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

First edition: 1967
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: Jacques Fromont
Category: John and Mary
Genre: Family
Type: Short Story Books

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Review by Terry Gustafson

John and Mary love the beach so the family's holidaying there again but this time someone else is with them besides Mummy Daddy and Granny. Their friend Tony has come along too. They have tea on the beach each day and because Granny doesn't like sitting on the sand, Daddy brings a small table down from the house for her to sit at. Elderly people sometimes find it a little difficult to sprawl around like young people do.

After tea one day the children ask if they can go out in a boat but Daddy thinks the sea's a bit rough so he forbids it. Granny tries cheering them up by suggesting that tomorrow might supply a better opportunity but unfortunately the sea still hasn't calmed down next day. Despite John's assurance of their prowess as sailors, Daddy won't let them go because, after all, they might become sea-sick, or one of the children might tip out of the boat and none of them can swim all that well.

The children are told not to mention boats again for the time being so they turn their attention to digging in the sand and the colourful picture shows them constructing a large castle. Granny who's sitting comfortably on her chair under a beach umbrella has an idea and suggests they turn the table over and pretend it's a boat. Now that sounds a very good idea indeed to the children and soon their 'boat' is created complete with a mast made from Daddy's walking stick, and a table-cloth sail blowing in the wind.

Whilst they're playing Mother calls out saying that she, Daddy, and Granny are going for a walk so off they go and the children, becoming quite creative, bring cushions from the house to place in their makeshift boat and they even substitute their spades for oars. A fine time is had by all but eventually they become too hot and tired to play anymore so they settle down, and before long all three have drifted off to asleep in their 'boat.'

What happens on beaches every now and again is that the tide comes in ... so the tide comes in; and now an Enid Blyton adventure is hinted at because the waves increase in size, lapping round the table whilst John, Mary, and Tony sleep on, and very soon their 'boat' is floating out in the bay. When a sudden wave splashes over the table, there's an awakening. Three scared children look in horror at the diminishing shore as they experience a boat trip at last, but this one's not exactly what they had in mind. Yesterday, Mary told her Daddy that she could swim if she fell into the sea but she's not so sure now, so they cling desperately on to the table legs and look toward the shore in the hope that someone will see them and effect a rescue.

Yes, there's a picture of sand, fishing nets, upturned boats, their house, and a grey figure carrying a basket. Has he seen them? Can he assist in any way? Unfortunately, as one could with the serials of old, there's no tuning in next week for the result of this adventure.
Tony's another EB character who wears glasses.

Daddy's walking stick is probably a kind of 'swagger stick' that men sometimes take around with them because the children's father looks far to young and fit to need any assistance with his locomotion.

The stranding experience was not all that terribly hazardous, but initially it gave them quite a shock.

This slightly abridged tale can be read in an older volume of course - 'Enid Blyton's Gay Story Book,' whereby Tom, Joan and Eric do the honours.

Darrell Waters a former name of the EB publishing company was unsure of any history pertaining to 'The Three Sailors,' but that's not surprising because, once again, it has to be stated that the reprinting of Enid Blyton's works is so widespread. There are the 'Brockhampton Press' compilations followed by their single story reprints in the Sixties. 'Enid Blyton's Gift Books' (Hackett's) produced single stories as well, and 'Collins' in the Fifties also put out similar sized volumes such as 'Neddy the Donkey' and others. 'Sandle Brothers 'had their hand in the 'John and Mary' series and not content with issuing single tales, they published a later compilation of their adventures entitled 'Storyland' of which there seems no record in any catalogue at all. So, the prospective bibliographer is facing a nightmare scenario when contemplating the Blyton collection. The best knowledge source, of course, is the Enid Blyton Society. In June of 1998 the proprietor, Tony Summerfield, obligingly (as always) answered an enquiry concerning 'The Three Sailors' (plus another book) and put them into their correct slots, although even he came up with a 'grey area' or two.