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Monday, January 2, 2012

The Book That Started Me on the Path to Murder & Mayhem

When I was about eight or nine years old I remember getting up early on Christmas morning to check out the contents of my Christmas pillow case. That would be stocking to everyone else. As usual, Santa had left a book, a bag of salted peanuts and a few other things I don’t recall—no doubt a pair of socks or undies. The book Santa left this particular year was one called Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton.

Since it was still early I went back to bed, taking my book and my bag of peanuts with me. I opened my new book and started reading, thus beginning my love of mysteries and suspense.

Five on a Treasure Island 1942 Enid Blyton was a prolific English author who wrote hundreds of children’s books, although most Americans won’t recognize her work. Five on a Treasure Island, written way back in 1942 was the first of 21 Famous Five books. In 2010 Hodder Children’s Books released updated versions of these books, modifying language so the books resonated better with children of the 21st century. Audio and e-versions are now available too. When I saw Five on a Treasure Island on Kindle, nostalgia struck and I had to purchase a copy.

Here is my review:


Siblings Julian, Dick and Anne go to Kirrin Bay to stay with their Aunt Fanny, Uncle Quentin and cousin Georgina. They’re looking forward to their holiday at the beach and to meeting their cousin. But they’re in for a surprise. Georgina is rude and refuses to speak with them until they call her George. Gradually the children settle in and get to know each other. The days pass, and they go swimming and explore the small private island in the bay, which belongs to the family. One day there’s a huge storm and that’s where the real adventure begins…

The first thing I noticed when I started reading was the large amount of telling and the head hopping. Cripes! The writer in me drew up with horror. Most stories these days are heavy on dialogue, while this story didn’t have much in the way of dialogue at all. And on top of that, the characters seemed to eat all the time.

That said, you’re probably wondering if I liked anything about this book. Why, yes I did!

Five on a Treasure Island was very easy to read. Despite all the telling and the constantly hungry characters, I didn’t suffer any reluctance to continue reading. Ms. Blyton has written enduring characters that rang true for me. There’s Julian, the oldest, who is the voice of reason and the peacemaker. There’s George, the lonely tomboy, Dick, the brave one who is always hungry, and Anne, the youngest who blurts out secrets when she gets nervous.

A fun trip down memory lane. I enjoyed reacquainting myself with Five on Treasure Island, and I think young readers will enjoy reading this book too.

Purchase Five on a Treasure Island

Can you remember reading your first mystery? What books have influenced you and put you on the trail of murder and mayhem?

Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand with her husband and a naughty puppy. She writes romance for Carina Press, Ellora's Cave and Samhain Publishing and just can't help adding dead bodies to her stories. To learn more about Shelley and her books visit her website at


Marcelle Dubé said...

Hmm... I don't recall exactly which one, but it would have been a Nancy Drew mystery, after which I was hooked! Thanks for sharing your review, Shelly.

Toni Anderson said...

I loved George :) I wonder if my kids would like Enid Blyton. Funny how writing styles have changed over the years.

Kathy Ivan said...

Like Marcelle, I devoured Nancy Drew when I was younger. I wanted to BE her! The adventures she had, I just knew I could solve all the mysteries well before she did. LOL

My how times have changed. :-) Now Murder and Mayhem are things I embrace when reading and writing.

Clare London said...

Wow yes, I was HUGE Enid Blyton fan. Of course, then came the time they said she wasn't a good enough example, literary-speaking, and there was talk of taking her out of library stocks. I think they're still there, though. Sounds like I'd wince a bit at the style nowadays, reading as an adult and an author myself! But they were Ripping Good Yarns in their day.

I read a lot of historical YA fiction too - Rosemary Sutcliffe and Henry Treece. There was always action and gore in them. And Malcolm Savile did a great mystery/romance series for older teenagers. I recently went hunting for a copy of Three Towers in Tuscany, had to find it on ebay :)

Shelley Munro said...

I was a late arrival to the Nancy Drew mysteries, but I enjoyed those when I discovered them. The Hardy boys series too.

Shelley Munro said...

I liked George too :)
The new reissues have sanitized language. Things aren't so jolly and gay these days!

Shelley Munro said...

LOL I still want to be Nancy Drew. I wish they'd made a better translation to film.

Shelley Munro said...

Clare - poor Enid Blyton got picked on quite a bit. I used to love the Noddy books as a child too. I was highly offended when everyone started saying Noddy & Big Ears were gay. It's just a story, people!

I hadn't heard of Malcolm Savile. I'll have to Google.

Jenny Schwartz said...

What a trip down memory lane! I loved Enid Blyton and used to weave myself into Nancy Drew stories while going to sleep at nights :)

Amy Gallow said...

Because my early childhood was spent in remote locations in the Australian Outback, most of my reading came from adult books left by others.
My father paraphrased "Mort'd'Arthur" and other classics as bedtime stories, but the one I remember reading earliest was by P.C.Wren (the author of Beau Geste). It was a sea story and mystery of plots within plots (Dad had to explain some of them). I can't remember it's name across seventy odd years, but I'd love to read it again.

Shelley Munro said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the post, Jenny :)
It was a trip down memory lane for me too.

Shelley Munro said...

Hi Amy,

I hadn't heard of PC Wren, but I have heard of Beau Gest. I think readers can find books anywhere. I've found books high up in mountain cabins when I was desperate for something to read!

Elise Warner said...

I guess the second influence in my life was Nancy Drew and writing today. The first was Edna ferber's Show Boat and performing.

Cathy Perkins said...

My reading choices were eclectic even as a kid, but I remember all those Nancy Drew mysteries!

Mike Keyton said...

Enid Blyton just proves character (even stereotypes) and a good story trumps everything. Why else would generations of kids keep turning them pages. But by the hell, I miss those Farmhouse teas with lashings of Gingerbeer!

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