Five on a Treasure Island – Enid Blyton

Found in a clearance sale at Tesco alongside the four following stories in the adventures of the Famous Five for the grand total of 75p, and seeing as that i didn’t read the books as a youngster yet call myself a cultured Brit, i thought this was an obvious purchase. The books are celebrating some anniversary or some other, and each of the five books in the set feature covers by artists famed for their work with childrens fiction; the cover of this first book, for example, was by Quentin Blake, (of Roald Dahl fame).

There are two reviews i could submit regarding this book. One as a serious, mature reader; and this one is what i shall begin with, and then a second review highlighting some of my obvious immaturity, plus a word on the ‘dating’ of the material, which is hardly its own fault, and rather the fault of the decaying culture and society that exists today.

“Five on a Treasure Island” introduces us to our four young human protagonists and a dog. George – a tomboy girl cousin of the other three, Julian, Dick and Anne – lives on a wealthy estate out in the country, and even owns an island. But the islands ownership is threatened when Georges father is given an offer he can’t refuse. But that is because in a recent storm, a ship has wrecked on the island with a significantly important cargo with phenomenal value…treasure! And so the Five set out to find the treasure before the nefarious, two-dimensional villains do. It really is, wonderfully, as simple as that. The story is pure children’s classic literature. Laced with a sense of charm, excitement and intrigue and written with so much love and pride, its not difficult to see why this was the beginning of such a magnificent, long-lasting legacy.

On a different note, however; reading as an adult in the 2010s for the first time (i know! weird isn’t it) there are so many things to point out. Positives first, and keeping the material that puts me on Jenna’s bad books till later… The language is amazing. I absolutely adore the way Julian calls Dick ‘old chum’  and it harks back to the private schoolboy upbringing so stereotypical of that ‘era’ of Britain. Most of the words and phrases had me smiling with genuine adoration and worship. I read it as a childrens book, so theres no chance i’m going to criticize the lack of complexity, and obviously its whole tone has a very ‘read it with mother’ thing.

BUT. I’m childish and immature. Some, just some, of the wording, is hilarious. The only example i’m going to give (forgive me Jenna), is in the final chapter. Timmy nuzzled up against her, and George murmured ‘Oh Timmy, you mustn’t.”

Classic childrens fiction. I’ll be reading this to my kids.

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