After a glorious May, and a bit of a cloudy June, summer seems to have arrived in earnest in Scotland. We spent an afternoon at the beach and Brodie paddled in the sea for the first time, and I started to wonder which books feature the best Blytonian summers. Plenty of books are set during the seemingly endless summer hols, but not all of them focus on the things we think of as summery – sunshine, heat, sunbathing, dips in the sea, ice creams and so on.
THE FAMOUS FIVE SUMMERS
Of 21 adventures, eight of them happen during the summer holidays.
Five on a Treasure Island, Five Fall Into Adventure, Five Run Away Together and Five Have Plenty of Fun all take place at Kirrin and so there’s plenty of bathing, boating and ice-creams when the Five aren’t too busy embroiled in adventures.
It was lovely to wake up the next morning at Kirrin Cottage and see the sun shining in at the windows, and to hear the far-off plash-plash-plash of the sea. It was gorgeous to leap out of bed and rush to see how blue the sea was, and how lovely Kirrin Island looked at the entrance to the bay.
“I’m going for a bathe before breakfast,” said Julian, and snatched up his bathing-drawers. “Coming, Dick?”
“You bet!” said Dick. “Call the girls. We’ll all go.”
- Five Run Away Together (before Aunt Fanny is taken ill and they do the actual running away).
“Let’s go down and have a bathe,” said Dick. “If I’m going to have six bathes a day, I’d better hurry up and have my first one.”
“I’ll get some ripe plums,” said Anne. “We can take those down with us. And I expect the ice-cream man will come along to the beach too. We shan’t starve.”
Soon they were all down on the sands in their bathing-suits. The boys wore bathing-trunks and their bodies were as brown as their faces. They found a good place on the sand and scraped out comfortable holes to sit in.
- – Five Fall Into Adventure
- Text: where they meet Jo for the first time. Illustration: later at the beach when Jo is spitting damson stones.
They choose caravans in Five Go Off in a Caravan as it’s far too hot to go on a walking tour like Julian suggests:
“What! In this weather? You’re mad!”
“We shouldn’t be allowed to.”
“How awful to walk for miles in this heat.”
And they end up going to Merran Lake which is just as good for a cooling-off bathe as the sea.
In Five Go Down to the Sea, the Cornish sea is very welcome for that purpose too, as it’s a very hot summer.
They walked a little way round the cliffs, and came to a great pool lying in a rocky hollow. “Just the thing!” cried George and plunged in. “Gosh – it’s cold!”
Five on Finniston Farm also occurs during a very hot summer, though there’s no sea OR lake to bathe in on the farm.
“Phew,” said Julian, mopping his wet forehead. “What a day! Let’s go live at the Equator, – it would be cool compared to this!”
(Just before Julian falls asleep sitting against a gate!)
Five Go Off to Camp is technically another summer one, but at the start they remark that the moors are awfully high and so may be jolly windy and cold. Thus the Five pack sweaters for their holiday. I don’t suppose this one really counts as a summer read as there’s no bathing or sunning themselves, but then that makes it more like the average British summer!
And lastly there is the short story – A Lazy Afternoon. It’s so hot that the Five seek shade (and a nice cool stream) in the woods to laze about, and of course get caught up in an little adventure. (You can read this in Enid Blyton’s Magazine Annual #1, 1954, or the Red Fox collection called Five Have a Puzzling Time and Other Stories, 1990).
THE ADVENTURE SUMMERS
Summer is perhaps a little subdued in The Island of Adventure thanks to the Isle of Gloom and all the mist around it though there is some bathing, sailing and swimming as the weather is generally better around the coast of Craggy Tops. In fact it’s hot enough for clothes to steam dry on the rocks.
I’m not sure what time of year The Ship of Adventure or The River of Adventure are set, but the children are off abroad in both, in the sunny Mediterranean and Middle-East respectively. It may not have been true summer in either location but for the children and readers it is surely hot and sunny enough in both to count.
SUMMER HOLIDAY STORIES
In the past few years several themed short story collections have been published. We’ve looked at the Christmas Stories and Christmas Treats and there have been four that contain summery stories. Details of all the Hodder short story collections can be found here.
Holiday Stories (2015) has 26 stories from sandcastles at the beach to enchanted ice-creams, while Summer Stories (2016) has 27 stories. Summer Holiday Stories (2017) has 22 sunny tales and Summertime Stories has a whopping 30 more stories of summer picnics and the like.
THE SECRET SUMMERS
The second story in the Secret Series, The Secret of Spiggy Holes, takes place in the summer holidays and before the mystery/adventure starts there is plenty of time for beach-exploring and bathing. Jack is particularly excited as he has never seen the sea before.
The Secret Mountain is set in an un-named African country, and it is a very hot one during the day. As is often the case, though, it becomes very cold when the sun sets. The Secret of Killimooin is set in the fictional country of Baronia, and it is so hot there that the royal family – and the Arnold children as their guests – travel up to the mountain palace for cooler air and, inadvertently, their adventure.
THE CARAVAN FAMILY SUMMERS
The initial book in the series – The Caravan Family – takes us through a few seasons, but the Seaside Family is set firmly in summer. As the name suggests the family take their caravans to the seaside – the east coast, as the west is not warm enough – and the children enjoy bathing in the sea. They enjoy it so much, in fact, they have their picnic lunch sitting in the shallows!
They went and sat down in the edge of the sea – all except Benjy, who thought it was a horrid idea. They ate their ham sandwiches and nibbled their tomatoes happily, while tiny waves ran up their legs and all round their bodies.
The Saucy Jane Family, in which they live on a canal-boat, is also set in summer and they glide up and down the canal under the sun, and even do some swimming. They also enjoy good weather in The Pole Star Family, as they are off on a Mediterranean cruise then.
THE MYSTERY OF SUMMERS
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace is set during a heat-wave, in fact it’s so hot the children almost don’t go to see the waxworks which turn out to be involved in the mystery.
Pip and Bets sat in their garden, in the very coolest place they could find. They had on sun-suits and nothing else, for the August sun was blazing hot.
The Mystery of the Invisible Thief is set the following summer, which is also having a heat-wave. Blyton sets the scene well:
“Gosh this sun is hot. Buster, don’t pant so violently – you’re making me feel even hotter!”
“Oh dear – it’s too hot even to laugh,” said Daisy.
“Though even if we had a mystery I think I’d be too hot to think about Clues and Suspects and what-nots.”
The Five children lay on their backs on the grass. The sun poured down on them. They all wore as little as possible, but even so they were all hot. Nobody could bear poor Buster near them for more than two seconds, because he absolutely radiated heat.
And that’s all just on the first page! Next there’s iced lemonade and Mrs Hilton demanding that Pip put on his sunhat so he doesn’t get heatstroke again.
The next summer is just as hot it seems – at the start of The Mystery of the Vanished Prince Pip is complaining that “I’m too hot for words. We’ve had five weeks of hot sun and I’m tired of it. The worst of our weather is that it never stops when it makes up its mind to do something.” I think that pretty much sums up the British’s ability to complain about the weather no matter what!
The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat is also set in summer but a quick skim didn’t find much in the way of references to heat or sunshine.
A FEW MORE SUMMERS FOR GOOD MEASURE
The Adventurous Four is a summer-book with bathing and boating, and the wearing of bathing-suits almost all the time, though it features a raging summer storm too, and proper clothes are needed for a time.
There is also the non-fiction book, Round the Year with Enid Blyton, Summer. This is a guide to all things summer in nature, such as what crops and flowers grow, which animals are active and so on.
So there you go, if you’re in the mood for a summer read one hot day, there’s plenty of choice. Unless of course you’re the type who likes to read about cold wintry days when it’s hot! (For that you can check out our other seasonal reads posts).