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Willard Price Adventure Series

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Willard Price Adventure Series

Postby aminmec » 15 Jun 2017, 10:27

Most of the Famous Five books I read were the paperbacks of the late 70s and 80s , by Knight books.
After the story was savoured and the list of 21 books listed on the last pages were committed to memory and plans were set to get hold of the other titles in future , I often read the advertisement for other Knight books .One most seen was of -Daddy long legs and the other was of Willard Price -Adventure series .
Being interested in adventure books , the titles intrigued me a lot.
Underwater adventure , Safari adventure , Gorillla adventure , Volcano adventure and Amazon adventure were some of them.
'Hal and Roger hunt animals for the world zoos ' the advertisement was on these lines somewhat.
I much desired to read them but never came across any copies back them.Its only years later in recent past I found some of the Willard price books and got the chance to read them.
It was an exciting read -Amazon adventure ..excitement , danger , action in natural setting. .However not all is just harmless fun..There was some rough action , bloodshed and killing in the story.Made me wonder , that they were such a far cry from the harmless excitement of the Famous Five stories in which they were advertised.
I look forward to reading the rest of the 14 books as I sure want to know what the boys would do facing lions , tigers and volcanoes .
Have anyone else read these books after seeing the advertisements and did you enjoy them?
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Re: Willard Price Adventure Series

Postby Spitfire » 15 Jun 2017, 22:47

I read all the 'Hal and Roger' books growing up (multiple times), not in response to an advert but because my family owned several of them, and the ones we didn't have we borrowed from cousins/friends. I have most of them still, but sadly don't get quite the same enjoyment from them now as I did as a child.

I loved the books and was fascinated by everything I was introduced to: lands and cultures and people vastly different to my own; scientists pushing at the boundaries of technology and knowledge; the truly weird and amazing world of nature and animal life, and of course, Hal and Roger themselves, two intrepid teenage American boys who seemed to be on permanent 'vacation' from school/college. Roger is mischievous and Hal is wonderful!... almost too good to be true... (I had a bit of a crush on him!) Roger has a wonderful gift with animals just like Philip Mannering's - he is able to calm distressed animals, and win the trust and co-operation of almost any creature.

I think it really brilliant the way Willard Price combined so many different elements in his stories. You've no doubt found that the same basic ideas that are present in Amazon have been repeated in the other books you've read, but I think the vastly different settings keep it all fresh. The two boys find that there is a human enemy to contend with as they attempt to get on with the task at hand (usually, but not always this is to capture animals for zoos or circuses across the world). There is often an underdog or a human cause to be championed. Death is faced several times over in each of the books. Comrades are made, who appear in more than one book. So does a certain enemy! And then there are dangers from the animals themselves, and from hostile environments, or extreme weather... But, like cartoon characters, the Hunt boys are unsquashable, and fortunately live to receive the telegram from their father at the end of each book telling them where to go next.

The violence in the books never bothered me at all growing up. It does seem strange that a series advertised at the back of Famous Five books contains some quite extreme stuff. (Have you read Underwater yet?) But I don't think of them as violent books and I think that's partly because Willard Price's style is unemotional and matter-of-fact, and partly because the Hunt boys never react with panic. It's not until you read it with adult eyes you realise exactly what you are reading. The reason I don't enjoy the books now is because so many of the animals end up suffering (usually at the hands of poachers of similar). Hal and Roger have such a concern and a care for the welfare of the animals that somehow their intentions outweighed the bad parts when I was a child - but now I find I get a bit stuck on those bits and they spoil the books for me.

They're all dated now of course - but that just makes them more interesting, not less! Elephant was one of my favourites as a child because of the fabulous setting (the Mountains of the Moon) but they are all special. I also loved South Seas, African and Gorilla.

Hope you enjoy the rest of the series, Aminmec. Which do you like best so far?
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Re: Willard Price Adventure Series

Postby pete9012S » 16 Jun 2017, 09:09

What a great post.I too loved the books and have them all.
I have been trying to get hold of Willard Price's autobiography for some time but it's always quite expensive:

My Own Life of Adventure, Price, Willard, Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1982

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/My-Own-Life-o ... Sw1WJZGTy3
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Re: Willard Price Adventure Series

Postby Spitfire » 16 Jun 2017, 21:37

Gosh - that is expensive! I've just looked on Amazon and there are several on sale, ranging from £35 up to £205. Even £35 is much more than I would want to pay, so I'll just have to keep an eye out in charity shops!
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Re: Willard Price Adventure Series

Postby aminmec » 17 Jun 2017, 12:50

Thank you both for the responses .Iam glad I am not the only one to like Willard Price adventure series
So far I have only read the first one -Amazon adventure and immensely liked it .At the beginning It looked to be a rehash of the Hardy Boys but as the tale progressed I was pleasantly surprised.Shocks and thrills were plenty. Encounters with the tiger and Anaconda were very creepy ( also due to the fact that the very livid depiction of the behaviour of the snake we seen in the film -Anaconda in the 2000 era..So those images were flashing up ).
also noticed that the ages of the boys were not mentioned ...maybe its up to the readers imagination.
I have gathered some other titles though not the entire set .I am in India and its not easy to come across these books especially as they are no longer in print .
I have some editions of knight and some by Red Fox.The Red fox ones with the gold logo and cover art by Richard Jones ( who also did some modern famous five covers ) are quite dynamic. Pity they arent in print either .
I also noticed that they have sketches inside while the Knight editions do not.
Someday I hope to have the full set of 14 .
As there are so many different prints , have there been any alterations to the content ..do you know ?
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Re: Willard Price Adventure Series

Postby pete9012S » 17 Jun 2017, 15:47

Image

I have 1-14 of the books in epub electronic version - sadly without illustrations.
I think the first book I read was South Sea Adventure and this remains one of my favourites.
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Re: Willard Price Adventure Series

Postby Spitfire » 20 Jun 2017, 15:09

aminmec wrote:So far I have only read the first one -Amazon adventure and immensely liked it .At the beginning It looked to be a rehash of The Hardy Boys but as the tale progressed I was pleasantly surprised.Shocks and thrills were plenty. Encounters with the tiger and Anaconda were very creepy...

Yes, when I was typing 'two intrepid teenage American boys' in my first post, The Hardy Boys sprang to mind, but actually the series are quite different. Willard Price's Adventure stories blend good hard solid facts (scientific, geographical, historical, zoological) with the most fantastic and extreme adventures. I learned a massive amount from the books about our world but was continually entertained and enthralled. Enid Blyton also had that gift of being able to simultaneously instruct and entertain.

On the other hand I could never get into The Hardy Boys - there was something unconvincing about them!

Incidentally, Price's use of 'tigre' throughout Amazon Adventure caused me to mistakenly believe for years that the animal he was referring to was an actual tiger, when of course it was the jaguar. Hunt does explain that to his sons early in the book but for some reason I always missed the explanation - lazy reading no doubt - and I didn't really clear it up in my head until I was an adult!

aminmec wrote:also noticed that the ages of the boys were not mentioned ...maybe its up to the readers imagination.

Hal is nineteen throughout the series (though I'm not sure about the last one, Arctic, which is the only book I barely remember) and Roger is thirteen in the earlier books and fourteen in the later ones. Their ages are usually given somewhere near the beginning of the books - I'm sure it does in South Seas which is the second book of the series.

It's worth reading the books in order if you can, as they intentionally follow on from one adventure to another, and one or two of the extra characters have a minor story arc over more than one book.

aminmec wrote:I have gathered some other titles though not the entire set .I am in India and its not easy to come across these books especially as they are no longer in print .
I have some editions of knight and some by Red Fox.The Red fox ones with the gold logo and cover art by Richard Jones ( who also did some modern famous five covers ) are quite dynamic. Pity they arent in print either .
I also noticed that they have sketches inside while the Knight editions do not.
Someday I hope to have the full set of 14 .
As there are so many different prints , have there been any alterations to the content ..do you know ?

I hadn't realised these books were no longer in print :( Hope I can complete my collection before they become too scarce. I don't know if there have been any alterations to the text. I'm collecting the paperback Knight editions I read as a child, and the ones I'm collecting do have internal illustrations by Pat Marriott. I've always liked the illustrations - they're shadowy, atmospheric and suggestive. I'd love to collect the Cape hardbacks with dustwrappers, as those covers are gorgeous.

Good luck on completing your collection; I hope it doesn't take too long!

As for me, I'm going to retire to the garden to refresh myself with a mint Cornetto and a sail across the South Seas... :D
Sarah
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Re: Willard Price Adventure Series

Postby RDMorrell » 16 Jul 2017, 12:54

I am fortunate enough to have a full set of Willard Price Adventure books, all in the same Knight paperback edition (always a bonus when you can have a set with uniform covers!).

I too recall seeing the books advertised at the back of Famous Five books (my FF books are also Knight paperbacks, but alas not all with the same cover style). The first one I read was South Sea Adventure, which I borrowed from a friend in about 1985. I absolutely loved it, and it wasn't long before I was getting my own copies. I read most of them in my early teens (not a bad age to read them given some of the violence others have mentioned), but didn't complete the set until my 19th birthday in 1991, when I picked up Cannibal Adventure on a "bookshop crawl". I left that book until last because its premise didn't particularly appeal to me (although it was better than I thought when I read it), but I think it might have been relatively hard to find in any case.

Aside from the adventure and suspense, I loved all the factual information Willard Price put about the animal kingdom and also different countries in his books. He used to write for National Geographic, apparently, so he had plenty of good knowledge to impart. The Willard Price books were definitely some of the most educational for me in my younger years. For example, it was from these books that I learned about "the bends" (from Underwater Adventure I think, or maybe it was Diving Adventure), although I've never had to worry about those as I've never been diving. And I also learned about the evils of poaching from African Adventure (or it might have been Elephant Adventure). Indeed, whenever I see a news item about poaching elephant tusks or whatever in Africa, I am reminded of the Willard Price books.

Did you know that there are four additional Adventure books written by Anthony McGowan? You can buy Kindle editions of them, but there are probably paperback ones available as well. The books are, in order, Leopard Adventure, Shark Adventure, Bear Adventure and Python Adventure. This series features cousins Amazon (a girl) and Frazer Hunt, the children of Hal and Roger. Incidentally, while the original Willard Price books may be out of print, some of them are still available in Kindle editions (two books per volume though). I've bought all of these, but haven't got around to reading them yet, so I don't know how faithful McGowan manages to be to the original series.
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