Doctor Who: The Moonbase by Kit Pedler; dir. Morris Barry (BBC, 1967/2014) An effective story for the first two episodes, which are spent building the tension and establishing the (vital but ludicrously understaffed and without built-in redundancy) moonbase. Then the Cybermen bust out their dance moves and some very, very daft plans. Logic, schmogic.
The Mystery of the Hidden House by Enid Blyton (Methuen, 1948) Fatty and Co. invent a mystery to dupe Goon’s nephew, who then stumbles upon the real thing. Blyton takes the story into more adult territory (corporeal punishment, kidnapping) and hints at a lesson in consequences, though never quite bringing out the moral.
Doctor Sally by P. G. Wodehouse (Methuen, 1932); audiobook read by Paul Shelley (Bolinda, 2015) A short, frivolous bit of fun. As is his wont, Wodehouse construes love as arising from the drop of a hat, but in this instance the cast of dithering males play out their tangled misunderstandings for a woman of independence and discernment.
You’re a Good Scout Snoopy by Charles M. Schulz (Hodder & Stoughton, 1979) A collection of Sunday strips, only four of which feature Snoopy as scout leader (the remaining thirty-nine have a more generic Snoopy focus). This is unfortunate, as the scouting expeditions’ visual nature and last-panel sight gags benefit from the large-format colour presentation.
Day of the Starwind by Douglas Hill (Victor Gollancz, 1980) Book three of the Last Legionary quartet sees Keill Randor edge closer to the shadowy Warlord who masterminded his planet’s destruction. Hill has a knack for upping the stakes, pitting his protagonist against ever more serious threats. Clear, fast-moving middle-grade action SF.
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace by Enid Blyton (Methuen, 1947) Entertaining but something of a misstep. Fatty proves fallible, Goon shows himself to have brains, and the Five Find-Outers shadow and disrupt a police investigation rather than go about solving the mystery themselves. (Also, the gang members’ secret communications seem needlessly convoluted.)
The Disappearing TV Star by Emily Rodda [with Mary Forrest] (Scholastic, 1994); audiobook read by Rebecca Macauley (Bolinda, 2005) Not much of a mystery. Also, while the Teen Power kids prove fractious as ever, Richelle’s character is difficult to stomach in the first person. Her surprise revelation (which would have made sense from Nick’s POV) comes across as an authorial…
The Snoopy Festival by Charles M. Schulz (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1974) A big collection of Snoopy-focussed strips—five weeklies or one colour Sunday per page across just shy of 200 pages. The colour strips are beautifully reproduced and the selection of dailies is good, albeit that a few ongoing storylines are left incomplete.
Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami (Kodansha International, 1979); trans. Ted Goossen; audiobook read by Kirby Heyborne (Random House Audio, 2015) The narrator looks back on when he was a 21-year-old student of little interest to anyone. Murakami, rather like Vonnegut, writes what may or may not be deadpan literary satire. Narrator Kirby Heyborne does his best to make…
The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters by Enid Blyton (Methuen, 1946) The Five Find-Outers hit their stride and Fatty, assured beyond his years, comes to the fore as their cheeky, disguise-wearing, outrageously daring leader. The mystery in this instance remains slight but the plot is cleverly structured around the children’s interactions with Goon.