Thursday, 16 August 2007

Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton was so prolific an author that she must have done nothing else but write books. She produced an estimated 800 books in 40 years, so I make that 20 books a year, so approximately one and a half books a month. For forty years! No wonder everyone has read something of Enid Blyton, you couldn’t get away from her if you tried.

She produced three types of books – the ‘ordinary children have an adventure’ type (Famous Five, Five Find-Outers and Dog, Secret Seven, Adventure series), the boarding school story (Malory Towers, St Clare’s, The Naughtiest Girl) and fantasy stories (Magic Faraway Tree, Wishing Well). She also created Noddy, wrote tons of short stories and was surely surgically glued to her pen.

These type of books worked very well with me. Apart from the fantasy ones (a theme I never enjoyed, even though The Magic Faraway Tree was voted the Nation’s 66th favourite in the 2003 poll The Big Read), I frequently lost myself in the world of midnight feasts, practical jokes, mysteries and adventures. They were easy to read, often repeated key facts and had children my age (or a little older) going off totally on their own, which is very appealing.

You’ll notice time and again in popular children’s literature that the main characters are usually free of adult supervision. In fact, when writing for this age of children (7 – 11 years I think), the first thought you should have is how to bin the adults.

Boarding school stories nicely get rid of parents, mum and dad sadly dying (very early on, so no one is upset) is another good one, as then the hero or heroine lives with mad old uncle, batty old aunt and can do as they please. If there was a blueprint for these types of stories, J K Rowling surely swallowed it, as her Harry Potter books perfectly sum up what children like.

Enid Blyton knew that the way to children’s hearts was to give them power.

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