July 2022 Books Monthly Review of books and stories magazine - on the web 24 years...
books monthly
Featuring this month Robert Opie's fabulous book: Remember When, and Famous Five #4...


Contents: The Front Page | Fiction | Fantasy & Science Fiction | Children's | Nonfiction | Nostalgia | The Silent Three | The Four Marys
Growing Up in the 1950s | Pen and Sword Books | Living with Skipper | Acker Bilk Album Sleeve Notes | The Back Page | Email

Elinor M Brent-Dyer: The Bettanys of Taverton High

Published 29th April 2022

The Bettanys of Taverton High was first published in 2008, and is being republished now, due to popular demand.

In a small town in the south west of England, a young woman named Madge Bettany is facing an impossible dilemma. Her little sister Joey’s poor health is a constant source of concern, and when her income mysteriously dwindles to almost nothing, the situation becomes acute, since going out to work is not an option. How Madge and Joey pull together in the face of adversity is the theme of this popular forerunner to the Chalet School series.

Meet the Bettanys’ old muddler of a guardian, find out what’s special about the Rector’s cat, discover why the Third Form and the Remove are at loggerheads, and visit Joey and Madge by their own fireside.

Is this story a family story or a school story? You will need to read it and form your own judgement.

Helen has written a lovely short story, ‘Mary the Faithful’, to go with the new edition.

GGBP first published this book in 2008, but it's a welcome repeat, as Helen Barber provides the best possible introduction to how Madge and Joey came to find themselves in the Chalet School in the first place. It's the book Elinor Brent-Dyer never got around to writing, and one she would have been most proud of, I'm sure. This is excellent pre-Chalet School fare of the highest quality.

Robert Opie: Remember When

Published 2005

This was a lucky find - I was researching the character of Johnny Wingco, one of my favourites from the late 1950s, and discovered that he appeared in Knockout comic - I had always thought that he might have been in either my Lion or my Tiger comic, but the realisation that he appeared in the pages of Knockout comic reminded me how good that comic actually was. I don't remember if I took it alongside my Lions and Tigers, but I do remember reading copies from cover to cover when we came back from Uncle Les's house with a bag full of comics, including all those famous American titles like Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman and Tarzan, and Film Funs, Radio Funs and Knockouts. Film Fun comic strips were all based on film and TV stars, the comic strips including Bruce Forsyth, Laurel and Hardy etc., and the Knockouts including Johnny Wingco. I searched eBay for Knockout annuals and was lucky enough to win the bid for the 1959 annual shown above, and it turned out to be one of the very finest examples of 1950s children's annuals I have ever seen, and brought back many fond memories of rainy days in the front room listening to the Light Programme, evening bedtimes with a helf hour of reading time before lights out, and snatched moments at the weekend when I would rather sit and read than go to the playing fields and kick a football about. This annual is 200 pages long (if you count the inside board ends, which have educational illustrations of word origins), even more than the brilliant Lion and Tiger annuals I used to receive at Christmas-times. 200 pages! Among the comic strip stories are Johnny Wingco (I had a photo of my favourite uncle, Uncle John, wearing his RAF cap at the same angle as my wartime hero, Johnny Wingco, or Commander John Wingate-Cole, to give him his full name), Sexton Blake, Billy Bunter, Lucky Logan, who I now remember as one of my all-time favourite cowboy heroes, and many, many more including a novella-length text school yarn about Jimmy Topper which was one of the great Frank Richards's creations . This amazing book will keep me in reading material for several days and is a fine example of the very best children's popular literature of the time!

Enid Blyton: Famous Five Collection 4

Published 9th February 2017

Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog find excitement and adventure wherever they go in Enid Blyton's most popular series.

Five On A Hike Together
Dick is woken by a light flashing through his window. Is someone trying to send him a coded message? When the Famous Five hear of an escaped convict in the area, they are on red alert.

Five Have A Wonderful Time
The Famous Five are on an adventurous holiday in horse-drawn caravans. They discover a ruined castle that looks deserted. But is that a face at the window? Or is it a trick of the light? Just who is hiding in the castle?

Five Go To Mystery Moor
The Five find out about something dangerous out in Mystery Moor. They'll have to risk the treacherous mists and follow the trail if they want to find what's lurking in the shadows. Do they know what they've let themselves in for?

This 70th anniversary edition features the Classic editions of three Famous Five adventures (books 10-12) in one volume and contains the original cover art and inside drawings by Eileen Soper.

I love the story, which Malcolm Savile aimed at mid-term teenagers, it works superbly well and has all the thrills and spills that will eventially lead older teens to the heady world of Ian Fleming and Dennis Wheatley, of course, but the 1970s illustration is not something I'm over fond of... Other than that, an absolutely superb package from GGBP, who go above and beyond with all their classic reprints.

Yours Retro Magazine - the latest issue - out now!

The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its 24th year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email at paulenorman1@gmail.com and I'll let you know where to send it.