Enid Blyton is one of those authors whose names frequently appear on lists of recommended titles for children but whose books are nearly impossible to come by in my neck of the woods. When I mentioned her to a friend and fellow homeschooling mama who grew up in the Bahamas, she responded with delight that Enid Blyton is an author whose works she read and loved as a child, and she just so happened to have copies of a few of Blyton‘s works that she would loan us for our reading pleasure. 🙂 I now have in my posession about a half-dozen of Blyton’s many, many titles, and we have enjoyed one of them, The Magic Faraway Tree, together.
Really, this book is just absurd silliness of the most charming sort. It’s the story of four children (Jo, Dick, Bessie, and Fanny) who live near an Enchanted Wood in which is a Faraway Tree. Many interesting creatures live in this Faraway Tree: Saucepan Man, a man whose body is hung with cookery of all sorts (I imagine him as a peddlar); Moonface, a man whose face is an full and round as the moon; an Angry Fairy; Dame Wash-a-Lot, a woman who always dumps her wash water down the tree, drenching anyone below without a thought; etc. A slippery slip (a.k.a. a slide, although isn’t slippery slip a much nicer name?) runs the length of the inside of the tree trunk, providing a fun way for the children to make their entrances and exits. However, it’s the top of the tree that’s amazing, for at the top of the tree there is a big cloud which is the landing-spot for all sorts of interesting and fantastical lands: the Land of Topsy-Turvy, where things–and people–are upside down; the Land of Spells, where one can purchase a spell for almost anything, including undoing what happened in the Land of Topsy-Turvy; The Land of Do-As-You-Please, where one can do what one wants to do, with no morals-of-the-story or lessons to learn; and these are only the beginning. This is a very episodic story with lots of suspense and kid-appeal. My girls always begged for one more chapter, and while I wouldn’t consider it fine literature, it was a welcome respite after we spent about six weeks reading (and loving!) The Children’s Homer. I think I’ll let the girls read the rest of Blyton’s books that we have for themselves, but I am so glad I finally had the chance to experience this little bit of beloved British literature for myself. We give The Magic Faraway Tree a Highly Recommended. (George Newnes, 1943)
The linked book cover above is actually to the Kindle e-book at Amazon since apparently there are no print copies available there. However, I wanted to share the above Dorothy M. Wheeler cover from the first edition because it captures the sweet spirit of the stories very well. You can see more covers and read more than you ever wanted to know about Enid Blyton and all her many series by going here.
I had forgotten all about putting Enid Blyton on my much-neglected Classics Club booklist, but she’s there. That’s another title I can mark off the list! 🙂
P.S. Don’t miss my humongous list of Thanksgiving book links! I’ve read every book on this list aloud to my children, so it’s a perfect list for RAT.
What’s in your read-aloud basket?