Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Aeroplane chapter 2

Two weeks ago we posted the first chapter of our new fanfiction which takes a look at what happened to Bill, and Anatoly, once the children boarded the wrong aeroplane.

Chapter 2

Anatoly thought better than to answer the comment as he leant against the radio hut wall in exhaustion. “What do we do now, boss?” he asked eventually when no one else said anything.

Bill shrugged and fumbled in his pockets for his pipe, his jaw set in a determined manner, as if he was guarding his words. “I shouldn’t have brought them,” he muttered to himself. “I suppose I must start by calling their mother,” he added more clearly, striking a match to light his pipe.

Anatoly winced inwardly. He did not relish the thought of telling a woman that her children, grown as they were, had vanished into the night with two gun-toting criminals.

He removed a rather crushed packet of Woodbines from his own pocket and, hastily checking they were a safe distance from the spilled fuel, eased out a precious cigarette and lit it. Most of the other agents were lighting up too, glad of the comfort and respite of a quick fag break.

He could tell the others were thinking of their beds, and he couldn’t blame them. He was about dead on his feet after a full day of work and a night of it too. However, he wouldn’t go until he had done whatever he could to help Bill out of this situation. He owed him that much and more.

Bill went to the phone and furiously demanded the operator connected him to Allie Mannering’s home number. Knowing the sound of an angry superior on the phone, the operator connected him as quickly as he could. Bill waited impatiently as the phone rang, for Allie to answer.

“Bill?” Allie sounded pleased to hear from him at first, but then her tone changed. “It’s barely half-past seven, has something happened for you to call me this early? Have the children managed to get themselves into some sort of trouble?”

Bill rubbed his face. “Well I’m not entirely sure if it was them or me this time,” he admitted slightly bashfully. He then bravely went on to explain about the gunfight the previous night. When he finished he steeled himself for Allie’s reaction.

There was a long pause first. “I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand, Bill. The children are on an aeroplane, somewhere, piloted by two criminals that had just been shooting guns around the airbase? Is that what you said?”

“More or less,” he said cautiously, still waiting for an explosion from her.

“Then what are you doing on the telephone to me?” she demanded. “Why aren’t you out there, looking for them?”

“We have been searching all night and trying to find any clue as to where they have been taken,” hedged Bill. “Every airport, base and landing strip in the country is on alert for the plane and the children. We’ve even contacted several European authorities so they will be on the lookout too.” He waved an arm, beckoning to any of his agents to come to him.

The moment Bill did that Anatoly rushed over, eager to be of any assistance. Even he could hear Allie’s reply, though he couldn’t quite make out the words. Just the fact she was clearly very unhappy.

“We are in constant contact with all the likely airports, Allie. The minute they land, we’ll hear about it.” He looked at Anatoly and mouthed “Get me updates, now”.

“Yes, sir,” Anatoly said softly, and went to each agent who was stationed at a radio or telephone, checking for any news, any hint of news, but the answer each time was negative. No trace of the plane anywhere. He trotted back to Bill and shook his head demonstratively. “Nothing,” he mouthed, just to be doubly clear.

Bill’s shoulders slumped. “So far we haven’t turned up much, but you know I won’t rest until the children are back, Allie,” he reassured her. “I need to go and get some more things moving, I’ll be in contact at lunch time,” he said, before hanging up. He looked sideways at Anatoly. “How are your languages, Petrov? I think you might be good for advanced field work,” he said grimly.

“I have been given a pass on French and German, and I am working on my Italian, Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Czechoslovakian…” he trailed off, realising too late that it had probably been a rhetorical question, his mind had been too busy repeating the phrase advanced field work.

Bill nodded. “Good, get back to base, Petrov, I need you all out there as soon as possible, especially if we get a lead on the aeroplane’s direction.”

“Yes, sir,” he replied respectfully, his feelings conflicted. He was thrilled by the prospect of getting out there, to show off his newly acquired skills, and of course to help Bill in any way he could. He saw Bill as a sort of father-figure now, though he could never replace his own father. Perhaps he was more of an uncle. Either way, he was dismayed to see Bill so worried and wished that this new mission wasn’t necessary for his sake.

He headed towards the aerodrome exit, and upon showing his ID badge was allowed to take a car back to HQ. Driving still made him feel a bit giddy, especially when it was such a sleek car. It wasn’t one of the best ones, those were kept for the top brass like Bill, and those had a driver. Still, it was a very nice car and he enjoyed the drive back to the centre of London.

There would be a debriefing when he arrived, perhaps he would even get to do part of the briefing as he had been present at the aerodrome. He hoped there would also be time for something to eat – even the canteen food sounded appealing to him at that very moment.

To be continued…

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Monday #258

It’s Valentine’s day on Friday! Romance didn’t often feature in Enid Blyton’s books (just look at Bill’s ‘proposal’ to Allie, below), but we’ve written a few romantic stories featuring some of her characters once they’ve grown up.

They are:

First Valentines (A St Andrews story)
Darrell and Anatoly’s first date (A St Andrews Story)
If the Kirrins and the Mannering/Trents went on dates

Chapter two of Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Aeroplane

and

The Naughtiest Girl updated part 6

“Well, Allie? Do you think it’s a good idea too?”

“Yes, it’s really a very good idea, Bill. I’m surprised we’ve never thought of it before!”

“That’s settled, then. I’ll take these four kids on – and you’ll see to it I don’t lead them into any more adventures.”

After Lucy-Ann suggests they get married, and Philip says what a good idea it is, Bill “proposes” and Allie “accepts”. This is probably the most romantic part of any of the books!

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Macaroons

Somehow when I think of macaroons I still picture the little round French macaroons or macarons. I’ve actually made the kind of macaroons that the Find-Outers devoured by the dozen, with Stef when she visited a few years ago. When she said ‘let’s make macaroons’ I insisted on getting food colouring because I was thinking of those pretty pastel circles. We did add food colouring but it didn’t really have much of an effect. Saying that they were really good and everyone enjoyed them when we took them to our family fun day. I don’t have any photos of the ones we made but Stef did write about her first time making macaroons before.

The macaroons we made and the ones in Blyton’s books are quite different to macarons but still delicious (I’ve never tasted a macaron, so I have no idea what they are actually like.)

In Aldi the other weekend I spotted macaroons on the shelf and decided to try them. For 85p it seemed silly not to. Well, I had forgotten just how good macaroons were! I got the coconut ones as I love coconut but they do chocolate ones too.

I thought about doing a blog post on macaroons but I had no self control and ate all the macaroons before I had a chance to take photographs in daylight. Oops. Never fear, because Tesco also sell macaroons. I added two packets – coconut and chocolate – to my online order. These are slightly dearer, £1.20 a pack but they were on offer for £1 when I bought them.

I honestly can’t tell the difference between the Tesco and Aldi ones so I definitely recommend the Aldi ones seeing as they are much cheaper. You get six in all the packs, which if you were a Find-Outer would only last one sitting, but one or two at a time is fine for me.


As eaten by

Macaroons are probably most associated with the Find-Outers, as they are forever at the dairy/cafe in Peterswood, though curiously, I can only find references to macaroons in the later books, ten and on.

They go in towards the end of The Mystery of the Strange Bundle and order hot chocolate and macaroons. The shop woman says five macaroons?  and Fatty answers Gosh, no – ten to start with, just so we won’t look too greedy. 

There’s no mention of them ordering any more macaroons but as they leave Pip remarks that there is one left, does anyone want it. Nobody does – as they’ve had a rather sobering conversation with Mr Goon in the meantime, so it goes to Buster. Larry does say that Fatty had had four or five, already though. So either they ordered more or the shop woman brought them ten each to begin with!

After the mystery is solved Fatty invites Mr Goon to stay to tea and they serve macaroons which Mr Goon has four of as well as three slices of chocolate cake.

They also eat rather a lot of macaroons in The Mystery of Holly Lane. In chapter 11 they have tea at Pip’s and have brought back an array of goods from the baker’s.

Look at those macaroons – all gooey and luscious. What a frightful temptation, says Daisy. There’s no mention of exactly how many – but enough that Buster has been apparently having a good lick at one.

After solving the mystery Superintendent Jenks takes them out for a treat.

Isn’t there some place here that sells ice-creams and macaroons?

Ah here is the place I mean. Yes. Best macaroons I ever had in my life came from here.

“Er, twenty-one macaroons, please. Oh I beg your pardon, Buster, twenty-four, I mean.”

That’s three each, as there are the Five Find-Outers, Jenks and Marian (plus Buster).

The Famous Five also indulge in macaroons, but only in two books – Five on Finniston Farm and Five Go to Demon’s Rocks. In Finniston Farm the little shop in the village makes marvellous ones – even Junior raves about them saying he buys thirty a week!

When the Five enter the shop the girl there – Janie – tells them that Mum’s made some macaroons this morning. See – all gooey and fresh.

Now how did you guess that we are all very partial to macaroons? Dick replies, then orders a plateful.

What a whole plateful? But there’s about twenty on a plate! Janie exclaims.

Timmy gets one but as with so many things it’s a waste as he eats it in one bite. They then buy six macaroons for Bill who has given them a Land-Rover tour. He likes macaroons, as Janie says, Everyone likes mum’s macaroons. 

Janie’s mother is amazed that twenty-four macaroons have gone since she last looked. But Julian says they were most delicious and she’s quite pleased with that.

In Demon’s Rocks the macaroons have been made by Joanna and referred to as home-made, Joanna’s speciality. Strange that has never been mentioned before, though!


As an added note; Brodie likes macaroons. He came through to the kitchen and found me sitting on the floor taking photos (it was the only place with decent light at 3pm). First he laughed, then he wanted me to take photos of him and then he ran off with a chocolate macaroon which he professed to be ‘Mmmmm’.


I’m hungry just writing this. How many macaroon fans are reading?

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January 2020 Round Up

It’s the first round up of 2020. I’m always glad when January is over as it can be quite a depressing month once the Christmas decorations come down and everyone’s back at work. It has been particularly cold this year as well. February isn’t much better, usually, but at least it’s that bit closer to spring!


What I have read

It’s a new year and a new reading target. Last year I aimed for 100 and read 119. This year I will stick with 100. It’s a good number and will keep me picking up books without putting too much pressure on me! I read 11 in January which puts me 3 ahead already.

January’s books:

  • Hocus Pocus and the All New Sequel – A.W. Jantha
  • Burglar Bill – Janet Allberg
  • Nightingale Wedding Bells (Nightingale Nurses #11) – Donna Douglas
  • Fiend in Need (Undead #4.5) – MaryJanice Davidson
  • Undead and Unpopular (Undead #5) – MaryJanice Davidson
  • Undead and Uneasy (Undead #6) – MaryJanice Davidson
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
  • The Dark – Lemony Snicket
  • What Pet Should I Get? – Dr Seuss
  • The Midnight Library – Kazuno Kohara
  • Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men – Caroline Criado-Perez

As always I’ve got some on the go that I haven’t finished

  • The Naughtiest Girl in the School – I’m doing a text comparison on this one
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  • Sapphire Battersea (Hetty Feather #2) – Jacqueline Wilson

As before I do not recommend the Hocus Pocus book. It was no better by the end. I also didn’t love The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Having read Miss Carter’s War I thought it might be similarly thought-provoking but I just didn’t like it much.

I did love Invisible Women, however, and urge everyone to read it! Some of the information in it is simply unbelievable.


What I have watched

  • Hollyoaks
  • Only Connect
  • Murder She Wrote, season 8
  • Buffy season 1, as that’s now on Prime and it has been ages since I’ve watched it. I still know almost all the dialogue off by heart, though.
  • The latest series of Call the Midwife.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look series 4, I didn’t even know there was a series 4. We’ve watched the first three twice and only now has Netflix added the final series. It was funny but not as good as the previous ones and I missed the old favourites like Numberwang, Sir Chicken Digby Caesar, and Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit etc.

What I have done

  • Done some walking and exploring with Brodie
  • Been very cold while he has played at the park
  • Added another 17 games to my board game library
  • Visited the Wildlife Park again
  • Picked up a form for Brodie to start nursery in August (!)
  • Been to the library 
  • Eaten a lot of macaroons (for blogging purposes, honestly.)

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Monday #257

January round up

and

Macaroons

It was a waterfall – but what a big one! It fell from a great height, almost sheerly down the mountainside, and cascaded far below them, fine spray rising high in the air. It wetted their faces as they stood there, and yet they were quite a good way from the mass of water.

The children find the waterfall in The Valley of Adventure.

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The Naughtiest Girl in the School: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? Part 5

Part one looked at chapters 1-4, part 2 chapters 5-8 here, part 3 chapters 9-12 and part 4 was chapters 13-16.

I am comparing the 1944 5th reprint by George Newnes (which should be more or less identical to the true first edition) to a 2012 edition by Hodder and Stoughton.


Chapter XVII Elizabeth has a Secret / CHAPTER SEVENTEEN ELIZABETH HAS A SECRET

Whew, lots of money is mentioned in this chapter. If you are already tired of my lengthy rants about converting shillings to pounds then I suggest you skip to the next chapter!

Elizabeth gets a pound-note from her Uncle Rupert, and that becomes a ten-pound note. 

“Twenty shillings !” said Elizabeth, in surprise. “Two hundred and forty pence! Ooooh! is obviously changed too. It’s now “Ten pounds!” said Elizabeth, in surprise. “Ooooh!” Well, it would have seemed odd for her to say “Ten pounds! A thousand pence!”, wouldn’t it?

Twice the original says A whole pound! and both times it becomes A whole ten-pound note! The whole seems a bit much for just £10.

A pound then would have been ten times the weekly school pocket money of two shillings – a whole terms’ worth of money. Ten pounds is five times her weekly pocket money, so essentially she gets half as much in the new book.

When Elizabeth asks for prices on the cakes in the bakery she is told “They are two shillings and sixpence, five shillings, or for the very big one with candles on, and the name, ten shillings.” This is changed to “One pound fifty, two pounds or… five pounds.”

I think that should really be two pounds fifty, five pounds and ten pounds. But as they’ve only given her ten pounds they’ve had to make the pricing structure really odd. I freely admit I’m not well-versed in the prices of cakes (or much else) in the 1940s, but as Blyton wrote them at the time I’m assuming they are reasonably accurate. They may be prices she was paying in the posh parts of town, or she may have been aware and reduced them to reflect a more average price, I don’t know. I just know that £5 for a cake to feed a whole school – even a small school like Whyteleaf – is pure and utter nonsense. It wouldn’t even cover the ingredients.

Elizabeth gets ten shillings change in the bakery which is now five pounds change, so at least they can count.

Later five shillings is swapped for one pound. Yet again if two shillings pocket money is two pounds, how is a five shilling book now one pound? And how can twenty shillings equal ten pounds? Not to mention how anyone could go to a bookshop and order in a brand-new book for one pound in 2012.

They are a little more consistent later; with four shillings left being four pounds left and sixpence becoming fifty pence.

However that four pounds buys a red bag, red comb, and handkerchief fand leaves the fifty pence left over to put inside. And no, she didn’t shop in a charity shop or Poundland.

Further consistency in Elizabeth’s pound being ten pounds means they really over-egg the ‘whole’ ten pounds and how much ten pounds is. Apparently it’s an awful lot to spend all at once (it’s really not) and whatever could you have spent ten pounds on in such a little time? It’s a real waste of money (a book? a DVD? a game? there are many things that ten pounds could buy and would not be a waste of money) Whole ten pounds is also used again, but the reference to twenty shillings isn’t replaced.

It’s not just a straightforward problem with the numerical value of the money. Yes, a pound in the early 40s could have bought two Famous Five hardbacks with five shillings left over while ten pounds in 2012 would have bought one novel with perhaps £3-4 left. However, it’s the fact that so many children would have had to save and save to buy one Famous Five book. They weren’t an insignificant purchase for working class families. A pound would have been worth even more than twenty pounds in 2012.


CHAPTER XVIII Joan’s Wonderful Birthday / CHAPTER EIGHTEEN JOAN’S WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY

Very little in this chapter. Uncle Rupert’s pound is again his ten-pound note.

Italics are removed from two phrases – she was so surprised and I can see how happy you are, but are left in all the other instances.

There is an illustration in this chapter, though! Here’s how it compares to the original.


CHAPTER XIV Joan gets a Shock/ CHAPTER NINETEEN JOAN GETS A SHOCK

Again very little changed here.

A whole pound is still being overdone as a whole ten pounds, and the italics are removed from I couldn’t eat anything. 


CHAPTER XX More Trouble! / CHAPTER TWENTY MORE TROUBLE!

Only two changes here. A pound! Twenty shillings – spent in one afternoon becomes Ten pounds! Ten pounds – spent in one afternoon. If there was anywhere italics should have been removed it would have been on the pounds there. Ten pounds, makes no sense. What would she have spent? Ten pence?

I think the editor is trying to make as few changes as possible, with the result that it actually makes less sense than a few judicious extra changes.

Something else that wasn’t changed was that Elizabeth smudged her letter every time she stopped. That’s not so common now with ball points and biros, but you had to be very careful with a fountain pen.


The count

Already counted:

Roman numerals to words
Case change for chapter titles
Removal of hyphens from good-bye, to-day, etc
Removal of italics for emphasis
Extra word capitalised at start of chapter
Quotation marks
Dash length
Two shillings = two pounds

Unique changes:

A pound = a ten pound note (slightly different from previous chapter where a pound was just ten pounds).
Two hundred and forty pence removed
Two shillings sixpence = one pound fifty
Five shillings = two pounds
Ten shillings = five pounds
Twenty shillings removed

I haven’t counted any money changes that match the basic 1 shilling = 1 pound. So sixpence = 50p etc.

Total this post: 6

Over all total: 41

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Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Aeroplane

Here we have a brand-new fan fiction story for you. We all know the book The Valley of Adventure. We’ve read about what happened to the children once they boarded the wrong plane, and their adventures in the valley. But Bill is absent until Phillip lands in Gairdon and he is summoned to rescue the rest of the children.

This story covers what Bill – and his eighteen-year-old trainee agent Anatoly Petrov – got up to while hunting for the missing children.

It works on the premise that Bill Cunningham has been an agent of the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service now known as MI6 and previously the SOE [Special Operations Executive]) all along, and his title of Detective Inspector as used in Valley is part of a false identity.

Chapter 1

As Bill Cunningham ambled over to the group of SIS agents in the aerodrome for the new plane’s test run, Anatoly Petrov couldn’t help notice the four children that seemed to have been left standing by the entrance of the airfield, with a vague comment of “Wait for me by the aeroplane” from his boss. Being the most junior in the group tonight, and a trainee to boot, Anatoly didn’t dare ask Bill why he had brought four children with him. He wondered if it had something to do with the woman Bill seemed to be getting sweet on recently.

After orders from his boss and a last-minute run through of procedure, Anatoly positioned himself at the huge radio set and set about preparing everything up for the take-off, zoning out on what else was happening around him, which was his first mistake of the night.

Gun shots rang out around the dark aerodrome. Anatoly jumped from his position at the radio station, drawing his gun from the holster inside his jacket and moved to cover his fellow agents who were rushing towards the sound of gunfire. He released the safety catch from his weapon and tried to figure out where the rapid shots were coming from. He flinched as his colleagues started firing from behind whatever safe spaces they had found, and towards the new plane that Bill was about to take out. He had had plenty of practice with guns during his National Service, but having started that after the war had ended there had been few opportunities for him to experience enemy fire.

Steadying himself he watched the direction of the dark shadows moving across the space towards a second plane, a similar model to Bill’s which had been parked a few spaces down. Moving quickly, Anatoly rushed towards the second plane, firing his revolver at the shapes just before the huge engines started up. He stopped and aimed, the gun wavering as he tried to work out where to shoot to best hinder the aeroplane’s take off.

One of his colleagues seemed to realise what he was thinking and forced the gun down. “Don’t do that, you idiot,” he snapped. “You’ll cause a massive explosion that we can’t cover up!”

Anatoly put the safety back on his gun, shame-faced. He knew that he still had a lot to learn, and moments like that just proved it. All he had been thinking about was stopping the men from taking off, he hadn’t considered the consequences of shooting at a moving aeroplane with its tank full of fuel.

The plane taxied down the runway past them and with a deep rumble that threatened to shake the earth, it took off into the night sky. Anatoly watched it go, and turned to the man who had stopped him from making a grievous error. “What do we do now?”

“We find Cunningham, get fresh orders,” his colleague replied curtly.

Anatoly grimaced. He should have known that. What a night this was turning out to be.

“I’m over here, by the plane,” Bill’s loud voice called out as they approached. “A plane we can’t take,” he added in frustration.

“How come, boss?” asked one of the others. “This plane is brand new!”

“It might be brand new,” snapped Bill, his temper fraying. “But the bullet holes in the tank mean it’s grounded!”

Anatoly shuffled a little and looked around. “Are the children all right? You did tell them to get into the plane did you not, boss?”

“I did,” Bill replied through clenched teeth. He was angry, but also shaken. A bullet had zipped by his leg earlier, so close it had cut a gash in his trouser leg. There was also the matter of the four children he had taken responsibility for. “But they’re not on the plane.”

An agent appeared at the top of the steps, framed in the doorway by the cockpit lights “There’s no suitcases, or belongings of any kind, sir,” he called before he made his way down.

“They’re sensible children,” Bill forced himself to say. “They’ll have got their heads down as soon as they heard the shots. Philip and Jack wouldn’t have let anything happen to Lucy-Ann or Dinah, so they’d have all moved away from the danger if they could.” He hoped to god that was true. “I want them found. NOW!” he barked.

After a brief discussion on how to divide the large base, the agents scattered, beginning to spread out and search for the children. They looked under the bellies of other planes, behind crates and equipment, in and around the cars parked here and there, anywhere a child might conceal his or herself. Personally, Anatoly doubted that the supposedly sensible children would have moved far when they heard the gun fire start. They would have stayed where they were in the hope that they wouldn’t get caught in the cross fire. If they were supposed to by Bill’s plane, then they should still be there.

The hours dragged on and Bill became more and more resigned to the inevitable conclusion that the children were no longer in the sealed aerodrome. As daylight began to break the exhausted agents and a worried and exhausted Bill admitted defeat and acknowledged that the children must have been on the only plane that had left.

“What on earth possessed them to get on that aeroplane?” Bill demanded of nobody in particular, banging his fist on a packing crate. Mechanics were still working on his damaged plane. They had siphoned out what fuel hadn’t already trickled onto the tarmac and had then begun repairing the leak, but it was far too late to be of any use now. They hadn’t the faintest clue where the plane had been heading to.

To be continued…

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Monday #256

Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Aeroplane (a new fanfic story!)

and

The Naughtiest Girl updated part 5

Jack undid a rope from round his waist. He nearly always had one there.

Jack is always prepared (and perhaps a little uncomfortable?) in The Valley of Adventure.

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My 2019 in books and Blyton

I love stats and looking back on things so I thought I would do a little round up of my year in books. Obviously I’ve listed all my books month-by-month in my monthly round ups but I thought it would be interesting to see how many Blytons I read and how many children’s books vs grown up ones.

I have goals every year beyond the total number of books I want to read. There aren’t hard-and-fast numbers but I generally aim to:

  • Read more new books than ones I’ve read before
  • Read some books I’ve always meant to but never got around to, especially if they appear on lots of ‘must-read’ lists
  • Read at least one classic
  • Read a good balance of grown up books and children’s books

So let’s see how I did!

I re-read 23 books and the rest (95) were new, so I can tick off the first goal.

I read Jurassic Park and The Lost World by Michael Crichton, and Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding so I feel like I’ve achieved the second goal too. I also read several often-recommended picture books including a few by Dr Seuss.

I only half achieved the goal of reading a classic as I got through half of Jane Eyre, and I hope to finish it at some point this year. 

I read 36 children’s books which means I also read 82 grown-up books, so I’m very happy with that split.


Newly discovered books and authors

I love nothing better than discovering a new author or series, especially if there are several books then waiting to be devoured one after the other, with none of that pesky wait for a new one to be written and published.

In 2018 I discovered (27 years after it was first published…) the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.

Last year, I found Jasper Fforde and the Thursday Next series. When I say ‘found’, what I mean is ‘finally picked up’ as I had actually heard of them before then. (In fact, I’m sure at least one person had told me I would like them but I hate when people say that and almost always ignore it, only sometimes to my detriment.)

Unfortunately both these series are waiting on a new book; Outlander should have one at some point this year but there is no news on Thursday Next. Fforde has a couple of other series, though, so if I don’t discover anything new soon I can give those a try.


The Blytons

I actually only read five Blyton books last year; all of them Famous Fives. I read:

Which are books five to nine of the series. I remember when I could read the whole series in a matter of weeks!

I also read some of The Naughtiest Girl in the School to compare the text between editions.

Somehow I thought I would have read more Blytons, though! Of course I read several books that related to Blyton in one way or another. 

There are four with her name on the cover even though she had nothing to do with them:

And another which everywhere I looked has the author as Enid Blyton despite being published nearly 40 years after her death:

Plus I read a few books that I would recommend for Blyton fans:

Not to forget Five Go Feasting, the recipe book based on the food of the Famous Five books.


What did your year in books look like?

 

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Blyton by others: A guide to prequels, sequels and continuations

While writing a guide to our recommended authors if you like Blyton, I had jotted down some other names. These names were of people who had written books featuring Blyton’s own characters, and in the end I decided that these really belonged to a separate category.

Most of the books as sequels, set after the events of Blyton’s own books, but there are a few prequels and some which are set in between the original novels.


Adventurous Four Trapped! by Clive Dickinson (1998)

Given the title this one’s obviously a continuation of the Adventurous Four series. It’s actually only a partial continuation, though. The first four chapters form the short story Off With the Adventurous Four, first published in Enid Blyton’s Omnibus (1951). Clive Dickinson has then added another seven chapters to extend the story.

This is now on my very long list of books to get ahold of as I am intrigued as to how Clive Dickinson has extended a story that had a resolution already written.

Enid Blyton’s Enchanted World by Elise Allen (2008-9)

This is a continuation of the Faraway Tree series with seven books.

  • Silky and the Rainbow Feather
  • Melody and the Enchanted Harp
  • Petal and the Eternal Bloom
  • Pinx and the Ring of Midnight
  • Bizzy and the Bedtime Bear
  • Silky and the Everlasting Candle
  • Melody and the Gemini Locket

These have obviously been written to appeal to young girls, as the covers all feature the female fairies that are the main characters.  I found Bizzy and the Bedtime Bear at work and having flicked through it can be fairly sure that Jo/Joe, Bessie/Beth and Fanny/Frannie don’t appear, and it doesn’t seem like Moonface, the Angry Pixie, Dame Washalot or any other main character (except Silky of course) appear, though I could have missed a brief cameo.

It would seem that these stories have a single storyline rather than the Faraway Tree’s multiple stories, often one per chapter. They are around 160 pages, which doesn’t sound a lot less than the original books 190 pages but the text is much larger as are the spaces between the lines so the stories are in fact much shorter.

I hope to review Bizzy and the Bedtime Bear at some point, I will add a link here when I do.

Famous Five for Grown-ups by Bruno Vincent (2016-17)

Fourteen of these have been written and they are slightly more of a parody than a straight continuation. Each is very short, set when the Five are all adults. I’ve only read one, Five Go on a Strategy Away Day, so I’m not sure what, if any, continuity there is between the 14 books. They are, however, all set in the present day!

The titles are:

The best thing about these are the covers by Ruth Palmer as she mimics Eileen Soper’s style so well.

The Famous Five by Claude Voilier (1972-75)

Claude Voilier translated some of the later Famous Five books into French, and then later wrote 24 continuation books to the series. 18 of these have been translated into English by Anthea Bell (in the mid 80s). The English 18 were not published in the same order as the French ones.

1. Les Cinq sont les plus forts /The Famous Five and the Mystery of the Emeralds
2. Les Cinq au bal des espions / The Famous Five in Fancy Dress
3. Le Marquis appelle les Cinq / The Famous Five and the Stately Homes Gang
4. Les Cinq au Cap des tempêtesThe Famous Five and the Missing Cheetah
5. Les Cinq à la Télévision / The Famous Five Go on Television
6. Les Cinq et les pirates du cielThe Famous Five and the Hijackers
7. Les Cinq contre le masque noirThe Famous Five Versus the Black Mask
8. Les Cinq et le galion d’orThe Famous Five and the Golden Galleon
9. Les Cinq font de la brocante /: The Famous Five and the Inca God
10. Les Cinq se mettent en quatreThe Famous Five and the Pink Pearls
11. Les Cinq dans la cité secrèteThe Famous Five and the Secret of the Caves
12. La fortune sourit aux Cinq / The Famous Five and the Cavalier’s Treasure
13. Les Cinq et le rayon Z  / The Famous Five and the Z-Rays
14. Les Cinq vendent la peau de l’oursThe Famous Five and the Blue Bear Mystery
15. Les Cinq aux rendez-vous du diableThe Famous Five in Deadly Danger
16. Du neuf pour les CinqThe Famous Five and the Strange Legacy
17. Les Cinq et le trésor de RoquépineThe Famous Five and the Knights’ Treasure
18. Les Cinq et le diamant bleu
19. Les Cinq jouent serréThe Famous Five and the Strange Scientist
20. Les Cinq en croisière
21. Les Cinq contre les fantômes
22. Les Cinq en Amazonie
23. Les Cinq et le trésor du pirate
24. Les Cinq contre le loup-garou

The English books in order are 3, 1, 4, 5, 8, 7, 2, 14, 9, 12, 16, 11, 6, 19, 15, 17, 13, and 10. As above titles 18 and 20-24 were not translated.

From the titles it seems that the Five have become more well-travelled as well as making a jump into the technology and sci-fi filled 1970s. The only one I’ve read is The Famous Five Go on Television and I remember very little about it other than being quite disappointed that it was not, in fact, a real Enid Blyton book that I’d just discovered.

This isn’t a post about cover art, but this series went certainly through several different styles!

Just George by Sue Welford (2000)

This is a prequel to the Famous Five, with six books featuring a 9 year old George and Timmy her puppy.

We interviewed Sue Welford about writing this prequel series a while back, and you can read that here.

Five on a Great Western Adventure by Mandy Archer (2019)

This is a tie-in to the marketing campaign for Great Western Railway. It is a 54 page story about the Five chasing a jewel thief (presumably by rail!). It was given away free for World Book Day in March 2019, and I’m not sure how easy it would be to find a copy though I’d very much like to.

Malory Towers by Pamela Cox (2009)

Adding to the six original Malory Towers books, Pamela Cox has written another six. They pick up the year after Darrell has left the school, with Felicity moving into the third form. There are two books in the third form, one each one each for the fourth and fifth and then two for the sixth.

The books are:

I have read the first two, and although they are not bad books they don’t capture Blyton’s style or stand up to the originals.

New Class at Malory Towers by various authors (2019)

This contains four stories by Patrice Lawrence, Lucy Mangan, Narinder Dhami and Rebecca Westcott and it set during Darrell’s time at Malory Towers. There are plenty of terms not written about by Blyton so it should be easy to slot in a story to one of them.

The Naughtiest Girl by Anne Digby (1999-2000)

There are more Naughtiest Girl books by Anne Digby (author of the Trebizon series of boarding school books) than there are by Enid Blyton! Blyton wrote three novels and one story (Here’s the Naughtiest Girl) which was published in Enid Blyton’s Omnibus and then published as a separate book in 1997.

Anne Digby has then written another six:

  • The Naughtiest Girl Keeps a Secret
  • The Naughtiest Girl Helps a Friend
  • The Naughtiest Girl Saves the Day
  • Well Done, the Naughtiest Girl!
  • The Naughtiest Girl Wants to Win
  • The Naughtiest Girl Marches On

I have found all six of these in my library (I was briefly confused by the numbering, as I was calculating 3 original books + 6 continuations = 9, but it is 10 if you include Here’s the Naughtiest Girl as #4, which the latest publishing run has) and I couldn’t resist borrowing them all and I have so far reviewed the first one.

New Adventures of the Wishing Chair by Narinder Dhami (2009)

There are also more Wishing Chair books by Narinder Dhami, than there are by Blyton. Dhami has written six (rather short) titles while there are only two by Blyton. They are not a continuation of Peter and Mollie’s stories but the Wishing Chair is found (presumably a very long time later) by Jessica and Jack who also have adventures with it.

The books are:

  • The Island of Surprises
  • The Land of Mythical Creatures
  • Spellworld
  • Giantland
  • The Land of Fairytales
  • Winter Wonderland

Noddy and the Farmyard Muddle by Sophie Smallwood (2009)

Sophie Smallwood is Enid Blyton’s granddaughter (by her daughter Imogen), and she wrote the 25th Noddy book, which I thought was very good if not a seamless entry to the series.

Secret Seven by Evelyne Lallemand (1976-82)

Lallemand wrote 12 new Secret Seven books in French, nine of which have been translated into English – by Anthea Bell again.

The ones in English are:

  • The Seven and the Lion Hunt
  • The Seven Go Haunting
  • The Seven and the Magician
  • The Seven Strike Gold
  • The Seven to the Rescue
  • The Seven on Screen
  • The Seven and the UFOs
  • The Seven and Father Christmas
  • The Seven and the Racing Driver

Despite the rather wild titles it would appear that the Seven don’t stray from their little town in these books and the plotlines don’t sound that far from the originals either.

Secret Seven by Pamela Butchart (2018-19)

Two books continuing the Secret Seven books have also come out in the past few years.

I gave Mystery of the Skull a fairly bad review but acknowledge that if it was a children’s mystery with new characters I would have rated it more highly.

St Clare’s by Pamela Cox (2000-8)

As we know, the St Clare’s series follows an odd format. There are three books set in Pat and Isabel’s first year at St Clare’s, one in the second form, one in the fourth form and one in the fifth form.

Pamela Cox the gives us some gap-fillers, a books for the third and sixth forms, and another which isn’t clear.

They are:

  • The Third Form at St Clare’s
  • The Sixth Form at St Clare’s
  • Kitty at St Clare’s

The description of Kitty at St Clare’s says she joins the third form, but as it is published after all the others I assume that Pat and Isabel are in the sixth form and we haven’t jumped back in time.


This list does not include every book written by other authors and based on Blyton’s works. There are other continuations in other languages but as they have not been translated into English I haven’t included them.

Then there are other books like the Adventure series books based on the TV episodes, or The Diary of the Naughtiest Girl but I feel these are alternative tellings of existing stories and not books continuing a series. I’ll cover these in a separate post which I plan to call Unnecessary retellings of Blyton’s Work.

I will update this post in the future if new books come out (I suspect Pamela Butchart will write more for a start) or if I get around to reviewing anything else already listed.

Has anyone read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them, did they meet your expectations?

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Monday #255

A guide to Blyton’s sequels, prequels and continuations

and

My 2019 in books and Blyton

He climbed higher still. When he next looked down he gave a cry of surprise. He could see right down into the hollow trunk of the great tree! It had rotted away through many long years, and now the great tree was really nothing but a dying shell, still putting out leaves on its many great boughs – but fewer and fewer each year.

Peter finds the Hollow Tree that they turn into a house in Hollow Tree House.

 

 

 

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The Naughtiest Girl in the School: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? Part 4

You can find part one, chapters 1-4, here, part two with chapters 5-8 here and part 3 which has chapters 9-12 here.

I am comparing the 1944 5th reprint by George Newnes (which should be more or less identical to the true first edition) to a 2012 edition by Hodder and Stoughton.


CHAPTER XIII The Third Meeting / CHAPTER THIRTEEN THE THIRD MEETING

The first two changes are to do with money (I think we will see that every time there is a Meeting!).

Someone is given a whole pound for their birthday and this becomes a whole ten pounds. Most of the money changes so far have worked on a one shilling = one pound. So one pound should be 20 pounds as there are 20 shillings to an old pound.

Also at the meeting someone asks for a shilling to get her watch mended and that’s changed to a pound. Could you get a watch mended for a pound in 2012?

The editor clearly can’t decide if gramophone is too old fashioned or not. It has been alternately edited and left alone in previous chapters. This time a beautiful gramophone recording becomes just a beautiful recording.

One use of italics is cut from my mother and father have taught me good manners, and perhaps by mistake a paragraph break is lost on page 99 of the paperback.

A boy is still told to buy some yellow distemper and cover over his scribblings on the wall, however. Google nowadays primarily links distemper to the illness in dogs and other animals, but if you search for distemper paint you can find out it is an early type of whitewash. It is described as ancient, traditional and historic, and I’m almost certain it is not something often used today! I doubt many children would even know the word, so if you are updating a book with the view that children are too stupid to find out what a word means I would think distemper would need changing.


CHAPTER XIV A Lovely Week / CHAPTER FOURTEEN A LOVELY WEEK

After being changed in the last chapter gramophone is left in this chapter twice.

The only change is one loss of italics where Elizabeth is thinking how nice it is that everyone is eating her cake.

Perhaps the editor fell asleep again.


CHAPTER XV  Two Tricks—and a Quarrel / CHAPTER FIFTEEN TWO TRICKS – AND A QUARREL

The editor was presumably still asleep in this chapter, or had sudden concerns that maybe all these edits to Enid Blyton’s books weren’t such a good idea. Anyway, they didn’t change a single thing.

Not even the little girl slapped Harry hard in the face or [he is] too much of a gentleman to slap you back are changed. Darrell no longer slaps Gwen in the first Malory Towers book instead references to slaps are replaced with scoldings or shoves. It’s interesting that Elizabeth still slaps Harry instead of shoving him or just scolding him.


CHAPTER XVI An Apology—and another Meeting / CHAPTER SIXTEEN AN APOLOGY AND ANOTHER MEETING

Another meeting and more money problems.

One swap is a straight one shilling for one pound. The other is half a crown to buy a little red handbag which becomes two pounds. Half a crown is two shillings and sixpence so should really be £2.50, if one shilling is one pound (which it isn’t always).

Neither £2 or £2.50 would be enough to buy a handbag in 2012, however, unless it came from a charity shop. Both editions state the handbag was seen in a draper’s shop, however. If you’re think a children’s book needs modernised surely draper’s shop would also need changing?

No other changes were made to this chapter, but I noticed that gramophone appeared twice in relation to a gramophone record and Mr Lewis’s fine gramophone.


The count

Already counted:

Roman numerals to words
Case change for chapter titles
Removal of hyphens from good-bye, to-day, etc
Removal of italics for emphasis
Extra word capitalised at start of chapter
Quotation marks
Dash length

Unique changes:

Ten pounds
One shilling
Half a crown

Total this post: 3

Over all total: 35

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If you like Blyton, our guide to other great authors

Over the years we have reviewed lots of books by other authors, because we think that they’re the kind of thing other people might like if they like Enid Blyton books.

I thought I would pull together a list of our reviews, and add a little bit about each author and what else they have written.

There are some writers who were contemporaries of Blyton, writing during her lifetime. There are also lots of modern writers who write in the genres she excelled at, some set in her era and some set now.

I’ll not include books which are prequels, sequels or continuations of Blyton’s work. They have their own tag here and I plan to do a guide to them all in the future, too.


Brisley, Joyce Lankester

Recommended read: Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories

Joyce Lankester Brisley was an English writer, born in 1896. A contemporary of Blyton the first book of her famous Milly Molly Mandy series came out in 1928.

Milly-Molly-Mandy is a little girl in a pink and white striped dress, and each book contains several short stories about her life in a little village during her four-to-eight year old years. She finds joy in many simple games and activities, helps out when she can and explores her world in the way only a young child can.

milly molly mandy

Caldecott, Elen

Recommended reads: Diamonds and Daggers (book 1 of 5 in the Marsh Road Mysteries) and The Mystery of Wickworth Manor which is a stand-alone title.

Elen Caldecott has written several books for children, her debut novel How Kirsty Jenkins Stole The Elephant was published in 2009.

Dann, Colin

Recommended read: The Animals of Farthing Wood

Colin Dann (born 1943) has written many books for children, most of them about animals. His Animals of Farthing Wood series has eight books, the first published in 1979 and the last in 1994. The BBC made a cartoon series based on the Farthing Wood books in the 90s.

Day, Susie

Recommended read: Pea’s Book of Holidays

Susie Day describes herself as writing inclusive, diverse children’s books about the real world we live in. (Plus the occasional dragon.) Those include four books about Pea Llewellyn, three books in her Secrets series (not to be confused with the Secret Series), as well as a few stand alone young adult titles.

Gegan, Phyllis

Recommended reads: A Mystery for Ninepence and The Harveys See it Through

Very little is known about Phyllis Gegan, other than the titles of her two books.

Kerr, Esme

Recommended read: Mischief at Midnight from the Knight’s Haddon series.

Esme Kerr has written two boarding school books set at Knight’s Haddon. The Glass Bird Girl in 2014 and Mischief at Midnight in 2015. Although the books are set in the present say a technology ban at the school makes them seem more of Blyton’s time.

McGregor, R. J.

Recommended read: The Secret of Dead Man’s Cove

R. J. McGregor, a headmaster at a boys’ school, wrote both mystery and science fiction books for children from the 1930s through to the 1950s. The Secret of Dead Man’s Cove is a sequel to his 1934 book The Young Detectives.

Moss, Helen

Recommended reads: The Adventure Island Series

There are 14 books in the Adventure Island series, published between 2011 and 2013. The books are about three children; Scott, Jack and Emily, who, along with Emily’s dog drift, solve mysteries on Castle Key. Helen Moss has also written three Time Dogs books and three Secrets of the Tombs books.

Norton, Mary

Recommended read: The Borrowers series

Born in 1903 Mary Norton’s first book was The Magic Bedknob in 1945, followed by Bonfires and Broomsticks in 1947. The film Bedknobs and Broomsticks starring the wonderful Angela Lansbury is based on these books. Her Borrowers series (which has spawned a TV adaptation and several films) has five books and a short story, published between 1952 and 1982.

Pollock, Mary

Recommended read: The Secret of Cliff Castle

Author of six very familiar sounding stories in the adventure, animal and adventure genres, Mary Pollock is actually just Enid Blyton writing under another name.

 

Robinson, Julie

Recommended read: The Mysterious Boy

A life-long Blyton fan, Julie has written plenty of Blyton fan fiction, but The Mysterious Boy is her first published novel.

Saville, Malcolm

Recommended read: The Lone Pine series

Malcolm Saville was a prolific writer for children, writing books in eight different series, as well as many books about nature and the countryside and several travel guides. He was born in 1901 and his first book – Mystery at Witchend, the first Lone Pine title – was published in 1943. The series concluded in 1978, with the children having aged and developed somewhat, and each book reflecting the time it was published in. Saville’s books were primarily set in England, in Shropshire, Sussex, Dartmoor, and so on, and he included many real-life details to bring these locations to life.

malcolm saville

Scott, Will

Recommended reads: The Cherrys series

Born in 1893 Will Scott was an artist and a journalist before he began writing grown-up detective novels and plays. It wasn’t until 1952 that he began his Cherrys series which ran to fourteen books.

Sparkes, Ali

Recommended read: Frozen in Time

Ali Sparkes is children’s author with at least 40 books to her name. Many, like her 6 book Shapeshifter series or 5 book Unleashed series have a supernatural element, while others are more sci-fi. Frozen in Time is a stand-alone book which probably fits into the sci-fi genre.

St John, Lauren

Recommended read: Dead Man’s Cove

Dead Man’s Cove is the first of five books about Laura Marlin, a girl detective, published between 2010 and 2017. Lauren St John has written many other children’s books including five in her Animal Healers series.

Dead-Mans-Cove Lauren St John

Stevens, Robin

Recommended reads: Murder Most Unladylike, Arsenic for Tea and Cream Buns and Crime.

Robin Stevens is the author of the Murder Most Unladylike books of which there are currently eight novels and a few short stories, with a new book expected in 2020. She has also written two books in her London Eye Mystery series.

Woodfine, Katherine

Recommended read: The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow is the first of four books in Katherine Woodfine’s Sinclair’s Mysteries series which began in 2005. She as also written two books in her Taylor and Rose Secret Agents series.


I will update this guide as and when I review any other authors’ books.

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Monday #254

If you like Blyton: A guide to other authors

and

The Naughtiest Girl updated part 4

If I do try hard to be good, and do everything I ought to, will you please ask Miss Belle and Miss Best to let me go home?

Elizabeth Allen asks Rita to help her escape from Whyteleaf School in The Naughtiest Girl in the School.

bold bad girl

I’ve decided that I’m already sick of winter so I’ll take a break from winter-themed posts! Instead we will have The Secret Island. This is actually quite a serious book; children escaping from poverty and abuse and having to fend for themselves. Despite that is is full of fun and excitement as Jack, Mike, Peggy and Nora set up a life for themselves on their Secret Island. They make a house, a farm yard complete with animals, grow their own fruits and vegetables and run it together splendidly, whilst fending off the odd intruder.

Of course they can’t live there all their lives but the reason they leave the island is a happy one for them all.

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Darrell and Anatoly’s First date: A St Andrews Story

This story is set after the events of The Missing Papers and before New Year’s Dip, First Valentines and Halloween Tricks.

It primarily features Darrell Rivers and Anatoly Petrov, who as a couple we call Dartoly. It also has a cameo from Bill Smugs, due to a recent request.

If you need a little help picturing these two I’ve included a picture of roughly how we see them. We use Michelle Dockery as inspiration for Darrell and Anton Yelchin for Anatoly.

Anyway, on with the story!


“Yes, sir,” Anatoly said into the small telephone receiver which was attached to his powerful wireless, issued to him by the SIS. He listened for several minutes, one eye on his watch. He knew he shouldn’t interrupt his boss, Bill Cunningham, when he was talking, but if he didn’t leave soon he would be late for his date with Darrell.

“Do you have somewhere else to be?” Bill asked him shortly after. He must have read the impatience in his replies.

“Well, yes, as a matter of fact,” Anatoly said, wondering how much to give away.

“I don’t have you down for anything this evening”, Bill said, and Anatoly could hear him shuffling papers.

“It is not work, sir. It is personal.”

“Oh. I see,” Bill said. Then there was a pause. “You’re meeting your new friends, then? Or… dare I ask-”

“You dare not,” Anatoly responded quickly, wishing he had never confided in Bill about Darrell.

“You have a date, then.” The grin was evident in Bill’s voice, even over the wireless.

“Petrov? Are you still there?”

“Petrov?”

“I am here, sir.”

“I expect a full briefing when I call you tomorrow.”

“I respectfully decline, sir.” Thankfully Bill wasn’t just his boss. He had been the one to bring Anatoly into the SIS, and had become a mentor and somewhat of a friend, too. He therefore got away with a lot more cheek than other agents.

“Do you want to be removed from St Andrews, Petrov? No, I thought not. Same time tomorrow. Smugs over and out.” The connection went dead. Anatoly glared at the receiver, banged it down, grabbed his suit jacket and then dashed from his room, pausing only long enough to lock it securely.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Darrell nervously pushed a hair pin into her dark hair and bit her lip. She leant forward over the chest of drawers and pulled her mascara out from the bag. Using as little as she could of the precious cosmetic, she applied it to the ends of her lashes.

Sally watched Darrell from her bed, where she was propped up, reading a book for her class and smiled at her friend.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Sally asked Darrell. “I mean he is four years older than you. I will admit that he is a bit of all right when it comes down to it, but I didn’t realise you were so interested in him.”

“Just because I haven’t verbalised anything, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t interested,” Darrell said, turning around, hands on her hips, making her best skirt swing out in a circle.

Continue reading

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December 2019 round up


What I have read

I reached my target of 100 books in November and finished the year on 119.

December’s books:

  • The Cat in the Hat Comes Back – Dr Seuss
  • Christmas Shopaholic (Shopaholic #9) – Sophie Kinsella
  • The Day the Crayons Came Home – Drew Daywalt
  • Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type – Doreen Cronin
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr Seuss
  • Undead and Unappreciated (Undead #3) – MaryJanice Davidson
  • Spark Joy – Marie Kondo
  • The Exile – Diana Gabaldon
  • Five Fall Into Adventure – reviewed here and here
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Slayer Stats – Steve O’Brien
  • Discovering Scotland’s Lost Railways – Julian Hollans
  • Undead and Unreturnable (Undead #4) – MaryJanice Davidson
  • Why is Nothing Ever Simple? (St Mary’s #10.5) – Jodi Taylor
  • The Making of Outlander: Official Guide to Seasons 1 & 2 – Tara Bennett
  • The Organised Mum Method – Gemma Bray

And I’ve ended the year with a few unfinished books:

  • The Naughtiest Girl in the School – I’m doing a text comparison on this one
  • Hocus Pocus and the All New Sequel – A.W. Jantha
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

I’m finding both Hocus Pocus and Jane Eyre a slog, but for different reasons. The first part of Hocus Pocus is based on the film and was a decent writing of it, the second half, however, is a new story. It’s not great and worst of all it’s written in first person present tense. First person is fine, but present tense I hate with a passion. It just sounds so ‘me me me’ in a really shallow teenage way.

My problem with Jane Eyre is that I really can’t stand Rochester. I was enjoying it through her childhood and time at boarding school, but then Rochester showed up… and I find him rude and boring in equal measures. Even the mystery of the crazy woman in the attic hasn’t persuaded me to get past 52% read.

On the plus side I forced myself to finish Spark Joy (actually decent once I picked it up again) and The Exile (still dire) so they’re not hovering on my current read list any more.


What I have watched

  • Hollyoaks
  • Only Connect
  • Murder She Wrote, season 7 and I’m now onto 8
  • More of His Dark Materials
  • A few Christmas films including The Christmas Chronicles
  • I’ve also been rewatching the last series of Call the Midwife, to refresh my memory for the new series.

What I have done

  • It has been very cold that that didn’t stop us going out to several parks.
  • We went to the Transport Museum (again) and got an annual pass to save ourselves some money.
  • It was my birthday halfway through the month and of course Christmas at the end so a lot of food was eaten and presents opened. There was also the decorating, shopping, wrapping and general organising for Christmas.
  • I went to see Rock the Halls – a concert of Christmas songs – at my local theatre
  • I got back into doing jigsaws and did one that I got for Christmas the year before (!), and then I did the one I got this year as well.

It doesn’t sound like a lot but it was a very busy month!


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Monday #253

December 2019 round up

and

First Date: a St Andrews Story

It is likely that the Nature Charts for January will show snowy, frosty days, for as the proverb says, stronger cold comes with the longer days. Keep a list of the sunset times for this month, so that the children may see with interest how each day is a little longer than the one before. They will soon remark, too, how much longer light is there when the sky is clear and how quickly it gets dark when the sky is cloudy.

Enid’s first nature notes in her Book of the Year. I always console myself that, the shortest day of the year falls between the 20th and 23rd of December, and so once Christmas and New Year is over the days are already a bit longer and will just keep on getting longer. I’m already anticipating the days that it’s not dark before 5pm!

For a winter-themed book you can’t beat Round the Year with Enid Blyton – Winter Book. I have it as part of a combined volume titled Round the Year with Enid Blyton which has all four season’s books in it.

It is a guide to all things winter in nature; the whereabouts of all the creatures that are so plentiful in other seasons (and how we can help them), the formation of frost crystals, identifying footprints in the snow, feeding the birds, evergreen trees, and even a bit about astronomy and other things.

 

 

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2019 Birthday and Christmas present round up

First I’ll admit that’s a slightly misleading title as I didn’t actually get any Blytonian presents for my birthday this year – gasp! I did get two Blytonian birthday cards, however.

There are a few cards out there based on the Famous Five for Grown-Up books. My cards were Five Go on a Digital Detox and Five Go to Party Island. They look just like the other books in the series and I actually had to check they weren’t real titles.

That reminds me I have a few of those books that I really must read, if only to write reviews saying how bad they are! Anyway, I fared much better for Christmas

Famous Five playing cards
These 1950s Pepys cards might look familiar to you. And so they should. I was given a set in 2013 and they had sat on my bookcase in the flat since we moved in 2015. Then last year I realised they were no longer there. I suspect they had fallen off and landed in the bin because I’ve searched everywhere for them. So now I have a nice new set (which is in slightly better condition than the old one, and even has the instructions and all the cards!)

Noddy happy family cards
I actually ordered these myself and gave them to Ewan to put in my stocking. I bid on a Faraway Tree set and a few other things but didn’t win. There are two sets of Noddy cards out there, a snap set by Pepys and this happy families one by Sampson Low (publishers of the Noddy books). This one is also complete and has the instructions.

Noddy party game
This is a Pepys game, a bit like my Famous Five party game but much more simple. The game is to find Noddy’s friends hidden on the cards.

New Class at Malory Towers
This is a short story collection by four different authors, set during Darrell’s time at Malory Towers. It will be interesting to see if any of them capture the essence of the original books.

The Adventure Series Nintendo DS game
This is a bit of a weird one, but I couldn’t resist asking for it as I actually have a (pink) Nintendo DS tucked away in the cupboard. All eight books can be read in full on the DS and you collect jigsaw pieces as you read to unlock puzzles and games. There are also quizzes on the books to unlock more pieces. The books are described as interactive, too, and the box says there are links in the text to view character profiles and play sound effects. The DS has two screens (one is a touch screen), so I imagine you can turn it sideways to read the book, a page to each screen but I suppose I will find out when I play. I will review it, of course, then!

Mystery and Mayhem
Not strictly a Blyton present but Katherine Woodfine, Elen Caldecott, Susie Day, Helen Moss and Robin Stevens all feature in our if-you-like-Blyton reviews.


So all in all I was very lucky (again). Reviews of most things are on the way, I bet you can’t wait!

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Enid Blyton at New Year

Happy New Year, everyone! Enid Blyton wrote such a wide range of material that it’s hard to find a subject she hasn’t at least touched on. There are, of course, some topics she gave more attention to than others.

New year got a fair amount of attention, after all, it comes around every year! I think she was a fan of resolutions as those are mentioned a few times.

Unfortunately there aren’t a whole lot of illustrations to go with these (mostly early) works so I hope you didn’t have too much to drink before tackling this.


1920s New Years

On New Year’s Resolutions from The Teachers World 1005, Jan 1924

This is a rather serious article, I suspect to be read by the teachers and not their children.

Blyton comes firmly down on the side of resolutions and suggests it’s better to have a positive I will resolution rather than a negative I won’t resolution.

Read the article in full here .

A New Year from The Teachers World 1069, Dec 1924

This is a cheery look at how everyone gets a New Year which will brings a fresh start along with all the wonders of spring.

Read it in full here (where you will also find a poem titled New Year Sing-Song).

New Lamps for Old from The Teachers World 1133, Dec 1925

This is a strange one. I’ve not heard the tale of Father Time collecting old lamps for new ones on New Year’s Eve. There’s a poem of that title by Rudyard Kipling but it seems to have a different background. It may be something Enid has made up as the whole article is a huge metaphor where the old lamps represent people who have become jaded and miserly.

Read it here and see what you make of it.

The Golden Promise: A New Year Story from The Teachers World 1135, Jan 1926

This is a lovely story, though it has two curious elements. One is that it specifies the year as 1925, and secondly Blyton speaks to the reader near the start. She often addressed the readers at the end of chapters in her adventure novels but here she says I once saw the number written down but I couldn’t have read it out. Anyway…

The story is of a bored old wizard who has a ton of money but nothing to spend it on. Then at his door arrives a small child – a Little New Year who has fallen from Father Time’s sleigh. He is terribly upset that he is lost in fairyland and won’t reach the mortal world in time for New Year, and even more so that he has lost some of his spring flowers and animals.

The wizard, who at first comes across as somewhat aloof (he may even be a cruel wizard for all we know) suddenly melts at the child’s tears and does all he can to make things better.

I have not done it justice at all in that summary so please do read it for yourself, it’s such a shame it hasn’t been collected anywhere else. There’s no reason the year at the start couldn’t have been changed for a new publication.

New Year Letter from The Teachers World 1261, Jan 1928

This one’s addressed to boys and girls. It combines a couple of her favourite themes: nature and doing good. She extols the joys of the spring to come (she even enjoys January, apparently), and hopes that the children reading will become happier, braver and kinder as the year goes on.

Read the letter here.


1930s New Years

The New Year from The Teachers World 1389, Jan 1930

A short but sweet nature-themed poem (and a few mentions of the New Year in the letter below, too).

A Happy New Year from The Teachers World 1597, Jan 1934

This is another poem, this time about what Gillian would wish for at the New Year.

Poor Mr Tumpy from The Teachers World 1389, Jan 1930

Mr Tumpy is probably one of her less-well-known characters. I’ve not read any of his stories though I know there’s one about him and his caravan. Anyway, Mr Tumpy makes a mistake ala the Three Golliwogs, and tears off too many days on his calendar and thinks it’s New Year’s Day a day early.

Read his story here.

Little New Year from Enid Blyton’s Poetry Book, 1934

This is another poem which we have posted in full before.

January Days from Enid Blyton’s Poetry Book, 1934

We have shared this poem in full before too.

A Happy New Year Poem #2 from The Teachers World 1649, Jan 1935

This poem has the same title as the earlier one, but is a different piece. I suppose there are only so many possible titles for New Years’ poems!

This one has a nature-theme as well, and you can read it here.

A Happy New Year! from The Teachers World 1936

A story in which Benny makes a resolution to smile more and it pays off. Read it here.


1940s New Years

New Year’s Party from Enid Blyton’s Book of the Year, 1941

A clever story about three children attending a New Year’s Party. One is selfish and greedy, one is lazy and the other is kind.

Blyton introduces an idea I’ve only ever seen in her work, this one and another story featured later in this post. I assume she is using an old idea from folk tales or somesuch but I really don’t know.

The children go into a candle-lit room and see there are long pictures on the wall, pictures of children doing all sorts of things.

One is spoiled by blots of colour across it and another has lots of unfinished bits. The marked one represents the selfish child’s year, and the marks represent all the times she has been unkind. The unfinished one belongs to the lazy boy, the unfinished portions showing where his laziness has meant he has abandoned tasks.

They then see the picture created by the kind child and hers is unmarred and wonderful.

I really love this idea.

Read the full story here

Happy New Year! from Enid Blyton’s Calendar, 1943

Yes, it wasn’t just books, poems and magazines Blyton wrote. She did calendars too!

It wouldn’t be of much use to write your appointments or birthdays on as the dates are the smallest part of this calendar. Each month has a few pages of beautifully illustrated poems and nature stories.

For January 1943 there is a New Year poem.


1950s New Years

Father Time and his Pattern Book from Enid Blyton’s Gay Street Book, 1951.

This is one I nearly missed as it doesn’t have New Year in the title! If it hadn’t been for a fellow Blyton fan sharing the contents of the story I wouldn’t have known it even existed as I don’t have a copy of the book.

This is another story that features the idea of children making pictures, or patterns, each year and the picture or pattern showing how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ they have been.

This time there is one child, Robin, who is shown several patterns by Father Time. His brother’s is lovely but spoiled by black dots here and there where he has lost his temper. Another is attractive except where rips show a girl’s cruelty. One is almost all ugly – made up of greed and selfishness, with just one or two bright threads which represent hard work.

Lastly Robin sees his own pattern which is beautiful apart from the grey smudges of lies.

I really do love this pattern/picture idea. If you’ve seen it elsewhere please let me know.

You can read the story in full, here.

A New Year Promise from Enid Blyton’s Magazine issue 2 volume 1, 1954

As the title may suggest this is a story about resolutions. John always breaks his so his resolution then is to keep any promises he makes. His sister Dinah goads him (perhaps her resolution is to be more encouraging!) that he always forgets and breaks promises but he’s determined. He does well at first, but then forgets he has promised to put fresh straw in the dog’s kennel. He remembers in the night and, eaten with guilt, sneaks down to do it and instead catches two burglars.

The dog gets to sleep inside as a reward for helping and John is forgiven for breaking his promise.

John writes a letter about his story a few pages later. (It is absolutely Dinah in the story, I’ve double-checked!)


Happy New Year again, if you got this far!

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Monday #252 – the last of the year!

This is the last post of the year and of the decade!

You may be pleased to know that’s the end to the Christmas quotes in the Monday posts but I think I’ll move on to wintry ones as having a theme is quite fun.

Enid Blyton at New Year

and

Birthday/Christmas present roundup for 2019

It was grand fun to be on the ice that clear winter’s morning. Roger fell over quite a lot, and groaned and rubbed himself, quite envious of the others, especially of Snubby. Snubby did not skate as gracefully as either Barney or Diana but he was as usual, full of idiotic tricks, leaping in the air on his skates, twisting himself round in never-ending circles till he fell over in giddiness – and altogether behaving in what Diana called  a “very Snubby-ish way.”

From The Rat-A-Tat Mystery.

Five Get Into a Fix is set in the depths of winter and the Five get an extended Christmas break to recover from being ill. They are sent off to Magga Glen which, of course, they find an adventure in. There’s a big house on the hill which has signs warning off trespassers, it also has a strange ‘shimmering’ above it some nights. There’s Aily, who brings notes telling of a woman being held prisoner in her own home. There’s surly Morgan with his booming voice and seven dogs.  There is also a lot of fun as they toboggan in the snow and ‘camp’ out in the summer-house above the farm.

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