Five Have Twenty-One Adventures

Article by Keith Robinson

The title of this section is a little unimaginative—but then, so are the titles of all the books in this series. In fact, if there's one negative thing I can say about Enid Blyton it's that her titles are really, really terrible. I mean, what does Five Have Plenty of Fun tell you about the story? What was Enid Blyton thinking when she wrote the titles? \"Well, it really doesn't matter—the children will love the books anyway, and thinking up titles is really a terrible bore.

Some are okay. Five Go To Smuggler's Top, for instance, straight away puts me in mind of the causeway leading across to the big old house where Sooty lives. I know exactly which story that is, and remember it well. But then I think about the ghost train and I wonder...Now which one was that again? Oh yeah. It was Five Go Off To Camp. Hmm. What about the one where they meet the circus folk? Was that Five Go Off in a Caravan? Well, they did meet circus folk in that one, but actually I'm thinking of Five Have a Wonderful Time. Not that the title gives me any clue. And what about Five Fall Into Adventure? What was that one all about?

Having said all that, the books are great! I suppose when you're as successful as Enid Blyton book titles don't matter. But golly gosh, wouldn't it have been nice to have titles that instantly put you in mind of a scene in the book? I think the worst is Five Have Plenty of Fun, and if you asked me which one that is off the top of my head I wouldn't have a clue. Apparently it's the one with Berta and the kidnappers. Hmm.

August 5, 2006 - Eduardo from Portugal adds...

I was about ten or eleven when I found Enid Blyton's books. I was going to school one day when I saw a poor old man selling second-hand books and magazines on a walk.

One of the books drew my attention. On the cover, four kids and a dog, hidden behind a tree, were keeping an eye on two grown-ups. The title, Os Cinco Voltam ŕ Ilha (which translates as "Five go back to the island"), was another appellative element. It was love at first sight, even though I had no idea what the book was about.

I didn't buy it immediately, just asked the price. But I couldn't resist and, the next day, returned to buy it, spending the only money I had.

That book, worldwide known as Five Run Away Together, became one of my favourite Enid Blyton books, not only because it was the first I ever read, but the idea of living an adventure on an island is something that every kid wishes for. Once I had discovered Blyton's world, I read everything available -- Famous Five, Secret Seven, Mystery and Adventure series, and so on -- by borrowing from a local library (although I managed to buy the complete Five collection).

Being Portuguese, I read only translated books, not the originals. I discovered later that there were three main differences:

  1. Covers - The Portuguese covers were slightly different from the English ones, but not by much (and the four last books had the exact same covers).

  2. Characters - Julian is Julio, Dick is David, Anne is Ana, and Georgina (George) is Maria Jose (Zé). Jorge is not a diminutive for Georgina in Portugal, albeit both are common names over here. We have Ricardo for Richard, but Dick is completely strange for us.

  3. Titles - Even in the early days I noticed that was something peculiar about them. While the Portuguese titles made sense, the original titles (printed on one of the very first pages below the translated title) were terrible. Not wanting to believe that those titles were written by the same person who wrote these beautiful books, I didn't pay much attention to them.

Despite some powerful modern enemies known as TV and playstation, I'm trying to turn my nine-year-old son into an Enid Blyton fan, just as I was in my childhood. So I recently did some research...

With a few exceptions, when the titles are related with the plot, like Five on a Treasure Island, Five Go to Smuggler's Top, Five Go to Mystery Moor, Five on Finniston Farm and Five Go to Demon's Rocks, most of Blyton's titles are ridiculous. We can divide them into three categories:

  1. Weak - Five Run Away Together, Five Go Off in a Caravan, Five Go Off to Camp, Five on a Hike Together, and Five Go Down to the Sea... these titles are related to the storyline but, apart from not being strong titles, they are not exclusive since the Five went off to camp more than once, went on several hikes, and visited the sea often.

  2. Bad - Five Get Into Trouble and Five Get Into a Fix are basically the same title, Five Fall Into Adventure and Five Have a Mystery To Solve tell us something they've done countless times, Five Go Adventuring Again is weak but acceptable since this was the second book, and Five Are Together Again is unacceptable since this was not the second book, but the last one!

  3. Awful - Five Have Plenty Of Fun and Five Have A Wonderful Time, apart from being the same title written in a slightly different way, are totally untrue as they both involve kidnappings!

Since our books have different and, in my opinion, better titles, I've translated some of them for you. See if you can guess which they are:

  • Five and the Circus
  • Five and the Ghost Train
  • Five in Owl's House
  • Five and the Little Gipsy Girl
  • Five on the Dark Lake
  • Five in Faynights Castle
  • Five and the Kidnappers
  • Five in the Welsh Mountains
  • Five on Whispering Island
  • Five and the Scientist's Tower

With these kinds of titles you identify the book immediately. Imagine the disappointment I had when I found these titles weren't written by the great Enid Blyton!