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If you grew up with Enid Blyton books, you might be familiar with some of these other children's series...
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Whether the following are considered "classic" or not, older-generation fans of Enid Blyton will be familiar with some or all of the popular children's series listed below. This is of course just a handful of the old favorites, and ones I intend picking through series by series. I've been busy hunting out old copies of some of these books from eBay and secondhand bookstores, and will be reading and reviewing them in due course...

Alfred Hitchcock's The Three Investigators
This detective series features Jupiter Jones, Bob Andrews and Pete Crenshaw. Presented by Alfred Hitchcock, these 43 casefiles from 1964 onwards are intriguing, dangerous, and sometimes spooky. The team's headquarters is in a junkyard, and Jupiter Jones is particularly colorful as the brainbox leader.
The Brains Benton Mysteries by George Wyatt
This series of six books precedes the Three Investigators by a few years, and is very similar in concept—Barclay "Brains" Benton, a brainy leader who thinks and talks like a scientist, and James "Jimmy" Carson who does all the grunt work. These mysteries are on a smaller scale but are just as intriguing.
The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon
Possibly the most well-known mystery and adventure books (other than those by Enid Blyton!) feature all-American youths Frank and Joe Hardy. There are a staggering 58 novels in the original series, written between 1927 and 1979 by a team of ghost writers under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon.
The Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene
Then there's Nancy Drew, who I always believed was the girly version of the Hardy Boys. There were 56 of these books published from 1930 onwards, and likewise were written by a team of ghost writers, this time under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene.
The Lone Pine Club by Malcolm Saville
More along the lines of Enid Blyton, Malcolm Saville's Lone Pine series starts in wartime England in 1943, and over the next 35 years progresses through 20 books with the children barely aging. Beginning with a mystery at Witchend, more children join the group as the action moves about the country.
Hal & Roger Adventures by Willard Price
Moving away from mystery and crime and into the realms of pure adventure, Hal and Roger Hunt are the sons of a well-known explorer, and they get to go on safari to jungles, volcanoes, tropical islands and more, tangling not only with dangerous wild animals but also with poachers and cannibals.
Just William by Richmal Crompton
William Brown and his three friends are known as the Outlaws, and they meet at an old barn and plot to cause mischief and mayhem. Well, actually they're well-intentioned and mean no harm, but somehow always end up in trouble. There were 38 books from 1922 onwards.
Jennings by Anthony Buckeridge
There were 25 titles in this series, the first published in 1950. The majority of these books take place at Linbury Court School where Jennings inadvertantly manages to infuriate the hot-tempered form teacher, Mr Wilkins. Jennings' best friend, Darbishire, usually ends up being dragged into the mess as well.

What? No Enid Blyton?

I've spent a lot of time over the last two years re-acquainting myself with Enid Blyton's books, and aim to continue doing so. Rather than tiring of Enid Blyton and children's books in general, instead I'm finding that I want to read more. My wife keeps asking me when I'm going to read a grown-up book again. Well, I do occasionally—but they never seem to have any secret passages or grumpy red-faced policemen or picnics in caves behind waterfalls. Boring!

So, for the next year or so, and without interrupting my Enid Blytons, I'm making a date with some of these other children's classics. I'm already well into the Brains Benton Mysteries and have also read a few books from the Three Investigators series. I have five Hardy Boys books waiting to be read, and five Nancy Drew Mysteries, plus a couple of the excellent Jennings books.

Meanwhile I'll be working to obtain some books from other series such as Just William, Willard Price's Adventures, and Malcolm Saville's Lone Pine Club.

I have lots to look forward to—but when it comes right down to it, I'm still a Blytonite.

Keith Robinson
October 2006

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