Clifftoppers: The Thorn Island Adventure -Fleur Hitchcock

Clifftoppers The Thorn Island Adventure

I am a huge fan of Fleur Hitchcock’s writing in particular so in the Clifftoppers series because they remind me of the beloved Famous Five adventures that I adored when I was a child and the exceptionally brilliant part is that they are linked in that the children appear in each book visiting their grandparents’ farm, but the stories are all standalone, meaning it doesn’t matter what order you read them in.

Fleur takes all the nostalgic wonder of being free of parents and investigating whatever they stumble upon, picnics and running around on your bikes with your dog that was wrapped up in the Blyton stories and also Fleur strips away all the not so nice parts of it placing her family in a contemporary  and diverse world so the children today can still feel the magic in those books but recognise children just like them and the bonus of not having any questionable ideas for parents to tidy up.

Clifftoppers The Thorn Island Adventure Fleur Hitchcock
Cover by Tom Clohosy Cole

It is the warm lazy days of summer and the cousins are back at Clifftoppers farm again. Whilst sailing in grandpa‘s boat Chloe sees a face at the window on Thorn island but no one believes her until that evening grandma’s binoculars reveal someone has drawn help and a window.

Chloe, Aiden and Josh immediately leap to action but Ava is concerned, but when the police don’t believe her either she resolves, whether it’s real or not, it will be an adventure. 

Chloe let out a long sigh. it was obvious that no one believed her… feeling mildly cross and doubly sure of what she’d seen, and also convinced about the face in the window

This story is frankly outstanding with its nautical focus especially on the sparkling seas around we are immersed in the salt spray and tide. Children who enjoy boating or dream of sailing waters will love this book for the sense of freedom and adventure as the children sail out to the island in the bay.

For me this is real timeless children’s adventure story with flavours of Swallows and Amazons and the Famous Five but in a modern setting so you now have tourism instead of wild children on the island and mobile phones (but typically for more rural parts of the West Country, bad signal) and sorts but the children are having this good old-fashioned timeless adventure battling kidnappers and real danger. 

Ava watched as the distant woods lit up every minute and the light scudded over the bay, and she came to a decision. “I’ll go call {the police} now.”

I particularly like how both Chloe and Ava did the responsible thing and tried to contact the police and tell responsible adults.

Some stories feel like ‘if you just tell a grown-up this would all be over’ but don’t because that would remove the narrative autonomy of the child and move it to the parent or adult figure, yet Fleur Hitchcock is a master at flipping this on its head. In Clifftoppers The Thorn Island Adventure, like a few of her stories, the children mount a rescue because despite their best efforts to do the responsible thing no one really believes them or they cannot prove it.

This is such a powerful and important lesson for young readers to know that they should be informing adults when there is danger and showing that this was what the characters did with narrative autonomy BECAUSE adults didn’t act rather than what they did behind adults’ backs TO get narrative autonomy.This is incredibly clever AND responsible writing.

a little puff of wind caught the mainsail and the Black Diamond overtook Aiden. With the calm skill that had impressed their grandparents, Ava manoeuvred the dinghy in a tight circle round Aiden.

I also enjoyed to see the cousins split up into teams again is a powerful tool with Teams Aida and Joë (or Avan and Closh!) each playing a pivotal part in adventure but equally age-appropriate showing that the older cousins are trying to be responsible yet equally allowing for greater adventure and greater thrilling action by dividing the quartet.

Fleur Hitchcock is very clever to spread the cousins ages out cover 8-12 as the characters will appeal in different ways to the readers. We read this aloud and Littlefae was particularly drawn to Ava and Josh, Ava because she is a strong capable female and clear leader (something I think Littlefae wants to be) and Josh because he is silly and funny making her laugh, whilst another reader may resonate with clever and stoic eldest boy Aiden, or another with Chloe who gets worried and wants to be seen as one of the older children quicker. Or indeed change in time who they associate with most. 

“ONWARD!” He shouted, charging back towards the farmyard. “Chloe’s right. We have a mission!”

Overall, this is a brilliant and thrilling summer addition to the Clifftoppers collection sending us on a craving for the other adventures, and for me to make some scones (cream first for me ☺️!!!)  now thoroughly excited for the wintery Frost Castle Adventure!!

Clifftoppers: The Thorn Island Adventure by Fleur Hitchcock is published by Nosy Crow Books

Thank you Nosy Crow for my copy 💜

6 thoughts on “Clifftoppers: The Thorn Island Adventure -Fleur Hitchcock

  1. Ooh, I loved Murder in Midwinter after you recommended that and meant to read some more of her books but of course still haven’t! I’ve been really wanting a good mystery/detective/adventure type book for after I finish The Pear Affair though so I might try a Clifftoppers (unless there’s any of her others you’ve read and think I’d like more?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Her murder series is brilliant ( another coming in the summer) but yes Clifftoppers is a lovely quick read which is nostalgic enough to take the contemporary edge off but contemporary enough to avoid the dark side of Blyton’s!! I would say read a Clifftoppers, they are all really good and thrilling- Arrowhead Moor is set at this point in time the Easter Holidays so may be a good start.

      Liked by 1 person

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