It’s a hot summer day and the Seven are fed up of having their meetings in Janet and Peter’s stuffy garden shed. Due to this the children decide to visit Windy Woods and build a tree house. In the tree house they find a cubbyhole where they can store food and games. There are also wooden planks and a rubber sheet tied to a branch high up in the tree, so the children could safely sit down on cushions.
The story starts to come to life when Janet gives Colin a book to read about ships. On the same day, a storm breaks out and Colin realises he has left the book in the cubbyhole of the tree. This leads to Colin and Peter going on a nail-biting midnight trek to find the book up the tree but they are not alone and realise some of their biscuits and chocolate have disappeared.
In shock the two boys stumble across a scruffy looking boy called Jeff and his kitten who had happened to discover the Seven in their tree earlier that day. Jeff tells the two boys how he had escaped from his thieving Uncle Harry and Mr Tizer after they thought he had overheard their conversation. The problem was that Jeff had only heard parts of what they said as he had just awoken. Pressed by the Seven to tell his story Jeff reveals some puzzling clues before he is found again by his uncle. The clues are Emma Lane, red pillow, grate, Thursday 25th and MKX.
At first the children think there are nothing in them and concede defeat after Peter and Janet’s father rubbishes their whole story. It is only when the Seven realise that Emma Lane is in fact Ember Lane, red pillow a red pillar box opposite a warehouse with a grate, and MKX the registration on a mail van that the Seven suspect a robbery. Convinced they are right this time, the Seven decide to tell Janet and Peter’s dad. To the relief of the Seven, he believes them and informs the police. An exciting end follows on the night of the 25th!
This is probably the best book I have read so far in the series. In my view Jeff is a really interesting character and his tale and the clues really add to my nerves and sense of excitement. It is great that the Seven have finally meet another child on their adventures, especially the manner in which Peter and Colin stumble across Jeff in the dark of the night. The tree house meeting place is a good idea as well and I just wish I could have had the fun the children must have had up there. My only disappointment is the end of the story. Rather than telling the police about the mystery, I wish the Seven would be more willing to take things into their own hands and get into a bit more danger like the Famous Five do. It was just a bit of an anti-climax after an otherwise decent read!
There are a couple of moments in the book I do not like. It is horrible when the reader is told the kitten had been kicked by Jeff’s uncle and his friend. Again, Blyton shows her love for animals and disapproval for their mistreatment through the character of Janet. Secondly, Peter and Janet’s dad is very cruel to doubt the Seven’s story and to accuse Jeff of making the whole thing up. Thankfully he redeems himself a little as the plot develops! To add, I still find it very difficult to warm to Peter as a leader of the group. Talk about being rude to Pam up in the tree house. First, he tells her off for suggesting the tree house should have an SS carving at the bottom, and then he shouts at her for squealing in fright when he nearly fell down the tree. After all, Pam was only worried that Peter might get hurt; regardless of if she had potentially given the Seven’s secret away to Jeff who had heard the noise. You can tell that there are likely to be fallings out between the Seven as the series progresses!
Images are from the Cave of Books