Book one of this world famous series of adventures for the younger reader (and Bear, if he is lucky enough to own one) is pure joy to read and experience. The story is somewhat dated, of course, but the book connoisseur (and his cuddly Bear) soon learns to skip over the uncomfortable bits and fall for the brave set of would-be adventurers as they pretend to be as tough as can be in order to conquer their fears, as well as their own individual corners of the world. Three young children - two brothers (Julian, and Dick) and their sister (Anne) - are given the rare and very exciting chance to holiday away from their parents (who are off to Scotland) for a week at the beach, staying with very adorable and utterly trustworthy cousins.
Once there, the book’s structure becomes evident. Mission one is to meet, come to grips with, and (hopefully) befriend strange cousin “George”. Mission two is to convince said Cousin George to take them all to George’s mysterious Kirrin Island, so they can explore the equally mysterious looking castle sitting on top of the island. The third mission of the book (I’ll stop soon, I promise) is almost the best so far. The children (and certain bears who can read) meet - and immediately adore - Timothy the Wonder Dog.
The strongest and smartest character of the “heroes” appears to be George. She is certainly the most interesting on many levels, certainly the most intelligent and has the most experience when it comes to sea-fare. Each of the characters have their own interesting history, the only real “bad” character in the book is Uncle Quentin. Of course he is not “bad” in the real sense of the word, but I guess every story needs contrast and he is the one to provide it. Even Timothy has got a measurable degree of depth, and he is the family dog! The children, naturally enough, tend to stick together, and little Anne, who is terrified of Quentin, is often seen to be consoled and protected by her brothers.
It all starts to come together nicely by the end of chapter seven when the main focus of two prior chapters is merged via a piece of story telling genius from the author. And of course this leads to further adventures, and dangers and achievements for the characters concerned, and it is all written and structured beautifully.
And so it goes. Fun times are had by all. Danger is faced, and overcome, with all sorts of morals, and lessons and experiences to be had. The writing is straightforward and easy to devour, which is not surprising given the book’s target audience. The reader may well cringe at the few phrases and scenes that are sadly out of date, but they become virtually invisible as you find yourself swept away by the book’s sense of fun and innocence. And of course the discerning reader (child, adult or bear) will appreciate the book’s subtleties, too. For instance, the rather long epiphany which comes to George at location 1086 of the kindle version. And a smaller version which preceded it at location 705:
“For the first time, George began to understand that sharing pleasures doubles their joy.”
Looking back, it is no surprise the books are read and adored and re-read by children the world over for generations. Even certain adults and certain bears have enjoyed reading them for the first time and will probably love them as much as anyone else! An obvious full marks for me.
This is brilliant stuff.
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