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

It’s been a little while since I last did a post on this. There was meant to be one roughly every four weeks but I chopped and changed a few weeks on the schedule so it didn’t work out that way. Never mind, I got to it eventually. This week is chapters 13 and 14 so we’re nearly half-way through the book. Previous parts are one, two, three, four, five and six.

A reminder: 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).


This chapter starts and continues with the annoying trend of removing Joe’s name from the text. They ruin a nicely repetitive piece If they went down to the shore, Jo-Jo would be there, collecting driftwood. If they stayed in the house, Jo-Jo stayed too. If they went up on the cliff, Jo-Jo followed by changing the first two names to he and the last being left as Joe. On three further occasions the name is omitted and replaced with him/he. I really don’t know why as there aren’t any instances of this happening to any of the other characters, and their names don’t seem to appear any more frequently than Jo-Jo’s.

There’s two instances of the black man in the chapter which are both made to the man. (I’m remembering that I’m trying to keep a tally of how many times Blyton referred to Jo-Jo’s colour which is why I’m making a note of these repeatedly.)

There’s an attempt to make the girls seem less… girly? later on, too. When they go down the secret passage it’s noted that neither girl is keen, and they hate it. But then when they found that in one part it was difficult to breathe, they were afraid. Or as it’s updated they stopped instead of being afraid. I think stopping implies a certain fear, or at the very least reluctance anyway.

The boys attempt to get her moving again and Jack (I think) says Get on Dinah, and don’t be an idiot. This is changed to Get on Dinah, we’ll be out soon. This might be kinder and more encouraging but it’s out of character for either boy, and they throw idiot around as a friendly insult at other points in the book.

As with previous chapters dear Jo-Jo is not dear Joe, he’s just Joe.

More hyphens are removed (though not from every phrase) but from heat-haze which ends up as two words.

Next Bill’s words are played with. Originally he says he [Jo-Jo] mustn’t see you sailing off in my boat. The off is removed in the updated text, so it’s just see you sailing in my boat. The original makes more sense as they know Jo-Jo is on the beach, and could possibly see the boat heading off out to sea. He’s not going to be out at sea, so he’s not going to see them after they’ve sailed off. And even if he did, Bill’s line is perfectly fine!

Last, but not least, Aunt Polly’s speech gets butchered. She is telling Jo-Jo off for shirking his jobs. Don’t just stand there looking like a stuffed dummy. You make me very angry, are her original words. These become don’t just stand there. Get on with some of your work. I’m not sure why that needed altering as I can’t see that as being offensive, suggesting slavery or something not easily understood by modern children. If there’s a connotation to stuffed dummy that I’ve missed, please do enlighten me.

An added note – there is still a lot of pidgin English coming from Joe in both versions, the best example being him saying I seed [saw] them.


Thankfully for my blood pressure there’s a little less changed in this chapter.

Sea-sickness becomes sea sickness, dear is missed out in dear Jo-Jo and Jo-Jo is again replaced with him but at least it’s only once.

The only substantial change comes to some of Aunt Polly’s words. Of Jo-Jo she says He’s really getting impossible – so uncivil and lazy. Most of this is cut so that she just calls him lazy. 

I had a moment of triumph when I noticed the modern edition missed altering a queer – when Jack and Dinah look at the map in Uncle Jocelyn’s study and note the shape of the island. Also unaltered is the way the boys handle the boat and then pull it in, while the girls sit back.

Although a lot has been changed, much of it isn’t anything new so there’s only six countable alterations that I can see. That makes sixty-one altogether.

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

  1. Francis says:

    This must be one of the worst books for changes – glad I’ve got the original!
    Many thanks, Fiona.


  2. ReReadingBlyton says:

    Very interesting and informative. Thanks! I think the changes to Aunt Polly’s words are just meant as a general softening, rather than a specific objection to e.g. ‘stuffed dummy’. But all such updatings are obnoxious in my view.


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