Putting the Famous Five in Order, part 2


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!


I have quite a few for my other ‘most favourites’: Five on a Treasure IslandFive on a Hike Together, Five Go Off in a CaravanFive 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).

five run away together


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.



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?

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26 Responses to Putting the Famous Five in Order, part 2

  1. jillslawit says:

    Early favourites of mine were Billycock Hill and Mystery Moor, but probably only because they stick in mind from early childhood. Smugglers Top, when I read it, was awesome, and I did enjoy all the Two-Trees Gloomy water clue following in Hike. Certain Books evoke certain memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • fiona says:

      Oh dear, well if I remember correctly I haven’t rated Billycock Hill or Mystery Moor very highly. I read the whole series at the same age so I don’t have betting levels of nostalgia for them but I definitely get that with other series if I read some titles much later than others.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Francis says:

        Billycock Hill was one of my favourites as it was the only Famous Five that I got as a Christmas present. I loved the idea of ‘Cold War’ and spies which was something we experienced as children growing up in 1950s Germany.

        Liked by 2 people

        • chrissie777 says:

          So when did you get a chance to read the other FF sequels, Francis?


          • Francis says:

            Read most of the Famous Five books by borrowing them from Boots (the chemist) Library. The ordinary library had a policy of discouraging children from reading Enid Blyton.


            • chrissie777 says:

              Francis, was this AFTER your time in Germany or was there a Boots pharmacy where you used to live near Nuremberg?

              With all this discouraging of children to read EB going on in the 1960’s, I know that I was indeed very lucky that my friend’s brothers read the FF books and that way I got introduced to them!


  2. Stephen Berry says:

    What a task! In fact, I think the easy part has been done – it is the middle ground which is going to be difficult. I would definitely agree that “hike” and “smugglers’ top” are the top two – in that order for me, but that is only by a whisker. I would certainly include “down to the sea” and “get into trouble” in the top five and “off to camp” would rate quite highly as well. Now it gets far more difficult! I feel that the end of the series was poor by comparison, but I think that this has something to do with the fact that I was getting to the age of moving on when they were published – “Finniston Farm” was the last I acquired new and only read the last three many years later. Although it is very unlikely that any two contributors to this post are going to come up with exactly the same order, it is interesting that there is definite tendency so far towards “smugglers’ top” and “hike” – they clearly have that special magic which raises them above the average.

    Well done for attempting this – if nothing else, it certainly provokes thought!

    Liked by 1 person

    • chrissie777 says:

      Stephen, I did not read “Five on a Hike together” before I was an adult, maybe that’s why I forgot about it, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I love all FF sequels which take place on Kirrin Island. It’s such a magical place for me which I tend to visit often in my imagination when I cannot fall asleep…


      • Francis says:

        Chrissie, I visit Kirrin Island in my dreams as well – I will look out for you next time I am there!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Stephen Berry says:

        “Five on a Hike Together” is probably the only Blyton book that I can remember reading for the first time! In those days (late 1950s) purchased books only tended to arrive at Christmas and birthdays and any very special occasion and I relied on the lending library. I had read the plot summary and it had “grabbed” me, but never seemed to turn up on the library shelves. However, one day during the Christmas holidays I took the bus to the library – and while I was waiting I noticed the coveted volume behind the desk. I asked if I could take it out, but the librarian was dubious – it wasn’t in the best condition and needed to be withdrawn temporarily for repair. I pleaded – and must have looked as though I was going to burst into tears – and she relented after I promised it wouldn’t be out long. I rushed home with it, read it within a couple of hours and it was back in the library by 2.30pm. It threw the afternoon staff into confusion as my ticket from the morning hadn’t even been filed!

        Kirrin Island must have been one of the most sought-after destinations amongst children! If all of us had our wish at the same time we would need an island at least the size of the Isle of Wight – and I wonder what George would have to say about that!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • chrissie777 says:

          Stephen, I only received one or two Famous Five books per year from 1965 on (for birthdays and Christmas), when I was 10 and just had discovered EB books. EB was banned from the school library and the public library in Braunschweig, Germany, where I grew up.

          By the time I moved away from home in the fall of 1974, I owned maybe 14 or 15 FF books. To make matters worse, in 1975 or 1976 Bertelsmann, the German publisher, decided to replace Eileen Soper’s classic illustrations by a German children’s books illustrator in order to make the FF more modern and more appealing to a new generation of EB readers.
          So I searched for the original(ly) illustrated FF books on many German flea markets, through free adds in small magazines and leaflets on message boards in schools.
          Around 1985 I found the last of the missing books.

          I moved many times in my life, but never lost a book by EB.


    • fiona says:

      I like some of the later books a lot, but I read the whole series at the same age. My liking/disliking is based purely on the content that way. I do have that fond nostalgia for some books though, which elevate them above others which might be better quality but were read much later.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Francis says:

    ‘Smugglers Top’ and ‘Treasure Island’ are my two favourites followed by ‘Go adventuring again’ and ‘On Kirrin Island again’. Plenty more goodies though!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. chrissie777 says:

    Same here, Francis, I love “Smuggler’s Top”, “Go Adventuring again”, “On Kirrin Island again” and “Treasure Island”, but would also list “Five run away together”, “Five on a Secret Trail”, “Five have plenty of Fun” (kidnapping and another Jo sequel) and “Five fall into Adbenture” (my favorite Jo sequel).


  5. Dale Vincero, Brisbane, Australia says:

    OK here’s my pick list of my 5 favourites:
    Number 1 = Five on a Hike Together
    Number 2 = Five Go Adventuring Again
    Number 3 = Five Go off to Camp
    Number 1 = Five have a Wonderful Time
    Number 1 = Five Go Down to the Sea
    (Smuggler’s Top missed out due to EB’s inclusion of Timmy locked away in secret tunnels for a day or two, “eating rats” (according to the story), and presumably defecating and urinating in the said secret passageways !! Yuk!

    And my LEAST favourites are :
    Five on a Secret Trail (boring boring boring!)
    Five Get Into a Fix (ridiculous story!)
    Five Have a Mystery to Solve (should never have been published)
    Five Are Together Again (should never have been published)

    I have just returned from a holiday in Melbourne Australia, and I noticed in a bookshop there, the whole FF series available as separate books. These are a modern printing. The front cover is a color reprint of the 50’s front cover, and it has all the illustrations by E Soper sprinkled throughout the text. Good to see that the FF books still live !


  6. PieterS70 says:

    My typical favourite Five books are the ones where they travel, most importantly Hike and In trouble.
    Then, there are some scenes in other books that perfectly describe the feel of a holiday. One is the start of Finniston farm, where Julian and Dick are cycling on a hot day to meet up with the girls.
    Blyton’s descriptions of nature can also be wonderful, with gorse bushes and primroses featuring in more than one book, I believe.


  7. Francis says:

    It is interesting that you enjoy Enid’s description of nature. This is quite perceptive as she loved nature probably due to her strong early relationship with her father when he took her out for nature rambles and told her so much about the birds and plants. This stayed with her all her life and I am sure she would have been a fascinating companion on a walk in the country.


  8. Alexa B says:

    My favourite was probably 5 go adventuring again. This was mainly because it was one of the first ones I read. I also found a secret way and a traitor tutor fascinating


  9. thunderwings says:

    Smugglers Top is my top pick. The gloomy and mysterious setting, is well described and thrilling. 5 Run Away Together would be 2nd on my list.


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