The Island of Adventure (Adventure (MacMillan)) (英語) ペーパーバック – Unabridged, 2006/11
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Something very sinister is happening on the mysterious Isle of Gloom and the children are determined to uncover the truth! But Philip, Dinah, Lucy-Ann and Jack are not prepared for the dangerous adventure that awaits them in the abandoned copper mines and secret tunnels beneath the sea.
Enid Blyton, who died in 1968, is one of the most successful children's authors of all time. She wrote over seven hundred books, which have been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold more than 400 million copies around the world. Enid Blyton's stories of magic, adventure and friendship continue to enchant children the world over. Enid Blyton's beloved works include The Famous Five, Malory Towers, The Magic Faraway Tree and the Adventure series.
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The book introduces Jack (the bird lover) and his sister Lucy-Ann (a bit on the timid side). They are orphans who are informally adopted by Mrs. Mannering because of their friendship with Mrs. Mannering's children and because of her great fondness for them. Mrs. Mannering's children are Philip (the animal whisperer) and Dinah (squeamish about animals, but level headed and independent). The cast is rounded out by Kiki, Jack's pet parrot and the comic relief in the books. The children's ages range from 14 for Jack and Philip to 12 for Dinah and 11 for Lucy-Ann.
In each book the two sets of siblings find themselves on school vacation with Mrs. Mannering, (and later also with Bill Smugs - Mrs. Mannering's friend and a member of an unspecified British secret service). Each book starts out with the family going on a simple, relaxing holiday, but mystery, suspense and skullduggery always rears its head about three chapters in. The books feature islands, castles, underground rivers, subterranean tunnels, spies, smugglers, assassins, and other neer do wells.
In "Island of Adventure", the children are staying at a craggy old house set against a steep cliff. From there they can see Gloom Island. After learning to sail they visit the Island and all sorts of mysteries are uncovered and adventures undertaken.
This book sets out all of the characters, their relationships to each other, their various personalities and the group dynamics, (Philip teases Dinah, Lucy-Ann dotes on brother Jack, and so on), that will be consistent throughout the series. It's not necessary to start the series here, or to follow the books chronologically, but it probably would be helpful since this book does establish all of the basics. (Each later book does rather efficiently set this out again, in the first chapters, for new readers.)
This is probably the weakest book from a girl's point of view, since the two girls are much less involved in the most exciting parts than in any other book. This is also the book with the most tone deaf references to ethnic stereotypes, (unless you get a later edition where some of that has been edited out). As I say, the books get more balanced as the series goes on. Perhaps the strongest note, apart from the whiz bang adventure, is that apart from some teasing and the like all of the children trust and admire each other, and the siblings are loyal to each other and their friends. There is none of the incessant sibling conflict that is popular in many current books. There is no moralizing or preaching, but there is a powerful undercurrent of courage, bravery and doing one's duty that is always in the background.
Blyton was criticized by "serious" reviewers for using short declaratory sentences and an undemanding vocabulary. Her response was that she did not listen to any critic who was over 12 years old. That said, these are not light weight or simpleminded books. The characters have charm and individual personalities. There is no pretense of grand literary accomplishment, but these are exhilarating and suspenseful adventure tales, well told. It is a testament to their quality that most of the reviews at this site have been written by people who read the books in the childhoods and still remember them vividly.
And, these books do stand the test of time. Caves, tunnels, floods, deep holes, secret passages, hidden doors, underground rivers, abandoned buildings, creepy noises, mysterious lights and sounds - all of the standards of tween adventure - start here, in the hands of a writer who knew how to tell a gripping story.
These books were hard to find in the U.S. until reprints began to appear. I'm delighted to see that we now have Kindle versions, which makes it easy and relatively inexpensive to try one. If you have a tween reader who likes gung-ho adventure and imaginative larking about, then one of these might be worth a try.
Nothing that i've read before can top this. i rate it 6 stars.
As a child I loved good illustrations (many of the German children's books had average illustrations way back in the 60's), but the British and French children's books usually had gorgeous illustrations. I believe that it's particularly the illustrations in the beginning of reading that the kids enjoy until they reach the point where they are willing to read children's books without illustrations like "Harry Potter".
Another great series with very good illustrations by Eileen A. Soper is the "Famous Five" series by Blyton. "The Famous Five" TV series from the 90's even had a young actress who has an amazing resemblence with the girl Georgina aka George from Soper's illustrations.
The R Series by Blyton, also called "Barney and Miranda" series, has delightful illustrations by Gilbert Dunlop.
Non-Blyton books illustrations: I also love the blytonesque books by Norman Dale aka Norman Denny, especially his trilogy "The exciting Journey" (1), "Mystery Christmas" (2) and "Skeleton Island" (3). The latter one is my favorite and a suspenseful read just like Blyton. The illustrations are unforgettable.
I just discovered vol. 2 & 3 three years ago. I never knew there were two more sequels for "The Exciting Journey" (German title "Ein Zelt, ein Rad und ein Kamerad"), because they never have been translated and published in Germany :(.
For several years I'm trying to catch up with the many foreign children's books which have not been published in Germany (like "Milly-Molly-Mandy" of which only a fraction has been translated into German way back in the 50's).
Describing Blyton books as pulp is absolutely ridiculous, because it's simply not true.
I feel pity for this reviewer that he had no chance to grow up with lots of Blyton book series like "Famous Five" (21 volumes), "Mystery" series (15 volumes), the Barney & Miranda Series (8 books), "The Secret Seven" (15 books) and especially "The Adventurous Four", two books and a novella which come close to the "Adventure" series, they take place on the Scottish coast.
Also I noticed that many Americans simply cannot relate to these stories where the children have much more freedom than today's children, because there are barely any caves, castles or underground passages in the US. Not to mention the treasure hunts.
To be honest, I didn't care for Noddy, the Wishing Chair or Malory Towers, but I loved (and still love and read Blyton books once a year)Blyton's suspenseful series.
If you enjoyed reading "Island of Adventure", you will be pleasantly surprised once you'll get to read "The Castle of Adventure", "The Valley of Adventure" (IMHO the best of all 700 books that Blyton wrote), "The Sea of Adventure" and "The Circus of Adventure" which is somewhat different, but probably the most thrilling of those 8 volumes as a few of the four children are kidnapped and held hostage in a foreign country.