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Dawn Isaac

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Enid Blyton, Five Go Mad in Dorset and a gnome called Pinkity

Posted by Dawn Isaac on 02 Dec 2009 at 04:01 PM


Ava is turning into a nascent literary critic.  She has been complaining in recent weeks at the paucity of choice in the 'dark pink' reading category at school (a reference to some kind of colour coding for reading levels which is, quite frankly, beyond me). To be fair, all the stories do seem to involve either boys playing football or some kind of island community reminiscent of Castaway - the BBC one documentary rather than the Oliver Reed film, in case you were confused.

Anyway, last night she went on strike and refused to pick up the latest offering from her school bag, so instead she chose to read me a chapter from Enid Blyton's A Book of Fairies.

I'm not sure where I stand on Enid Blyton.  Of course it's not absolutely essential to hold opinions on deceased children's authors, but the thing is, when it comes to Ms Blyton, I always have done. 

As a child I was a massive fan of her books, particularly The Famous Five and Faraway Tree series.  In fact, it was probably these stories which instilled in me the 1950s language I have never quite outgrown - 'crikey', 'gosh' and 'good heavens' being just the tip of my weird linguistic iceberg.

Then, in the early 80s, there was that Comic Strip Presents... episode Five Go Mad in Dorset which, let's face it, spoilt some of the magic of the books - I have never been able to view Uncle Quentin or a tub of vaseline in quite the same light again.

Plus, there's the casual racism, snobbery and rather mediocre writing to contend with.  To top it all, the Beeb's drama Enid a couple of weeks ago, revealed that Ms Blyton might have been, well, a bit of a bad egg.

However, as my daughter read a typically Blyton-esque story about a small ribbon-rolling gnome called Pinkity, it became a tale of bracken, ferns, fronds and the effects of frost.  Cripes!  By the end, I had nearly revised my opinion of Enid... again.  Still not sure about vaseline though.

Toodle pip!


miranda said:

I remember enjoying Blyton's books when I was little. Looking back at them now, some of the attitudes expressed make my toes curl, but their saving grace is that they do show children out playing on their own and having adventures. I wonder if the children of today ever long to go out and explore after reading those stories? They must seem worlds away from the lives so many children lead today.

on 03 Dec 2009 at 02:37 PM

Dawn Isaac said:

Miranda - I agree.  Seemed to spend my childhood playing outside with no adults in sight, but that is sadly a rarity now.

on 03 Dec 2009 at 04:52 PM