“It was really most extraordinary.  There was Philip Mannering, doing his best to puzzle out algebra problems, lying full-length under a tree with nobody near him at all – and yet he could hear a voice speaking to him most distinctly.  ‘Can’t you shut the door, idiot?’ said the voice, in a most impatient tone.  ‘And how many times have I told you to wipe your feet?’  Philip sat up straight and took a good look round for the third time – but the hillside stretched above and below him, completely empty of any boy, girl, man, or woman.”

Philip and Dinah Mannering and Lucy-Ann and Jack Trent have had the best of luck in being allowed to spend summer break together at the Mannering’s home – a castle, actually – Craggy Tops.  They spend most of their time crawling along the beaches and hills and cliffs near Craggy Tops looking at birds and trying to find a way to get out to the mysterious island they see every once in a while through the fog out on the ocean. Unfortunately, their only options are Bill Smuggs, a friendly but secretive man studying birds on the cliffs, and Joe the grumpy handyman for Craggy Tops.  But when they find a secret passage between the cellar and the beach, things begin to get creepy and the children decide they need to get out to the Island no matter what.

I actually bought this book unread based on the recommendation of Jane Brocket (of Yarnstorm).  I have several of Brocket’s books, and she highly recommends pretty much anything written by Enid Blyton.  This book is the first in the Adventure series which stars the Mannerings and the Trents.  And I can pass on that high recommendation to any readers out there who enjoy classic children’s books such as the Little House, the Borrowers, the Secret Garden, etc.  The characters are charming and the setting is just dramatic enough to make things interesting.  And these children really act like children.  Not the stupid children of adult literature, who are never competent enough to take care of themselves, or the frustrating children of modern works who are only caught up in material things and the drama of relationships.  The Trents and the Mannerings are highly capable, intent on learning about what they’re interested in, willing to problem solve and determined to have fun while doing it.  They have every ability of taking care of themselves and entertaining themselves for an entire day without television or games (that they don’t make up themselves).  It’s the kind of childhood that could be called idyllic and is fairly rare in this day.  And while you may have to put up with some naievete on their part concerning people’s character and some leaps of faith in the plotline (only because you have an adult mind), this book is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

“The Island of Adventure” was written by Enid Blyton and published in 1944.

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