Island of Adventure – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 5

Chapters nine and ten this week. I was wanting to carry on to chapter eleven – Bill Smugs – but there was so much happening in chapter ten alterations wise that I had to stop there. Earlier chapters were covered in part one, two, three and four.

My copy of the book is an 8th impression from 1955 (handed down from my mum) and the modern copy I’m comparing it to is a Macmillan one from 2001 (borrowed from Stef).


When talking about the girls’ refusal to use the secret passage into Craggy Tops’ cellars Philip says Lucy-Ann is just a baby. This is updated to Lucy-Ann takes her [Dinah’s] side. I’m not sure why he can’t call her a baby, he is teasing her and his sister after all.

Not surprisingly the phrase burnt as brown as gypsies has been altered. Perhaps surprisingly they still get burnt (no concerns about skin cancer here) but its as brown as toast, which I found an odd analogy. When I burn toast it goes black and charred, not how you want your skin to look.

Philip’s bathing-drawers become swimming trunks, though bathing-suits remain throughout the chapter, hyphen and all.

This time it’s the original text that refers to Jo-Jo as sullen, but as it reads the sullen black man it gets chopped to just the man. The same happens when he’s originally the black man.

Lastly, for this chapter anyway, we have Uncle Jocelyn’s experience of Kiki was definitely not good. And no wonder, she sneaks into his room and shouts things at him, then tries to land on his head! This, for some reason, becomes not so good. I suppose they were trying to imply it was bad in comparison to Aunt Polly’s experience which precedes it, but the comparison is there by their accounts being given one after the other. Besides, Uncle Jocyeln’s experience is not a good one, by adding so it sounds like his experience is only bad when compared to Aunt Polly’s.

One more thing they didn’t change – Jack still says there’s a good girl to Lucy-Ann. That’s the sort of thing I thought they’d find sexist or what-have-you now.


There’s a lot altered in this chapter, so I’ll start with the simple stuff first.

Queer is now odd. Jo-Jo is now just the man, him or he at various points (I know they’ve made Jo-Jo into Joe but why not just call him Joe rather than taking the name out completely?)

Sailing-boat becomes sailing boat, which I don’t like. A line such as “the sailing boat came into the harbour,” means a boat which is sailing. A sailing-boat is a particular kind of boat.

The black man is changed to the angry man, the winded man and also to the tall man on another occasion. Jo-Jo’s black face is now Joe’s face.

Originally the moonlight coming through the window fell on to his face, in the newer edition it just fell on his face. 

Jack or Philip (I can’t remember) does use an odd phase one morning: I don’t think we’d have waked up. It’s probably perfectly correct, but it sounds strange like lighted can sound odd instead of lit. Anyway, they’ve changed it to the more usual woken up. 

Less explainable is the change from the fun of puzzling Jo-Jo to the fun of teasing Joe. I think puzzling is  perfectly good word for what the children are doing – talking about sleeping all night long when he’s sure he saw Jack and Philip down on the beach in the middle of the night.

Now, onto a scene with many small changes. I was rather expecting this, to be honest, remembering Jo-Jo catching the boys at night and threatening them with his rope. Well, most of the references to the rope are removed first of all.

Jo-Jo climbed out of the water… and picked up a thick rope-end is now Joe… came towards the boys determinedly. 

Then the way to the house was barred by the big powerful body of the black man, swinging his rope-end just ends with the big powerful body of the angry man.

Removing the rope-end seems to be about lessening the violence of the scene, I thought. But then when Jo-Jo swung the rope-end into the air and Jack gave a yell,  the rope-end becomes his fist. So Joe is going to punch one of the boys, how is that “better”?

The other boy still head-butts Jo-Jo in the stomach (hence our winded man from above) and we still have lines like golly – he’s going to lick us, and we shall be licked black and blue by Joe. Considering lick only has one common usage nowadays, involving a tongue, I can imagine those phrases sound rather strange to modern children and I’m surprised they left those. Even if they understand the meaning (because, my goodness, maybe they asked an adult? Is that even possible?) it adds a level of violence that negates the removal of the rope.

The boys even suppose he might even kill us, and Joe thinks he shall give those two boys a good hiding. He also tied the rope-end around his waist the next morning. (Oops.)

In the original Jo-Jo stood… the rope-end in his hand while in the cave. This becomes ,clenching his fist hard – and yes, that’s a comma stuck to the C, exactly as it appears in the book. Seems like the cut some words and pasted in others without the needed space. And again, is a clenched fist less violent or menacing than a rope? And, incidentally, does one ever clench just one fist? In my experience it’s usually clenched fists.

Lastly, what did read rope-end in hand now reads armed with a rope. I can’t even fathom that. They’ve removed almost all references to the rope (except the one they seem to forget about) and now being armed with a rope is somehow more appropriate than having a rope in his hand… I can’t begin to offer any explanations for their reasoning, if they had any.

Two more things they left in are the boys’ shorts, jerseys  and rubber shoes (those surely should have been jeans, t-shirts and trainers?) and Jo-Jo’s funny English: You two boys been asleep in your room the whole night?

Phew, so fourteen changes I think. It’s hard to determine, sometimes, what a new or unique change is. I’m probably not being truly consistent either, but I’m doing my best! 

That takes us up to forty-nine unique(ish) changes now.

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4 Responses to The Island of Adventure – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 5

  1. Francis says:

    The number of changes is quite frightening – Enid’s original text is what makes the stories so readable. It would have much better if any changes had been done by you, Fiona! You are the perfect editor.


    • fiona says:

      You flatterer, Francis! I would not have lasted long at any of the publishing companies – they’d have gotten their manuscripts back with barely a mark on them!


  2. RereadingBlyton says:

    Another fascinating post on revisions to the Adventures. Without wanting to lower the tone of this blog, I think the removal of references to the ‘rope-end’ and ‘rope-end in hand’ will be because of, to put it delicately, the potentially sexualised readings of these phrases.

    Whatever the motivation, as always such revisions are really obnoxious. The books are of their time, and anyone reading them today, children included, can understand that.


    • fiona says:

      Thanks, Chris. And that’s an interesting point, I hadn’t considered that. I still wonder though as they could have changed the wording to “length of rope” or “piece of rope” or just “the rope.” Especially when they left the lines about being licked by Joe! I don’t think we’ll ever fathom their thought processes regarding what was appropriate and what needed changed.


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