I recently found myself crouched behind a boat in the dark, with my hand on a dog’s collar to prevent him from barking, hiding from searchers with torches. OK – I was playing night-time hide and seek with two eight-year-old boys, but at that moment I had a bit of a literary flashback. I was George from the Famous Five! And my trusty black lab-border collie cross Ralph was Timmy! I’ll admit it was a little ridiculous how excited that made me feel. (OK – more than a little, and I’m sure that mentioning it here will give Susan more than enough fodder for merciless mocking for quite some time.)
But I just loved Enid Blyton’s books when I was my son’s age. My friends and I used to play Famous Five every recess and lunch when we were in second class. And like tomboy George, we all wanted to be the boys. Our girliest friend begrudgingly accepted being Anne, while the rest of us fought over who got to be Julian, George and even Timmy. (No one wanted to be Dick, for obvious reasons.)
Rereading a few with my daughter recently, they are a bit dated, but that’s part of their charm. I’m not a fan of updating old stories for modern kids. My daughter had a good giggle at all the jolly good, old chaps and I says. And she was suitably indignant at the sexism shown towards poor Anne, who always got stuck with the washing up.
With the Famous Five books reprinted as recently as 2001, a new series featuring the Faraway Tree characters and Noddy getting a digital makeover for his 60th birthday , Blyton’s stories are as popular as ever.
What was your favourite Blyton?by