May 28, 2012

#TheList, No. 480: Five on a Treasure Island

The first rule of children's literature is Get Rid of the Parents.  Children like to read stories about other children going on adventures and if the parents are in the way, that puts a limit on the fun.  Who wants to read about Alice going through Wonderland with her Mom in tow telling her not to Eat This or Drink That?  Parents mean rules and if the parents become absent in literature, then the children characters are allowed to bend the rules or make their own, opening up the possibilities.  Obviously there are exceptions; characters can be in a school setting where there are also implied rules, but breaking these rules is less disobedience and more mischievous.

Anyway, on the first page of Five on a Treasure Island, the parents announce they're going on vacation and the children are going on a separate vacation.  Boom, it's adventure time.  No parents means that these kids are free to explore a shipwreck and find treasure.  Granted, they are under watch of their aunt and uncle, but Enid Blyton takes care to distance these authoritative figures.  The aunt is a bit of a pushover and the uncle is a terror written for us to root for the kids' rebellion. 

There's nothing super special about this book (which is apparently the first in the Famous Five series), but it works because it follows this children's literature rule.  Five kids end up sailing to an island searching for lost treasure.  It's actually pretty tame when it could be a lot more adventurous, but it wouldn't work at all if the parents were around.

 I'd say that this story is for kids around the 4th grade or any kid looking for a quick read and doesn't mind the 40's lingo.  I swear these kids talk like Pokemon trainers: "What's up? Have you lost your tongue?" or "You do look a sight."  

It's good for a summer rainy day.  If you wanted to make a program or quick project out of the series, you could have the kids make up their own treasure maps.  If you had more time to plan, you could make a treasure map and have an actual little treasure hunt in the library or some place near the library. 

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