Monday #236

So I’m back from Dundee, and my visit to Fiona and baby Brodie, who is gorgeous, and it’s business at usual this week with blogs! Hope you enjoy!

Monday#236 (1)

 

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Review: The Mystery of the Strange Bundle

So I failed. I had one job and that was to read the book on my way up to Fiona’s when I was on the train, and I didn’t. On top of that, I’ve just not been reading because I’ve been trying to help with Brodie (he’s got a good pair of lungs on him!) and I have just failed completely in my simple task. So I’m going to review the first half of the book for you. Let’s go!

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Illness abounds

Oh woe are the Five Find-Outers, they have gone down with the flu, thanks to Bets as she’s managed to get it first over the Christmas hols, and given it around to everyone. When we join them they have managed to be mostly on the mend, and Bets is better and visiting the others faithfully.

After she gets annoyed at Pip, because he’s being mean to her, she decides to go and see Fatty who enjoys her company even when ill. Pip asks her for some bulls’ eyes, so she pops to the sweet shop and buys some for Fatty as well, thinking he’s probably at the same stage as Pip in his recovery.

When she gets to Fatty’s he already has a visitor, much to his mother’s surprise, not to mention that Fatty also appears to be asleep which adds to the confusion. The old lady who is there is apparently known to Fatty and has met the Trottevilles before. Mrs Trotteville isn’t convinced and then the cover breaks when Fatty reveals himself to be the old lady in the chair.

Mrs Trotteville is not impressed, especially given that the cook has given Fatty her aunt’s old smelly clothes. She wants to throw them away or wash them at least and Fatty won’t let her. He convinces his mother that Bets can take them down to his shed before she goes and the clothes are left and the woman forgotten.

Bets and Fatty sit down to talk, Mrs Trotteville having invited Bets to stay for tea, and Fatty tells Bets that he has begun to teach himself to throw his voice and become a ventriloquist. Apparently he’s been inspired by someone visiting his school in the last term and wanted to take it up. How he managed to ‘perfect’ his new skill so quickly, I don’t know, because its a very difficult and precise skill, and it takes people years to perfect it. However this is Fatty, why am I not surprised that he took it on with ease? He’s Blyton’s perfect character after all.

What I do find really distasteful is that he scares Bets with this ‘talent’ so much that she genuinely is trembling with fear. Fiona disagrees with me, saying that Bets is just a big baby, but there’s two sides to this issue. To me they hinge on Fatty’s personality. One is the mature, sensible boy he can be sometimes, when he’s actually in the middle of a mystery and looking after the others, but when he’s bored he can be brutish, and when he’s showing off he is just a pain. He can be so flippant and disregards so many opinions and feelings because hes the ‘great’ Fatty. Fiona thinks I just don’t like him and that many people would disagree with me about him. Feel free to back one of us up in the comments!

The beginning of the mystery 

After the generally recovery from the flu the five and Buster start to explore the village once more much to Mr Goon’s disgust. He’s gotten rather big for his boots since the children were ill because he was able to run after any mystery that may have occurred. He’s as insufferable as ever, back to being rude about Fatty (not that he doesn’t deserve it) but he should at least have manners when dealing with the children and Fatty. When Bets is on her way to visit Fatty, she bumps into Mr Goon, and he tells her what he thinks of Fatty and is quite rude really. Bets then blithely tells Fatty everything who laughs at Goon, but is determined to find a mystery to beat the policeman to solving it.

Anyway, once the children are more recovered from the flu, they are out and about, trying to find a mystery before they go back to school, but nothing appears until there’s a break in two doors down from Larry and Daisy. Again there doesn’t seem to be much of a mystery and it rather feels like there won’t be much of the mystery until the very end of the book again. Still, best to keep going and see where we get with this.

Please tell me it gets better?

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A prize for the most updated of Enid Blyton’s text

As you will probably know I have written several series of posts on the updatings to Blyton’s texts, looking at the first book of a series (and a few Noddys). I would now like to award a (dubious) prize to the ‘most edited’ title.


THE SHORTLIST

Our contenders are:

updatedcovers


THE METHODOLOGY

There are two possible ways to rank these books. First would be a simple ‘highest number of edits’ chart, but that’s probably not quite fair as some books are longer than others. The second would be to work out the average number of changes per chapter (though now I’m starting to doubt myself and wondering if it should be by number of pages, as some might just have very short chapters…)


SOME RESULTS

Anyway, using the first method, our chart would look like this.

  • In last place is The Secret Island with just 59
  • Still under the hundred-mark is The Twins at St Clare’s with 83
  • Five on a Treasure Island comes in next with 117
  • Then not far behind is The Island of Adventure with 128
  • First Term at Malory Towers would come next, with 133
  • The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage would scoop the coveted top spot with a whopping total of 187 changes.

SOME MORE RESULTS

However, let’s see what happens when we work out the average per chapter:

  • The Secret Island (3)
  • The Twins at St Clare’s (4)
  • The Island of Adventure (4.5)
  • First Term at Malory Towers (6)
  • Five on a Treasure Island (7)
  • The Mystery of The Burnt Cottage (10)

So The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage is still in top place, and The Secret Island is still at the bottom, but it does change around the order for those in the middle.


IS THERE A BETTER WAY OF DOING THIS?

I then started to look at number of pages, thinking that would be more accurate (as some books have longer chapters than others) and there I stumbled upon another problem. I wasn’t sure whether to use the paperback number of pages, or the hardback. So I counted both just to see what the difference was. For most books, it wasn’t significant. Five on a Treasure Island and The Secret Island had almost exactly the same number of pages in each format. First Term at Malory Towers differed by sixteen pages (the paperback being longer), The Twins at St Clare’s was 35 pages shorter in paperback, The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage was 52 pages longer in paperback, and then, The Island of Adventure was a whopping 136 pages longer in the hardback!

I had expected the paperbacks to be shorter – cheap, economy paperbacks cramming as many words per page and most lacking illustrations. But that wasn’t really the case. So clearly there’s a lot of variety in terms of font size and words per page.

My problem really arose with Five on a Treasure Island vs. The Island of Adventure. In paperback they are exactly the same length. In hardback, The Island of Adventure is 1.7 times longer. Any attempt to work out which had been most edited (and by what margin) would have to take that into account.

And so, I found myself counting words on a page. I just picked one average page that was all text (I don’t have all year for this, despite how long I’ve gone on…) that made Five on a Treasure Island around 51,000 words and The Island of Adventure 68,000, the latter being only 1.3 times longer. (The chapter numbers gave a 1.7 increase too, incidentally.)

In addition to that, the hardbacks of Five on a Treasure Island and The Secret Island are the same length but Five on a Treasure Island is around 10,000 words shorter.

Therefore I have come to the conclusion, that in the search for pedantic, pathetic accuracy, I will be doing a word count on all the books…

So, with a rough estimate of length, here are the books from longest to shortest:

  • The Island of Adventure 68,000
  • The Twins at St Clare’s 55,000
  • Five on a Treasure Island 51,000
  • The Secret Island 62,700
  • First Term at Malory Towers 49,500
  • The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage 43,500

And so, let’s see what that means, drumroll please! (I will be quite annoyed if this list is in the same order as the first one mind you.)

  • The Secret Island remains in last place, as there was an edit for every 1,062 words.
  • The Twins at St Clare’s is still in second-last place, with an edit for every 662 words.
  • The Island of Adventure moves down to fourth place (same as in the per chapter result) with an edit per 531 words.
  • Five on a Treasure Island comes third (it was fourth in total and second by chapters) with a change per 435 words.
  • First Term at Malory Towers retains second place (but was third by chapters) with an edit for every 372 words.
  • And you know what that means! The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage is the unequivocal winner, with a change made for every 232 words.

the-mystery-of-the-burnt-cottage

Yes, Mr Goon. I’m as perplexed as you.

So the final order doesn’t look too different, but I think it’s the most accurate. If there are any mathematicians or statistical analysts out there, please let me know if my methodology stinks.


AND NOT FORGETTING…

And just as a little bonus: Noddy! Thankfully the Noddys are all exactly the same length so I can order them easily.

  • Noddy and his Car (47)
  • Here Comes Noddy Again (39)
  • Hurrah for Little Noddy (32)
  • Well Done, Noddy (20)
  • Noddy Goes to Toyland (14)

That does give Noddy and His Car an edit for very 165 words, though… Even Here Comes Noddy Again has one per 200 words, making them both more edited than even The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage. 

You know what? It would just be simpler if they didn’t edit any books, and then I’d have nothing to count and nothing to obsess over. Wouldn’t that be great??

 

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Monday #235

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A Writer’s Garden part 2: What we know about the original Old Thatch gardens

Last week we looked at the most up to date information we had from Old Thatch gardens and got an idea of the kind of place the cottage and gardens are, but as mentioned we don’t know very much about Old Thatch in Enid Blyton’s own time.

Shall we have a look at what I’ve been able to find out?

Citation: Many thanks to the tireless and hard work of the Enid Blyton Society for uploading the periodicals of The Teachers World magazine for my research in this article.

Welcome to Old Thatch

In July 1929, Blyton moved into Old Thatch at Bourne End and wrote in her Teachers’ World column about the garden and how wonderful everything was. She describes the lily pond, the rose arbour, the tall yew hedges that still surround the gardens today, as are the trees that surround the garden and the brook at the bottom. So by the sounds of what Blyton wrote in that copy of Teachers’ World in 1929 the actual layout of the garden hasn’t changed all that much by and large. Possibly the only big alteration is that a second house was built on part of the garden at some point and this was only possible with a piece of the garden being sold off.  You can read the whole piece either on the Enid Blyton Society page here, or look at the scan they made below.

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How can you dispute such a perfect description of a writer’s garden, from their own pen indeed?  You can check out the other pieces of writing Blyton did about Old Thatch here to find her other descriptions.

There were other bits and pieces that could help up piece together the garden at Old Thatch and there are some surviving photographs of the family there. One of the most famous pictures is of Blyton with Bobs the dog, sitting at the “wishing” well at the back of the house under Gillian’s bedroom window. 3E742AB500000578-4331320-image-m-38_1490013237932

You can see from this picture that there is a lot of space behind the house at this point, no masses of beautiful flowerbeds as planted by Jackie Hawthorne and her husband when they owned the house and then opened the gardens. There is a lot of space in this garden, perfect for a new family and lots of pets.

Tess Livingstone

Tess Livingstone wrote a book, Enid Blyton  at Old Thatch where she goes around with Gillian Baverstock (Blyton’s oldest daughter) and discusses the garden, and the experiences had in it.

Fiona has read it properly whereas I only had time to skim through, but the idea that this book can allow us to have a glimpse of Blyton’s garden as it was way back when she was the owner is something to delight in. The added voice of Gillian as well is a perfect accompaniment to the book and the guide, with someone who actually remembers the garden and the joys it brought. Goodreads tells you more about the book here

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My point being that all these things could have been researched up to make an entry into the The Writer’s Garden by Jackie Bennett to add such a beloved children’s author to the book where so many other prolific authors are mentioned and looked into. All right, so my blogs haven’t been the extensive ones you’d have from Fiona, but this is just minimal digging to show that there is enough to not leave Blyton out of these kinds of books.

What do you think?

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When people search for Enid Blyton what are they looking for? Re-revisited

I have found so many funny/strange search terms I’ve had to do a second post. Though now I’m thinking about how those strange terms are now on the blog and we are even more likely to have people find us while searching for spiders… (just a note to say that any capital letters in the search terms have been added by me – to make them easier to read!)


FAMOUS POEMS, SHORT POEMS, FUNNY POEMS, ANY SORT OF POEMS

Our top search terms mostly revolve around Enid Blyton’s poetry, which is interesting. In fact, four of the top five mention poems (capital letters added by pedantic me):

  • Enid Blyton poems – 386
  • poems by Enid Blyton – 169
  • Enid Blyton poems for children – 100
  • poems of Enid Blyton – 94
  • Enid Blyton poem – 55
  • Enid Blyton poetry – 49
  • poem of Enid Blyton – 45
  • poems written by Enid Blyton – 42
  • famous poems of Enid Blyton – 35
  • short poems by Enid Blyton – 35
  • Enid Blyton poems list – 29
  • poem by Enid Blyton – 25
  • famous poems by Enid Blyton – 15
  • funny poems by Enid Blyton – 14
  • Enid Blyton short poems – 13
  • poems Enid Blyton – 12

I think you get the picture! That’s over 1,100 views from people searching for poems. (There are also more poem search terms such as firework poems etc).

Other top searches include Malory Towers, Famous Five fan fiction, Laura Petela, Jemima Rooper, Jennifer Thanisch, Enid Blyton fan fiction, The Famous Five, Marco Williamson and Eileen Soper.


OOPS, DID YOU REALLY MEAN THAT?

Further down the list are some which garnered only a few views and some are unintentionally funny (or potentially offensive):

  • fatty Enid Blyton and Enid Blyton fatty I know what it means, but it sounds rude!
  • amysteryforninepence from someone whose space bar was broken?
  • borne end flooding 13 feb 2014 oddly specific for spelling Bourne End wrong.
  • deads leave but maybe that’s creepy rather than funny.
  • poets of Enid Blyton she had many personal poets, she kept them in a cupboard…
  • hairbrush spank this could have taken them to many worse places.
  • crinkley bottom noddy I can’t begin to work this one out
  • characters of Anne Kirrin she had many characters, a tiger being just one.
  • famouse five book review makes me think of five famous mice…
  • famous five tv serious images nothing light-hearted allowed
  • Paul Child as the Famous Five he’s so versatile he played them all
  • Philip spanks Amelia could also have lead to bad places
  • why did Enid Blyton call Margaret Daykin Daisy it wasn’t just a Blyton thing…
  • foto Fanny Kirrin again, what?
  • Enid the spider I wonder if this is the same person as searched for enid blyton spider malory panties before.

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AN ENID BLYTON BLOG THAT DOESN’T MENTION ENID BLYTON ENOUGH

Searches for Enid Blyton only brought 36 views, but I think that’s because we don’t often use her full name. It seems silly to tag every post with Enid Blyton on an Enid Blyton blog! It rather goes without saying, but it unfortunately means that we fail to rank with Google with that as a search term. (I suspect those 36 may have come via Google images or similar.)


GOSH, THE TITLE JUST ELUDES ME

TV series about 4 childs on island and dog Gorgiana. I remember it so well, that TV series about those four childs on an island and one of them was called Gorgiana. She had a dog. Oh, what was its name? (Or was the dog called Gorgiana, I really can’t remember!)

Bill adventure train castle book. And then there was that book where Bill went on a train and had an adventure in a castle. What was it called? Adventure in a Castle? No, that’s not it…

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ENID BLYTON IMPOSTERS

There was a chap, a long time ago who wrote under the pen-name Enid Boyton (or sometimes Boyten). He claimed that it was a complete coincidence and it was not deliberately chosen to look like Enid Blyton, but here are some more potential impostors (or perhaps just bad spelling?)

  • Emid Blyton poem if i knew if only I knew who Emid was.
  • Book review of Noddy and the Bunkey part 19 by Emid Blyton this one’s obviously quite prolific, writing nineteen part novels about the real Blyton’s characters.
  • Why Emid Blyton wrote the poem with fireworks? if you ever track down Emid, do be sure to ask her!
  • Edin Blyton smuggler ben this one’s also using real Blyton titles!
  • Enid Bylton poems good old Enid Bylton…
  • stories writtrn by wnidblyton I’m surprised this one even found us!
  • Naughty Amelia Jane in Grid Bottom in Tamil – The famous Grid Bottom is perhaps a famous Tamil author?
  • Images of the characters of Dick in Five of Enid Bottom – Never mind Dick having multiple characters but we now have Enid Bottom. A relation of Grid Bottom?

 


 

 

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Monday #234

So I finally got the August round up now, and its back to normal this week! Enjoy!

Monday#234

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August Round Up

Fiona has, of course, gone on maternity leave, so this is all me now, you lucky things! Let’s get a crack on then.


WHAT I’VE READ

It’s been a busy month but managed to fit some reading in between everything.

  • Too Many Cooks – Marina Pascoe Reviewed here.
  • The Ravenmaster’s Boy – Mary Hoffman
  • The Caravan Family – Enid Blyton – Reviewed here,
  • The Mystery of the Invisible Thief – Enid Blyton – Reviewed here.
  • The Mystery of the Vanished Prince –  Enid Blyton – Reviewed here.

Current reads:

  • Russian Roulette – Sara Sheridan
  • Peggy and Me – Miranda Hart
  • Feet of Clay – Terry Pratchett

WHAT I’VE WATCHED

  • Lord of the Rings and Lord of the Rings the Two Towers – my other half likes the movies a lot so I agreed to watch them with him.
  • Red Dwarf
  • Top Gear
  • The Antiques Road Trip

WHAT I’VE DONE

  • I’ve had my first taste of amusement parks – I have been taken to Thorpe Park by the boyfriend.
  • The other “fun” thing I’ve been made to do is go fishing. I mostly read throughout the afternoon while the boyfriend caught roach (much to his annoyment) and one carp.
  • I’ve had a couple of bbqs when the weather hasn’t been too bad.
  • And most of all this month I’ve been going gooey eyed over photos of Fiona’s baby boy Brodie who graced us with his presence at the beginning of the month.

 WHAT FIONA HAS READ

Only a few things (understandably) : mostly on my phone while I’ve been feeding the baby.

  • Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) – on audiobook
  • Ah Sweet Mystery of Life – Roald Dahl
  • Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse #2) – on audiobook
  • Breastfeeding: Everything you need to know about – Suzanne Fredregill
  • The House of Closed Doors – Jane Steen
  • East End Angel (Campbell Road Saga #5) – Kay Brellend

And things on the go:

  • What to Expect the 1st Year – Heidi Murkhoff
  • The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – Roald Dahl

I’m also listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks again but I’ve slept through too much of them for it to count again.


WHAT FIONA HAS WATCHED

  • Still haven’t missed an episode of Hollyoaks yet!
  • The new series of Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away.
  • Only Connect (still getting the odd answer right)
  • Legomasters 

WHAT FIONA HAS DONE

  • Well, as Stef has mentioned – I’ve had my baby! (I’m typing this one handed while he sleeps on me!) He was 8 lb 11.5 oz at birth and he’s now 9lb 13oz at 4.5 weeks!
  • Had lots of sleepless nights
  • Changed tons of nappies
  • Eaten most meals with one hand
  • Taken out an Amazon Prime subscription and ordered something baby related nearly every day
  • Taken hundreds of photos of Brodie

 

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A Writer’s Garden: Old Thatch in the present day, part one

I came across a book The Writer’s Garden by Jackie Bennett, at work last Saturday and immediately started flicking through it to see if I could find any information about Enid Blyton’s own beloved gardens, but the book was annoyingly devoid of them. There was one reference however, where they mentioned the demolition of Green Hedges and the fact that her garden was lost, however I felt there was something missing on this one point. What about Old Thatch at Bourne End? That was a garden that Blyton took great pride in.

Anyway I thought I would add to the book with the Old Thatch gardens I know from my visits before the owners closed the garden to the public. One of my absolute favourite happy places I miss these gardens terribly and their calming atmosphere, not to mention the brilliant cake they used to provide in the tea room! Now I’m not much of a gardener, and so I’m going to show you some of the photos I have taken over the years I visited Old Thatch and hopefully give you an idea of what it was like and a few books to look at to get an idea of what it was like in Blyton’s day! Lets take a bit of a photo tour this blog and then next blog I’ll let you know what we know Blyton had her garden like.

Enjoy!

The lychgate at Old Thatch

The entrance Garden to Old Thatch through the gate.

The first part of the garden you are brought to is the court yard at the side of the house and you don’t necessarily get the full impact of the house and gardens but its so magical to step in there, its hard to stop yourself tearing around the garden at top speed.

Formal garden

Old Thatch front window

 

There are so many pictures of Old Thatch, I wish I could show you them all but that would be impossible right now. Next week I’ll have a look at what we can find out about what the garden was like in Blyton’s day.  Follow the Tags “Bourne End” and “Old Thatch” for more blogs and pictures about this amazing place.

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When people search for Enid Blyton what are they looking for? Revisited

A long time ago I did a post about the search terms which brought people to our site, (I also had some in a Monday post, with made-up illustrations) and while looking for things to write about for my maternity leave posts I noticed a few funny ones and thought I could do a second post.

It’s interesting to see what weird and wonderful things people put into search engines. I’m sure many will have come to our site and found something interesting or useful, others will be very disappointed as we have no information on spiders called Enid.


I DON’T THINK YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE

Like the enid-the-spider searcher, some people will be disappointed to find our blog after searching for things like second form at malory towers read online free. Sorry, but no. We don’t illegally publish whole books that are still under copyright. (A few long out of print poems are another matter.)

A lot of people clearly want that though, and think it’s OK, as I’ve noticed a few more results for ‘book title read online’.  Read Nooddy [sic] books online being one, which is worse because of the terrible spelling. But it’s not as bad as Secert Seven Win Thorgh book dwolond. You have to give Google points for working out what this person meant!

Famous Five pdf books4you.blog.com is wrong twice. We don’t do illegal PDFs and strangely we are not called books4you.

One or two baffled me, like Hilary Mckay. On searching I’ve found out she’s a children’s author published by Hodder, but we’ve never written anything about her!

Scarlet pimpernel is another. I suspect the words come up in one of our monthly flowers posts, but I imagine many people would think of the famous novel first!

Eileen A Soper who was David Morton is also interesting, as I can’t think of any connection between the two. We certainly mention both of them on this site, but not usually in the same sentence (until now.) There is also a second entry of Eileen A Soper and David Morton. The same person, I wonder, or is there a common confusion out there?

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Months that ended on a Monday in 2015. Nope, we are not a calendar.

g.r. no. 197980. I don’t have a clue.


I STARTED TYPING AND THEN I…

Some people like to live dangerously and not finish their searches:

The first modern observation of the… Of the what? (And how did that lead them to us?)

The name of the charecter five run away together. What character would that be? Sorry, charecter.

Eileen Soper boy. Eileen Soper illustrated many boys. Was there a particular one you were interested in?

What species dog in enid blyton. Many? Well, in her books. Not necessarily inside Enid herself.


FANFICTION REQUESTS

There were a lot of searches for Enid Blyton fan fiction. Many were straight foward like famous five fan fiction. Others were very, very specific. Perhaps the person had once read a fan fiction and forgotten its name, but I can’t believe that’s the case every time.

  • Five Find Outers fanfiction Fatty hurt
  • Fanfiction Enid Blyton Anne gets kidnaped
  • Julian kiss George Enid Blyton fanfic – you do know they are cousins, right??
  • “Julian” “George” “kiss” “fanfiction” – this person is determined!
  • Enid Blyton fanfiction about Barney and Diana’s romance

annegetskidnapped


ARE YOU CHEATING BY ANY CHANCE?

Just like last time there are a lot of people looking for summaries and synopses of books. We’ve even got one for a critical appreciation of a title. Fair enough, but how many of them are meant to be writing their own? Many also want summary by chapter or quite in depth things – why not just read the book?

I suspect this person could be: write a character sketch of any of the main character of Enid Blyton. That looks like they’ve bunged their homework assignment (perhaps they’ve specified their author of choice as I’m not sure how many schools specifically assign Blyton) straight into Google looking for answers.

But then again maybe it’s teachers looking for inspiration – this sounds like a teacher doesn’t it? Enidblyton poems for class one (apart from the missing space, but even teachers can make typos.)

What do the Famous Five book Five Get Into Trouble talk about and illustrations opinion. Not too sure what this means but again, reading the book would probably help.

My favourite character in and why I like it Five on a Hike Together. How is Google supposed to know who your favourite character is and why you like that book?

Or how about Enid Blyton french verbs. Do your own French homework! (Ok they may be looking for any examples given in either Mam’zelles class.)

Why we inspired by Enid Blyton. I don’t think Google can answer that for you either.

And Famous Five Go to Billycock Hill powerpoint presentation… make your own!


BOOKS THAT WERE NEVER PUBLISHED

Malory Towers Fourth Grade when the school was temporarily relocated to the US and the girls studied math and ate gum.

Five at the George summary. I’m torn as to whether they mean George or not. Gorge would make more sense, even if the Five never did go to a gorge.


AND THE DEEP AND MEANINGFUL

Why has Noddy changed? One searcher asked. I imagine this typed in a very mournful way, lamenting the fact that Noddy is now a CGI boy with a tablet computer. Why indeed, has Noddy changed?

Why did Enid Blyton Five Find Outers Bets age. Oh why did Bets have to age? Or do they mean why was she younger? Both very important queries.

Was Five Go Mad in Dorset racist -wikipedia -wikia – a good question, really! (And they were smart to exclude Wikipedia from their search.)

 

noddy-toyland-detective


I think that’s enough for one week. I have more for later, though!

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Monday #233

Ok, it really shows when Fiona’s not around. I know, I failed to do the August round up, so it’s down for this weekend as well! Please forgive me! Anyway, this is what we have coming up this week. Enjoy!

wedfrisun6767

 

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Grown Up Blyton: A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson

A-Man-of-SR-400-200x300

I read this book a long time ago, but realised this week that it was pretty much exactly the kind of book we’re looking for for this blog and decided that a recap on my part and a blog wouldn’t be too much of a bad thing. Apologies if my details are a bit off, it’s been about  year, but it made such an impression I knew I needed to let you know all about it.


A very English mystery


The series title says it all really: this basically is just a mystery based on everything England is famous for, based in the 1950s. The feel of it is a world recovering after the second world war, while being embroiled in a good old fashioned English mystery.

The suave Hugo Hawksworth is like an Agatha Christie sleuth, Enid Blyton grown up Julian Kirrin, Dorothy L Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey all rolled into one. Hugo Hawksworth is an intelligence officer who’s been sent on a different kind of mission. I think he was injured somewhat, there’s a lot of references about his leg, which I think is the problem, so this little job at Selchester Castle is supposed to be just a nice little ‘office’ job to while away the time.

Selchester however had the tragedy of losing its earl seven years earlier and his only daughter can’t wait to be able to declare her father dead so she can sell up and move on from the family home. Her cousin however, Freya Wryton, feels more of a connection to the family home and hopes her uncle will one day return.

When a skeleton turns up in the church it all changes and maybe Lady Sonia won’t need to get her father declared legally dead after all – because he really seems to be. Hugo and Freya join teams in an unlikely fashion to try and solve the mystery of the skeleton and what happened to the Earl on that fateful night seven years previously.

It really is a thrilling read.


Grown up Blyton – Are you sure?


I couldn’t be surer about this one. I love the period of history it’s set in, I love the feel of the cosy crime mystery and the proper language, the lack of technology and the manners of everyone. I really adore this time period and Elizabeth Edmondson really makes you feel the time – you feel the fifties from top to bottom. The mystery itself is totally Agatha Christie based and logical like Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes but in a sort of Enid Blyton Fatty/ Julian/ Philip /Jack kind of wrapper.

More genteel than Marina Pascoe’s Barlett and Boase mysteries, and more 1950s than the crime noir of Sara Sheridan’s Mirabelle Bevan, A Man of Some Repute is for those who want a grown up mystery with the nostaglic feel of the childhood heroes they read about who solved wonderful cases and had wonderful adventures. The good part about A Man of Some Repute is that it has that Blytonian feel to it, the more sedate, case working, brain picking, clue finding mixture that makes Blyton a joy to read.

I don’t think I could recommend this book enough. Even now, after so long I can thoroughly enjoy the book because it’s high quality. Edmondson makes a fantastic feeling in this book and carries you along. I can’t wait to re-read and read the subsequent books.

Please do try this book, I promise you, you won’t be disappointed!

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Posted in Agatha Christie, Books, Elizabeth Edmondson, Other Authors, Review | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Adventure Series on TV: The Castle of Adventure part 8

Unusually we are not resuming after a cliff-hanger. Instead we have had time to swallow the reveal that Sam, dodgy pedlar of ‘farm-fresh’ eggs, and eater of snacks uninvited, has actually been Scar all along.


LUCY-ANN’S SHOCK

While we’re all surprised at Sam being Scar, Lucy-Ann is simply shocked that Scar is Sam. Dinah whispers this to her, so that they aren’t overheard. But idiotic Lucy-Ann immediately shrieks SAM so that he comes over and opens the curtains on the bed. Where’s the others? he asks right away.

Now we’ve seen Sam behaving pretty threateningly but he really ramps it up as Scar. Holding up a very large gun he says we’ll deal with them later. Though it’s a bit James Bond bad guy-esque, if they intend to leave the girls alone for a while before ‘dealing with them’.


ELSEWHERE THE WORLD’S A VIDEO GAME

At the military compound soldiers are running everywhere as an alarm goes off. Grogan’s only watching but it looks like a video game where you’d have to get inside without being seen.

Even more like a game (perhaps along the lines of the original Tomb Raider etc) Tassie leads Jack down the tunnel (so large you wonder how on earth they missed it from either end before). Anyway, for no reason a load of barrels and boxes fall after they’ve passed. In a game this would give you the challenge of a) staying ahead of the avalanche and b) stopping you going back on yourself. On TV though, they’re fairly oblivious until they dodge a few barrels at the end of the tunnel. As soon as they’re clear of the tunnel exit the game, sorry, script caused a huge boulder to fall and completely block it off.

We then move onto a game more inline with Street Fighter (or my favourite – Streets of Rage!) where Jack and Tassie are pounced on and driven to the floor by a couple of balaclava clad men. Before I/they get carried away they do realise quickly that they’re only a couple of kids and luckily Bill’s right there to ensure their safety a moment later.


EXCUSES, EXCUSES

Now it’s time for Bill and his men to get into the castle for the big rescue and capturing of the bad guys.

Of course, Button’s tunnel is conveniently blocked. (In the book it’s a narrow pipe/stream and the kids can barely squeeze through so it’s of no good for the adults). There is a door, but like in the book it’s locked.

He doesn’t even mention the plank. Of course the plank is gone, but I’m sure with the might of the MOD behind them a plank of some kind could be rustled up rather quickly. Again, in the book the plank/window would be no use as it’s one of those tall narrow slit windows that the children can only just squeeze through. Bill and his burly men stood no chance. On TV the window’s a decent size (Philip’s a decent sized teenager and he makes it through) and I’m sure they’d manage. It just seems daft to have changed two elements of the story that would have given the men access and then to have to hurriedly block/ignore them.

So to get inside they blast the lock off the door with a machine gun. In the book it’s done fairly quietly with a blow torch type thing. Goodness knows why that had to change – and considering they sneak around cautiously once inside it seems very foolish to have announced their arrival with gunfire!

 

Then again their discretion also spoiled a bit by Jack’s bright yellow sleeves!


BACK TO SAM/SCAR

I feel the need to add that Sam, as Scar (which I assume is his real identity), loses his amiable country burr. He still had it when he threatened Tassie and Rose all those times so it’s odd to hear him suddenly speaking in a different voice. He’s also a lot quieter which adds to the menace (he does shout a bit but he doesn’t constantly boom). Somehow the fact that our earlier meeting with Scar saw him whisper the whole time made it the more surprising that Sam and Scar are one and the same.

Continue reading

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Monday #232

It’s that time of the month again when we look at what we’ve been blogging about this month. You’ve got me doing it this time because of course, Fiona has her hands full! Hope you like the look of the blogs this week!

Monday#232

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Review: The Mystery of the Vanished Prince

the-mystery-of-the-vanished-prince.jpgIf you asked me ‘Do I want to read this book?’ my honest answer would be another question; ‘how much do you like Enid Blyton?’ because that is basically the reason I sat down and read this book. If it was by anyone else, I would have just not finished it. Let me explain why.

The issues

How do I put this nicely? Who in Peterswood isn’t an idiot? Constable Goon is an idiot, Fatty is an idiot, all the grown ups seem to be idiots, Pip, Larry, Daisy and Bets seem to be idiots. It’s just ridiculous.

Fatty dresses the others up as foreign nationals from Tetura because there is a prince from there staying at a local campsite. Ern Goon, along with twin brothers Perce and Sid are staying in the adjoining campsite, and are completely taken in by Pip, Bets, Larry and Daisy dressed up like the prince. Bets pretends to be the Princess of Tetura and takes Ern and fools the others completely.

It even takes Mr Goon in, and he reports the Princess’ appearance to Inspector Jenks when the news about the prince vanishing breaks. Fatty then has to come clean to Jenks about the trick and, for once, gets a super ticking off from the inspector who doesn’t think its a good thing for him to have done and wants him to apologise to Goon, and promise that if they hear anything about the vanishing prince to let Goon know.

Fatty and the others apologise, and Goon just pooh-poohs the idea of them helping and won’t even listen to their findings. I mean that’s just stupid, he lets his opinion of the Find-Outers rule his common sense and treats their information with disdain. To be completely honest I’m not sure how he hasn’t already lost his job, because he’s so bad at it. It really makes a mockery of the whole police system in a way because Goon is being shown up by a bunch of children, now no one wants that. At least with the Famous Five, they stumbled on to mysteries and then once the police got involved they were no longer allowed on the scene and they were always perfectly respectful to members of the law and quite rightly so. The Find-Outers don’t seem to have that respect for anyone who isn’t inspector Jenks, which doesn’t send a good message to those reading the books.

One of the other issues with this book is that it takes so long to get to the mystery – AGAIN. This must be the third book or so where things haven’t really kicked off until the second half of the book and it contains so much clutching at straws its hard to believe. Nothing really makes this mystery go until the children manage to get some sense out of Sid Goon, whose mouth has suddenly become unstuck from all the toffee he’s been eating and he admits to having seen something in one of the families caravanning next door to the Goon’s camp.

My last complaint is that it happens all in the last couple of chapters. Goon gets shown up, even though had he listened to Fatty, he wouldn’t have a problem, and the children once again rescue the prince and save the day and the inspector isn’t the least bit mad at them for that. I mean yes, they helped, but still they wasted police time at the beginning of the mystery. Honestly, I don’t think I can take much more of the ‘Oh you children and Buster are all so great. Frederick please grow up quicker so I can have you on my team’ mantra. Frankly my dear inspector, if you were any good at your job you’d have figured it all out and fired Goon.

Phew, ok, rant mostly over.

The good parts

When the story actually gets moving the clues start pouring in, the mystery isn’t actually a bad one. It’s a style which Blyton hasn’t really used before, but can been seen in some of her contemporaries’ work, such as Agatha Christie, who uses classic misdirection in many of her stories. It’s a nice way to turn a mystery that really didn’t have anything going for it into a credible finisher. Fatty of course has to come out trumps as usual, but that aside, the rest of the Find-Outers do put their money’s worth in to help the situation.

The arrival of Ern is not nearly quite as bad as the first book he was in, he seems to have grown up and matured a bit, even though he is still a bit of a nit, but then he’s refreshing to have instead of Fatty. So it’s nice to have him around.

Pip really blows the mystery wide open by finding a clue that Fatty dismissed as clue in the first place, the button from the prince’s pyjamas. So I’m a fan of Pip this time around.

Anyway, it’s hard to feel the good in this one, I really didn’t get on with it. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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How to get Blyton’s style: Baby edition

I happened to be in Mothercare last week, looking at prams, and I spotted this lovely Noddy set. I managed to resist buying it (just) but I suspect one way or another I will end up with it*. The best part is that it’s using vintage Noddy images!

Noddy 3-piece set, £15 at Mothercare.

It made me wonder what other Blyton stuff was out there for little ones. Here’s what I found.


SOFT TOYS

With the new Noddy series on Channel 5 now there is some merchandise to go with it, including these soft toys.

A few of the toys are unrecognisable to those who haven’t seen the show as they were specially created for it but Noddy and Bumpy Dog are there. Noddy is quite modernised in his beanie hat so I’m not sure I would go for it.

Noddy 8 inch plus assortment, currently £3.99 (normally £7.99), Argos.

Saying that, this vintage Noddy is rather scary looking so maybe older isn’t better? (It’s also 7.5x the price!)

 

Unique Vintage Play By Play Noddy Soft Toy, £30 on Etsy.


AND OTHER TOYS

Vintage jigsaws and other bits and pieces turn up fairly often, but the question is whether or not you would spend £10 plus postage on a 1960s jigsaw and then let a toddler loose with it.

 

Boxed Vintage 1967 Enid Blyton Noddy and Big Ears, £10 on Etsy.

The Entertainer has some new Noddy toys as well, the Big-Ears figure and Bumpy Dog looks quite nice.

entertainertoys

Noddy toys, from £5 at The Entertainer.

Toys R Us has a slightly different selection including – ugh – walkie talkies and Noddy’s Tablet.

toysrusnoddy

Noddy toys, from £7.49 (while the half-term sale is on), at Toys R Us.


IF YOUR BABY IS 8 YEARS OLD (AND POSSIBLY FRENCH)…

…there is a jumper on Amazon for you.

noddy-jumper

Also available in red, but not in any other sizes.

Noddy Blue Sweater, £16.05 from Amazon


IF YOU ARE  A KNITTER

You could knit your own Noddy jumper with this pattern, the bonus being it could be any colour and presumably any size. The downside may be it ending up knee length or with three arms.

noddyknitting
Noddy Children’s Jumper Knitting Pattern (a4 reproduction, child not included), £1.69 on Etsy


IF THE JUMPER WENT WELL, YOU COULD TRY THIS:

There’s also a pattern for a knitted Noddy doll, if your jumper had the right number of arms.

noddyknitteddoll

This looks much more like Noddy should, even if you do have to make him yourself (or persuade a mum or granny to help) to achieve it.

Noddy Knitting Pattern (instant download) £1.19 on Etsy (though confusingly the title has 99p in it!)

And there’s also this pattern book which has several jumpers, a cardigan and toys:

knittingpatterns

Noddy Knitting Pattern Book (the original copy), £30 on Etsy.

I love the design on the back of the cardigan, and that they shot the pictures at Beksonscot!


IF MAKE YOUR OWN IS NOT YOUR THING…

There’s this handmade Noddy dress, knickers and bow. (I’m having a boy, so this is a no-go for me unfortunately – and I’m a lousy knitter/seamstress).

noddy-dress

Knickers and headband, £15.00 on Etsy

Dress, from £20 on Etsy

Headband, £6.50 on Etsy – and this one goes up to adult sizes! 

So I may not be able to buy the dress now, but maybe I should get myself the headband?


NODDY BUT NOT NODDY

This tshirt – and the baby grow – is clearly inspired by Noddy – the listing describes it as a Toyland Elf tshirt inspired by their favourite children’s books. It comes up when you search for Noddy, though! Maybe they just don’t want to be sued for copyright infringement.

Toyland Elf Tshirt, £8.99 on Etsy.

Toyland Elf Babygrow, £8.99 on Etsy.


FINALLY SOMETHING THAT IS NOT NODDY

Unsurprisingly pretty much everything is Noddy-related as Noddy has had multiple TV adaptations and that has resulted in a lot of merchandise through the years.

Saying that, there is a (slightly creepy) felted Moonface Doll. Which is probably entirely unsuitable for anyone under five.

moonface-doll

Moonface doll Enid Blyton characters felted moonface faraway tree dolls magic moonface worry doll sleep guardian pocket moon face elf kendal, £18 on Etsy. And yes that is one of the worst product titles I have seen recently.

A bit nicer looking are these Moonface and Silky felted dolls.


So there you go, some ideas on what you can get for your little ones, apart from the books themselves! (And of course the new ones are so bowdlerised they’re no good, but that means allowing small grubby hands on vintage texts… that’s a debate for another day!!)
*Spoiler alert, I did buy it!

 

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