As I mentioned before, I got this for my birthday. I’ve only briefly skimmed it until now, so I thought it was about time I actually read it, so I will share some of my thoughts on it as I go.
I’ll start with the cover shall I? Well, it’s a Soper illustration (for me there’s no other possible choice,) so I’m happy. It’s the cover from Five go to Demon’s Rocks, which now I think about it, surprises me a little. I wonder they picked that book? Most fans will agree, the first twelve(ish) titles are the best, and then the rest of the series is generally weaker with a few highlights. I agree mostly, as for me there are a few weak books in the first half, and don’t always agree on the best book from the second half.
Anyway, I happen to love Demon’s Rocks, it’s somewhere on my (unordered) list of favourites. But as the nineteenth book in the series it’s maybe not the most iconic Five?
So, now for inside the book.
The Soper cover’s already started the book off on good footing, and there are two more of her illustrations, on the title page and the contents page. I feel like I should know which book this one comes from, but I’m not certain.
A few things jump out at me from the contents page – Where is Kirrin Island? [p15], Fiendish Famous Five Quiz [p 22 and 62], and Around the world with the Famous Five [p61] in particular, but I’m the sort of person who has to read annuals in order so I must be patient. There certainly seems to be a lot of variety in the book, even if some of the titles keep you guessing more than others.
I’m going to try to be brief, and just make a few comments on each section of the book to avoid being boring and giving away too much of the content.
All the important moments from the Famous Five, from 1942 to 2012.
Nice bite-sized facts about the books, TV series, toys and games. The 90s series mention is rather brief, (a measly thirteen words!) but most of it is interesting.
I particularly like the remark about the Disney TV series – Sometimes, the original characters and stories are referenced, but they bear little resemblance to Enid Blyton’s originals. I see it as faintly scathing, but then that’s because I think they’re a lot of tosh.
A short-but-sweet look at my favourite member of the Famous Five. It’s a fair look too, as although they mention bossy they don’t give him too hard a time over it.
GEORGE’S HAIR IS TOO LONG
This is the same story from the Red Fox collection, originally found in the second magazine annual, though it’s told in comic book style. I’m not a fan of comic books, I find them hard to follow as the images aren’t always laid out in a clear order, it’s hard to know which speech bubble comes first and I find it really hard to work out which character is which visually. But anyway, the illustrations aren’t too bad, and the illustrator seems to have been influenced by the 90s series, George especially looks like Jemima Rooper and Timmy’s a smaller version of Connal. It runs for six pages, but as a lot of it is pictures I’m fairly sure it’s been well edited down to fit.
Another single-page bio, and it covers George neatly. It’s obviously been written by someone, or several someones, who know the books and characters well.
WHERE IS KIRRIN ISLAND?
(…AND OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE FAMOUS FIVE BOOKS)
I’m pleased to say that although the focus is on Corfe here, the book makes it clear that it’s not as straight forward as Kirrin = Corfe. Also covered are Whispering Island, Finniston Farm and Castaway (Smuggler’s Top). Mostly information I knew already, but I imagine it would be hugely interesting to those who haven’t visited the Enid Blyton Society website on a near daily basis for several years. Also, it makes me want to visit Dorset, which unfortunately is very far away!
FIVE GO OFF TO CAMP
More comic-strip style stuff here, but it’s a puzzle this time. Not very attractive illustrations in my opinion!
RESCUE THE FAMOUS FIVE
Another game. Only this one wants you to potentially cut out the pieces to play. Yes, cut up your new book, or, copy the pictures onto paper like we’re all brilliant artists. I always hate that bit in an annual where they want you to chop it up – heedless of whatever’s on the other side of the page! Needless to say, I never did it. And I don’t think I even wrote the answers in as I was taught to always respect books.
FIENDISH FAMOUS FIVE QUIZ PART ONE
There are answers at the back, always a plus
Ten questions, so let’s see how I do. Pleased to say ten for ten, though I didn’t get all the first/surnames given in the answers. Difficult enough questions to be interesting without being impossible.
FIVE GO TO DEMON’S ROCKS
Another comic, this one with potentially unsettling illustrations and even more hideous text. Opening scene goes like this:
Dick: “D’you think [I nearly stopped reading at this point, it was almost too much for me…] that’s the lighthouse where we’re spending our holidays?”
Julian: “Well, as it’s he only lighthouse around here, it’s a good guess!”
Anne: “I think staying in a lighthouse will be fun!”
George: “Especially with Tinker Hayling. I haven’t seen him for years.”
I’ve read it all, and I’m… bemused? It bears no resemblance to the book apart from there being a lighthouse and the climax is them waking up Cap’n Boogle who’s napping in the ships chandlers (what ever that is!) and he tells them a watered-down tale of wreckers. And that’s it.
MORE FUN AND GAMES
A small selection of Famous Five merchandise from over the years.
FAMOUS FIVE FIND-A-WORD
AKA a wordsearch with Famous-Fivey words like farm, mystery and smugglers. Might, might use a pencil and find them at some point.
That’s me exactly halfway through the annual now, and I’m at more than a thousand words so I think I’ll leave the rest for another post.