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Good Work Secret SevenReview by Julie Heginbotham (June 10, 2008)
I never read The Secret Seven as a child, and by chance, after buying Enid Blyton's Adventure Treasury, you can find three extracts from the Secret Seven books. These extracts enticed me to read more. They are well written, and easy for the younger reader to follow.
"When are the Secret Seven going to have their next meeting?" said Susie to her brother Jack.
A really good start to this book, as already you want to read on, hungry to find out why Susie will never be a member. What had she done?
Reading this book we learn it is just one week before bonfire night, and Peter, his sister Janet, their dog Scamper, Pam, Barbara, George and Jack are all in Peter's shed waiting for Colin to arrive. After hearing a knock at the door and the password, 'Guy Fawkes', the door is opened to Susie, Jack's annoying sister, who Enid describes as 'grinning all over her cheeky face'. So here we learn that the six in the shed are annoyed and order her to sit in a corner to watch them eat. Instantly you can either feel annoyed with Susie, or sorry for her, as it's clear she only wants to be a part of this Secret Society.
So on with the story. As Colin arrives, Susie is ordered out and he describes how, on his way to the meeting, whilst passing a clump of bushes, he heard whispering – a yell and a groan, and someone falling heavily. As Colin shone his torch, it was knocked from his hand, and he heard the sound of running feet. Picking up his torch and investigating the bush, he found a note book which he proudly shows the others. Inside the book the children see a list: Silver candle-sticks, three branched; cigarette box with initials A.G.B.; four silver cups, engraved...
"I know what this is," Jack says. The list turns out to be stolen items from the famous cricketer, Bedwall. Reading on, they learn the gang meet in the old workmen's shed at the back of Lane's garage. "5pm, Wednesday. Whew, that's tomorrow," read Peter. So this is the start of the Seven's Adventure.
We learn again just how annoying Susie can be. Hoping to find out more, the seven go to the old workmen's shed for 5pm, and whilst they're outside listening, they hear bangs from inside. Peter spots a key hole and peers inside, astonished at what he sees. Pam pulls him away to see for herself, then angrily starts to kick at the door, for inside playing a trick on them (for she overheard the meeting in Peter's shed) is Susie, and three of her friends! Now we learn another reason why Susie is not well liked by the Secret Seven.
I don't want to give away too much information about the story, for this book, like the others in the series, is well worth a read. The story moves on quite quickly when Peter and Janet are waiting in their father's car, whilst he calls at the railway station to pick up some 'goods'. Two men suddenly hop into the car, quite unaware of the children in the back seat, and drive away. The car stops in a part of the town that the children don't know. Before the men run from the car, one tells the other to "get in touch with Q8061, Sid's place, five o'clock, any evening." As he leaves, we learn that he drops something but has to make a hurried departure. Left alone, and certain the men have gone, Peter manages to find a phone box and call his father at the station.
The Secret Seven are then well into their adventure, following these clues. Cleverly, Peter dresses up as a guy outside Sid's café to watch for the gang. And it is this picture that appears on the front cover of the book. Enid is keen to write in that Colin's mother doesn't like the idea of children taking guys and begging for money, so when an old lady offers Colin a shilling to buy some fireworks, he quickly points out that any money they get for the guy goes to charity. "How nice of her," said George, "a whole shilling. Well, it can go into my Sunbeam Box."
There is also one part in the book that seems a little foolish with today's safety procedures. The Seven take their fireworks into the summerhouse over at Colin's, and proceed to inspect them on the floor – by the light of a candle! Obviously the inevitable happens. Scamper comes rushing into the summer house, knocks over the candle, and this alights all the fireworks, and the children have to rush out and get water to extinguish all the flames. It's lucky the whole of the summer house doesn't catch fire, but then this is fiction and Enid can write it how she likes. Of course she doesn't allow the Seven to go without their firework display, for at the end she writes that a parcel is on its way for all their good work, and inside are two hundred wonderful fireworks of all kinds.
This is an enjoyable read, a simple story line to follow, and a happy ending.
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