I’ll begin this with two points:
One – I feel bad about recommending this series because the books are quite hard to find and rather expensive when they are for sale. But not bad enough to not write this post.
Two – That’s not a grammatical error in the title. The family’s surname is Cherry. When talking about them they are The Cherrys. I know it looks really wrong, but it isn’t.
The Cherry series
There are fourteen books in Will Scott’s Cherry series, published from 1952 to 1965.
The Cherrys of River House (1952)
The Cherrys and Company (1953)
The Cherrys by the Sea (1954)
The Cherrys and the Pringles (1955)
The Cherrys and the Galleon (1956)
The Cherrys and the Double Arrow (1957)
The Cherrys on Indoor Island (1958)
The Cherrys on Zigzag Trail (1959)
The Cherrys’ Mystery Holiday (1960)
The Cherrys and Silent Sam (1961)
The Cherrys’ Famous Case (1962)
The Cherrys to the Rescue (1963)
The Cherrys in the Snow (1964)
The Cherrys and the Blue Balloon (1965)
I’ve got two Cherrys book. Book 12, The Cherrys to the Rescue was my mum’s, and book 11 The Cherrys Famous Case was given to me by a very generous stranger in return for some special edition stamps. It wasn’t as weird as that sounds. A lady posted on the Enid Blyton Society Forums that she had a copy of a Cherrys book and she’d like it to go to a good home. I was the first to respond and she offered to post it to me, her only request was that I send her some British stamps in return.
The first twelve books are illustrated by Lilian Buchanan (who did five of the Find-Outers books), though I can’t find any information on the last two books.
An illustration from The Cherrys to the Rescue on the left, and one from The Cherrys Famous Case on the right.
What are the books about?
The Cherrys are a family of four children, Jimmy, Jane, Roy and Pam, and their parents, Captain and Mrs Cherry, and also their monkey Mr Watson, and parrot Joseph.
Captain Cherry, a retired explorer, likes to create mysteries and adventures for his children. These they call ‘happenings’ and together they explore, solve, hunt, search, investigate, hide, escape… and generally have a very jolly time. The happenings occur in several fictional places, set around the Kent coast mainly. Market Cray, St Mary’s Cray, St Denis Bay, and so on are loosely based on real places.
In some of the books they are joined by others such as the Pringle family and the Wilks family.
The Cherrys’ Famous Case
This book begins with the children moping. Captain Cherry is away and as [he] was always the one to get things going when you had nothing to do. His ‘happenings’ as they were called – those wonderful adventure games that were better than any games you ever thought of – were famous with the Cherrys and the Pringles and Mr Wilks next door.
Roy is reading a detective book and says it would be fun to try to follow clues. It’s just his luck that the next day Captain Cherry takes them to visit a professor friend, and he just so happens to have lost a parcel. Perhaps it was stolen! The Cherrys for a police force and must put together a suspect list, find clues and investigate this crime.
Of course this is another ‘happening’ all set up by the Big (as the adults are known). The Littles (as the children are known) solve it in the end, having worked out that the real culprits are Captain Cherry, Mr Wilks and Mr Pringle.
The Cherrys to the Rescue
In The Cherrys to the Rescue, it’s Jimmy who gets the idea for the happening, when his father tells a story about rescuing a professor from the jungle.
Suddenly Jimmy gave a jump. “That would be a good idea!”
Everyone was interested, because ideas for ‘happenings’, their own wonderful adventure games, were always so very welcome at River House.
“If only we could have a missing professor we could organize a relief expedition and rescue him.”
“Absolutely smashing!” cried Joe Pringle. “It would take hours and hours!”
Captain Cherry offers to be the professor, but Roy decides it isn’t fair – poor father always does the organising of the happenings and thus can’t take part. Before they can argue to much about it, Mr Wilks’s brother from the Isle of Wight arrives. They invite him to join their picnic, but he never returns from taking his car to the garage.
I haven’t had time to reread this so I’m not sure how long it takes them to realise that Mr Wilks’s brother has taken the role of the missing professor. Either way, they throw themselves into trying to find him. Things are muddled by the involvement of two mysterious boys they nickname Thin and Fat, as the Cherrys follow the trail Mr Wilks’s brother has left.
Of course they reunite with Mr Wilks’s brother in the end, and the solutions to various puzzles are revealed.
Like Blyton but not like Blyton
Featuring nice, middle-class children of the 1950s having adventures, Enid Blyton and Will Scott’s books have a lot in common
However, there is one huge difference between Scott’s stories and Blyton’s. In Blyton’s books parents are generally packed off as soon as possible – through trips abroad, hospitalisation, caring for sick relatives, or the children themselves go off on camping/hiking/walking/cycling tours to get away from authority. Only then can they fall into hair-raising danger.
Will Scott, however, has not only the Cherry parents but also the Pringles and Wilks parents as well as other adults just as embroiled in the happenings as the children are. Of course the treasure hunt or kidnap trails are all entirely fictional, but everyone enters with such enthusiasm that they become very real. The clues and trails are just as satisfying as are any solutions made.
Much like Blyton’s stories, the Cherrys’ tales are supported by lovely covers and illustrations, by Lilian Buchanan as I mentioned above. What they also have are endpaper maps, illustrating the areas in which the book’s happenings take place.
On the left is the map from The Cherrys to the Rescue (unfortunately my book is an ex-library copy and the left of the map is missing from the front, and the right is missing in the back. I was able to scan each part separately and put them back together though!), and on the right is the one from The Cherrys Famous Case.
So if you ever stumble upon a Cherrys book I heartily recommend them, and I can only hope that one day I can find some more of them myself.