I’ve written plenty about the Famous Five, including putting the whole series into order from my most favourite to least favourite. And now I’ve decided to list my ten favourite moments from the series.
Being 21 books long I can’t mention something from every book, some great titles are strong throughout and I can’t pick out a single ‘moment’. Others are also great all the way through but have standout scenes that stick in my mind. Some are funny, some are frightening and others are simply thrilling. Here’s what I chose (and no I couldn’t narrow it down to 10, again!) Can you guess what I have put in first place?
Uncle Quentin can’t get Berta’s name right
Five Have Plenty of Fun
Quentin is often absent-minded and easily confused by anything that isn’t to do with his scientific research. When Berta comes to stay he manages that just fine. But then, due to the threat of kidnap, she changes her name to Leslie and dresses like a boy. This confuses Quentin rather a lot, even though he has been told about it and he continues to call her Berta-er-Leslie. Not long after that Leslie reverts back to being a girl and is then called Jane. Poor Quentin, trying his best, has remembered the name Leslie a bit too late and ends up still getting it wrong.
George and Timmy deal with Junior
Five On Finniston Farm
Junior Henning is a very annoying and rude American boy staying with the Philpots at Finniston Farm. He demands breakfast in bed and doesn’t lift a finger to clear up his own mess. Mrs Philpot is desperate for the money Junior’s father is paying so she can’t upset anyone, so George takes matters into her own hands. She and Timmy take up Junior’s breakfast one morning and lets Timmy drag him out of bed, meaning he comes down to the kitchen for his breakfast after that and saves Mrs Philpot at least one job. It’s always good when someone horrible gets their comeuppance, isn’t it?
Sooty pretends to have bitten Block
Five Go to Smuggler’s Top
Timmy isn’t allowed at Smuggler’s Top as Mr Lenoir hates dogs, but George just couldn’t leave him behind. This leads to him being smuggled around the big house, and when Block interferes, Timmy bites him. In order to continue the charade that there is no dog at Smuggler’s Top Sooty insists that he must have bitten Block, and that he has a rather nasty taste in his mouth. Sooty goes off to brush his teeth, while Block examines his leg and doubts that the marks were made by human teeth.
The Five line up the clues on Gloomy Water
Five on a Hike Together
Having received the mysterious message in the night, the Five of course have to puzzle out the meaning. On a raft, in the middle of Gloomy Water, they must try to align Tall Chimney, Steeple, Tock Hill and Standing Stone. Even with four of them it’s not easy (Timmy, useful as he is, isn’t designed for steering a raft or staring at distant landmarks). Unfortunately for the Five, Dirty Dick and Maggie are on the water too, in a rowing boat, also trying to line up the landmarks. With only two pairs of eyes it’s proving very difficult for them, and there’s a bit of an accidental-on-purpose crash between the two crafts as the Five are exactly where the other two want to be – they just figured out the clues and got there first!
A storm throws up the old wreck
Five on a Treasure Island
Against her better judgement George has taken her cousins to Kirrin Island for the first time, and as she had worried it might, a storm blows up. It is an incredible, fierce summer storm and the waves crashing on the island are enormous. In the midst of it Julian goes outside for a look, and the rest follow when he spots a ship lurching towards the rocks. They are horrified as it crashes onto the jagged rocks with a sound of splintering wood, but then as the storm clears and they can see better there’s something very odd about the ship. It’s George who works it out first, recognising the strange ship for what is is, her very own wreck.
Julian and Dick get stuck in Clopper
Five Go Down to the Sea
Clopper is the name of the pantomime horse that performs in the Barnies’ shows. Normally containing Mr Binks and Sid, the costume is in three parts and the head is guarded jealously on orders of the guv’nor (because it contains smuggled drugs). At the end of the Barnies’ stay at Tremannon Farm the costume is left unguarded and Julian and Dick decide to have a go. Hearing the Guv’nor returning, they realise they are stuck inside the costume and awkwardly stagger off to seek help. Much to everyone’s surprise, a somewhat unsteady Clopper peeps in at the window while everyone else is eating, and although hot and uncomfortable inside, Julian and Dick leg it when they realise everyone has seen them, with Mr Penruthlan in hot pursuit, thinking it’s a farm horse. Running is too difficult for them, however, and the collapse only to be rescued by a guffawing Mr Penruthlan. The farmer even gives them the costume at the end of the book – making a joke about his two friends who can wear the costume but the only thing they can’t do is work the zip.
Julian faces off against the Sticks
Five Run Away Together
In one of his best moments, Julian stands up to the awful Sticks who have invaded Kirrin Cottage. Mrs Stick is the cook (and a good one at that), while her husband is lazing about on leave from his ship. Despite cooking wonderful food, Mrs Stick isn’t feeding the Five well, so Julian goes down to sort it out. He helps himself to all the tastiest morsels from the fridge and flummoxes the tongue-tied Mr Stick with a few deft words. (I have included a few of those words in my post about favourite quotes.)
Julian and Dick ring the lighthouse bell
Five Go to Demon’s Rocks
Near the end of this book the Five plus Tinker and Mischief are trapped inside the lighthouse, and the weather is fairly terrible. They have no phone so in order to seek help Julian and Dick decide to try to get the lighthouse working again. The great lamp is lit and they lift the heavy bell out onto the balcony -Julian nearly going over the railing in the process – and take turns at striking the bell. The whole village hears it, and are very surprised as it has been over 40 since the lighthouse has been in use, since it was replaced by a bigger, more modern one along the coast.
Morgan calls his dogs
Five Get Into a Fix
Morgan, the son of Mrs Jones at Magga Farm is rather dour and taciturn, and the Five even suspect he might be up to something. However, come the end of the book the Five, plus Aily and Morgan are trapped underground by the real baddies, and only Morgan’s tremendous voice can save them. He shouts on the dogs once, and Llewellyn Thomas mocks him, saying that the dogs couldn’t possibly hear him from so far underground. Morgan shouts again, giving it his all and his voice cracks at the end. Lewellyn Thomas is not smug for long though, as soon they can hear the sound of seven dogs coming to rescue their master.
Dick gets a secret message in the middle of the night
Five on a Hike Together
Dick is sleeping in an old shed at what he thinks is Blue Pond Farmhouse (spoiler, it isn’t!) when he’s woken by a tapping at the window. A bullet-headed man whispers his name and a baffling message to him – repeating it to make sure he’s got it – and then disappears.
Two Trees. Gloomy Water. Saucy Jane. And Maggie knows too.
He knows it isn’t a dream as a little bit of paper is pushed through a crack in the window, bearing the same message. The fact that the man called Dick’s name makes this all the more puzzling.
The ash tree falls on Kirrin Cottage
Five Go to Smuggler’s Top
This is my all-time favourite. There’s a terrible storm blowing around Kirrin Cottage and Julian hears some terrible creaking in the middle of the night – the enormous ash tree in the garden is about to come down. He then has to wake the household up, and they only just get downstairs in time before there is an almighty crash. The girls room is destroyed and they would most likely have been killed had Julian not acted.
What would your favourites be?