Little Book,  Middle grade

Five Go Off In A Caravan

Enid Blyton
A caravan holiday for the Famous Five is bound to be an adventure! And when they stumble across a circus troupe, the gang are thrilled. But some of the circus people have more sinister plans than just clowning around…
I devoured the Famous Five books when I was a child, so when I spotted this in Oxfam I felt a trip down memory lane was in order. It was very much how I remembered it and I still enjoyed it. Of course my adult eyes do read things a little differently it’s not all as perfect as I used to think, I mean who would let four kids (at least if they are supposed to be between 10 and 14 years old) go off alone in a caravan these days?!
In this story the Five go off on hols in modern horse drawn caravans. They set up home in some hills above a lake next to which a circus camp is having its summer break. They befriend Nobby, a boy and Pongo, a chimpanzee. It transpires the Five have accidentally parked their caravan on top of the entrance to some caves in which the rogues from the circus, one of which is Nobby’s uncle, are using to store stolen goods. Lots of exciting adventures ensue as the mystery is discovered and subsequently solved.
I had forgotten that in these stories some pretty horrible things happen, the baddies are pretty bad; Nobby is badly beaten by his Uncle on a couple of occasions, the Uncle also throws a stone at Pongo and tries to poison Timmy and he and his partner in crime enclose the children in the caves and keep them prisoner. None of this is particularly graphic and I don’t remember being put off by it as a child, I think it must have washed over me as I was too busy wondering what was going to happen next!
The other thing that really stood out for me reading it now was the language. It was great to read all those Famous Five phrases ‘Golly’, ‘Super’, Top speed’ ‘good sort’. When I was younger I also didn’t notice how patronising they could be to other people. There is a lot of mention of how Nobby’s manners are not as good as theirs but he is good in his own way! However I think that you don’t expect Enid Blyton to be politically correct. The books are very much of their time and none the worse for that.
The best things about the story were that I still enjoyed reading about the children, the pace of the book is good and the story draws you in. I still wanted to know what was going to happen! It also made me remember the copious amounts of tongue sandwiches and ginger beer that were consumed. I still think that growing up as one of the Five would have been Super!!
Verdict: Still great, I will definitely be passing these on to my girls later on, and like me they might well need a square of chocolate and some water fresh from the crystal clear stream to sup as they read it 😉
NB Since writing this I have just read another that I got at the same time, soooo sexist!! Might have some discussion about that with my girls when I let them read them.

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication Date: March 1999 (new ed.)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
Genre: Action, Adventure
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British Book


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