Why Children Love Enid Blyton
Famous Five Books
When her most celebrated Famous Five books were republished in 2012 to signify their 70th anniversary, it was confirmation that Blyton could still appeal to today’s children with her brand of fantasy and escapism. The books she wrote – over 700 of them - would not be considered politically correct in terms of certain class, colour and gender roles but they entice in a way that cuts to the exciting chase. War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, one of her fans during childhood, summed up this appeal: “I found I could actually get into the story, and finish it. They moved fast, almost as fast as comics, and there was satisfaction to be had on every single page.”
Blyton wrote books at a majestic pace, pumping out stories throughout the 40 and 50s. Once called a "one-woman fiction machine", she was rumoured to be capable of churning out 10,000 words a day. Approximately, eight million of her books are still sold each year in more than 90 languages and translated in more than 3,500.
The much-loved The Mystery Series is all about the Five Find-Outers, a group of children who solve mysteries in the fictitious village of Peterswood. Larry and Daisy (Laurence and Margaret Daykin) together with Pip and Bets (Philip and Elizabeth Hilton) meet Fatty and the stories unfold with a dog called Timmy as the faithful pet angle.
The setting for this collection is a typical Blyton location, a little place with narrow country lanes, old houses, the quaint local community and a picturesque flowing river. Blyton characters inhabit a world where fantasy can be a great comfort blanket and the forces of good and bad are viewed with a little less intensity. Purists may scoff at the plots, storylines, and samey characters but as Morpurgo says, they were never intended to be literary masterpieces. The simplicity is almost compelling.
Blyton's turn-the-page quality
Children will not care a jot about the running sores of Blyton’s apparent world view which caused some adults to hyperventilate with moral outrage. They do, however, care a great deal about escapism and the ability to be taken away to another world. As former Children’s Laureate Anne Fine puts it: “In times of falling reading levels and limitless other distractions, we grasp at any author who has that turn-the-page quality. And for reasons that may remain entirely mysterious to reading adults, she certainly has that.”