Children's Literature

Book Reviews the Famous five and the Mystery of the Emeralds by Claude Voilier

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The Famous Five were among British author Enid Blyton's most well known and best-loved characters.  Millions of children in countless countries across the globe have read and enjoyed the adventures of the quintet that makes up the Famous Five, since the publication of the first book in 1942 in the series of twenty-one.

Julian, Dick and Anne are brothers and sister who, together with their tomboyish cousin George (Georgina by rights) and her beloved dog Timothy, like nothing better than to spend their holidays hiking, biking, swimming, camping and exploring the countryside by themselves with plenty of food and fun. They invariably fall into a hair-raising adventures during their excursions and use their wit, courage and determination to outwit kidnappers, thieves, smugglers and desperate criminals.

Enid Blyton’s first Famous Five book was published in 1942 while the last made its appearance in 1963. Later French writer Claude Voilier wrote 24 Famous Five continuation novels, but only 18 of them were translated into English. ‘The Famous Five and the Mystery of the Emeralds’ was written in 1971 by Claude Voilier as 'Les Cinq Sont Les Plus Forts' and was translated in English by Anthea Bell.

The Famous Five are on a holiday and looking forward to camping on Kirrin Island all by themselves. While playing a game of hide and seek, George overhears a couple of crooks planning a jewel robbery. This sets the Famous Five on a dangerous and thrilling trail of jewel robbers. The thieves were planning to rob a wealthy woman who lived alone and had a beautiful emerald necklace in her possession. The Five discover three such women but have a hard time convincing any one of them of the impending danger. Who is the actual target and how will the Famous Five stop the thieves when they are being accused of being criminals by the ladies and the police? Readers will find out only after reading the book.

Cluade Voilier books would certainly put Enid Blyton fans in a quandary. While they would love the opportunity to read about more adventures of their favorite quintet, they might not be able to accept the watered down version of their much loved characters as is presented in Claude Voilier books.

George is shown to be more bad-tempered and quick to pick up a fight and many fans would feel that the French writer hasn’t been to kind to her character. Dick is also quite unkind when he teases his sister and this aspect was never present in Enid Blyton books where the two brothers were shown to be very protective of their youngest sibling.

For diehard Enid Blyton fans, the books by Claude Voilier might not seem interesting or even worth reading. They certainly lack the atmosphere and details that made Enid Blyton's books so readable. The much loved British author had a very unique way of transporting the readers to underground tunnels, secret passages, dark caves, sunlit beaches and little bakeries where cheerful old women served hot buttery buns, scones and tea.

But it would be unfair to reject Claude Voilier books as worthless. The plots in Claude Voilier books are quite exciting and have plenty of pace and action. ‘The Famous Five and the Mystery of the Emeralds’ makes for a nice and interesting read for children as long as it is not being compared to the original books of the Famous Five series by the British maestro. 

More about this author: Gulrukh Tausif

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