The Enid Blyton Society
Five Go Off to Camp
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Book Details...

First edition: 1948
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Illustrator: Eileen A. Soper
Category: Famous Five
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations


Dustwrapper from the 1960 edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Endpapers from the 1st edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Endpapers from the 1954 edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Cover picture from Sunny Stories No. 426, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

1st German edition published by Blüchert Verlag, Stuttgart in 1955,
illustrated by Nikolaus Plump with the title Five Friends in the Camp

1st French edition published by Hachette in 1957,
illustrated by Paul Durand

1st Spanish edition published by Editorial Juventud in 1966,
illustrated by José Correas
Foreign Titles
American: Five on the Trail of a Spook Train
German: Fünf Freunde im Zeltlager
French: Le Club des Cinq va Camper
Dutch: De Vijf en de spooktrein
Spanish: Los Cinco van de camping
Portuguese: Os Cinco e o Comboio Fantasma
Italian: Nella galleria murata
Swedish: Fem stoppar spöktĺget
Danish: De fem pĺ lejrtur
Finnish: Viisikko Ja Aavejuna
Russian: Taina poesda prisraka
Slovenian: 5 Prijateljev skrivnost fantomskega vlaka
Serbo-Croat: 5 Prijatelja na logorovanju
Icelandic: Fimm í útilegu
Slovakian: Slavna Patka ide taborit
Basque: Bostak Kanpinean
Indonesian: Lima Sekawan Memburu Kereta Api Hantu
Malaysian: 5 Pergi Berkhemah

Brief Summary by Poppy Hutchinson: When the Famous Five go camping, in the company of Julian and Dick's eccentric school-teacher: Mr Luffy, surely they can't fall into adventure, in the quiet and lonely moorland that surrounds them? But, of course, somehow, they manage too, and find themselves on the trail of Spook Trains that appear, out of nowhere, in the dead of the night! Accompanied by their new friend, from a local farm: Jock, they venture out into the night, to investigate the extraordinary appearance of these peculiar trains, only to expose themselves to some of the most dangerous criminals they have faced, yet...

Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Terry Gustafson's Review
This was probably the very first Kirrin book I ever read and certain words have stayed in my memory banks. They have a way of lingering on especially when one is young and learning something every day.

Cinders: The only cinders I knew were those left when the fire in the grate had gone out but they were tiny bits of black stuff and if you picked up a handful and threw them at someone like say ... Anne Kirrin, she certainly wouldn't be hurt. I got around this by assuming that as the train involved in the story had an engine which would be fed with coal or coke or some other substance, maybe the cinders came from out of the funnel and were bigger than the ones I had seen at home.

Luffy: This was a fairly unusual name so I remembered it. Mr Luffy was a kind and genial person who supplied a bit of stability in what turned out to be a rather scary adventure.

Vents: A train tunnel to me was just a hole bored through a hill. You didn't have to worry about air-quality or smoke filling the place up if an engine ran through it because there were large openings at both ends. That was good enough for me but no ... it's not that simple and I learnt the Whys and Wherefores of vents in this book.

Spook Train: Reports on frightening incidents can reside forever in our minds and recalling a few I remembered the horrible black sea-water that flooded into a blown-up mine where Philip Mannering, Bill Smugs, Jack Trent and Kiki were trapped (The Island of Adventure). Then there were the eyes behind the portrait in the castle room which another Jack saw in The Secret of Moon Castle. That tale was pretty creepy right through and for those who are interested you can compare the picture of the ruined village in that book with a similar one in The Valley of Adventure. There's quite a resemblance although the artists are different! The Spook Train memory that came to me was that of children venturing underground into a pitch-dark environment and becoming aware that somewhere around them was an engine which could spring to life as it were and start puffing along with no driver apparent.

It can be conjectured that in this novel the Famous Five go camping. Mr Luffy, a teacher at the boys' school and a man with an amazing talent (he can waggle his right ear) takes them all in his car and they travel far away to the moors. My God ... those Famous Five characters end up in some romantic settings: Wind-swept coasts with the seagulls soaring skyward, Cosy little dells covered in dew-drenched flowers, Snow clad mountains in Wales, and now the wild and lonely Moors.

They make a friend who's name is Jock and he lives on a nearby farm (yes, it's wild and lonely out there but they need a farm for you-know-what)! They meet a queer old watchman with a wooden leg who likes to throw cinders (already discussed) at any visitors who come across his deserted railway yard and they hear from him about a spook train which apparently runs along rails that are seemingly not in use anymore.

At one stage Jock, their friend, who doesn't seem to have a very happy home-life, entertains a boy named Cecil who comes to stay with him awhile. Cecil is not liked by the others because of his long hair which Julian thinks is sissy. I had to look up to see what sissy really meant and it's defined as an effeminate boy or man so I guess it's rather a degrading noun or adjective — to a male. I wondered what the equivalent would be for a female but in view of George's preferences I don't think it would work. The word also defines a timid or cowardly person and I can understand that because Cecil displays the outward signs when the other children give the boy a bit of a hard time. They can do that very well when they gang up and give the offender the full benefit of their bright remarks and innovative jokes which come naturally to those who are of an Upper Class education ("...just kidding him of course.") These deviations from the plot can be included amongst the highlights of many Enid Blyton books.

The story is basically concerned with finding out whether a Spook Train exists and at one stage the boys go out searching by themselves at night. They find it all right — an engine with no lights, rumbles out from a tunnel and clanks past the terrified trio.

Jock comes to live with them at their camp because he's not too happy with things at the farm. We learn of a few nasty people about the place and at one stage George is quite riled when the boys sneak out and discover things without taking her. Anne doesn't mind if she's not included in potentially dangerous operations, but George is of a tougher nature and she decides to find a few answers for herself. She sets off alone and owing to Timmy having a rather nasty accident on the moor, George ends up in complete darkness with a spook train for company. It's marvellous how so many of the Blyton characters have a torch about their person despite the fact that in those years they didn't have access to the little, easily-concealed technological marvels that are available these days. Still, she may have foreseen a dark tunnel or passage involved somewhere if her search was successful so I'll give her that one ... George whipped out a torch!

There's further action which includes Anne and the boys although the former opts out of the more intricate side of the escapade. A lot of excitement occurs towards the end in which the boys have a hard time with criminals. Violence is applied to poor Jock and then George comes on to the stage and plays a big part.

What on earth was the point of a Spook Train? How did it run? What illicit Doings were the scoundrels up to? Timmy? Does he play a part? You bet! Readers may agree that night forays involving the presence of an ethereal-like engine that comes alive can be thought upon as good nightmare material. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.