Five are all grown up

There's been a big surge in the last year or so in children's books aimed at the adult market. You know the sort of thing I mean - Ladybirds for those who grew up with them, and are now 40- or 50-something (The Ladybird book of the Zombie Apocalypse sounds like a must-read), or Enid Blyton with an adult twist. They both feed into the nostalgia market, but usually have a satirical edge too; a bit like the best '70's children's telly that appealed to both children and adults alike, but sometimes for rather different reasons (think Dylan, the right-on-rabbit, of The Magic Roundabout)

A friend introduced me to my first children's-books-for-adults read recently, when she sent me a copy of Bruno Vincent's take on the Famous Five, Five go on a strategy away day. If you've ever been forced to listen to corporate speak, learn the current buzz-words or go on a team building day, this is guaranteed to get you chortling (and occasionally wincing in sympathy).

The Famous Five are now all grown up, but are thrilled to be off on an adventure together - their company's annual Strategy Away Day, but with Timmy the dog unimpressed by virtual minefields, and arch-enemies, the Secret Seven (no, I was never a fan either) determined to come out on top, it's not going to be an easy day for the Famous Five. Thankfully, George has remembered to bring cider and Dick has got peanuts, otherwise sans parents and Cook, it wouldn't have been much of a picnic, but when the Five overhear a conversation, they find themselves at the heart of a proper adventure.

It's great, if gloriously silly fun. The thought of the Secret Seven armed with ukuleles warbling Kum-ba-yah round a roaring camp fire reduced me to helpless giggles. While the Famous Five's attempt to take the Strategy Away Day seriously was both funny, and also pointed out with great humour how truly silly some of these events can be. 

In fact my only, very mild, caveat was the use of illustrations. They're cleverly done using, I believe, original illustrations (except for the cover), but with new appropriate captions added. For some reason these were placed very haphazardly in the book, with illustrations from towards the end of the story featuring towards the beginning and vice versa. It's not a major problem, but I did find it oddly irritating. 

Other than a slight case of Editoritis, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Bruno Vincent did a great job of capturing the essence of Blyton while bringing the Famous Five firmly into the twenty-first century. Nostalgia, laugh-out-loud zaniness, and Timmy the Dog, what's not to like? Absolutely spiffing. Tomato sandwiches, anyone?


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