My favourite of Enid Blyton’s stand-alone books

The big series always get the most attention, even here at the WOB. But what about all the one-off books? Well, here are my favourites.

Those Dreadful Children

I grew up with the Armada paperback of Those Dreadful Children and it was one I read a lot of times.

The story revolves around two families. The prim, neat Carltons and their new neighbours, the noisy, grubby Taggarties. At first the Carlton children are pleased to have someone new to play with, but after a rather rough game of Indians, they decide to keep their distance.

As I child I definitely related to the Carltons more – meaning I labelled the Taggerties as the dreadful ones. Some of the stuff they do is pretty dreadful, like lying to get out of doing things, or to get away with doing things they shouldn’t have done. They are rude, they don’t help in any way at home even though their mother is obviously worn out, and they show little kindness to each other.

Meanwhile, the Carltons never lie, but between them they tell tales, have hissy fits and shy away from physical activities. As a child I did notice that some of their behaviours weren’t all that nice, but I know I’d have been much more at home in their house than the Taggerties.

As an adult reading it I can see that both sets of children are dreadful in their own way, and can better appreciate the way that they can all learn from each other. For example John Carlton is branded as cowardly as he doesn’t climb trees, yet it’s Patrick Taggerty that learns the true meaning of cowardly when he’s too afraid to own up to something he’s done.

Hollow Tree House

Another one I had in Armada paperback was Hollow Tree House, and I also read this a whole lot of times.

It has a lot of similarities to The Secret Island – with orphaned children living with abusive relatives and then running away with the help of a friend. Susan and Peter are not as hardy as the Arnold children, and their friend Angela is no Jack (nor does she run away with them) but they do a pretty good job of turning a hollow tree into a liveable house and staying there for a time. As with The Secret Island my favourite parts of this book are the planning and execution of the whole running away idea, and any times that it looks like they might be found but aren’t.

The Treasure Hunters

Although I did have a copy of this as a child I never actually read it. It’s unusual for me to have a book I read for the first time as an adult as one of my favourites, but I really can’t find fault with anything in The Treasure Hunters.

It has a lot of recognisable Blytonian elements – a missing treasure, a family about to lose their home, an enemy looking to find the treasure for themselves, a treasure map, underground passages… but they are all put together so well.

The Greylings are soon to lose their ancestral home as they cannot afford it any more. If only they could find the long-lost Greyling treasure! Enter Jeffrey, Susan and John who are there to enjoy one last holiday with their grandparents. While cleaning up an old summer house to play in they find an old box and an old treasure map. If finding a long-lost treasure aided only by a very old and obscure map isn’t challenging enough, they find themselves up against the man who wants to buy up the house and lands.

The Family at Red-Roofs

This is another one I first read as an adult, but I still consider it one of Blyton’s strongest family stories. It is the story of the Jackson family who have just moved to their new home, Red-Roofs. Soon after Mr Jackson travels abroad for work and then the news comes in that his ship has sunk. With Mrs Jackson ill the children, Molly, Peter, Michael and Shirley must all pull together with the help of the wonderful Jenny Wren and keep the household afloat.

I love how each child manages to come up with some way of contributing to the household, no matter their age.


I tend to think about House-at-the-Corner and The Family at Red-Roofs as a sort of pair, even though they are entirely separate stories. There are some similarities in the plots – in House-at-the-Corner Mr Farrell is badly injured and may no longer be able to work as a surgeon and the children must pull together to support their parents.

The difference is that prior to this the Farrell children with the exception of quiet writer Lizzie are rather selfish and self absorbed. Pam has looks and brains but is vain and doesn’t apply herself. Tony also has looks and brains but plays the fool instead of working hard. The twins, although not lazy or making trouble are just very self-absorbed with their own activities. This means that when struck with adversity they have to really put a lot of work in to turn things around.

There’s no Jenny Wren to help, but instead they have Aunt Grace who clearly knows what the family needs and helps in her own rather sharp way.

This is another one I first read as an adult, but like The Family at Red-Roofs and The Treasure Hunters is holds up really well without requiring any influence from nostalgia.

Which are your favourite stand-alone titles?

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5 Responses to My favourite of Enid Blyton’s stand-alone books

  1. Suzy says:

    These are among my most beloved titles. Hollow Tree House, Those Dreadful Children and The Family at Red Roofs were first read to me and my brother one chapter a night by my Mum, who loved them as much as we did. I was about six. She also read us The Boy Next Door, The Secret Island, The Put ‘Em Rights and, about a year later, Six Bad Boys. Wasn’t I lucky! I immediately wanted to read each book for myself, and I turned into a very happy reader.


  2. Sequoia G says:

    These all don’t get talked about enough! My personal Blyton stand-alone are the Family at Red Roofs, the Boy Next Door, and my all-time favourite The Children at Green Meadows – read this gem in my school library when I was 11 and loved it ever since.


  3. Kyle Johansen says:

    I think you’ve put my favourites down. I loved The Hollow Tree House when I first read it as an adult.

    I don’t think I’ve read The Treasure hunters or House-at-the-corner. I’ll have to rectify that.

    I’ve a soft spot for The Land of Far Beyond. I feel that its a clearer insight into Blyton’s morals. (Not really comparable to Pilgrim’s Progress though really.)

    Oh my goodness, I almost forgot: The Enid Blyton Book of Brownies. This has stuck with me in a way that few others have. (The plot more than the book’s name. I get that confused with yellow fairy and green goblins.)


  4. nlgbbbblth says:

    Six Bad Boys
    The Land Of Far Beyond
    The Put-‘Em-Rights all very strong


  5. jillslawit says:

    I recently got bought the Armada House at the Corner I last read as a child and searched for ever since. I also like Those Dreadful Children and think both sets are pretty dreadful at times, and also The Treasure Hunters. I still have some stand alone books to read, including Red Roofs and The Boy next Door and Six Bad Boys.


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