THE BLURB (Taken from the back of this edition)
First edition 1944 my edition 1951About the book: Robin, Betty and Lucy are delighted when some new people move into the empty house close to theirs – especially when they spot a boy of their own age over the fence. But a sinister mystery surrounds Kit, the boy next door – a secret so terrible that he is forced to live like a prisoner. The children try to help him escape- and find themselves in a desperate struggle against a ruthless criminal.
The story begins with us meeting Betty who is awaiting the arrival of her brother Robin, home from boarding school for the summer and her cousin Lucy and her dog Sandy come to stay.
Robin returns home feeling much older and doesn’t want to play with the girls thinking girls can’t catch and wishes for another boy to play with. They are told a new family are coming to stay next door and the children hope, well Robin hopes that it is another boy to play with. They hear a lot of howling from next door and sure enough there is a boy dressed as a Red Indian, we soon discover is They decide they are going to dress up and seek next door to give the boy a fright. However the boy captures them and ties each of them to a tree and disappears. The woman who had been sat reading when they first looked into the garden comes across them and is shocked to find them. They tell her the boy tied them up and she exclaims there never was one. She unties them and tells them never to come back.
Later a ball comes over the fence with a message in it explaining that he would like to meet but the hole has been covered up in the hedge where they entered, and that another rout must be found but they must not be seen. The children begin to wonder what kind of mystery is going on next door if the boy they met ‘does not exist!’
The story leads on to the discovery that the boy is in hiding from his ‘evil uncle’ since his father was killed in a plane crash leaving him an orphan and very rich and that ever since his ‘evil uncle’ has kidnapped him twice and is trying again to gain his fortune. The children do find a way to meet again and discover a houseboat on the river which a gentleman - Mr Cunningham - agrees to let them have for two slices of birthday cake. The children set about redecorating the boat and plan ways to seek Kit out onto the boat so they can have picnics and adventures.
Then one day they find out Mr Cunningham has gone abroad and the children and told by two nasty men to stay clear of the boat as they want peace and quiet. However it turns out they are working for Kit’s Uncle and they hide the boat. It’s discovered by Robin later on under some willows down a back stretch of the river and has had its windows bordered up.
A few days later Robin wonders what has happened to Kit and goes next door to investigate and discovers Kit locked in his bedroom. After hearing Mr Barton climb the stairs he hides only to be discovered by the adults. Robin makes his escape but only just and runs to tell the girls. He decides he must go back and help Kit and in doing so discovers that Mr Barton is plotting with the ‘evil Uncle’ to have the boy kidnapped again. Robin decides it would be best to hide Kit and takes him to the boat, only to discover later that is where the evil Uncle was planning to hide him. Its here where the adventure reaches its climax and good again conquers evil with a few surprises on the way.
This to me was a child’s introduction to mystery and crime writing and if I had children I would definitely read this to them. I was totally gripped and found myself shouting ‘no don’t do that, it’s a trap!’ It involved kids using their imaginations, wits, looking out for each other, and learning that not all adults are friendly. They climbed trees, dug holes, played games, made dens and created a friendship that would last forever, a childhood everyone should have.
Whilst writing this I tried researching the book and found very little apart from this the Enid Blyton society and this blog HERE.
Dec - The Twins at St Clare's
Nov - The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat
Oct - The Naughtiest School Girl
Sep - Mr Galliano’s Circus
Aug - The Boy Next Door
Jul - Adventures of the wishing Chair
Jun - The Magic Faraway Tree
May - The Enchanted Wood
Apr - The Adventures of Scamp
Mar - Secret Seven
Feb - Five on a treasure Island
Jan - The Book of Brownies
Helen tweets from @isfromupnorth and has her own blog Hello from me to you. It's worth bookmarking because Helen knows EVERYONE and is involved in all sorts of lovely events!
The Hobbit (book) review