The Adventure Series
|Genre||Children's literature, mystery|
|No. of books||8|
The Adventure Series by Enid Blyton, a prolific English children's author, is a series of eight children's novels. These books feature the same child characters: Philip, Jack, Dinah, and Lucy-Ann, along with several adult characters. Jack's pet parrot, Kiki, is also a standard feature in each novel.
The stories show the four children off on their own, discovering and solving mysteries without much adult assistance. Although the publication dates span a decade, Blyton reportedly wrote each of the novels in less than a week.
The colourful dust jackets and line illustrations were by Stuart Tresilian.
(family names are provided based on first appearances)
- Philip Mannering: A boy with a growth of hair which stands up above the forehead, earning him (and his sister and mother, but mainly him) the nickname "Tufty" from Jack. Like his late father, Philip has a gift of befriending any type of land-based animal he comes across, and always has a veritable zoo of small animals somewhere within his clothes. He is quite a tease with his sister Dinah about her squeamishness and often gets into fights with her about it. He's Jack's best friend and is quite kind to Lucy-Ann when Dinah is a little mean.
- Jack Trent: A boy about Philip's age (about 14 in the series' beginning), who has red hair, green eyes and lots of freckles all over his face, the latter of which earning him the nickname "Freckles" from Philip. He and his sister Lucy-Ann are orphans and used to live with an unfriendly uncle until they are adopted by Mrs Mannering. Jack has a special passion for birds, and spends most of his time observing them. His greatest dream is becoming an ornithologist. He loves Mrs Mannering very much and cares greatly about his sister Lucy-Ann.
- Dinah Mannering: Philip's younger sister of about twelve in the beginning of the series. Like her brother, she has a tuft of hair standing up atop her head, but she shares neither his gift in attracting, nor his love for, animals, especially the small creeping types (mice, insects, snakes etc.). Temperamental as she is, she often finds herself the target of her brother's teasing, but otherwise she is quite level-headed, tough, intelligent and grown-up for her age.
- Lucy-Ann Trent: Jack's little sister is the youngest of the foursome (about 11 in the beginning of the series) and also the most timid one. Like her brother, she has red hair, green eyes and freckles, and in several instances she is described as very pretty. Lucy-Ann is very affectionate towards the people she loves, particularly her brother Jack, though sometimes she is a little jealous that Jack seems to love birds more than her. She also loves her adopted "parents" Bill and Mrs Mannering very much, is Dinah's best friend and quite fond of Philip.
- Kiki: Jack's female pet parrot which is described as scarlet and grey with a big crest on her head. Her most noticeable trait is her enormous repertoire of command phrases and peculiar noises, which she seems to pick up very easily. Her commands originally came from Jack and Lucy-Ann's unfriendly uncle and his stern caretaker, with whom they had to live until Jack and Lucy-Ann were adopted by Mrs Mannering. In the stories Kiki serves usually either as comic relief or as a saviour from tight situations.
- Bill Cunningham: An important member (holding the rank of inspector) of an unspecified, quite possibly fictional secret service force (possibly based upon the British Secret Intelligence Service). His most prominent bodily feature is his half-bald head. He meets the children upon their very first adventure and makes regular appearances in the series from that point on. Mostly the children get tangled up in adventures which are connected with Bill's work at the time and end up solving them for him.
Following the events in The Ship of Adventure, Bill marries Mrs Mannering and adopts all the children as his own. Upon first encountering the children, he used the alias "Bill Smugs" – a name which appeared again in The Mountain of Adventure.
- Mrs Alison Mannering (later Cunningham, aka "Aunt Allie"): Philip and Dinah's mother is a widow (not much is revealed about her late husband, only that he seems to have possessed the same animal-charming ability Philip demonstrates throughout the series), and like her children she has a tuft of hair upon the top of her head. At first she adopts Jack and Lucy-Ann into her family, providing them a loving home; later she marries their common friend Bill and finds a new family with all of them. She is affectionately called "Aunt Allie" by Jack and especially by Lucy-Ann.
- The Island of Adventure (1944) AKA Mystery Island (US, 1945)
- The Castle of Adventure (1946)
- The Valley of Adventure (1947)
- The Sea of Adventure (1948)
- The Mountain of Adventure (1949)
- The Ship of Adventure (1950)
Originally, the series was supposed to end after this episode, but under the great demand of dedicated fans, Blyton wrote two more episodes:
All of the books are in print, and the original editions are expensive collectors' items.
TV versions of all eight novels were produced by Cloud 9 Entertainment Studios in 1996.
The Island of Adventure
Philip meets Jack and Lucy-Ann and Jack's pet bird Kiki, and after they sneak home with him, they move in with Philip, his sister Dinah and their Aunt Polly and Uncle Jocelyn at an ancient mansion at the coast. Strange lights on the nearby mysterious island leads to the four's first adventure inside an abandoned copper mine and a network of secret undersea tunnels.
The Castle of Adventure
Philip and Dinah's mother takes the four on a summer adventure to a valley in the countryside overlooked by an ominous abandoned castle. When the four go looking for eagles, they find that the castle isn't as abandoned as they were led to believe. They investigate and get caught up in an encounter with a gang of dangerous spies.
The Valley of Adventure
When Bill buys a plane, he decides to take the four children for a holiday, but events at the airport lead to the four getting into the wrong plane. When the plane lands they find themselves in an unfamiliar valley scarred by war and, once again, the four children fall into an adventure involving a lost treasure sought by a band of villains.
The Sea of Adventure
Bill takes the foursome on a trip to a Scottish island to help them recover from measles. But amongst the islands, they stumble upon a sinister plot; Bill disappears, and the children are left alone to find out where he is and what is going on.
The Mountain of Adventure
Hoping for a quiet holiday for once, the children, Kiki, Mrs. Mannering and Bill go to a mountain farm in Wales for some wandering. But on the search for the Vale of Butterflies, the children get lost and find themselves near a mysterious mountain. Ominous rumblings from the ground, a pack of wolves roaming the area, a black fugitive, and Philip's disappearance are but a few of the mysteries the children have to unravel about the mountain.
The Ship of Adventure
All the children are aboard for a quiet cruise among the Greek islands. But when Jack's pet parrot breaks a birthday present, all the children are plunged into an exciting quest to find the lost treasure of the Andra with some ruthless villains hot on their trail.
The Circus of Adventure
Who is the strange, pompous foreign boy Gustavus Barmilevo invited to the children's home by Bill for the holidays? The children soon discover that he is a prince, named Aloysius Gramondie, and has enemies on his trail. The enemies want to overthrow his uncle, who is too strong a ruler for his enemies, and to place the prince on the throne as a puppet ruler. Jack and Kiki find themselves following the others, who are kidnapped and taken to the strange country of Tauri Hessia; but he finds help with a circus, and with his new friends Jack will soon decide the fate of an entire nation.
The River of Adventure
Recovering from a very bad flu, the four children and their family make a river trip in the Middle East. But there is another reason for this choice of destination: Bill has been asked to watch a crook named Raya Uma. The children soon find another adventure revolving around a magnificent buried city filled with treasure beyond imagination.
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In the '90s, the adventure series was adapted for television. The main characters were all the same as in the books, but the stories were set in modern times. This did not greatly affect the plot of the stories, though Jack owned a pocket computer which played a significant role in a couple of the adventures, particularly in "The Ship of Adventure". "The Mountain of Adventure" was set in the German Alps, rather than the Welsh mountains as in the books. Also, many of the TV adaptations featured bumbling henchmen for comic relief. Probably the most notable henchman was Ray Uma's henchman, Taj, in "The River of Adventure", who appeared to be more intelligent than his master, and had a major role in the episode's plot. The TV series also introduced a character who was not in the books- Sir George Houghton, Cunningham's rich, underworked boss, who appeared in every episode except "The Valley of Adventure". A running gag was that he always phoned Cunningham with an urgent assignment just as the family were planning a holiday- in "The Ship of Adventure", Bill had to postpone his wedding for this reason- yet Sir George appeared to be a gentleman of leisure. He was only seen doing real work a couple of times in the entire series- he was shown playing pool and golf, and on one occasion, he was seen fishing, though he lied that he was in the office.