06 August 2021

Smugglers at Whistling Sands - a children's adventure story

Smugglers at Whistling Sands (Lou Elliott Mystery Adventures #1)Smugglers at Whistling Sands by George Chedzoy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four children on a seaside holiday run unto a bunch of smugglers, and decide to spy on them to see what they are up to. Predictably, they get into trouble, and have an exciting and rather scary adventure.

Does it sound like Enid Blyton? That's because it is. Author George Chedzoy says he is trying to write something like Enid Blyton's "Famous Five" stories, because he thinks there are not enough such stories, and that is something I can applaud. As C.S. Lewis once famously said to his friend and fellow author J.R.R. Tolkien, "If we want more of the kind of stories we like, we shall have to write them ourselves."

At least one reviewer compared my children's books Of Wheels and Witches and The Enchanted Grove with the "Famous Five", and I'm not sure the comparison was appropriate. I'd perhaps have been happier if he had compared my books with those of Alan Garner, whose children's books I thought there weren't enough of, but in the case of Smugglers at Whistling Sands the comparison with the "Famous Five" is entirely appropriate. My books, like Alan Garner's, though also adventures of kids on holiday, have an element of fantasy, which one does not find in the "Famous Five", nor in this book.

Not only does Smugglers at Whistling Sands fit into the Enid Blyton genre, it is actually far better. George Chedzoy simply writes better than Enid Blyton. There are still some Blytonisms. There is food porn, but not very much, and it is played down. There are the obligatory exclamation marks, but two or three in a chapter rather than two or three in a paragraph, and they are used in more appropriate places. There is nothing of the "What a surprise!" kind of thing, which I find so annoying about Enid Blyton.

In Smugglers at Whistling Sands Louise Elliott, aged 12, rather lonely and neglected by her parents is bored in their holiday cottage on the North Wales coast, but makes friends with three siblings, Jack, David and Emily Johnson, who are staying in a nearby caravan park. David by chance overhears a conversation between two men about landing something valuable on an island. The children conclude that the men are smugglers, and decide to play detective and investigate. They sail to the island in Louise's boat, and find a briefcase full of American money, so their suspicions seem to be justified, and they decide to investigate further...

When I was a child I never cared much for the "Famous Five". I found them dull and predictable, and the characters were stereotyped, each having one characteristic that dominated everything. Of the works of Enid Blyton I far preferred her "of adventure" and "secret of" stories, such as The Mountain of Adventure , but i think I would have enjoyed this one very much when I was about 10 years old. So if you know a child who likes the "Famous Five", do them a favour and give them this -- it's far better.

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