Posts Tagged Helen Oxenbury

The Famous Five are 70!

70 years ago, in 1942, Enid Blyton’s ‘Five On A Treasure Island’ was first published and, to mark the occasion, some of today’s celebrated

1st edition

1st edition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

children’s illustrators have been redesigning the covers of these adventure books. Quentin Blake has started the ball rolling with the Treasure Island cover which can be seen by clicking here. Compare Blake’s illustration with that of the first edition, which I’ve used to illustrate this post. I think I prefer the original but that maybe because it’s more the style I associate with the books from my own childhood. Other illustrators who’ve been commissioned for the new covers include Helen Oxenbury, Chris Riddell, Oliver Jeffers and Emma Chichester Clark.

It was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five that gave me the reading bug many years ago. I devoured her tales of Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy the dog. How I wished I could join them as they swigged ginger beer, shared their ice creams with Timmy and slept on deserted islands on beds of springy heather.

I tried reading the Secret Seven but they just didn’t hit the mark in the same way as The Five.

Malory Towers was another of Blyton’s series’ that had me hooked. I read them over and over again. Even now the names Darrell, Gwendoline, Sally and Mary Lou immediately conjure up those characters that I loved as a girl. Boarding school sounded like a fantastic place to be.

And did anyone else read The Magic Faraway Tree? The story centred around a huge tree which had different lands at the top each day. It might be The Land of Dreams, The Land of Tempers or The Land of Presents. A group of children climbed the tree and, needless to say, had adventures in the different lands alongside the inhabitants of the tree, Silky and Moonface. My favourite thing in these books was the Slippery Slip – a helter-skelter type slide which allowed the children to whizz down the centre of the tree. I reread these books aloud to my daughters when they were young and enjoyed them just as much the second time around.

Enid Blyton comes in for a lot of bad press but in my opinion she did nothing but good for children’s literature. Her captivating stories enticed generations of youngsters to enjoy reading and books – and children who read for pleasure grow into adults who buy books and continue to read for pleasure.

Does anyone else have good memories of Enid Blyton’s books – or was I the only Blyton junkie in the early ’70s?

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