Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.
Although one of my co-workers claims never to have heard of them, no doubt most people recall the Famous Five, even if only in the context of the dodgy 1970s television adaptation. Many will have also read the books as children, and may recall that the last title came out in 1963. What then is this paperback, which made its first appearance in 1995?
It turns out that Five Have A Puzzling Time is a compilation of eight short stories originally written by Blyton to be featured in annuals released between 1954 and 1961, and, in one instance, as part of a series of booklets included with breakfast cereal. The back cover describes them as "written by Enid Blyton at the height of her powers", which you can take as a compliment or an insult. But some Blyton obsessive has gone to the trouble of gathering them all together, and this is the result.
The freaky thing is that even though these stories are much shorter, they conform to the standard pattern of Famous Five adventures which was so successfully pilloried by the Comic Strip in Five Go Mad In Dorset and Five Go Mad On Mescalin. Julian acts like a priggish grown-up; Timmy licks George a lot; Anne sites around being girly; villains appear wherever the Five go; the children are always visiting Aunt Fanny; and the police always show up on time. Jolly good fun!
Would I recommend them to the casual reader? Well, no. On the other hand, at just $4.95, it's not exactly a bank-breaking purchase. And do I now want to go out and buy a uniform set of all 21 Famous Five novels? To be honest, yes. This is a list of them, should you for some reason want to know:
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