Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Books & Authors From My Childhood - Part Two

Enid Blyton's stories

Enid Blyton was another of my favourite authors as a child. I still have several stacks of her books in my sister's bookshelf (because I don't have space in mine :P).

"Wait a second..." you say. "Stacks of books by Enid Blyton? How long did she live?!" For your information, she was around seventy when she did, writing about eight hundred books in forty years. "Woah..." you reply. Yeah, exactly!

If I were to categorize all of Enid's books that I have read, there would be several different groups. I will summarize each category below.

The Fantasy Books
Enid's fantasy books have some whimsicial charm about them. Two series I distinctly recall are The Wishing-Chair series and The Magic Faraway Tree series. In the first book of the former series, The Wishing Chair, Molly and Peter go into an antique shop to find a gift for their mother. Here they come across, entirely by accident, a chair that can grow little wings and fly! In the rest of this book, and in the others, Molly and Peter go on many adventures with the wishing chair, including the rescue of a pixie from a giant who can't do math. This series is innocently fun and has good values, such as shown by what happens to a boy who makes rude faces. (I'll keep you in suspense on that one. ;))

The Farway Tree series - Jo, Bessie, and Fanny move to a new house near a forest. In this forest they discover the magic Farway Tree, which reaches up so high that its topmost braches are in the clouds. Here, the three siblings meet several strange and wonderful creatures, such as Moon-Face (who does have the face of a moon, just so you know), Silky the fairy, Mr. Whatzisname, and Dame Washalot. They also discover that if they climb the tree, they will find a land at the top of this tree. The lands at the top of this tree change, sometimes being very pleasant, sometimes very nasty. There also is a trick to this tree-climbing and land-exploring...if one doesn't get out of the land before it changes, that unfortunate person will be stuck there until the land moves back to the Farway Tree. This series also has good values (as do all of Enid Blyton's books that I have read EXCEPT for her boarding school books, as you shall read below).

Enid Blyton's very best fantasy book (and probably the best book she ever wrote) is The Land of Far-Beyond, a book like the Pilgrim's Progress.

Alyianna's rating: 8.5 out of 10

The Boarding School Books
The only disappointments when it comes to Enid Blyton's books is her boarding school stories. The stories as themselves are good, but the characters (usually girls) aren't exactly the type that I would want my own children someday be friends with. For example, take the girls of Enid Blyton's St. Clare's series. While the girls themselves claim that they are so honourable and just and are horified at people who "tattle tale", the girls are very cruel when it comes to people who they believe are stuck-up and need to be taught a lesson (there is always one such girl who is stuck-up in every book in the series). In most cases, the girls who give the other a bad time are displayed to be in the right. I find a big problem with this being shown as good. Bullying is NOT right. The girls also like to play tricks on teachers (which I do have to admit are funny even though the girls are being cruel) and hold midnight feasts to celebrate birthdays (which are not allowed).

The Mallory Towers series is a little better. The girls still play tricks on teachers and hold midnight feasts, but the bullying isn't as prevalent as in the St. Clare's series. There are some good values, such as the main character, Darell, learning to control her temper, and Alicia, the class clown, learning the importance of putting some effort in school and sports.

The quality of writing also falls in this category of Enid's books. This is due to the cliches that Enid herself makes - almost every single book in her boarding school series has the "good girls", the spoiled brat and outcast, a class clown who leads the tricks on teachers (usually the French teacher), and one midnight feast. These stories can get a little boring with this set template used every time. I didn't find this so uninteresting when I was a kid. :)

Alyianna's rating: 7.5 out of 10

The Mystery Books
If you have never heard of the Famous Five or the Secret Seven series, I feel very sorry for you. Children's mysteries is really the genre where Enid shines. As you can probably already guess, the Famous Five is about a group of five children (all cousins), and the same for the Secret Seven (except it's about seven children, obviously). The Famous Five series is the best of all of Enid Blyton's series, but the Secret Seven is also up there. These aren't Enid Blyton's only mystery series, though; I also remember the Five Find-Outers, the Adventure Series, the Secret Series, and the Barney Mystery series as being very good, as well.

From the TV show of Famous Five

Alyianna's rating: 9 out of 10

Books for Younger Children
Enid Blyton has also written books for younger children, including some books of short stories for young children. The stories are cute and good for children.

Alyianna's rating: 8 out of 10

Here is a website where you can find all about Enid Blyton and her books. :)
Enid Blyton Society

Until next time!
- Alyianna


Lucy Pevensie said...

Cool! I love some of Enid Blyton's books, ESPECIALLY The Land of Far Beyond.

Alyianna Baggins said...

You should read some of her mystery/adventure books - those ones are really good. :)