Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Mountain of Adventure and The Ship of Adventure by Enid Blyton, a mini book review

Having recently been reminded of Enid Blyton, I'm working my way through the selection available at nearby libraries; it's not a very big collection, unfortunately. The one carrying the Adventure series has the first four but not the last two.  At any rate, I've been enjoying them.

In The Mountain of Adventure the children go off on a camping trip in the Welsh mountains, lose their way in the fog, and find themselves on the side of a mountain that mysteriously rumbles from time to time. They find their way inside to a series of secret passages (there are always secret passages) to a strange kingdom where a scientist "king" is attempting to create gravity-defying wings and testing them on a group of reluctant paratroopers. The children are caught and soon Phillip is chosen to test the disastrous new invention, and they all hope Bill will come to the rescue in time.

In The Ship of Adventure, Mrs. Mannering (mother of two and adoptive mother of the other two (formal adoption or not? It's never clear)) takes them on a cruise on the grounds that it will be fun and the children cannot possibly get involved in any dangerous adventures while safely on board the Viking Star. These being the Adventure kids, the four of them manage to find an ancient treasure map, tangle with villains who want the same treasure and, oh yes, get lost in a maze of secret passages (Yes, they're formula, but I rather like secret passages).

Up til my recent (re?) read of Five on Kirrin Island Again, I hadn't read any Blyton for years, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them. Sure, they're formula, but they're fun formula. Phillip's ability to instantly make friends with any and all animals is unbelievable, but who doesn't wish they had that ability? And the girls are far more active than I had remembered; I do think Dinah would have long ago stopped screaming when she saw snakes, but she's ready for adventure, all the same, and Lucy Ann really gets to shine in these two: She offers to take Phillip's place in Mountain of Adventure and seems quite used to adventures in Ship of Adventure. I'm interested, too, in the role adults play in these books--they are very relaxed about letting the children go off alone on camping trips or island exploration, often conveniently disappearing just when an adventure is about to begin, but they, Bill in particular, are always reliably there when rescue is needed, providing a security not often found in children's adventure books.

Incidentally, both the The Mountain of Adventure/ The Ship of Adventure and The Island of Adventure/The Castle of Adventure combination books had a note saying they were modified in 1988. I did a quick search and found that, yes, there are definite textual changes to reflect changing social mores, so the current changes to the Famous Five are not without precedent.

A note on illustrations: The same web search turned up evidence that a number of Blyton's books, including some editions of the Adventure series are lavishly illustrated. Unfortunately, that is not the case for the omnibus editions.

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