McDonald’s have teamed up with Hachette (the company licenced to print Enid Blyton books) to offer a series of exclusive Secret Seven books.
There are six small books, each containing a Secret Seven short story. They have coloured illustrations by Tony Ross and one is given away free with every Happy Meal. Two were available from 30th April – 6th May then another two 7th May – 13th May, then all the books from 14th May- 2nd June. On the Happy Meal box there is also the option to buy two books for £1 each, instead of the RRP of £5.99, from W H Smiths (in the UK). These books are The Secret Seven and Five and a Half Term Adventure. The six small books are available to buy on their own, without a purchase of a happy meal, for 99p but if you want to get the additional books for £1 from WHSmiths, the tokens are only available on the happy meal boxes.
I have been going to McDonald’s a little bit more regularly, for which the kids are eternally grateful and I now have all the books in the set. I wondered how much the language has been changed and whether there have been any other changes as Hodder have stated that they have updated the books for the new generation of children. The Daily Mail states that the aim, according to Marlene Johnson, managing director of Hachette’s children’s books division, is to catapult Blyton into contemporary society so that young readers can relate more to the characters. As I have the almost all of the short stories in their original format I decided to do a little detective work. This could be worthy of the Secret Seven themselves, I’ll leave you to decide.
Also, given away to all children busily eating a Happy Meal in store was a Secret Seven themed balloon. It advertises the Happy Meal and has a picture of the Secret Seven on them. I’m not too impressed that the pink balloon only has a picture of the girls on it. Unfortunately I couldn’t get hold of a blue balloon to see of that one was stereotyped with only a picture of the boys on it.
The Secret of the Old Mill
My copy of this book, although undated, is probably from 1948 and contains coloured pictures from Eileen Soper. Chapter one in this book is Peter has an idea but the McDonald’s book starts partway through chapter 2 on page 14, although a lot of the subsequent text from the chapters has also been missed out. The original 1948 book, contains 60 pages with quite a few illustrations scattered throughout and is also nearly twice the size of the McDonald’s book. The McDonald’s book contains 57 pages of text, with a few full and half page illustrations. I understand that they have had to prune the story to fit it into the book size but a lot of the story is lost. The lame boy in the original story for whom they decided to raise money, to send him on holiday, has become a little boy who needs an operation abroad. All mention of the society being formed, how they chose the members and the making of the badges has been missed out. Fifteen shillings and four pence has become fifteen pounds and forty pence with the original goal to collect being three pounds, which has changed to thirty pounds. In the end they get £10 as a reward which has been scaled up to £100. Apart from sentences being cut, the part where the boys meet at 11 o’clock has changed to dusk.
It’s a nice little story and will be a good introduction, not only to Enid Blyton but to reading in general. At the back of all the books is a note from the National Literacy Society about gettting families reading, and tips on how to engage your child in books. It is a pity though, that once children have read this book, that the original full version of the book isn’t available in the shops to buy. A copy of the story is available in the 1994 Award edition and as part of the 1997 Hodder Secret Seven Short Story Collection but I do know that the money has been updated as well as some of the text.
There are also some puzzles at the back of all the books which tie into the story.
On the left is the 1948 Eileen Soper version of Scamper coming to Peter’s aid and left is the 2014 version.