Love a good story?

enid-blytonDoes anyone remember Enid Blyton? Growing up in the McConkey household in the 1960s, we couldn’t get enough of her.  Our favourites were the Malory Towers books about girls in a posh boarding school in Cornwall and the Mystery stories where the ‘Five Find-outers’ always solved local mysteries before the bumbling village policeman, PC Goon. We read them over and over, even though we knew every twist and turn of the stories by heart. One time, when my sister was sick, Dad made her a lovely wooden bookstand to hold her Mystery books. It was her pride and joy for years! By the time I had become a primary school teacher in the 1980s, poor old Enid had fallen out of favour. It seemed her stories about white, middle-class English people who had cooks and housekeepers, tuck boxes and picnics with ‘slabs of chocolate and lashings of ginger beer’ were a bad influence on children growing up in a society very different from the world of Mrs Blyton. There were even rumours that she didn’t like children! So we changed our allegiance to Roald Dahl and I read my class the adventures of Danny, the Champion of the World, James and the Giant Peach and The Twits. james These were fantastic stories (dictionary definition: fanciful, remote from reality) but the children (and their teacher) all loved them just as much as we had loved the previous, now unmentionable author from my childhood. Fast forward another generation and the Big Cheese children’s author is JK Rowling with her Harry Potter stories – equally fanciful and remote from reality and equally loved by children. All three children’s writers were ‘of their time’ in terms of language and social attitudes, and I expect in another few years even JK Rowling’s characters will be regarded as out of date. A common feature of their stories is that they take children into a world (sometimes a really weird one) where they are not just mini-adults: they know things that adults don’t, they can do things better than adults and even take their revenge on evil adults. Now there’s a subversive thought that could be discussed further… 550x550_fit_five-on-brexit-island-80962 Anyway, Enid has now been rehabilitated through new editions and sanitised versions of some stories (like the Noddy favourites), and the recent centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth has seen a big increase in sales of his books. For those born in the fabulous fifties, there are even spoof Enid Blyton books with those nostalgic covers but with titles like Five on Brexit Island and Five go Gluten Free. Not sure Enid would approve, but there’s certainly something for everyone. Have a good read!

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