11 June 2005

Adventure Adventure

by Matt Rubinstein at 7:15 am

whale.jpgLoyal readers may remember that some time ago these pages revealed the shameful secret of the Edward Stratemeyer syndicate that produced the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift and Bobbsey Twins series under names like Franklin W Dixon, Carolyn Keene, Victor Appleton and Laura Lee Hope, figureheads whose sheer implausible prolificacy would have made the underlying ruse obvious to anyone but an early-teenage reader.

That perfidy was contrasted with the honest charms of Willard Price, a singular attested author whose Adventure series delighted more of us than I ever expected. I have even had some feedback on the site and through e-mails fondly remembering this admirable journeyman—approaching 1% of the interest in Missy Higgins Lesbian, much better than it sounds—and bright flashes of recognition among literate types of a certain age at parties, book clubs and so on. It’s encouraging.

But for once the Internet proves not to be the fountain of all knowledge we have come to rely on. (Some people say “font&#8221, but that’s not right: everyone knows that the font of all knowledge is Times New Roman, just as—thanks Nick—the 389 from the City to North Bondi is the route of all evil.) There’s just nothing out there. Perhaps Price lived and wrote at the wrong time, too late to be out of copyright but too early to have made an impact on the current generation. If only he’d written Hilary Duff’s Boobs Adventure or Kate Beckinsale Fucking Adventure, things would have been different, according to my search-engine logs.

But we needn’t go that far. I have consulted the admirable Third Edition of Twentieth-Century Children’s Writers (London: St James Press, 1989) in hardcopy and can offer the following information about this too-long-quiet achiever.

Willard DeMille Price was born on 28 July 1887 in Peterborough, Ontario, and moved to the US when he was four. He got his MA and Litt.D from Columbia, edited the journals Survey and World Outlook, and travelled on many expeditions for the National Geographic Society and the American Museum of Natural History between 1920 and 1967. He wrote fourteen Adventure books for young readers: Amazon Adventure (1949), South Sea Adventure (1952), Underwater Adventure (1954), Volcano Adventure (1956), Whale Adventure (1960, pictured is the 1980 edition, the one that terrorised me with its cat-o’-nine-tails), African Adventure (1963), Elephant Adventure (1964), Safari Adventure (1966), Lion Adventure (1967), Gorilla Adventure (1969), Diving Adventure (1970), Cannibal Adventure (1972), Tiger Adventure (1979) and Arctic Adventure (1980). They were actually more diverse than they sound. And at least he wrote them all.

Price embarked on his Last Adventure on 14 October 1983. Earlier that year, he had said:

My aim in writing the “Adventure” series for young people was to lead them to read by making reading exciting and full of adventure. At the same time I want to inspire an interest in wild animals and their behavior. Judging from the letters I have received from boys and girls around the world, I believe I have helped open to them the worlds of books and natural history.

Doesn’t that sound nice. Bear in mind that he’s 96 years old here. And at the risk of sending contributor Fiona Waters, editor Tracy Chevalier and the good people at St James Press broke, I also extract Waters’s essay on the series:

Willard Price’s highly improbable adventures of Hal and Roger Hunt have all the ingredients of Superman except the boys wear safari suits and save animals rather than humans.

In the first of the adventures, Amazon Adventure, the framework is set for all the following books. John Hunt had “studied and collected animals for twenty years, supplying zoos, circuses and museums,” and was planning a trip to South America accompanied by his sons, Hal and Roger. “No man could want better pals on a jungle journey. Hal, finished with school and about to go to college, was as tall and strong as his father. Roger did not run to length, but he was alert and wiry, and brave enough.” Hal and Roger, at 19 and 15, never seem to age and so remain conveniently popular with the widest range of readers possible. Equally, there is never any real development in the two characters, Hal steady and almost a man, Roger endowed with great courage but not much common sense. The plot is always simple, a search for whatever kind of animal is required, but well endowed with feats of endurance and dramatic episodes, and the pages quite crammed with factual detail on the animals which the boys appear ever to have at their encyclopaedic finger tips. They also possess a remarkable ability for picking up scientific and technical detail relevant to the current project, and are therefore able to take on board ballooning, underwater diving or diamond mining without any hesitation or pause for training. Most of all they do have an extraordinary amount of luck. In Gorilla Adventure they survive between them a charge by an infuriated gorilla, a fire in their cabin and a fight with their local guide, an attack by a mamba and then a spitting cobra, a 20-foot fall followed by a fight with a black leopard—all the while managing to collect 22 animals for their father, to find enough diamonds to maintain an ailing bush hospital, and to capture a python and a gorilla together with one rope.

The exploits may be fiction, but the facts and settings could only have come from real life; Price’s tales are based on his own tumultuous and action-packed life. The detail in these adventure books is all accurate and undoubtedly has an enormous appeal to his wide following. Nothing gets in the way of the narration, of the boys’ exploits and the constant stream of information—no time is wasted on philosophizing or theorizing, all is action and very successful.

One gets the feeling from this mixed review that Waters is secretly a huge fan but is just slightly too sophisticated to say so. Come on, Fiona! Let it all out. That sequence with the fire and the gorilla and all the kinds of snakes, where they’re biffing the treacherous guide and the black leopard (the rarest of them all!) and diamonds are spilling everywhere—you can’t get better than that. It wasn’t luck—it was pluck, though having encyclopaedic fingertips can’t have hurt either. And there may not have been much theorising, but there were important themes addressed—of conservation, of cruelty, of courage and cannibalism—all thrashed out through action rather than boring old speeches.

What I certainly never knew growing up was that Price also wrote a slew of non-fiction books for adults, also based on his extensive travels. Some of them were clearly the product of their time, like perhaps Ancient Peoples at New Tasks (1918, for the Missionary Education Movement) and The Negro Around the World (1925). He wrote many, many books on Japan, from the original The South Sea Adventure: Through Japan’s Equatorial Empire (1936, published in the US as Pacific Adventure—a trap for young players) through Japan Rides the Tiger (1952) and Japan’s Islands of Mystery (1944) to Journey by Junk: Japan After MacArthur (1953) and The Japanese Miracle and Peril (1971). He kind of took up where Lafcadio Hearn left off, though perhaps he was always an outsider and never really embraced the culture. Professor Laurie Barber at the University of Waikato across the ditch goes so far as to suggest that Price may have been some kind of US intelligence agent, citing in particular his writings on the Japanese Mandate in Micronesia:

In early 1944 the allied thrust toward Japan reached the South Seas Mandate’s atolls and islands. Fire storm bombardments by now superior United States naval and airforce destroyed air strips and left Truk’s boasted naval fortress, constructed after the war’s beginning, in ruins. Amphibious landings, the employment of flame throwers, tanks, satchel charges, and overwhelming reinforcement, smashed depleted Japanese defences. It is difficult to estimate how much or how little of Price’s information on the Mandate’s coast, atoll chains, and anchorages, may have helped the American invaders at this time. It is likely some did!

But, even so, the question still remains. Was Willard deMille Price, travel story purveyor par excellence, a United States spy? We may never know whether he was formally a United States intelligence agent, or just a patriotic American willing to tell what he had seen. But we do know that Willard Price deliberately travelled to Japan’s South Seas Mandate to check-out whether Japan had contravened League of Nations mandate provisions by erecting fortifications, and incidentally to discover the extent of Japanese colonisation and control. It may be that he was just a patriotic journalist, offering his findings to the jigsaw assembled by United States military in preparation for a foreseeable war. Why not? After all it is proven fact the Japanese tourists in the 1930s deposited their holiday photographs, often taken against backgrounds of port facilities and likely land beaches, with Japan’s military intelligence in Tokyo. For Price and for the Japanese tourists it was the least patriots could do. But there is the lurking suspicion that Price may have been more in the intelligence world, considerably more than just a patriotic citizen!

Well, who knows. Price also wrote about South America, Africa, Tahiti and even Roaming Britain: 8000 Miles Through England, Scotland and Wales (1958: he must have been very lost). His travels were summarised somewhat prematurely in 1952’s I Cannot Rest from Travel: An Autobiography of Adventure in Seventy Lands, and more comprehensively in 1982’s My Own Life of Adventure: Travels in 148 Lands, which was directed at the readers of his children’s series.

But I’m going straight down to the local library to see if they’ve still got Gorilla Adventure. You should, too!

49 Responses to “Adventure Adventure”

  1. Andrew Says:

    Brilliant! So glad to find some amount of information on ol’ Willard! I loved these books as a kid, and recently have felt the urge to track them down to share with my nephew. Managed to find a complete collection on ebay for £20, but was astounded at the dearth of info on the internet. A real surprise, as I figured the books were a strong fixture of the youth of men my age, and therefore ripe for nostalgic picking. Certainly when I was 8 (in 1980), the majority of young male reading in New Zealand came down to the Adventure books, the Hardy Boys, Asterix, and Tintin. An Antipodean thing, perhaps?

  2. Adrienne Says:

    Gosh I’m glad to find this! Thanks so much for putting this research together, just what I was looking for.

    I was an addict of Willard Price from the age of 8 through whenever I finished all the Adventures held by
    our local library in Hobart. I’m now in my mid thirties and just hit the net looking for them for
    my small son who is also an adventure type. For some reason WP does not seem to be well known in the US
    where I live now; Amazon doesn’t even seem to carry him. I still have vivid recollections of fantastic scenes
    that have remained with me more clearly than my own travel memories: Roger bounding down the volcano’s ash
    slopes unable to stop; the descriptions of whaling; the enormous plants of the Mountains of the Moon. These
    books are treasures.

  3. Angie Says:

    I am 14 & I love the adventure stories & tried to find out more about Willard Price & where i can gethis books. This was the only website that had any useful info – so thanks!

    These books are amazing & i am still trying to finish my collection. Thanks to this website i am going to go after Gorilla Adventure with all my will.

  4. Shelley Says:

    Thanks for this info on Willard Price. My son has to do a speech for English at school and decided to write about his all time favourite author.

    Willard Price’s books were so exciting when I was a child, and still had a couple of my own copies, which I could pass on to him, as they are extremely hard to find in Zimbabwe.

    Regards

  5. Mark James Says:

    I read and re read all of Willard Prices books when I was young, and even now, if I see a copy in a second hand shop I’ll buy it. They were fantastic books, even if the plots were a bit improbable:- two teenage boys roaming the world catching rare wild animals, being bitten, poisoned, shot, half drowned, discovering tons of gold and diamonds,riding in impossible vehicles (a hoversub?? Diving Adventure) and helping the locals along the way. And Hal knew everything there was to know about everything. Who cares? I’d recommend them to any child today of about 9-11 age range, just because theyre so full of facts and figures, and theyre easy to read! I recently read a copy of Diving Adventure, and was on the net finding out about Challenger Deep, the Stingaree, Giant Squid, bathyspheres, thermoclines, Undersea City and the hoversub (!) as soon as I’d finished reading (about 2 hours after I’d started. By the way, I’m 38 and married with 3 children!

  6. Leah Says:

    I enjoyed reading your article. I read “Lion Adventure” again tonight. No wonder it terrorised my childhood – 3 maneating lion attacks in the first 43 pages!

  7. brent Says:

    Thanks so much for the info. I did a library search for the adventure books… as my son wants to be a zoologist this month, and I remember them so fondly from childhood. I was surprised that he had written so many factual books and that so many of his books were written so much later in his life than you would expect, so I was curious to learn more. The web was hardly prolific until I found your page. Thanks so much…I think the Hollywood film of his life could be interesting with the spy thing thrown in. Russel Crowe has n’t made anything decent for a while after all…

  8. Ali Says:

    I like everyone here loved these books. This book is inspiring. I still remember when I read them and how passionate I became about animals. I remember fondly the prize I got for my book report on my favourite author. As a result of the interest it sparked I went on to gain a biology degree and am now teaching biology to other children and I encourage them to read these books. I have yet to see any of them not get the same thrilled look that I had according to my parents!).

    P.S. I have found the books on Amazon today but they certainly were not there about a year ago. I am also happy to report that the reader ratings tend to be either 4.5 or five

  9. Richard Abbott Says:

    Great to read about an author I greatly admire – I too spent my youth reading Willard Price books and still think of them in my adult life (I’ll have to get them frommy parents place and read them again) and look forward to sharing them with my children in a few years time.

  10. Alison Says:

    HI there, really great to hear of all those fans out there who are of my vintage (early 30s) and still adore the adventure books of Willard Price. Am also hoping to build a collection of his works, now that I can afford it and no longer have to rely on the local library, which I searched vociferously every week for new editions!

  11. Rye Says:

    I’m in my early 30’s as well and loved the series. I can still remember harrasing my local bookshop in Perth where I grew up to order in any of the books I didn’t have. I still have them all and will be passing them on to my kids when I have some. Like Rihard above said, I still think of them in my adult life and can still spout infomation about manta rays and giant squid that I learnt from the great man 20 years ago!

    Thanks for the site.

  12. WaltDe Says:

    Very good reading. Peace until next time.
    WaltDe

  13. Tim Says:

    Excellent to revisit these memories of devouring Willard Price’s books from the school library as a young boy growing up in Adelaide.
    I found this site after someone asked me to do something at work and my gut instinct reply “Yes, bwana” reminded me of all of those African adventures.
    Keep up the good work!

  14. geoff Says:

    I grew up in an age when boys roamed the countryside with their dogs, made catapults and kites and carried pen-knives, cycling for miles in the hope of adventure. These books were brilliant, and I must have read all of them theat came into our school library. Excellent reading for a ten-year-old boy.

  15. waz Says:

    i LOVE these books, used to consume them many times over on a cold tasmanian night back in the 80s and thankfully taz had plenty of those. Came to this page while trying to authenticate the giants writen of during the mountains of the moon section in one of those books – those images have stayed with me, perhaps because of their implausibility – sadly cant seem to find any fact for them. Actually picked up a copy of south sea adventure in chinese in 1998 (for 5 yuan – one Oz dollar) – my favourite book of the series – gotta love the survival stuff on the island and then the raft voyage, and Kaggs – what a villan. To be honest, its great to see so many other likeminded comments on this page – felt like the only one in the world who was into those books.
    Looks like a lot of comments from Oz and Nz-ers about them, adrienne says above (or below – dont know how theformatting works on the comments page yet) they’re pretty unheard of in the States – what about other countries….? comments people….

    RIP willard price, spy or otherwise.

  16. Memphis Says:

    I’d never heard of these books until the other day I picked up 3 two in one novels at my local budget bookstore. I cringe at the theft of animals from their natural habitats as well as the odd parent killing. But I’m enjoying the adventure side of things. So just wanted to let everyone know that the books are out there again!

  17. John Rodriguez Says:

    I grew up with these astonishing books, and could not get enough of them. I am now the father of a young boy and his new brother is set to join us soon, which got me thinking of the brothers Hal and Roger. From reading these books as a Child, I had a dream to have my own adventures and a few years ago at the age of 35 I set off with my wife to sail around the world. We will continue with our two sons having our own “Sailing Adventure”.
    Mr Price…thank you so much. http://www.geocities.com/theyachtmoonshine

  18. Jonathan Escolar Says:

    Just to echo much of what’s already been said – I love these books and also read them many times over as a child. Willard’s aim to get people interested in natural history and books certainly worked in my case, as I went on to study zoology and reading remains one of my greatest passions. In fact the topic of my masters dissertation last year was how the rise of modern environmentalism is reflected through the adventure series! If anyone is interested in having a read I’ll get it up on the net. Just let me know.

  19. Chandra Says:

    You wont believe this , but in India , my local lending library had all the books from Willard Price in Chennai , and I read all the adventure books when I was just 13 years old.I am now 29 years old , but Price exerts a pull far greater than the rationalities of age , 16 years later , I spent 40 pounds on getting the entire collection from Amazon.com , and when I read through them , I am transported to an impossible boyhood.

    I was amazed that Price was born in the late 1800’s.His writing and the adventures is as contemporary as Enid Blyton’s,Tintin’s and the Asterix writers.Sometimes , genuises know no bounds,time barriers or as in my case, no civilizations and cultures.

    I still remain his fan.

  20. Andy Says:

    I fondly remember reading the “Adventure” series in elementary school back in the early ’70s. I’m a collector of sorts and was interested in finding some old copies of these books, so I started looking around on the internet and found this page. It’s nice to see there are others who remember this series! Unfortunately, it seems Willard Price’s “Adventure” books are no longer in print in the US. I wonder who holds the rights?

  21. Roger Says:

    I have no idea why I was suddenly able to remember the name Willard Price. His books must be so much part of my persona that they almost feel like they never existed. Perhaps it is because reading all of his books as a young boy feels like it was another lifetime away. Indeed so much was his influence that my life became an adventure like it could not be any other way. I went to Africa as a young man, lived there for 8 years as a park ranger. Now that also feels like another life. Now as I enter my 40’s, I still yearn for adventure and am now organising my next life as a writer, photographer, and expeditioner. I remember how I would relish his books and read them like they were real. Indeed life is so real that it should not be passed so lightly.
    I shame on the modern world now as I look at its vices.

  22. vivek Says:

    I was a great fan of this man from age eight, right through to my mid teens. I still have my copies of his adventure series, sitting in my book case and falling apart from use.

    He tried to do, through written fiction, what David Attenborough did through televised documentaries and, I am sure, succeeded in his own way, from the point of view of his readers.

    It did not matter how improbable the characters’ antics were, particularly when you were eight years old, and certainly not now that you have stories of boy wizards attending wizardry school. The stories were a mesmerising escape from realism for young kids, and were food for the imagination, which is so important at that age.

    I am so pleased to hear he had so many fans, because when I was little, I thought I was the only one.

  23. Andrew Says:

    Thank you so much for this! I was a massive fan of ol’ uncle Willard when I was a kid. They were my favourite series of books growing up in the 70’s and early 80’s. I even remember how excited I was when Arctic Adventure was released. A new one! I remember reading his biography at the front and being surprised at how old he was (not realising at the time that the first book had come out about 30 years beforehand…).

    As mentioned above, I do wonder if his popularity was an antipodean thing. In New Zealand when I was a kid the Adventure books were always one of the top reads. But in the UK, where I am now based, nobody seems to have heard of them!

    I passed my old set of books down to my nephew years ago now, and I don’t think they are around anymore. In a fit of nostalgia (and a passing fancy of maybe adapting them to film) I recently picked up a full set on eBay. Not the classic covers I would have liked, but still better than the newer ones that you see around sometimes. I started reading Amazon Adventure and, despite obviously being a children’s book, I was happy to still find them entertaining (sometimes unintentionally so viewed through the modern political lens).

    A criminally overlooked children’s author! Well done on helping to keep his memory alive!

  24. Ellie Says:

    Since my dad read these to me when I was about… seven? I’ve always loved these books. It was only recently when I was rereading all my old favourites (Volcano, South Sea, Arctic and Whale Adventures) that I realised how obscenely politically incorrect they are. I also noticed that the only female character ever mentioned is Hal and Roger’s mum, who is called either “your mother” or “Mrs Hunt”. But other than that, they’re fantastic.

    I’m part of the second generation of Price lovers I guess (I’m seventeen) and from the sound of it I love them just as much as anyone who read them in the eighties. I’ve always thought someone should make this series into a series of movies, but without the racism, and probably with some new characters for awkward teenage sexual tension to appeal to a modern audience(lol!). Any producers out there who’re stuck for a new idea, there you go.

    Willard Price got me hooked an animals and nature, so I blame him for my three hour biol exam and two and a half hour marine studies exam later this year. But I can also thank him for making me want a life of discovery and adventure.

  25. weizhen Says:

    I’m a huge fan of Willard Price’s adventrue series. I read them first in Chinese when I was in primary school. Imagining myself going through all the adventures will Hal & Roger was one of my fav thing to do as a kid. I have my complete collection back in China and I bought the english edition for myself after coming to Australia. Like Ellie said in the early post, I always wonder why no one had ever occured to make the series into movies… they would be fantastic!
    Thanks for sharing all the info about WP and his books. I’ll make sure all my kids read them if I get any later. :P

  26. Joe Says:

    These books dominated my childhood imagination and taught me a lot. I remember even at 10, though, finding the removal of all those rare animals from the wild a challenge to my emerging sense of ethics. Then they’d outwit some poachers and my moral balance was restored.

    I am from the UK and can assure readers from the Southern Hemisphere that the escapism translated equally well to a child brought up in a city in England. I, too, remember the excitement waiting for Arctic Adventure – compounded by the fact I was in a race to finish the whole series with my elder brother. I just found the whole set in a box and am sorely tempted to read them through in sequence again (who cares what looks I get on the tube on the way in to work? Perhaps I’ll hide them behind a large copy of Anna Karenina . . .)

    Thanks for the page.

  27. Gareth Murtagh Says:

    I came across the Adventure series in my local library in Newry, Northern Ireland back in the early 80’s. I think the first one I read was Underwater Adventure and I then went back and hired each one they had out in turn. I loved the books for the descriptions of the locations, particularly the Mountain of the Moon in Gorilla Adventure which seemed to be an incredible place with giant earthworms! OK so looking back it’s unrealistic for 2 teens to be going round the world collecting dangerous animals but it was the escapism and romance of the Hunt’s travels that was the whole appeal of the series!

  28. Oliver Says:

    I live in Canada now (not far from Price’s birthplace), but grew up in Southern England and read all the Adventure series. I seem to remember it took a while to track a few of them down at my local library, but I was relentless once I had the bug. I guess that was in the late 70’s or early 80’s.
    These books had a huge impact on me as a child and ignited a passion for adventure, nature and wilderness that has always burned in me.

    I should try to find some copies to give to my own kids who are now just starting to read on their own.

    Great stuff!

  29. joe ire Says:

    Hey…my first response didn’t feature here!
    Hi! Loved these books, especially the first I read since it was set in my home
    region, East Africa. I went on to read all, except one, Amazon Adventure.Never found it to-date, 18 years later!
    Joe

  30. Gail Says:

    Outstanding ! Certainly the author, as well as the adventures !

    A phone call today, refreshed my memories of a nine year old girl with a passion for good stories. Many a warm desert afternoon were spent at my neighbor’s,up in the loft. I was permitted to browse a small, cozy library directly across the street from my house. Mary fixed dinner while Willard and I spoke of adventures. I recall asking him to write more… right away, please.

    It seems that my son remembers reading these same books when he was a child. Now he wants the books for his own sons. Hang in there parents.., they will remember the books you bring to thier attention after all !

    I was lucky enough to have Willard and Mary as neighbors in Cathedral City, Calif.. There were many days when they allowed me to climb the stairs to a loft containing some of thier book collection.

    Mr. Price expressed astonishment that a small girl would be entranced by stories written for fifteen year old boys.

    I miss those two wonderful people ! I’m glad that so many people appreciate these books.

  31. Belinda Says:

    How exciting to hear from a friend of the Prices! I too loved the books as a small girl, starting with Elephant Adventure which I borrowed from the school library at the age of eight. I had them all except the last three and can remember waiting in fevered anticipation for each new book to come out. Even as a child I noticed the definite lack of female characters, but the books made up for it with the fantastic descriptions of the animal kingdom. If it weren’t for Willard Price, I would have no idea what a boomslang is, not that I am ever likely to meet one in southern Australia.
    As an aside, my brother as a boy sometimes used to drop his H’s at the beginning of his words, so my father devised a speech exercise which began, “Handsome Hal Hunt had high hopes…” My father, who is in his late seventies, can still recite this, much to my brother’s ongoing horror.

  32. Ken Says:

    I recently started acquiring both ex-library and paperback copies of these books which I had read and re-read as a young man. For me th e Adventure Series led to the adult travelogues and an interest in exotic places. Ultimately it was one of the influences in embarking on a career in international law that took me to Asia for 18 years. I was amazed at how well the books hold up after so many decades. And I had a few laughs when I found that some of the pet phrases I have been using for 40 years came from the mouth of Roger Hunt. Cheers!

  33. Bethany Windsor Says:

    Hi – does anyone know whether a boxed set of Willard Price’s work was everr published?

    bethany_windsor@hotmail.co.uk – I would love to own one, having recently gained a place at University to qualify as a teacher, and am determined to have these books in my classroom!

    Thanks,

    Bethany

  34. Murphy Says:

    Had a sudden recollection of these books just a couple of weeks ago. I’d been hunting ever since for the name of the author. ‘Willard Price’. What a name from the past!

    I can honestly say these books are entirely responsible for my fascination with the natural world. What a shame such an educated and inspirational man has been almost forgotten about these days. I think everyone here should ensure that these fantastic books make their way into the hands of future generations.

    Thanks Matt Rubinstein for all the info.

  35. Emma Says:

    I have just found this page and love the idea that these books touched so many people across the world. I grew up in the UK and read every book in the series. I would like to buy them again now so I can keep them for my kids and whilst searching the net for info I found a site that said when the rights were first sold by his family, they planned to rewrite the books to update them and maybe even create a film or tv show. Does anyone know anything about that? The company that bought the rights seems to have changed hands and there’s not so much as a mention of WP on the new company website.

  36. Ellie Says:

    Emma – I live in hope.
    I’d just like to point out that the other book I thought should be made into a movie when I was a little kid (Nim’s Island) has just been made into a movie.
    So clearly, it’s only a matter of time before the Adventure books make it to the big screen…

  37. Rick Says:

    Hi! I too am a Brit with fond memories of this series. I went throught them all in hard back from my local library (who, I remember, could never seem to decide whether they were truly childrens books or “teen” books and I would often have to scour both sections to find them!)when I was a teenager (late 70’s-ear;y 80’s). I am desperately trying to get the full set and actually came here initially after typing “Willard Price box set” in on Google!
    My opinion of whether movies will ever be made….. well, lets face it, in the modern climate of environmental awareness and political correctness, many changes would need to be made….. the basic premise of two clean living white youths “educating the poor natives” and taking animals from the wild for zoos….. hmmm?????

    There is also no doubt in my mind that Price took a fair few myths to heart and made them fact….. giant plants/animals in the mountains of the moon for instance (yes many things are bigger than normal but you would not trip over an earthworm the size of a python!).

    The obvious warm feelings being expressed here for this great author are obviously why I continue to be outbid on ebay when collections of his books come up for sale!!!!!! Only last night I lost out on a collection of 12 of the 14 books because I had to go out and didnt get back in time to increase my maximum bid >:-( (I had bid £25 but they went for £28) plus p&p making them over £32 in total which, for “used paperbacks with some browning and loose pages”, shows how desperately some of us want them)!!!!!

    Maybe a re-write is on the cards……. Hal and Roger could be wild life film makers…..their efforts could be aimed at setting up the perfect situation to catch the animals displaying their natural behaviour rather than setting up the perfect traps!!! Or, even better, capturing the rarest animals in order to set up breeding programmes in a special facility run by their father???

    Anyway, can everyone please stay off ebay UK now until I get the set…and then I will post here again letting you all know that you can go back…??? Go on…pretty please????

    Cheers

  38. Emma Says:

    Another female UK fan here. I’m 48, I loved the books as a child, and now I’m reading them to my 11 year old daughter. I really thought she wasn’t going to like them, but she is hooked too! We do stop and have a laugh at Hal from time to time, with his improving lectures. But sometimes we rush off and google some animal or location, only to find that most of it is based on hard fact.

    How you could trust Merlin Kaggs second time round I have no idea… Bless them!

  39. Emma P Says:

    There’s plenty of us out there aren’t there!! I don’t know if you’ve seen it but he wrote a book which is practically autobiographical (My own life of adventure) which I have just paid rather more than I normally would have for. It is incredible and every story I read makes me kinda wish I’d known more about him whilst he was alive. If you liked the books as a child you will seriously love this book as it’s for ‘grown ups’ which we may argue about but we have to admit we are now!! Most of the stuff in his books is based on what he experienced – he travelled mostly with his wife who is to me the earliest embodiment of girl power!

    I bought a couple of the new editions (my originals are back in the UK and I’m now in Australia – didn’t want to risk them getting damaged) and I’m reading Amazon Adventure again, I never realised how politically incorrect they were obviously as a kid but I’m still loving reading it and remembering how I’d pictured it all happening as a kid.

    Rick – best of luck getting the set ;-)

  40. Emma P Says:

    Sorry, just wanted to say I’m the Emma that posted on April 9th!

  41. Dave W Says:

    I’ve found my home! Fans of the great man! I read them avidly when a child, though mocked by friends (and even parents). Eventually, I studied geology at University on a course that took me all over Europe, and now dive or off-road all over the place. in two weeks I’m heading off to India to catch snakes in the Western Ghats. Can’t help feeling WP started this, and a sensne of frustration that I’ll never be as well-travelled, eloquent or as adventurous as he was!

    Need to get the complete collection (borrowed from Library when a kid). At the risk of creating a monster, can I ask opinions; which one is the best?

    Warm regards to you tasteful people!

    Dave

  42. Shevvers Says:

    Capital! The first book I ever read was “Lion Adventure”, aged seven, and the second was “Volcano Adventure”. Willard Price brainwashed me into what I believed my world would be like when I grew up – although I lamented the absence of pretty females in his tomes, even at that tender age.

  43. Shevvers Says:

    Plus, Hal’s intense friendship with Omo the Polynesian(“South Sea Adventure”) struck me as somewhat – ahem – unmanly. And “Whaling Adventure” – what was all that flogging about?

  44. Rick Says:

    Hi all…an update!!

    9th June 08 I received the final paperbacks to complete the set :-)
    I am the first to admit that they are not al from the same printing but they are all the same edition. A couple are in less than perfect condition but 10 of them look like new!!!!
    It ended up costing me around £45 but I am so happy!

    At one point I went on to WH Smiths website and found a listing for the complete boxed set at £19.99 but luckily I checked before coming here and telling all and sundry….when I ordered it I got an email back 2 days later apologising because the set is not available and the listing should not have appeared on the website!

    Anyway, am determined NOT to rush through them all….am taking my time and reading them all in order. John has just gone home and left the boys alone for the first time deep in the Amazon……. and I am right there with them :-D

  45. Rick Says:

    #41 Dave:
    My research shows (thankfully) that, as far as I have been able to determine, the editions have made zero changes in
    any way to the actual text of the books.

    The set I have built are all the 1989-1990 edition and I do like the cover photography which is quite realistic. I have seen a few of the old 1970s hardback editions (which I had read rom my local library) starting around £10 on ebay and a first edition of Whaling Adventure signed by Willard himself fetched around £50 (vastly underpriced in my estimation).

    43: Shevvers: I think to be honest that it is no more than the sign of a more innocent time! There is a lot of what I refer to as “innocent racism” throughout the books and some (by todays standards) implied homosexuality. The very name ”
    Omo has a double meaning today that I doubt very much was even in general use in the 50s! I guess we will never know if there was indeed any intent from mr Price to indicate such an issue…… although even I was a little taken aback when (and the specific book in the series escapes me….) Hal is showering naked on the deck of a boat in a storm so Roger dons some ladies clothes in a cabin in an attempt to embarrass Hal…..!!! I doubt that many modern books aimed at the teen market would even be allowed to have 14 year old boys dressing in drag to catch out their naked 19 year old brothers!!! It is a little sad perhaps that we even discuss this…in a time where Noddy can no longer share a bed with Big ears….. and questions are even asked about why Morecombe and Wise did the same thing…. as a child I never thought it odd….. one has to question whether it is modern “dirty minded” adults forcing their interpretaion on children! That is not levelled at anyone here :-)

  46. Aishwarya Says:

    # 45 – The Roger-in-drag/ Naked-Hal book is South Sea Adventure, if I remember right.

  47. Andrew Clark Says:

    I was thrilled to find 8 of my original Willard Price books in a box of books returned to me by may parents recently, including a first edition hardback of Arctic Adventure (purchased in 1980 when I turned 7). I have passed them on to my nine year old son and he has made a good start, he has finished the first two and now demands I buy him the missing ones (numbered 5, 6, 9, 11 and 12) for Christmas 2010! So I will be looking on Amazon, e-Bay etc tonight. I have begun reading Amazon Adventure to my 9 year old and his 7 year old brother and we are all enjoying it immensely. Boys love facts, and these books have them in droves, reading them again (I am now 37) will re-awaken many happy memories! And reading them to my kids lets me explain more by putting them in a historical / political context which I hope they appreciate.

  48. Matthew John Says:

    This series of books were a huge part of my childhood from the age of 7 when my mother bought me ‘Tiger Adventure’ to occupy me before we embarked on a long coach trip.
    I grew up in a relatively small town in the UK and was obsessed by all things animal related and I longed to travel and experience some of the same adventures as Hal and Roger. It was the ultimate escape from humdrum early 80’s Britain.
    In a weeks time I will be embarking on my own Kenyan ‘Safari Adventure’ and I will have these childhood memories with me throughout.

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