This series is centred around a group of young friends on summer holidays at Hazard River, a place loosely based on the Noosa River, where the author spends a lot of time. Jack Wilde, his younger brother Ben and their friends Lachlan and Mimi find that their adventures involve a lot more than swimming and playing.
The author is a journalist who has had plenty of adventures herself, but as well as the adventure theme, there’s the environmental theme. There’s no preaching, but baddies tend to have plans that involve destroying wilderness or wildlife.
Despite the serious message, the main emphasis is on humour. Blood Money, for example, starts with Jack having a get-rich-quick scheme which might work out sooner than he was expecting due to some mysterious money in the hands of his little brother. This is not by any means the Famous Five; I'm betting Julian would look down his aristocratic nose at these children.
Actually, what it does remind me of is Margaret Clark’s Aussie Angels series, which was set in Victoria’s Otway Ranges and was about the children of a park ranger. And come to think of it, that was meant to be a sort of Enid Blyton for modern times!
The language is not difficult for children to follow and the characters are likable and not perfect. The covers are designed by the wonderful artist Marc McBride.
The series has its own web site which includes teacher notes, if you’re interested in teaching it, http://www.hazardriver.com/Teachers__Notes.html.
Recommended for children from about eight years up.