When it comes to childhood reading, there are some authors who trip off the tongue of almost everybody. Enid Blyton is one of those.
First up there’s Noddy and his little red and yellow car – I remember having a board book where the little car ends up floating in some water, possibly the sea, which was (and still is, somewhere I think…) stuck together with aging sellotape on the spine. If you didn’t read the books then you probably saw the TV version and loved that instead. Everybody loves Noddy, although I now have the theme tune stuck in my head which is a little annoying.
By far and away though, my very favourite Enid Blyton books were the Famous Five and Secret Seven series; I had the books, the audio cassette tapes, adventure game books and a couple of the Famous Five videos (both original series and the modern one).
I wanted to be in the Famous Five off on adventures across the countryside, catching smugglers and solving crimes with the trusty Timmy at my side. Reading these books made me dream of being brave and discovering secrets about the world – they opened a world of imagination in my head away from the usual fantasy theme of my reading.
I made up passwords for my bedroom based on whatever password the Secret Seven had used in the last book I read, I had a cuddly dog named after Scamper and I spent a lot of my time trying to ‘shadow’ people in the street (and imaginary people in the garden) after obsessively listening to the tape of Go Ahead Secret Seven.
The books still receive a lot of criticism and yes, they are pretty formulaic and predictable now I look back at them but when I was younger they were amazing. That formula Enid Blyton was using was like magic and made her books addictive and compulsive.
The characters from Famous Five and Secret Seven all live in my head now like old friends – sometimes something happens that reminds me of them and I smile to myself. Julian, Dick, George, Anne, Timmy, Peter, Janet, Colin, George, Pam, Jack & Barbara (and Scamper!) still whisper in my mind when I’m out walking sometimes and I find myself musing my way through a pretend FF or SS adventure to pass the time.
The books are timeless, the stories are still fun and full of adventure even though time has moved on from when they were first written. And as for the people who wanted to update them – I think it is insulting. Leave them be.