Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton

184 pages
First published by Newnes in 1939 
Reprinted by Mammoth in 1997.
London, England

"They unlatched the gate and stood in the lane. they could see the trees in the wood, and hear them talking their strange tree-talk: 'Wish-wisha-wisha-wisha!'
'I feel as if there are adventures about,' said Jo. 'Come on! Over the ditch we go-- and into the Enchanted Wood!'"

The Plot:
"Jo, Bessie and Fanny move to the country and find an Enchanted Wood right on their doorstep! And in the wood stands the magic Faraway Tree where the Saucepan Man, Moon-Face and Silky the elf live. Together they visit the strange lands which lie at the top of the tree, and have the most exciting adventures -- and narrow escapes!" (Summary courtesy of the publisher.)

My Thoughts:
I first learned of Enid Blyton and The Enchanted Wood series from Australian author Kate Morton. They are listed on her website as some of her earliest literary influences. Curious as to why these books are so dear to Ms. Morton I decided I needed to read them myself. Because they were originally published in England and Australia I found they were a little difficult to locate within my library system here in the United States. But eventually I was able to track down two versions -- one, an omnibus, that contained all three books under one cover and then through ILL a single volume of the first book, The Enchanted Wood. Further research revealed that the books are still in print and available for great prices through online stores like Amazon.

My intial thought upon finishing The Enchanted Wood was that I wished I had discovered these books as a young reader when my imagination was actively creating my own make-believe worlds. Sadly, I believe a little of this magic is lost when one becomes an adult -- and even more so if as an adult you read The Enchanted Wood for the first time.

Still, I found The Enchanted Wood a charming, entertaining, very imaginative... and yes, at times very silly read that I will gladly share with my own daughter in a few year's time. Which brings me to my next point, because The Enchanted Wood was written and published more than 70-years ago there is a level of innocence that is lacking in many middle-reader children's books today. This innocence gives a feeling of nostalgia to the adult reader, but not in a disruptive way so that in the end I believe the books can appeal to more than one generation -- so long as the reader has a love for fairy-tales, far-away magical lands, and just simple fun.

So Who Exactly Was Enid Blyton?
Enid Mary Blyton (also known as Mary Pollock) was an English author of children's books who lived during the first half of the last century (1897-1968). She is considered one of the most successful children's authors of the 20th century and is currently listed as the seventh best-selling fiction author of all times alongside the likes of William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, and Dr. Seuss.

Unfortunately, as can sometimes be the case with some authors (i.e. Myrtle Reed), Ms. Blyton's personal life was at times far from the happy and peaceful stories she wrote about in her children's books. From what I've read about Ms. Blyton she may not have always been the nicest of people, but she definitely had a gift for story-telling and creating worlds that children could escape to and in the end that has become her legacy.

I believe that fans of books like The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit, The Tune is in the Tree by Maud Hart Lovelace, and The Racketty-Packetty House by Frances Hodgson Burnett might likewise enjoy The Enchannged Wood. I plan to finish reading the series, but will probably wait to read them when I share them with my daughter in a few years. I am glad I took the time to explore this author and hope that some of you will too.

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Carrie said...

It SOUNDS awesome and delightful - a perfect read-aloud with a little girl. =) I will absolutely be keeping an eye out for it!

Sarah M. said...

You might be surprised and one or both of your sons might enjoy it too. There are some boy characters so... yeah, guess you'll have to see if it's their personality or if it's just for your daughter. :)

Alyce said...

I'm sure I would have loved these when I was little. I haven't heard of them before. It's too bad that my nieces are all teenagers now because I think they would have liked them at an earlier age too.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

How did I miss so many good books when I was a child? This sounds delightful!

hopeinbrazil said...

Thank you for reminding me of this author. I lived in Singapore for one year as a child and read many of this author's books at that time. When I started having children my mom (who was a missionary in Singapore) supplied me with many Blyton paperbacks. The Island of Adventure, Circus of Adventure, series was such a hit with my boys that we read them over and over again. Also, Mr. Galliono's Circus... Thanks for the trip down memory lane.