Adventures with George and Timmy by Sue Welford Part 1


adventures-with-george-and-timmyI know I’m supposed to be reviewing this prequel to Blyton’s beloved Famous Five, and honestly, I would, however…

I’ve not really managed to read much, though I am going to try and give you my feelings towards the book in this blog, at least in relation to how far I have gotten with it, and maybe you’ll see why I haven’t sat down and speed read it in time to review today.

I started the book, and I have to admit my expectations weren’t high; George and Timmy written by someone other than Enid Blyton? They need careful handling (Timmy bites and George explodes) and this book just doesn’t seem to have that gentle touch.

Unfortunately I was proved right. The feel of the book was wrong, it started off with George cutting her hair, but you don’t have a sense of her doing it because she feels its right for her. I mean the scene isn’t set, you don’t see her acting like a boy and working up to her cutting her hair. Its all rather abrupt.

Anyway the first story in the book is all about George cutting her hair, setting up the home scene, and finding Timmy. Now this is fine, it would be a nice way to start these stories off by writing about how George found Timmy, but it just doesn’t feel natural.

I’m sorry to say that I can’t find anything good about these stories. They may appeal more to the children than an adult who loves Blyton’s work, but it feels like it’s been updated. The changes are silly, there is no mention of Aunt Fanny’s name, but the name Quentin is mentioned, also George refers to her parents as Mummy and Daddy. ALL THE TIME. I can’t recall more than twice when George referred to her mother as Mummy, and more than five where she refers to Uncle Quentin as Daddy.

It just seems like one big mess, like someone hasn’t done their research. It doesn’t help that Joanna the cook, who only turns up in Five Go Adventuring Again, is the Kirrin’s current house keeper.

Now I may be nit picking, but, well, that’s never mentioned before, and in Blyton’s original stories you never get the feeling that Joanna has  been  part of the Kirrin household before. Mostly because Quentin and Fanny wouldn’t be able to afford help in the house before George finds the treasure in Five on a Treasure Island. As Fiona has just pointed out, Joanna would be one of the things that Quentin could finally afford to give to George and Fanny.

Anyway, I have only got as far as George finding Timmy and asking Quentin and Fanny if she can keep him. I have doubts whether I shall finish the book, as my attention isn’t completely focused on it, but I shall try and finish it, and see if it gets any better.

Fingers crossed, eh?

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21 Responses to Adventures with George and Timmy by Sue Welford Part 1

  1. chrissie777 says:

    Good article, but you forgot to mention the name of the author.

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    • pippastef says:

      Chrissy, it is the hardest thing to find the authors on these books, because Blytons name is stamped everywhere.

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      • Michael says:

             Just been alerted to new activity on this page.
             This page mentions Sue Welford’s name at the top; perhaps you overlooked that somehow, Chrissie. And I do seem to recall that her name is quite easy to see on the covers of the books, too.
             I would agree that it is not really the right thing for publishers to emblazon Blyton’s name so prominently on covers and title pages, and the real author’s name so unobtrusively, as to give the impression (without baldly stating it) that Enid Blyton wrote the story. But I don’t think that is the case here.

             Having just received this alert, I wrote a post immediately, intending to post it – but then, only after completing it, I noticed that I had written a post here previously – so I’m not sure whether to post the new post here or not, although it does address a few new points.
             I also see Sue Welford herself posted recently (which is what prompted the alert in my e-mail), and now I’m wondering guiltily if I was a bit hard in some of my earlier comments. I doubtless thought I was just honestly discussing my view of a book without being unpleasant about it, but that that honesty prompted me to express adverse opinions about the book (although quite reasonably in my tone, I thought); but it sort of puts a different perspective on it when I later learn that the author of the book has read those adverse comments. I like to be honest, but don’t like to put people down or say things that may be hurtful.
             Hmmm… I’ll give it a bit more thought before deciding whether to post my new message. I’m afraid it’s not entirely favourable – although it’s not vicious or nasty in its content, either. (My most adverse comment is actually about the illustrations in the books, which I don’t like.)

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        • fiona says:

          Michael, after Chrissie pointed out the Sue’s name wasn’t mentioned on this post I went back and changed the title to include it.

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        • Sue Welford says:

          Please don’t apologise for any criticisms of the Just George series – we are all entitled to our opinions! I was in dispute with the publishers regarding the “Adventures of George and Timmy” as not only did they forget to tell me the book was being publlshed but they also omitted to put my name as the author! It may come as a surprise that publishers do not treat their authors well these days unless they are billion sellers. They did agree to put an addendum inside stating that I had written the stories but who knows….!? Thanks for your interest in the series.
          Sue

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          • fiona says:

            That’s quite shocking! I think it’s really misleading when sequels, or prequels, to Blyton’s work get published and feature only Blyton’s name outside even if there is a tiny reference to the real author inside. It’s also really unfair not to credit the real author whose work it is!

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    • Michael says:

      P.S. to my earlier post here:

           I commented that I thought Sue Welford’s name appeared on the front cover; now I see that it doesn’t seem to appear on the cover shown here.
           It is clearly a different edition, because I do recall her name appearing on the covers of the copies of the books that I have.

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  2. Michael says:

         I’ve read several of these books, although it was a long time ago, so my memory of them isn’t all that vivid now. But I did finish the three or so I read, and wasn’t hugely impressed, although quite reasonably entertained for an hour or two. But it’s difficult for me to tell how much that is because I really didn’t think the books were much more than okay, or whether it may be partly due to the fact that reading *anything* Blyton-related now, however good it is, just doesn’t have the old childhood magic that, to me, all the original 21 books have.
         I think George is rather pale and tame compared to the George in the canonical books, although she is younger, so that may be suitable to some extent. But the paleness seemed to me to exceed that which would be accounted for by George being younger, and possibly may stem from (a) the fact that Sue Welford simply isn’t Enid Blyton, but Sue Welford, with her own style and approach, and (b) the fact that the books appear to be aimed at a much younger audience than the main series, which may have forced a simplicity on the stories that (to my mind) does not sit comfortably on them.
         This is underlined by the style of the illustrations, which I find most inapt and in fact quite unappealing. The characters all look like babies, big or small. George looks about four or five, and even Quentin and Fanny look like large children, somehow. A pity Eileen Soper wasn’t around to illustrate them – I’m sure she’d have known how to do it just right.
         I missed the anomaly of Joanna being there, despite being introduced as a new member of the household in the second Famous Five book – but that is a very, very big “oops”.
         While completists will want to acquire any books related to their favourite series, including these books, I could give them only a lukewarm recommendation aside from that, and with regard to how they compare with the original series. That may not be fair, because, if they are targeted towards very young children, they may be brilliant for that, and I would presumably be even more removed from that target audience than I am from the rather older audience for the original series. Still, I do have all six books, and will read them all some time, although I still haven’t got to read two or three of them yet – and I have no plans to dispose of the books or pass them on.
         It seems to me that it is very, very difficult to write follow-on stories to Enid Blyton’s key series that truly evoke the spirit of the originals, and that quite a few attempts to do so fail to meet the standards set by Blyton’s originals. To my mind, the school-story sequels by Pamela Cox and Anne Digby seem to do it the best; but I’m afraid this series by Sue Welford does not (to my mind) manage this with quite the same success.

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  3. chrissie777 says:

    Michael, maybe the Sue Welford books could offer a possibility to get smaller children interested in Blyton until they’ll be old enough to read the Famous Five?
    Just a thought…

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    • Sue Welford says:

      Yes – of course the books are aimed at a younger audience than the original Famous Five series. Inevitably, therefore, they are more simple and a less demanding read. The anthology “The Famous Five and Adventures with George and Timmy” is an attempt by the publishers to break into the rather trendy market of combining adventure stories with real-life situations. This has not been altogether successful and although the Just George series is now out of print this was a political decision taken by the publishers and not because they were not successful. It’s great to read feedback on my series… all justified for, after all, who could follow in the footsteps of Enid Blyton and I have to say this was never an attempt to do so.
      Many thanks.
      Sue Welford

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      • Michael says:

             Hallo, Sue – I never dreamed that you would actually read comments I made here earlier, and I am now wondering if I was a bit too hard. If you review books or discuss them, even in a public place like a forum or blog, you tend to work on the assumption that the author will probably not ever read the comments, so maybe it can lead to opinions being expressed bluntly or even harshly. I hope I didn’t step over a line in my comments.
             However, I am curious about one thing you mention: that the books were discontinued because of a political decision on the publishers’ part. How was that a political decision, and why did the publishers find the books controversial enough to discontinue them, despite their being successful?

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        • Sue Welford says:

          Hello Michael
          I never really got a satisfactory answer as to why the series was discontinued. My agent tells me it was something to do with the rights to all Enid Blyton books and spin-offs being sold to an entertainment company who did not want to divert attention from the original books. It was not a case of the books being controversial….publishers are a mystery… even to themselves at times!

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  4. Francis says:

    I can think of several people from the forum who would do a much better job – you amongst them! You need empathy and understanding to bring it off. Looking forward to your later comments.
    Francis

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  5. Michael says:

         Hmm… Francis, I’m not sure whom you are referring to there who could do a better job. If you meant me, I feel flattered; but I’m not sure. Possibly; but, especially since I am working on a novel with my own characters, I choose to focus my ideas and energy on that, and feel that I cannot write Blyton sequels too. (One other person seemed to think I could write an Adventure series sequel, and wrote to me almost pleading for me to do that; but I really don’t think I could do justice to such an effort.)

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    • Sue Welford says:

      Sorry Michael – Hachette now entirely own the rights to E.B apart from the Noddy stories and they alone can commission sequels or otherwise. I was commissioned by the, then, publishers Hodder Children’s Books in view of my work on the Animal Ark series. I think they feel they have enough original books to keep them going for a while!

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  6. Sue Welford says:

    Incidentally I have a letter from EB’s daughter Gillian Baverstock [sadly died in 2007) regarding the Just George series stating thus…”I liked them very much and thought they were very suitable for children moving out of reading books. The story-lines were good and flowed well….the characters came across very well with nothing to jar even a reader very familiar with the books. Timmy was delightfully introduced and would immediately have every child’s sympathy..” she goes on to say her grandson said “Excellent, quite excellent. I read it in four days.. it was very exciting..” he went on to tell me the entire storyline”. Apart from one or two geographical mistakes Mrs Baverstock was very enthusiastic about the series and hoped there would be more. Sadly this was not to be!
    Sue Welford

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    • fiona says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on our blog Sue. I don’t think Stef or I ever really expected any author that we wrote about would ever stumble across our posts! I think when anyone reviews a children’s book as an adult they will always be more critical and find more flaws. Blyton didn’t listen to criticisms from the over twelves as their opinions weren’t really relevant to her!

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  7. chrissie777 says:

    Hello Michael, way back when I wrote that I really couldn’t see the author’s name, I did not make that up. The photo of the Welford book in the blog did not show Welford’s name large enough for me to decipher it. Of course I knew that the author’s name is Sue Welford, because my husband ordered all 6 volumes for me some 6 years ago when he was working in the UK and checked amazon.co.uk for anything Blyton to surprise me with :). At that point I hadn’t heard about “Just George”, so it was André who discovered them.
    I read all 6 books and think they are cute and a great way to get little children interested in the Famous Five.

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    • Michael says:

           Hallo, Chrissie; I didn’t think for one moment you made it up. At first I paid little attention to the cover shown on this page, but recalled my own covers had Sue Welford’s name on them, so I thought you may have overlooked that, and said so. Then I noticed that the cover shown on this page was different and the name wasn’t visible – so I was just clarifying the situation as I saw it.
           Although I was *aware* that the books were probably intended for much younger readers, my comments were just impartially evaluating the books as Famous Five stories, and comparing them with the original series. So maybe that wasn’t quite fair, and I wasn’t allowing for that. But, having commented about the younger readership, I thought readers would understand what I meant. I certainly hope nothing I’ve said is taken the wrong way by anyone.

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  8. chrissie777 says:

    Thank you, Michael :).

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