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Find Outers' Readathon

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Find Outers' Readathon

Postby Ming » 12 Mar 2007, 18:54

Hah, I think it's time we started discussing The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage! :D So, is "tempests" used for the planes that fly above Hick's cottage in the new editions? I think I've read somewhere that "jets" was used, but my edition (1998 Mammoth) uses "tempests". I'm not sure of it.

And, I found it strange that Fatty was so silly at first, but I like the way he improves.

So, any thoughts?

BTW, sorry Moose, that I didn't wait for you. ;)
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Postby Moonraker » 12 Mar 2007, 19:01

Tempests it is.

I am in the enviable? position of having an original with d/w (tho not 1st ed. as I previously thought ) yet, thanks to a very artistic child, full colour illustrations, at least in the first third of the book! They are very well done.

I especially like the frontspiece illustration of the Five plus dog, including names, so we know who's who.

I remember that this title does have a unique feel to it. I like the way the others show their initial dislike of Fatty!

I'm off on a trip to Belgium (will I see Poirot or Tintin, I hear you ask), so will be able to give my thoughts on the book after the weekend.

Thanks, Ming, for starting the ball rolling.
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Postby Ming » 12 Mar 2007, 19:03

moonraker wrote:Thanks, Ming, for starting the ball rolling.

You're welcome! How could I wait when I've finished reading the book yesterday? I am very impatient!
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Postby arky72 » 12 Mar 2007, 22:00

I couldn't wait either - I got the set out at the end of last week and am already on Vanished Prince!

I am not so keen on Fatty in these first few books, I know EB needed to "set the scene" but I don't think it is terribly well thought through. I also don't think the rest of the characters are very substantial. I know it takes time to develop characters, but characters in other first books are more believable.

I thought the Tempests was a clever way of Fatty being able to work out who the culprit was.

I thought there was too much made of Bets being babyish in this book.
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Postby Viking Star » 12 Mar 2007, 22:31

moonraker wrote:I'm off on a trip to Belgium (will I see Poirot or Tintin, I hear you ask), so will be able to give my thoughts on the book after the weekend.



And I'm off to Paris for a few days with work, so I hope I don't miss too much. I can sometimes log in at Eurostar, or our office at the European Space Agency (when no one else is around!) 8) 8)
This is a Green Knight Book which means that it is a book by one of the most popular authors of all.
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Re: Find Outers' Readathon

Postby Jen-Jen » 13 Mar 2007, 08:11

Fatty certainly takes quite a back seat in Burnt Cottage.
I imagine that since Fatty is a new member to the town he is just trying to make friends and fit in, and so is more reserved. But Fatty is never shy -right from the start he has no problem talking to the Larry and co. Maybe any shyness he felt at being new in the town (though I'm sure Fatty would never be shy 8) ) was overcome by the excitement of the cottage being burnt. Nothing like an out of the ordinary event to get people talking!
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Postby Anita Bensoussane » 13 Mar 2007, 12:23

I find it hard to believe now but I was bored by The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage when I first read it, aged about eight. Having read all the Dean&Son books, and most of the Famous Fives and Secret Sevens, Burnt Cottage (the first Find-Outers book I came across) seemed different. I remember telling a friend that the Find-Outers spent all their time "sitting around in people's kitchens, talking." Luckily, that same friend recommended Invisible Thief, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I quickly collected the rest of the series. Nowadays, it's all the "sitting around in people's kitchens, talking" that makes the books so fascinating to me! We get to know the community of Peterswood and some of its inhabitants quite intimately and that's part of the appeal of the books. Peterswood doesn't seem far
removed from the world of Blyton's short stories - a world of scones
and honey, neat hedgerows, games of Snap, silver sixpences, errand boys, policemen on bicycles and comic characters. The Find-Outers books and the Mr. Meddle books both contain characters named Jenks, Pippin and Miggle.


Fatty has, of course, not yet found his feet in The Mystery of the
Burnt Cottage
and he comes across as a real pain. He is even
described as looking "stupid" and we are told that "His brains didn't
show in his face." This is at odds with the way he is depicted in
later books - for example when PC Pippin sizes him up in Pantomime
Cat
: "Brains? Yes. Character? Plenty! Cheek? Too much. Pluck?
Any amount." I actually wonder whether Blyton originally intended
the other Find-Outers to keep Fatty in his place throughout the
series. Larry is older than Fatty and is head of the Find-Outers at
first, so every attempt is made to keep Fatty in check. However,
Fatty, like Snubby, is "irrepressible." His remarkable intelligence, huge personality and sense of fun win out despite his boastful ways and, by Book 3, the others concede that he is the real head of the Find-Outers. Not only does Blyton gradually forget that he is supposed to be a year younger than Larry (in Holly Lane, Fatty states that he is the eldest), but she even forgets that he is a relative newcomer to Peterswood. In Strange Messages we are informed that Mrs. Trotteville has lived in Peterswood for nineteen years, yet the Trottevilles only moved to the area after the children had solved The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage! It appears that for Blyton, as for the reader, it soon became impossible to imagine that there had ever been a time when Fatty had not been a part of Peterswood life.

Another surprise is that Daisy is said to be full of good ideas in Burnt Cottage - I don't think that is so in later books. Also, Mrs. Hilton is not yet such a formidable character and is simply referred to as "Pip's mother" at this stage.

Although I agree that Bets is rather babyish in Burnt Cottage, she doesn't remain so throughout the series. As time passes she becomes more shrewd and very observant, and starts to display a pleasant cheekiness. Fatty too matures, boasting less and honing his skills as a detective. The relationship between Fatty and Bets is quite touching - they develop a mutual admiration and respect, and a strong bond forms between them. At the beginning of Strange Bundle there are some cosy domestic scenes in which Fatty is ill and Bets fetches his dressing-gown and slippers, etc. They are like a married couple in these scenes - if any of Blyton's characters are destined to marry each other, it's these two!

Although Blyton is not yet into the swing of things as regards
characters, I think that Burnt Cottage is an excellent and
sophisticated mystery, in which the children follow up clues and
question suspects methodically. And it is full of memorable
characters with marvellous names which are either humorous or simply
a pleasure to pronounce, eg. Hick, Smellie, Minns and Miggle.

So long!
Anita
Last edited by Anita Bensoussane on 13 Mar 2007, 12:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lucky Star » 13 Mar 2007, 12:25

arky72 wrote:I thought there was too much made of Bets being babyish in this book.


Yes, Enid Blyton certainly let it be known that Bets was the youngest. :lol:

There is a lot of stage setting going on in this book. We are introduced to Peterswood itself and are made aware that its a typical small peaceful English village. We are of course introduced to the Five children and at this point I wonder if EB had yet made up her mind whether Fatty or Larry was to be the leader. Certainly its very much Larry for most of the book but towards the end Fatty asserts himself much more. Of course we now know how the leadership struggle turned out.

We are also introduced to the Find outers great protagonist in the first chapter. Mr Goon's first words in the series are, fittingly, "clear orf". Despite this Goon is not as stupid in this book as he will later become. He keeps up with the find outers reasonably well throughout the mystery. Even when Fatty falls out of a hayrick Goon waits to see if he is hurt before he turns his attention back to the tramp. In later books Goon would rejoice to see Fatty injured.

Elsewhere its a good mystery. I remember as a child that I did'nt guess the culprit till the end although in my adult re-reads it seems perfectly obvious. But it seems well paced and interesting, full of promise of great things to come. Somehow one senses that the characters in this book will become much loved.
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Postby Kitty » 13 Mar 2007, 12:26

Started reading BC last night, but fell asleep before I could finish it! Anyway...

J Abbey has given Pip very odd lips in the frontis. I think he's been at the collagen...

Is this really meant to be the same village as the SS, or have I muddled up what I read somewhere? It seems so different - smaller and more exclusive/expensive...

I like early Fatty, he makes me laugh. Interesting that his parents are already rearing him with benevolent neglect! I like the voice Enid has given him. He and Bets just seem to be simpatico from the word go. "Bets has only got to say 'Oh, how wonderful,' and you make up the tallest stories I've ever heard"!

Larry is a bit like Julian here. He's an efficent leader, but he doesn't have a lot of flair.

Wonder why the farmer with the size 12s isn't a suspect in Invisible Thief!

I did laugh at Daisy with the shoe up her jumper. She's stealing! And I like the way she covers it up, "I keep all kinds of things up my jersey-front!"

Poor Goon. He just has no idea what's starting up here...
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Postby Anita Bensoussane » 13 Mar 2007, 12:38

[Kitty:] "Is this really meant to be the same village as the SS, or have I muddled up what I read somewhere?"

Enid Blyton does call the Secret Seven's village "Peterswood," but only in the 15th Secret Seven book which was written when her mind was no longer so sharp. I think it was just a slip-up and that the two villages weren't meant to be the same.

[Kitty:] "I did laugh at Daisy with the shoe up her jumper. She's stealing!"

Fatty and Larry creeping into Mr. Smellie's house at night is also questionable. It makes me laugh when Pip expresses doubts about doing that, remarking: "...grown-ups are funny. I'm sure most of them wouldn't like children creeping about their houses looking for clues." :lol:

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Postby Kitty » 13 Mar 2007, 12:45

Anita Bensoussane wrote:
Enid Blyton does call the Secret Seven's village "Peterswood," but only in the 15th Secret Seven book which was written when her mind was no longer so sharp. I think it was just a slip-up and that the two villages weren't meant to be the same.


Oh, thanks! I'm sure you're right. I didn't realise it was only mentioned in one book, I don't read the SS that often!


Fatty and Larry creeping into Mr. Smellie's house at night is also questionable. It makes me laugh when Pip expresses doubts about doing that, remarking: "...grown-ups are funny. I'm sure most of them wouldn't like children creeping about their houses looking for clues." :lol:

Anita


Haven't got to that bit yet, looking forward to it, though. They certainly have some cheek! :shock:
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Postby Ming » 13 Mar 2007, 12:47

Quite a lot of cheek! I really can't see them creeping up the stairs in someone else's house in the middle of the night.

BTW, anyone found the word "Smellie" hilarious?
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Postby Anita Bensoussane » 13 Mar 2007, 12:53

[Ming:] "BTW, anyone found the word "Smellie" hilarious?"

The name "Miss Miggle" appeals to me more. It's just such a pleasure to pronounce.

[Kitty:] "Haven't got to that bit yet, looking forward to it, though."

Oops - hope I haven't spoilt it for you. :oops:

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Postby Kitty » 13 Mar 2007, 13:00

Anita Bensoussane wrote:

Oops - hope I haven't spoilt it for you. :oops:

Anita


Oh, no, not at all! I'm always rereading the FFs! I was just agreeing with you that it's a fun, if bizarre, bit!! :lol:
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Postby Robert Houghton » 13 Mar 2007, 15:32

I agree with Anita that one of the best things about 'The Find-Outers' series is the great picture you get of the village as you read through the books. 'Burnt cottage' is actually one of my favourites, but I do find the 'baby' Bets routine a little over the top.

I particularly like the way the book starts, and the atmosphere Enid creates: the feeling of community when the fire starts, and the way she brings the characters together. I also like the other characters first glimpse of Fatty and our first glimpse of Mr Goon.

I remember watching a fire in an old house not far from where I lived when i was a child, and this scene always conjours up memories for me. I think we fancied ourselves as 'find outers' at the time, and were convinced the house fire was the start of something that needed solving. It all came out as being very un-mysterious however - I think the old man had just been smoking in bed!
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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