The Jennings novels detail the escapades of schoolboy J. C. T. Jennings during his years at Linbury Court boarding school. Many of the events hinge on misunderstandings between Jennings and others, often caused by Jennings' habit of taking things literally, and by his tendency to act on impulse. The other principal characters are his much more cautious best friend C. E. J. Darbishire (who keeps getting dragged into Jennings' outlandish schemes against his own better judgment), other classmates (particularly Temple, Venables and Atkinson, who share Dormitory 4 with Jennings and Darbishire), and some of the school's masters, particularly the blusterous Mr Wilkins who takes the brunt of many of the jokes.
The tone of the series is largely realistic, using no fantasy elements, and is based in Britain as it was in the third quarter of the 20th Century, albeit a little idealised, and played for humour.
From a linguistic standpoint, the books are notable for the invented vernacular spoken by the Linbury Court pupils. One of the most prominent examples of this is the word 'ozard' (meaning 'bad', 'unpleasant' or 'to be dreaded'), created by working from the actual 1950s slang term 'wizard' ('great', 'excellent'), and the assumption that the opposite of 'wizard' is 'Oz', by reference to The Wizard of Oz. The opening chapters of the first book, Jennings Goes to School, explain those terms which most need it, enabling the reader to make sense of the dialogue in the ensuing narrative.
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Books in the series
- Jennings Goes to School (1950)
- Jennings Follows a Clue (1951)
- Jennings' Little Hut (1951)
- Jennings and Darbishire (1952)
- Jennings' Diary (1953)
- According to Jennings (1954)
- Our Friend Jennings (1955)
- Thanks to Jennings (1957)
- Take Jennings, for Instance (1958)
- Jennings, as Usual (1959)
- The Trouble With Jennings (1960)
- Just Like Jennings (1961)
- Leave it to Jennings (1963)
- Jennings, Of Course! (1964)
- Especially Jennings! (1965)
- A Bookful of Jennings (1966 - also titled 'The Best of Jennings')
- Jennings Abounding (1967 - also titled 'Jennings Unlimited')
- Jennings in Particular (1968)
- Trust Jennings! (1969)
- The Jennings Report (1970)
- Typically Jennings! (1971)
- Speaking of Jennings! (1973)
- Jennings at Large (1977)
- Jennings Again! (1991)
- That's Jennings (1994)
- Reading Age: 11+
- Read Aloud Age: 9+
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- The Just William series is quite similar. Although not set at school, William, like Jennings, get himself into all sorts of trouble by taking people literally, and making ridiculous plans, with hilarious results.
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