The Enid Blyton Society
The Troublesome Three
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Book Details...

First edition: 1955
Publisher: Sampson Low
Illustrator: Leo
Category: One-off Picture Story Books
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Picture Story Books

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Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations

Front Endpapers from the 1st edition, illustrated by Leo
It's SS for the 'Secret Seven' and TT for the 'Troublesome Three' — the latter consisting of Pete, Anne, and Sam. They are made out to be lively and mischievous children and I don't know who bestowed the epithet on their heads but even their mothers acknowledge them as the TT. To introduce us into their sheer naughtiness we see on the first page a picture of Pete riding his bike back to front and then leaping to the top of the garden wall and shouting loudly to his friends. That's quite terrible and I think he needs taking in hand!

This is a colour picture-story book and it tells the tale of how this trio of kids, resigned to the fact that everyone calls them the Troublesome Three, decide to cash in on their name and create a little 'Society'. They even make up some badges with TT on them and then a secret meeting place is needed so they build a little platform up in a tree and furnish it with an old rug and a couple of cushions. As it is in the Secret Seven, Peter (or Pete) is the more dominant member. One or two exciting incidents happen such as the cushions blowing down from the platform and a squirrel stealing their biscuits but what they want is a slightly more thrilling adventure so they decide to play a game of 'Happy Families' and wait for one to arrive. The wind blows four of their cards down to the ground but before Sam can descend to retrieve them — Something Happens.

Two men and a boy come along and sit down under the tree to talk. The children, keeping very quiet on their little platform, overhear the men making plans to meet at the back of a radio shop in the village and it all sounds very suspicious. One of the men picks up the cards that have fallen to the ground and pockets them for some reason and then the children are almost discovered when the lad who is with the men tries to climb the tree — but he can't quite manage it (sigh of relief!) Another card is blown down and the man who picked up the others sees it fluttering on the ground so he puts that in his pocket as well. The young lad whose name is Tom then leaves the men after being instructed to have a van ready tomorrow at 7pm and also some sacks of potatoes! The men depart as well and The Troublesome Three organize themselves. They decide to search out the shop in question and have a look round to see what they can see. They do that straightaway but when the place is located there's nothing much to go on apart from a few sacks of potatoes lying in the back yard. The obvious thing to do is to hide nearby when the suspected crooks meet up with each other — and that's exactly what they do. They put on their badges and cycle to the venue a whole hour before the expected rendezvous and conceal themselves behind some crates. Shortly, the lad who'd been with the two men arrives on the scene leading a horse which he attaches to a small caravan-like vehicle sitting in the yard. He then backs it up to the radio shop where one of the men is ensconced having already broken in. He's stealing radios which he hands out of the window to the lad who in turn places them in the van and puts sacks of potatoes in front of them so that no one will know they're there. Then after he is paid by the man he Gees-Up the horse and away he goes — followed by the Troublesome Three who are on their bikes.

The little entourage moves along to then next village and the boy-crook asks a police officer the way to Little Hollow. He's given directions but before moving off the inquisitive policeman asks what he has in the van and then goes round to have a look. He pokes his head in and sees just the potatoes and the boy is free to continue his journey. He's followed by the children to a house hidden amongst the trees and a man comes out to help unload the radios. Unfortunately, Sam and Pete are spotted by the young lad and the man joins him in a mad dash to grab the two intruders — Anne isn't with them yet because her bicycle broke down along the way so she gets there a little after the boys and sees them captured. Sam and Peter are in real trouble. The man questions them and asks if the letters on their badges stand for the 'Tiresome Two' and it seems better to leave it that way because the boys don't want him to know that there are actually three of them. They're locked up in a room with a barred window so it's all up to Anne who demonstrates a certain amount of resourcefulness and manages to contact the boys by climbing a tree that reaches the window. Pete instructs her to go for help.

This book is a one-off that's not seen around all that much these days and as it's a short and not very involved story I think it's all right to put down what happens — if it hasn't already been guessed. Anne finds that all three bikes have been discovered and taken away but that doesn't stop her. She stands in the road and tries hitch-hiking and when no car will slow down she uses the old stowing-away-in-a-laundry-van trick by hopping into the conveniently open rear of one that has pulled up to let a lorry pass. The driver doesn't see her until he reaches the next village and stops to make a delivery — in Anne's very own street. Very convenient once again but a little odd because the stars and the moon are shining in the sky so it'll have to be put down to the driver being a little late with his round! Anne jumps out and runs off before the man can reprimand her and then it's easy to predict what will happen next.

Mum and Dad are told and the Forces are summoned. Anne has some supper whilst they wait for the police to arrive then she and her parents accompany the officers to the next village where the little girl finds she can't quite remember the exact way to the mysterious house. Eventually they find it through a process of elimination and the baddies are captured but there's a semi-climax due to a lack of evidence. One of the men has got rid of his moustache and can't easily be recognized although Anne knows his voice and she mentions that she had heard it when they had been playing cards up in the tree. She gets the card-game from her toy cupboard and then of course it's recalled that a few of them were picked up by one of the men when the wind blew them down. This is good news because the police have already found five cards in one of the crooks' pockets although it's a little curious that Pete and the policeman worked out that there were only three cards missing. The Troublesome Three's exciting escapade ends with a big surprise when they are sitting once more in their tree-house and the wind blows away a few more of their cards. Pete leans over and calls out "Any thieves down there? Just bring our cards back, will you? Come right up and don't bother to knock!" There's no doubt about it, Pete would be the life of any party. A voice is heard, "Yes, I'll bring them up! Here I come!" What a shock for the kids! They hear someone climbing the tree and then a hand comes over onto the platform! Relax ... it's their friend the policeman with an enormous box of chocolates for the three children as a reward for their help in the battle against crime. A very welcome ending indeed.
The front and back cover is one colourful wraparound picture. Overall I found the illustrations a little stilted or disproportionate but they're big and bright enough for any child's pleasure. Leo, the illustrator, didn't give his surname.

It's a larger format volume — 19cm x 25cm, and there are 22 separate pages.

We aren't told what became of the young lad who accompanied the two men at the beginning and played a fairly major part in the robbery by delivering the radios to the secluded house. The last heard of him is when Anne who is hiding outside just before she contacts the boys, sees the horse and van departing down the path.

The Troublesome Three don't really cause any trouble in the book except for the outrageous behaviour by one of their number at the very beginning when Peter rides his bike back to front then jumps up onto a wall and shouts! I think those actions were probably introduced by the author as a token to justify the word 'Troublesome' because a title with that word in it would catch the eye more than say The 'Good' Three or The 'Saintly' Three.

There are plenty of Noddy stories told in colour pictures but I can't think of another 'adventure-type' one in similar format. Officially, The Troublesome Three is 'An Enid Blyton Adventure Colour Strip Book' (1955) and the story has a rather Secret Seven-ish air about it which should be enjoyed by a boy or girl in the 7-10 year range. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.