Books Monthly
July 2024 - The Nostalgia Page

Elinor M Brent-Dyer: A Future Chalet School Girl

GGBP first published A Future Chalet School Girl in 2007. When those who subscribe to the Friday e-newsletter were asked which CS title they would like reprinted this year, Future came out top.

Melanie Lucas was not at all pleased to leave St Katharine’s in England and go to Switzerland with her uncle and aunt. However, a holiday with the Maynard family at the Tiernsee was so full of excitement that she soon forgot St Katherines and was delighted to know that next term she herself would be a Chalet School girl.

Lisa Townsend has written our new short story for this title, ‘Growing Pains’, and we are also including an article by Adrianne Fitzpatrick, ‘The Chalet School on Holiday’ which was in our first edition.

I haven't yet had time to read A FUTURE CHALET SCHOOL GIRL so instead I'm going to share with you something I recently read on the Friends of the Chalet School Facebook page: A lady posted on the page that she thought it was a crying shame that GGBP didn't concentrate all their efforts into making every single Chalet School book available as they were the only copies currently in print. I should have replied to this post but held off because there were already quite a few comments. GGBP (whom I consider to be one of the finest publishing houses in the world), have published upwards of forty of the fifty or so titles in the series. Many are now, of course, out of print. On the top shelf of my main bookcase, I have every single book in the Chalet School series that have been published by GGBP, and extraordinarily handsome they look in all their finery. I am proud to be able to share GGBP's books with you in Books Monthly - there are more Chalet School titles coming this year. They work very hard indeed to maintain very high standards - I know that I wkouldn't find typographical errors in their books, which I do in absolutely every other publishers' books, even Stephen King and Richard Osman titles (I recently re-read the four Thursday Murder Club books and there were typos in every one of them!). Long may GGBP continue to bring us the very finest in girls' literature from the golden ages of children's book publishing!

A Future Chalet School Girl was published on 10 May 2024.

Best Charity Shop find April 2024

Capt. W E Johns: Biggles Flies To Work

TBoys' comics of the 1950s and 1960s were crammed with war stories, especially Second World War stories; although we were never taught about WWII in our school history curriculum, I gleaned plenty of information about the various conflicts, aided by an array of the very finest and talented artists of the time. My Dad didn't really approve of comics; like most adults of his generation he thought that text books were the best way to learn anything. I'm sure he disapproved of our weekly pilgrimage to see Uncle Les, Aunt Grace and their seven children in the next village along the road, Hucclecote, because we would return with bags full of the very finest American comics, titles such as Superman, Superboy, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Batman and my absolute runaway favourite, Tarzan of the Apes, whose comics were illustrated by the three Tarzan greats, Burne Hogarth, Russ Manning, and John Celardo. Dad certainly frowned upon my reverence for the American comics, less so on my choice of weekly British comics, the Lion and the Tiger. My experience as one of only three boys in my primary school year was that we didn't swap comics. I would never have parted with my Lions or Tigers, much less so my Tarzans, Supergirls and Supermans. I don't recall how I first encountered Biggles. There was a monthly magazine, with a picture strip adventure story about Biggles, and other picture strips of other contemporary action heroes, plus facts and figures and short articles about the recent war. I started to collect these when I began the very important task of marking up the paper rounds before doing my own round, finishing just in time for breakfast and then setting off for school the other side of the city, a seven mile bike ride or an eight mile bus ride involving two buses. I even remember being on holliday in Ramsgate (our annual two week vacation during the school holidays) and rushing down to one of the sea front newsagent stalls to see if my beloved Biggles comic was available. I won't say that Biggles was my favourite comic strip adventurer - he may have been, but he would have had stiff competition from Tarzan of the Apes, of course, and I was always thrilled to read the adventures of Supergirl or even Tarzan's wife Jane, who often appeared in the Tarzan comics clad in a skimpy lion-skin bikini - no wonder my Dad didn't approve of my Tarzan comics! Tarzan and Biggles remain perennial favourites, along with many Enid Blytons, in particular the Barney Mysteries (featuring Roger, Diana, Snubby, Loony the dog, and Barney and his monkey, Miranda). And, of course, The Famous Five.

I don't remember reading the Famous Five books in the 1950s, although they were first published during the previous decade. But I knew of them, naturally. They weren't the first famous five - that honour belongs to Frank Richard's Famous Five set in Greyfriars School Remove and comprising Harry Wharton, Bob Cherry, Frank Nugent, Johnny Bull and Hurree Jamset Ram Singh. But Enid Blyton's Famous Five is far and away the most "famous" and certainly the most memorable! In 2023, the BBC announced that they were commissioning three new Famous Five adventures, The Curse of Kirrin Island, Peril on the Night Train, both of which have now been shown on children's TV and the iPlayer, and The Eye of the Sunrise, which will be shown later this year. I finally found the time to watch the first two episodes in the last couple of weeks, and I have to say that I absolutely loved them! I am proud to say that I am still more than happy to sit down and read my complete set of Famous Five books, and my enjoyment of these two superb new film adventures is enhanced by a quite astonishingly good cast and some gripping sets and outdoor locations (Peril on the Night Train is set mainly in the Scottish Highlands). Diaana Babnicova is truly magnificent as George, she and Kip, who plays Timmy the dog, steal the show, although all of the children are absolutely brilliant. There are some hilarious pantomime villains in The Curse of Kirrin Island, and some dubious villains in Peril on the Night Train, but the overall sensation is one of joy and exhilaration as we watch the children outwit the villains and save the day in both adventures. I am pleased the producers decided to keep to the original timeline set in Enid's fabulous books, and I hope more films are commissioned in due course. In the meantime, I have twenty-odd books to fall back on

The small print: Books Monthly is published by Paul Norman. 2023 is the 25th year of publication. You can contact me at