Great Mystery Books for Kids: The Famous Five by Enid Blyton
The Famous Five is a series of mystery chapter books written by British author Enid Blyton. The exciting book series follows the adventures of siblings Julian, Dick and Anne and their tomboy cousin Georgina who goes by the name George. The fifth member of the group is George's dog Timmy. Each book is about 150-200 pages in length.
I loved these books when I was a child. I started reading them to my daughter when she was five. When she turned six, she reread them all by herself. The books may be a little scary for some children. But most elementary age kids will be fascinated by the Five as they investigate smugglers, counter-feiters, ghost trains, kidnappers, tunnels and secret passageways. Parents will probably enjoy the stories as well. The books are available to buy online.
About the Famous Five
The first Famous Five book called Five on a Treasure Island was published in 1942. The last book Five Are Together Again was published 20 years later in 1962. Some other titles in the 21 book series are Five Go to Smuggler's Top, Five on a Hike Together, Five on a Secret Trail and Five Go to Demon's Rocks. All of the adventures take place in rural areas, on small islands, at the seaside or in small English towns. The closest American equivalents would be the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books, which were written at around the same time.
The Famous Five series isn't as well known in the United States as it should be. It was and still is hugely popular in Britain and other countries. In 1978, several of the books were made into a TV series. A total of 26 episodes were made. Movies have been made based on some of the books, including some Danish movies.
Five Go Off to Camp
Five Go Off to Camp is my favorite book in the Famous Five series. In this book, the Five go camping on the moors with a teacher from Julian and Dick's school named Mr. Luffy. When Anne goes for a walk she hears a roaring sound underground and then white smoke comes out of the ground. A terrified Anne runs back to the campsite thinking she saw a volcano. Mr. Luffy tells her that it's only underground trains. Later, the Five decide to explore the railway lines but a man with a wooden leg warns them to leave. He tells them that spook trains come out of the tunnel at night and then go back in again. There isn't any driver. Of course, the Five have to come back at night to check out the spook trains for themselves. A couple of days later, George goes out for a walk with her dog Timmy. When walking over an underground tunnel, Timmy falls down a ventilation shaft. George goes after him and finds herself in danger when she encounters smugglers. is available as an ebook for the Kindle and Kindle apps. Five Go Off to Camp
Enid Blyton: A Controversial Life
Enid Blyton, the author of the Famous Five, was a very prolific writer. She was the author of a series of books for younger children called Noddy. Noddy was later turned into a TV series. While her books were hugely popular with children, they weren't so popular with critics. Reminiscent of concerns about the Harry Potter series, some critics felt that Blyton's books lacked literary value. Some of her books were banned from libraries due to concerns about the limited vocabulary used in the stories. Enid Blyton also wrote another adventure book series called The Secret Seven that involves kids solving mysteries. Blyton wrote over 600 books that sold more than 600 million copies.
Blyton had a very controversial private life. She had multiple affairs and was a cold and distant mother to her two daughters. When her marriage to book editor Hugh Alexander Pollock failed, she prevented him from having access to their two daughters.She was furious when he remarried even though she was already remarried herself. She used her power in the literary world to prevent him from working in the publishing industry. He eventually had to file for bankruptcy. Her daughter Imogen had this to say about her:
My mother was arrogant, insecure and without a trace of maternal instinct. Her approach to life was childlike, and she could be spiteful, like a teenager.
In her later years, Blyton suffered from dementia. She died at the age of 71 in 1968. But her books live on both in print and on TV.