Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A Public Service Announcement

Dear Blogging Friends, 

Terry went into hospital last Monday for a fairly routine operation which turned out to be rather more complicated than expected. He is back at home and on the mend, so I hope to be blogging and visiting you all next week. Barbara xx

In the meantime a few pics from our garden;






I do like the look of the statue disappearing into the ivy, but it also shows it really is time I started sorting the garden. Maybe next week … or the week after!  


Monday, 13 March 2017

Five Go Off to Camp

Five go off to camp Enid Blyton

I first encountered these stories more than sixty years ago and have revisited them many times since. This time I’m reading Five Go Off to Camp as part of the Birth Year Reading Challenge 2017. 

The Famous Five - Julian, Dick, George (Georgina), Anne and Timmy the dog have entertained countless children over the years. Their exploits began in Five on a Treasure Island in 1942 and continued through twenty one full-length adventures and numerous short stories.

With a plentiful supply of ginger-beer, the Famous Five have outwitted thieves and smugglers, explored castles, caves and secret passages and even discovered hidden treasure.

In this story, they find themselves on the trail of a ghost train... 


On a camping trip with an absent-minded school teacher the five are left to roam the
Five go off to camp Enid Blyton Spook trains
Spook trains? Whatever are they asked Jock.
moors more or less unsupervised. The holiday has hardly begun when the friends stumble across an abandoned railway yard looked after by an old watchman by the name of Wooden Leg Sam. It’s Sam who tells them about the 'Spook Trains' which haunt the rails and tunnels in the dead of night.

Close to the rail yard is a farm where the five buy bread, milk and countless other goodies.  It’s not long before they make friends with a boy named Jock, who lives on the farm with his mother and stepfather. Jock and his mother know nothing about the trains but when Jock’s stepfather overhears them talking, he becomes agitated telling them to stay away from the tunnels, or they might "never come back"  

Naturally, staying away is the last thing they intend to do and a few nights later Julian, Dick and Jock make their way to the yard. In daylight, none of them really believe there are 'Spook Trains' but as the sun sinks and long shadows start creeping across the hills they are not so sure.

Enid Blyton Five go off to camp
Look at that, old derelict lines said Julian
Finding nothing of interest in the darkened yard, they follow the line towards the tunnels, and its then things begin to happen. First, a far-off rumbling noise issues from the tunnel, followed by a loud clanking. Its darker than night in the tunnel and by now the boys are clutching one another fearful of what is about to happen. They don’t have long to wait as the noise grows thunderous and out from the tunnel comes something huge and black, which passes quickly and is gone...


Should the children follow the tracks into the tunnel, and if they do will they solve the mystery? Are they dealing with ghost trains or something else entirely?

As a child I wanted to be one of the Famous Five. Who wouldn’t want to be out on the moors with a teacher who is more interested in insects than his young charges?  That kind of freedom almost guarantees another adventure, which is of course exactly what the author intended!

A lot of the language is old fashioned, but I have no problem with that. Sadly, I was always ten steps ahead of the plot, but that is only to be expected considering the number of times I’ve read it. How I wish I could travel back in time and read it again as if for the first time.

Enid Blyton once described herself as a reporter, an interpreter and the viewer of a private cinema screen inside her head. This might go some way toward explaining her vast outpouring of words. Many people complain her books are formulaic and of course that’s true, but it could be why children find them so appealing. Her adventure stories are exciting from beginning to end thus ensuring lots of children (including me) continued to read long after their bedtime. I was forever promising my parents I would turn the light off as soon as I finished the chapter. Which of course I did, but it didn’t stop me hiding the book under the covers and reading by torchlight.







Enid Blyton
Five Go Off to Camp
1st Edition
Published August, 1948 (the month and year of my birth)
Hardback with Dust Jacket
192 Pages









Enid Blyton intended to finish the series with book six (Five on Kirrin Island Again) but with her readers begging for more she obliged by writing another fifteen adventures.  Here they are in date order. 

Five On a Treasure Island (1942)
Five Go Adventuring Again (1943)
Five Run Away Together (1944)
Five Go To Smuggler's Top (1945)
Five Go Off in a Caravan (1946)
Five On Kirrin Island Again (1947)
Five Go Off to Camp (1948)
Five Get Into Trouble (1949)
Five Fall Into Adventure (1950)
Five On a Hike Together (1951)
Five Have a Wonderful Time (1952)
Five Go Down to the Sea (1953)
Five Go to Mystery Moor (1954)
Five Have Plenty of Fun (1955)
Five On a Secret Trail (1956)
Five Go to Billycock Hill (1957)
Five Get Into a Fix (1958)
Five on Finniston Farm (1960)
Five Go to Demon's Rocks (1961)
Five Have a Mystery to Solve (1962)
Five Are Together Again (1963)



I had masses of freedom when I was growing up, but I also had to abide by a set of rules as stipulated by my parents. It seems to me different rules apply in stories created by Enid Blyton, actually there are no rules, which is why I love them so.

Did you have the freedom to roam when you were growing up or was life very different for you?


Monday, 6 March 2017

New Bodleian Children’s books for spring 2017

Today I’m pleased to tell you about two new nostalgic books coming soon from Bodleian Children’s Books. The March Wind illustrated by Vladimir Bobri is a personal long time favourite of mine while The Rain Puddle with illustrations by the wonderful Roger Duvoisin can’t fail to win a place in all our hearts.

Bodleian Children’s Books

Do you remember those wonderful childhood days when everything was magical?  Those days when an ordinary household rug became a flying carpet, and an old coat found at the bottom of a dressing up box had the power to transform you into a completely different person. That’s what happens to the little boy in The March Wind.

INEZ RICE  The March Wind

Coming across a large black hat lying in the street he tries it on and becomes a whole host of different characters: a cowboy galloping on a magnificent steed, a circus ringleader thrilling the crowd, a soldier marching through puddles. But then the owner of the hat returns and the boy finds himself face to face with the March Wind. Is it part of his imagination, or is something bigger happening?

INEZ RICE  The March Wind



INEZ RICE  The March Wind

INEZ RICE was an American children’s author who also wrote A Tree This Tall.

VLADIMIR BOBRI was an author, illustrator and artist, celebrated for his design work. From the 1940s he began to illustrate children’s books, a number of which have now become classics.

The March Wind
Fully Illustrated Hardback
Available March 2017
Bodleian Children’s Books
9781851244614
Originally published in 1957





The Rain Puddle:   This wonderfully funny book first published in 1965 is perfect for reading aloud. A quiet day on the farm becomes anything but quiet when a plump hen happens upon a rain puddle. Seeing her own reflection in the puddle she becomes convinced another hen has fallen in.

ROGER DUVOISIN the rain puddle


 One by one all the farm animals come to peer into the puddle but just who has fallen in?  Is it a plump hen, a turkey, a sheep, a cow or a beautiful pig?  When all the animals peer into the puddle at the same time, they discover an entire farmyard underwater.  And what does wise old owl do during all this excitement? He sits in his tree and chuckles!

ROGER DUVOISIN the rain puddle


The Rain Puddle Fully Illustrated Hardback Available March 2017 Bodleian Children’s Books
ADELAIDE HOLL is a well-known writer and illustrator of over forty children’s books. 

ROGER DUVOISIN was a renowned Swiss-born American author-illustrator who created the Happy Lion and Petunia series of picture books, along with more than forty other titles for children. He was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1947.

The Rain Puddle
Fully Illustrated Hardback
Available March 2017
Bodleian Children’s Books
9781851244690


The Bodleian Library 

Founded in 1602, the Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Britain and the largest university library in Europe. With over 12 million items and outstanding collections, the Bodleian draws readers from every continent and continues to inspire generations of researchers who flock to its reading rooms as well as the wider public who enjoy its exhibitions, displays, public lectures and other events.

Bodleian Library Publishing produces beautiful and authoritative books, which help to bring the riches of Oxford’s libraries to readers around the world. All profits are returned to the Bodleian to help support the Library’s work in curating, conserving and collecting its rich archives and helping to maintain the Bodleian’s position as one of the pre-eminent libraries in the world.

Visit this previous post to view other Bodleian Children’s Books and to see the photographs I took on a visit to Oxford in 2015.

Disclaimer: I received no financial compensation for writing this post and have no material connection to the brand or products mentioned. 

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