Saturday, 11 February 2012

Once upon a time

Enid Blyton was banned from the libraries in this state. Her work was considered to be the childish equivalent of "bodice rippers" and "westerns" for adults. It was deemed poorly written. Noddy was considered "homosexual" and the "golliwogs" were "racist". The "Fanous Five" were "out of control" and "Fatty" in the "Secret Seven" was guilty of answering back to adults. There were other faults too, a stilted style,  impossible scenarios, lack of realism and limited vocabulary were just some of the faults levelled at the highly popular author.
There are Enid Blyton books back in libraries now. It is possible to buy Enid Blyton books again. Some of them may be bought by adults nostalgic for childhood but she is still read by children.
I read Enid Blyton books as a child. I read them before they were removed from libraries. I can remember there were several books of short stories in the school library, some of the Famous Five and some of the Adventure series. There was a book of re-told Bible Stories and some "nature" stories in a sort of compendium. I borrowed the school stories and the Faraway tree books from a girl who lived down the road. How she came by them I do not know but I know she had an entire shelf of Enid Blyton.
I do not believe I ever thought she was "super" or "fantastic" or "stupendous" but I enjoyed them a bit the way I enjoyed the rare Saturday sweets my paternal grandfather would slip us - nice while they lasted but not approved of by my mother.
Enid Blyton is probably the cheap icecream and cheap chocolate of the literary world. The sort of thing a child enjoys before they discover the icecream made with real dairy products. The other is not particularly good for you but, as long as you eat (or read) a balanced diet then it will not do any real harm. Indeed, sometimes it might be just what you need.
I have some Enid Blyton on my shelves. Two are books I saved from childhood. The others I picked up for ten cents a book in a jumble sale. My nephews were not terribly interested in them. The Whirlwind read them. Like me she read them at an early age and soon graduated to other things.
A reluctant reader reluctantly borrowed one from me recently. When she returned it she asked, "Actually it was all right. Have you got any more like that?"
I have given her another Enid Blyton. We will move slowly, very slowly into getting her to read other things.
It is for this sort of reader that I will keep the Enid Blyton books. If her work develops a taste for reading then she has done a great service.

1 comment:

Nicole MacDonald said...

These are the sort of books that keep you reading. Most of my fav books aren't literary examples and I wouldn't want them to be ;p I read to be entertained, to be whisked away to a different time/place/space and I love it!