Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Famous Five: Five on a Treasure Island (Reviewed August 2008)

The Famous Five: Five on a Treasure Island, Enid Blyton (1942)[*****]. Along with the Chronicles of Narnia, the Famous Five books were my all-time childhood favorites. I credit them with sparking my love of British mysteries, and the Britishisms I continue to find so charming somehow: they are full of children who go on holidays rather than vacation, and who wear jumpers and carry torches and eat ginger biscuits and treacle tarts at a meal called tea. I eagerly sought out this series when Trixie was ready for chapter books, only to discover that they are not in print in the US. Undaunted, I spent an ungodly amount on shipping to have them sent from the UK. Trixie and I loved them, and now I'm indulging myself once again with Micah. In this opening book of the series, we are introduced to Julian (12), Dick (11) and Anne (10), whose parents are off on a grown-up holiday. The siblings are sent to stay with their sweet Aunt Fanny, their surly scientist-scholar Uncle Quentin, and their temperamental, loner cousin Georgina (11), who hates everything about being a girl, and will only answer to George. George's dog, the lovable and brave mutt Timothy, rounds out the Five. George lives on Kirrin Bay at the mouth of which sits Kirrin Island, which belongs to her family and which George already claims as her own. Kirrin Island is the perfect setting for a summer adventure, what with the ruined castle and the long-submerged shipwreck. The adventure begins when a storm throws up the wreck onto the rocky island coast. Legend has it that the ship -- piloted by George's great, great, great grandfather -- was carrying gold ingots when it sank, but upon exploring the wreck, the children are disappointed to find only one small, sealed metal box. Uncle Quentin, who has no patience for silly legends (or for anything else for that matter), sells the box, but not before the children manage to sneak it out of his study and copy the map they find inside. The map seems to confirm the legend, showing that the ingots are stored in the dungeons below the ruined castle. Unfortunately, Uncle Quentin has decided sell Kirrin Island to a "hotel developer" -- the very same one who bought the map!. Can the children find the ingots before the sale is complete? And to what lengths with the purchaser go to stop them? A marvelous adventure ensues that had even my kinetic, fidgety five-year-old begging for "one more chapter!"

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