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Childrens

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Jennings Unlimited

Jennings Unlimited

Anthony Buckeridge

11th October 2020

It’s been a while since my last trip to Linbury in my re-read of the Jennings series, but this was a welcome visit to the sixteenth novel.

This is an absolute classic of the series, in which everything adds up and ties together, with the distinct episodes clearly linked into one overall narrative, possibly in the best way of the series so far.

It’s funny, it’s silly, and it all make such perfect sense from the point of view of the ten-year-old main character.

I really enjoyed this re-read.

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The Mystery of the Chinese Junk

The Mystery of the Chinese Junk

Franklin W Dixon & James D Lawrence

11th October 2020

The Mystery of the Chinese Junk, thirty-ninth in the series, has an interesting setting for a fairly standard story.

The usual ingredients are present, Chet has a new hobby, people break into places, some racism, tons of coincidence, but with the unusual addition of gainful employ for the brothers and a lack of actual detection.

The story follows the usual format that I’m now immune to after so much exposure as I’ve re-read the series up to this point, and while the setting adds something unique and special, nothing else here seems to be.

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Secret Seven on the Trail

Secret Seven on the Trail

Enid Blyton

11th October 2020

The fourth Secret Seven story is a classic of the series.

The seven children’s antagonism with Jack’s sister Susie and her friends is in full evidence, and there are several nice interactions between the groups, and some meta-references which are mildly amusing.

The mystery is straightforward but solid, with a good number of clues and peril for a younger audience. The only letdown is that once again Blyton’s characters demonstrate their now-extremely-obvious sexism, and Peter in particular has started to come across as a bit of a prat.

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The Mystery at Devil's Paw

The Mystery at Devil's Paw

Franklin W Dixon, James D Lawrence & Priscilla Baker-Carr

13th September 2020

Book 38 of the original Hardy Boys series - my read through has slowed somewhat since earlier in lockdown as I’ve been distracted by more recent publications, and also because too many Hardy Boys adventures back to back is a little tortuous (not that it stopped me as an 11-year-old).

This time the brothers get caught up in an adventure in Alaska when their friend summons them to help out with his summer job. There are the typical dated stereotypes of native americans, and some extremely uncomfortable archaeological practices - and it fits the pattern of the ‘Hardy Boys go on holiday’ novels from this era.

Generally I was unimpressed by this entry - probably one of the weaker ones.

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Well Done, Secret Seven

Well Done, Secret Seven

Enid Blyton

24th July 2020

The third Secret Seven novel felt exceptionally weak to me.

It’s clearly aimed at a younger audience than the Five Find-Outers novels that I’ve read more recently, but this story in particular seemed to spend all of its focus on setting, and very little on plot.

The characters barely do any detective work, and almost everything just happens around them, or happens by mechanism of talking to parents. The story doesn’t live up to that in the previous two stories.

It feels slightly less dated though - there’s still some sexism and classism, but the sexism is at least partly challenged.

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The Ghost at Skeleton Rock

The Ghost at Skeleton Rock

Franklin W Dixon, James D Lawrence & Priscilla Baker-Carr

24th July 2020

Deep into the original run of the Hardy Boys novels, Skeleton Rock starts well - with a classic new hobby for Chet, a hometown mystery, and a collection of surprising family-owned vehicles.

But later on it falls down a bit, as the brothers head off someone remote, and get involved with yet another group of indiginous people to represent in a stereotypical and offensive way.

A mediocre entry in the series.

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Secret Seven Adventure

Secret Seven Adventure

Enid Blyton

27th June 2020

The second book in the Secret Seven series - a story I must have read several times as a child. Fairly safe I thought - a homely familiar tale of seven children from the 1950s (who in my head live in my grandparents’ house, despite in the narrative living on a farm).

Nope - dated in new and interesting ways - less sexism than I had expected based on the first novel. Now however into racism, playing at “Red Indians” and describing circus performers as scary when in their everyday clothes.

The datedness continued with visits to an animal-based circus, which while possibly still the norm at the time of writing felt very uncomfortable to read about today. And yet then suddenly my copy had the children using decimal currency - clearly someone has somehow decided that children won’t be able to cope with old money, despite all the other elements that have been now (or at least should be, especially in a children’s story) relegated to history.

I don’t know whether it’s worth commenting on the fact that Blyton, writing in the 1950s, has her characters walking around with badges with ‘SS’ marked on them.

The basic plot isn’t bad - it’s a solid mystery that the children get involved in and solve using their ingenuity, and there are the usual elements of tension between the children around their secret password. So it’s a shame that this is let down by the other elements of the story.

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Other reviewed books

The Clue in the Embers
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Secret Seven
The Hooded Hawk Mystery
The Yellow Feather Mystery
The Mystery of Banshee Towers
The Secret of Wildcat Swamp
The Wailing Siren Mystery
The Mystery of Holly Lane
The Mystery of the Strange Messages
The Short-Wave Mystery
The Mystery of the Missing Man
The Secret of the Crooked Cat
The Clue of the Broken Blade
Five Children and It
Especially Jennings
Brigands M.C.
The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow
The Disappearing Floor
The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage
Jennings of Course
The Twisted Claw
The Falls
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Mystery of the Talking Skull
The General
The Mystery of the Moaning Cave
The Mystery of the Strange Bundle
The Sleepwalker
The Mystery of the Screaming Clock
The Mystery of the Vanished Prince
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Mad Dogs
The Tower Treasure
The Mystery of the Silver Spider
The Mystery of the Invisible Thief
The Fall
Don't Touch Anything
The Mystery of the Fiery Eye
Crocodile Tears
Man vs Beast
The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat
The Secret of Skeleton Island
The Wide Window
Snakehead
Divine Madness
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Mystery of the Hidden House
The Accused
The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure
The Reptile Room
Ark Angel
The Rithmatist
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace
The Field Guide
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
The Mystery of the Green Ghost
Scorpia
Coots in the North and other stories
The Killing
The Abduction
The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters
The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy
Eagle Strike
The Mystery of the Secret Room
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Maximum Security
Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia
Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones
Jumper
Great Northern?
The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot
Skeleton Key
The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat
Class A
The Secret of Terror Castle
The Picts and the Martyrs
The Assassination Game
Mockingjay
Point Blanc
The Recruit
The World of Poo
The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage
Missee Lee
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Just Like Jennings
Catching Fire
The Big Six
The Trouble with Jennings
The Hunger Games
Stormbreaker
Secret Water
The Bad Beginning
We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea
Pigeon Post
The Song of the Quarkbeast
Coot Club
Winter Holiday
Jennings as Usual
Peter Duck
Take Jennings for Instance
Swallowdale
Thanks to Jennings
Swallows and Amazons
Our Friend Jennings
The Last Dragonslayer
According to Jennings
Jennings' Diary
Jennings and Darbishire
Jennings' Little Hut
Jennings Follows a Clue
Jennings Goes to School
Artemis Fowl

Unreviewed books

A Killing in the Market
Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens
An Ear for Danger
Beyond the Law
Biggles - Flying Detective
Biggles and the Black Peril
Biggles and the Secret Mission
Biggles Defends the Desert
Biggles Defies the Swastika
Biggles Delivers the Goods
Biggles Fails to Return
Biggles Flies East
Biggles Flies West
Biggles Goes to War
Biggles in France
Biggles in the Orient
Biggles Learns to Fly
Blood Fever
Blood Relations
Brother Against Brother
By Royal Command
Bzrk
Castle Fear
Choke Hold
Cold Sweat
Countdown to Terror
Crime in the Kennel
Crusade of the Flaming Sword
Cult of Crime
Dangerous Games
Dead on Target
Deadfall
Deep Trouble
Diplomatic Deceit
Dirty Deeds
Disaster for Hire
Double or Die
Edge of Destruction
Endangered Species
Eulalia!
Evil Incorporated
Fatal Error
Final Cut
Final Gambit
Flesh and Blood
Flight into Danger
Foul Play
Foul Play
Fright Wave
Fun for the Secret Seven
Funny Business
Go Ahead, Secret Seven
Gone
Good Old Secret Seven
Good Work, Secret Seven
Grave Danger
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
High-Speed Showdown
Hollywood Horror
Hostages of Hate
Hot Wheels
Hurricane Gold
James and the Giant Peach
Jennings Again
Jennings at Large
Jennings in Particular
Lethal Cargo
Long Shot
Look Out Secret Seven
Mariel of Redwall
Martial Law
Martin the Warrior
Mattimeo
Maximum Challenge
Mossflower
Murder at the Mall
Murder to Go
Night of the Werewolf
No Mercy
Open Season
Outcast of Redwall
Pearls of Lutra
Perfect Getaway
Power Play
Programme for Destruction
Puzzle for the Secret Seven
Redwall
Reel Trouble
Rigged for Revenge
Rock 'n' Revenge
Rough Stuff
Salamandastron
Scene of the Crime
Secret Seven Fireworks
Secret Seven Mystery
Secret Seven Win Through
See No Evil
Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales
Shock for the Secret Seven
Sidetracked to Danger
Silverfin
Sky Sabotage
Slam Dunk Sabotage
Speaking of Jennings
Spiked!
Still William
Swallows and Amazons for Ever!
Terror on Track
The Alaskan Adventure
The Apeman's Secret
The Bellmaker
The Blackwing Puzzle
The Borgia Dagger
The Camels are Coming
The Cold Cash Caper
The Crowning Terror
The Crystal Prison
The Dead Season
The Final Reckoning
The Firebird Rocket
The Genius Thieves
The Hypersonic Secret
The Jennings Report
The Jungle Pyramid
The Last Laugh
The Last Leap
The Lazarus Plot
The Long Patrol
The Masked Monkey
The Midnight Folk
The Mummy Case
The Mystery of Death Trap Mine
The Mystery of Monster Mountain
The Mystery of Smugglers Cove
The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon
The Mystery of the Cranky Collector
The Mystery of the Dead Man's Riddle
The Mystery of the Desert Giant
The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints
The Mystery of the Headless Horse
The Mystery of the Invisible Dog
The Mystery of the Kidnapped Whale
The Mystery of the Magic Circle
The Mystery of the Missing Mermaid
The Mystery of the Nervous Lion
The Mystery of the Purple Pirate
The Mystery of the Rogues' Reunion
The Mystery of the Samurai Sword
The Mystery of the Scar-Faced Beggar
The Mystery of the Shrinking House
The Mystery of the Silver Star
The Mystery of the Singing Serpent
The Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow
The Mystery of the Smashing Glass
The Mystery of the Trail of Terror
The Mystery of the Two-Toed Pigeon
The Mystery of the Wandering Cave Man
The Number File
The Oaken Throne
The Outlaw's Silver
The Pentagon Spy
The Phoenix Equation
The Search for the Snow Leopard
The Secret Agent on Flight 101
The Secret of Phantom Lake
The Secret of the Haunted Mirror
The Seven and the Lion Hunt
The Seven and the Magician
The Seven and the UFOs
The Seven Strike Gold
The Seven to the Rescue
The Sky Blue Frame
The Stone Idol
The Vanishing Thieves
The Viking Symbol Mystery
Thick as Thieves
Thomas
Three Cheers, Secret Seven
Trust Jennings
Typically Jennings
Uncivil War
Web of Horror
Without a Trace
Witness to Murder

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