Enid Blyton’s Famous Five

From The Telegraph:

Blyton_1717521c Enid Blyton once described herself as “a sightseer, a reporter, an interpreter”, the viewer of “a private cinema screen inside my head”. And this peculiarly guileless way of working, coupled with her remarkable speed – she wrote more than 600 children’s books, and claimed to be able to produce up to 10,000 words a day with her typewriter balanced precariously on her knee – gets to the heart of how we feel about her. Though adults tend to find her books unoriginal and sloppily written, not to mention all the other complaints that have been heaped on Blyton over the past 20 years, from racism and sexism to snobbery, children keep coming back to her.

I can speak from personal experience on this last point, as I am reading the new editions of the Famous Five books, published last month, to my five-year-old daughter – and she is hooked. She loves these adventures with burglars and smugglers, in which the adults are absent often for days on end. As a correct kind of girl with an eye for the rules, she likes the satisfying way in which good behaviour always triumphs. Most surprisingly, since they certainly don’t raise much of a smile from me, she finds the books very funny. If Blyton’s stories seem formulaic to adults, this is precisely why children find them so appealing. Her books may not be well written, they may not have properly fleshed out characters, and they may reflect the accepted views of the world in which Blyton herself grew up, but their pacy, dialogue-driven plots – with a juicy cliffhanger placed tantalisingly at the end of each chapter – continue to have a remarkable appeal. Blyton was the 13th most borrowed author from British libraries in 2008-9, and her worldwide sales total more than £500 million.

More here.