THE TRICKY PART – 18 MORE TITLES
As I said at the beginning of my previous post, I had in the past loosely grouped them into ‘most favourites’ ‘middling favourites’ and ‘least favourites’, so perhaps that’s a good place to continue from. If I can have three groups it’s less daunting to order 5-6 books at a time than 18!
THE OTHER FAVOURITES
I have quite a few for my other ‘most favourites’: Five on a Treasure Island, Five on a Hike Together, Five Go Off in a Caravan, Five Go Down To the Sea, Five Get Into a Fix, Five Go to Demon’s Rocks and Five Run Away Together.
But how do I order these?
Seeing as I put both Smuggler’s Top and Five on a Hike in my list of six favourite Blytons I would have to put Hike – with its iconic Two Trees, Gloomy Water, Saucy Jane and Maggie Knows, delivered in the dead of night by a bullet-headed convict – in second place again. Well, I don’t have to, but I still agree with myself on that order so I will.
Two Trees and Gloomy water is an eerie and effective settings, and the location of the Saucy Jane is genius. It’s such fun to watch the Five work it out and retrieve the loot.
Then… let me see. Five on a Treasure Island, the very first book which introduces us to the Five and the type of adventures they would have. They are no doubt young in the first book, and the adventure takes place close to home but we get to spend lots of time in glorious Kirrin and there’s little that can compare to the wreck being thrown up and the Five uncovering the dungeons. INGOTS, INGOTS, INGOTS. It’s thrilling from start to end – as we are excited by the cousins’ first exploration of the island before we even get a sniff of adventure.
It would have to then be Five Go Down to the Sea, as Julian and Dick’s antics as Clopper are hilarious added to an already great book with lots of mystery and excitement. This is another one with a great red-herring, the slightly surly and uncommunicative Mr Penruthlan is a convincing potential baddie, and the true culprit is (although just as surly) a reasonable surprise.
And next, Five Go Off in a Caravan, with the terrifying Lou and Tiger Dan, the brave Nobby and funny (and also brave) Pongo. Going off with (or at least following) a circus is a brilliant element to the story, giving us a glimpse into a world most of us have never set foot in. Blyton featured quite a few circuses across many books but she pretty much always managed to make each one seem unique and just as fascinating as the last (Together Again being a rare exception for me.)
After that, I will have Demon’s Rocks as I’ve always been thrilled reading the ending where Julian and Dick rang the bell to let people know they have been trapped inside the lighthouse. It’s also very exciting when they explore the caves, racing against time as the tide turns. This (along with Finniston Farm) has some of the best ‘mysterious stories of olden times’ from the Fives (Blyton also wove stories like that into The Rockingdown Mystery and The Ring O Bell’s Mystery and probably others) with One-Ear Bill and the wrecking.
After that I will have Five Run Away Together. This is the first time the Five have been really independent. The earlier two books always had the safety of Fanny and Quentin in Kirrin Cottage to return to. Here, although the cottage hasn’t changed, it’s no longer such a safe or secure place with the villainous Sticks in residence. Julian facing off against the Sticks is pure brilliance (see my favourite quotes here).
So that then puts Fix last in this group. Fix is a favourite that’s hard to explain perhaps. It perhaps isn’t the strongest book all the way through, for some reason the imprisonment of Mrs Thomas and the subsequent sneaking about her house doesn’t rate very highly with me. There are some brilliant moments, however. George facing off against the farm dogs as Mrs Jones running like a school-girl to her aid, and later Morgan using his enormous voice to summon the seven dogs are two of my favourite parts. Aily is a character I like, it’s sweet to see Julian taking care of her.
HOW THE LIST LOOKS NOW
1. Five Go To Smuggler’s Top (4)
2. Five on a Hike Together (10)
3. Five on a Treasure Island (1)
4. Five Go Down to the Sea (12)
5. Five Go Off in a Caravan (5)
6. Five Go Demon’s Rocks (19)
7. Five Run Away Together (3)
8. Five Get Into a Fix (17)
20. Five Have a Mystery to Solve (20)
21. Five Are Together Again (21)
The brackets are the series position of each book (but I’m sure you already knew that).
Added note of shame: While working out the order I was getting increasingly annoyed that I only had 19 books. I worked out I was missing Five Have Plenty of Fun… but the final title eluded me until I put series numbers beside every book, and then tried to check they were there in order. Of course, I was missing #1, Five on a Treasure Island…
So where would these ones rank for you? Have I missed any of your absolute favourites so far?