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Five Go Adulting

Parody books seem to be in vogue at present; walk into any bookshop, and the chances are you will be confronted by a large table spread with such things as We’re All Going on a Bar Hunt in the first minute.  I normally don’t buy into bookish trends, preferring to choose my own, often marginally obscure, reads at my leisure.  When I spotted that the Famous Five had been updated for the twenty-first century, however, I couldn’t bring myself to let the books pass me by.

I was an enormous fan of Enid Blyton as a child, and all of my copies of the Famous Five series have been passed down by my mother, a once avid reader of the series herself.  We both laughed mirthfully at Five Go Gluten Free and Five on Brexit Island when they plopped through the letterbox just before Christmas.  The other two titles which I purchased on a great deal from The Book People were the slightly less amusing Five Go Parenting and Five Go On a Strategy Away Day.

I’m still reeling from the Brexit decision, and thought I would begin with that parody.  The 9781786483843storyline deals with the gang avoiding real life on the night of the referendum, and retiring to George’s territory of Kirrin Island for a brief holiday.  A fierce war soon ensues between George, a staunch remainer, and Julian, a traitor who voted to leave the EU.  George is so horrified that she makes the decision that Kirrin Island itself should leave Britain, and holds her own referendum to that effect.  Here, Vincent provides rather a light take on politics, which is both humorous and well-informed.  The characters are still similar to their childhood counterparts, something exacerbated with the use of the series’ original illustrations.  I felt myself very much disliking Julian in this volume due to his beliefs, whereas as a child I had been relatively indifferent to him.  Five on Brexit Island will not heal the pain of the referendum, but it is clever and well-crafted, and provides a bit of light relief.

9781786482228Five Go Gluten Free was next for me.  Rather than choosing to follow a gluten free diet for medical reasons, Anne – very much a fan of health fads – decides that the whole group should cut out the majority of the foodstuffs that they so love; no pies, chips, or beer going forward.  I found this volume the most funny of the four which I have read, particularly as I so associate the majority of Blyton’s child characters with a very British love of picnics and midnight feasts.  The Famous Five are always eating, so the challenge of macrobiotic and wholefoods proves highly problematic.  There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments here, and a plethora of amusing one-liners.  In this book particularly, the five translate very well to the modern world, and there is a marvellous feel of the utmost nostalgia to it.

My penultimate parody was Five Go Parenting, in which the group are given cousin Rupert 9781786482280Kirrin’s baby; he and his Eastern European wife have been put in prison after another one of their illegal schemes, and six-month-old Lily comes to live in the surprisingly incredibly spacious London flat which the five share.  This was an amusing look into the world of parenting by those who were utterly unsure as to what to do, or how much the addition of a tiny human could change their way of life.  Witty and well-executed, Vincent’s writing in this volume particularly echoes Blyton’s.  I would deem Five Go Parenting a splendid tongue-in-cheek gift for the new parent, or a funny slice of nostalgia for those whose children are a little older.

9781786482242Five Go on a Strategy Away Day was my least favourite of the series by far.  I awarded it a three-star rating, but didn’t find it that funny at all, and indeed, there were no laughing aloud moments for me.  In the book, the four human members of the group who, of course, work with one another, head into the countryside for a team bonding session.  It culminates in an orienteering exercise, in which they are effectively up against all of the members of the Secret Seven.  I did enjoy this merging of the groups, but found that here, the storyline was a touch lacking.

At just over 100 pages each, Bruno Vincent’s Blyton parodies are the perfect reads to give as gifts, or to settle down with yourself if you have an hour or two to spare.

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Favourite Books from my Childhood: Two

Following on from my first childhood favourites post, here are some more of the treasured books which I adored when I was small.

Noddy

Noddy by Enid Blyton – Even my younger sister, who categorically does not read, enjoyed these books when she was little, so that says a lot about how adorable they are.  The cartoon was a favourite of ours.  There are many books in the series, and I am sure that they are likely to charm adults just as much as children.

The Magic Faraway Tree, Up the Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton – It goes without saying that these books are absolutely delightful.  The pleasure and peril within the tales has been wonderfully balanced, and I still absolutely love them now.  The same goes for Blyton’s marvellous Wishing Chair stories.  All of the books are filled with the most wonderful characters which a child could hope to meet.  Favourites of mine are the lovely Silky and the marvellously grumpy Moon Face.

The Famous Five and Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton – Filled with adventure.  A lot of my copies of the Famous Five date from the 1930s and 1940s, and I have had the greatest fun of late re-reading the lovely Secret Seven boxset of books which I received for Christmas.

Paddington Bear

Paddington Bear by Michael Bond – Paddington, that marmalade-loving, macintosh-wearing ball of fluff, is one of the most charming bears in literature.  He is always off having adventures, and each story in the series is written to be treasured.  I don’t think I will ever grow up when there is children’s literature like this in the world.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs – So delightful, and a story which I happily revisit every Christmas Eve.

Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley – I was always enchanted by little Millicent-Margaret-Amanda (you can see why she has a nickname, can’t you?) when I was little, and I loved reading about the lovely things she did in her little village.

Babar

Babar by Jean de Brunhoff – My Mum loves these stories just as much as I do.  Babar is the loveliest of elephants, and his family is absolutely adorable.  The illustrations and tales which de Brunhoff has created are an utter delight.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – This is one of the first films which I ever remember watching, and it has remained my favourite ever since.  I think I have read this book about a dozen times already, and I still find it absolutely enchanting.  You can find my full Secret Garden review here.

Hushabye by John Burningham – I was a little too old for this book when I read it, but I did so to a baby cousin of mine, and was absolutely charmed by the simple, lullaby-esque story and the beautiful watercolour illustrations.  I did love Burningham’s work when I was little myself, and he was lovely to revisit when I was a little older.

Percy the Park Keeper by Nick Butterworth – I absolutely loved these tales and the accompanying cartoon.  A particular favourite of mine was One Snowy Night.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – To say that I was obsessed with this book when I was small is not an understatement.  I absolutely loved it, and now, quite a few years on, I own a lovely Hungry Caterpillar mug and set of badges.

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