The Enid Blyton Society
Five Go Off in a Caravan
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Book Details...

First edition: 1946
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Illustrator: Eileen A. Soper
Category: Famous Five
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations


Dustwrapper from the 1957 edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Endpapers from the 1st edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Endpapers from the 1957 edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Frontis from the 1st edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

1st German edition published by Blüchert Verlag, Hamburg in 1955,
illustrated by Friedrich Karl Gallwey with the title Five Friends at the Wandering Circus

Early German reprint published by Blüchert Verlag, Hamburg,
illustrated by Nikolaus Plump

1st Spanish edition published by Editorial Juventud in 1965,
illustrated by José Correas
Foreign Titles
German: Fünf Freunde beim Wanderzirkus
French: Le Club des Cinq et les Saltimbanques
Dutch: De Vijf in een kampeerwagen
Spanish: Los Cinco en la caravana
Portuguese: Os Cinco e o Circo
Italian: I Cinque alle prese con Strane Persone
Swedish: Fem på tjuvjakt
Danish: De fem og cirkuskaravanen
Finnish: Viisikko Kesälomalla
Russian: Taina brodiatschewo zirka
Slovenian: 5 Prijateljev v cirkuskem taboru
Serbo-Croat: 5 Prijatelja u cirkusu
Icelandic: Fimm á ferðalagi
Slovakian: Slavna Patka v karavane
Basque: Bostak Karabanan
Indonesian: Lima Sekawan Berkelana
Malaysian: 5 Gangguan Tengah Malam

Brief Summary by Poppy Hutchinson: Inspired by a passing circus: in this Famous Five book, the children hire two caravans and horses and head off to Merran Lake, to join the circus folk there - including their new friend, Nobby and become surrounded by a picturesque environment and long lasting days of glorious sunshine. The children and Timmy are thrilled to be so close to such interesting and unusual people, but are later disappointed to be forbidden to go anywhere near the camp, by Nobby's unfriendly Uncle Dan (known as Tiger Dan) and his friend Lou. Why are Tiger Dan and Lou so anxious to keep them away? Find out by reading this fifth gripping Famous Five adventure.

Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Terry Gustafson's Review
Right from the very start there's a mistake in this book which can be rectified immediately. Perhaps Five Go off in Caravans should be the title or better still — Five on a Caravan Holiday. Something like that. They probably could've taken one caravan but whereas George could have slept with the boys, Anne may have required a certain degree of privacy. On starry nights her boudoir may need to have been located underneath the caravan itself and I don't think she'd have been very happy with that arrangement.

The Kirrins therefore hire two caravans. They hitch them up to horses and take to the road in very high spirits. Driving is A Man's Job says George so she handles the reins and Anne's quite happy with that because she'll be able to keep the caravan tidy as they trundle along with everything shaking about. The food they eat on their travels is supplied as always by willing farmers' wives and daughters and very good it is. The reader may feel quite hungry when the children are stocking up with fresh eggs and milk, crocks of yellow cream, newly churned butter, raspberries straight from the garden and affiliated sustenance.

Circus performers play a large part in the lives of many EB characters and this time it's the turn of the Famous Five to meet up with some of that ilk. Earlier on they'd palled up with a circus boy whose name is Nobby and as they are free to go wherever they like, what better than to search him out again and renew the acquaintance. They do so. Their new friend shows them around the camp and introduces them to a chimpanzee named Pongo and they also meet up with a couple of fairly unsavoury characters. One's a not-so-happy clown called Tiger Dan (Tiger was bestowed on him because he has such a rotten temper) and the other is an acrobat named Lou. If there are nasty people anywhere in the plot the children will sooner or later have a confrontation. Sure enough they go through the motions but George is there with her dog and the first round goes to the Famous Five.

They move themselves into the nearby hills because they're Good people and don't want to cause unnecessary disturbance and having established themselves another visit to the circus camp is arranged. A wonderful day is had by all but it ends horribly and this is where the intrigue begins. Timmy had been left to guard the caravans and when they return for supper accompanied by Nobby, his two terriers — Barker and Growler, and Pongo the chimp a dreadful thing happens. Barker gnaws at a piece of meat he has found and it makes him extremely sick! Someone has visited the caravans when they were away and offered poisoned food to Timmy! Fortunately the dog has been well trained by his devoted Master (or Mistress) and would not accept vittles from strangers. Timmy has been around and has come into contact with villains before so he knows what they're capable of and George's instruction has been sound. Although Nobby's dogs are skilled performers and could leave Timmy standing as far as circus tricks go, their worldliness would not extend much further than the ring itself. Barker has paid the price! Nobby disappears with his entourage to see if he can find someone who can help the poor animal and it's not till the end that we find out whether or not he died.

The children need to find out why this has happened. What did the unknown visitor or visitors want and why did they try to kill poor Tim? A plan is evolved and put into action. There are suspected persons and the kids decide to fool them into thinking they have all gone to town but in reality Julian will creep back and await developments. It works. The intruders (two men) return and actually shift one of the caravans for some reason known only to them. The problem is that it's parked near the edge of an incline and when it is pushed do the rogues care how far it will roll? We need to know this because Julian, in full intelligence-gathering mode, is lying flat on the roof and holding onto the chimney for all he's worth. Will the caravan end up careering down the hill with the boy up there and unable to jump off?

In this story there's a secret passage (of course) and there's also an enormous cavern and a few very exciting discoveries but it's not all plain sailing. Before the tale ends the chimpanzee — Pongo, experiences a cowardly and cruel attack but nevertheless he still manages to be useful to the children when they end up as prisoners underground. Near the conclusion there's gunfire (Where's Timmy? Not in the firing line surely!) and there are other violent incidents creating a situation in which the Famous Five could suffer serious damage. Whether or not they all come out of it in one piece must be left to the imagination but I can report that at the end of it all, Nobby the circus boy states in front of a very proud George that " ... she's as good as a boy any day." Now that's praise indeed! These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.