Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books revisited

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Monday 21st April 2014

Enid Blyton Cover4 A Lazy AfternoonThe Dorset seaside looks lovely this Easter, which probably helps to explain the endless queue of cars for the Sandbanks ferry and the hordes of cheery tourists everywhere. I’ve just discovered my new favourite walk, between Anvil Point Lighthouse and Dancing Ledge, and have walked it three times in three days, barely seeing a soul.

So it seemed very apt when two brand new editions of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books arrived in this week’s post. Enid Blyton often visited the Isle of Purbeck and places like Brownsea Island and Corfe Castle inspired many of the locations in her books.

A Lazy Afternoon and Five and a Half-Term Adventure are part of the Famous Five Colour Reads series. First published as short stories in Enid Blyton’s Magazine Annual in the 1950s, the classic tales have been brought bang up to date with colour illustrations by Jamie Littler.

The stories are charming but the problem for diehard Enid Blyton fans like me is that the new editions are way too garish and modern. In my mind, Julian, Dick, Anne and George should be wearing old-fashioned Aertex shirts tucked into baggy shorts, not trendy-looking hoodies, skinny jeans and backpacks. Similarly, the stories look slightly strange when they’re illustrated in garish shades of purple and  green, complete with text picked out in bold, some in capital letters, others in multi-sized fonts. Even Timmy the dog looks like a cartoon character, with huge ears and a big snout.

But perhaps I’m being too picky. The main question is whether today’s young readers are going to enjoy the books or not. I suspect that they might find the stories a little bit tame and the language slightly quaint (from “gosh – that was a near squeak” to setting off for the day “with sandwiches and slices of fruit cake in a knapsack”) but for ancient fans like me the Famous Five haven’t lost any of their charm at all.

A Lazy Afternoon by Enid Blyton (Hodder Children’s Books, £5.99)

Five and a Half-Term Adventure by Enid Blyton (Hodder Children’s Books, £5.99)

STOP PRESS: I’ve just heard that one of my favourite Enid Blyton series (second only to Malory Towers) is being relaunched with a new set of covers on May 1. If you haven’t read The Naughtiest Girl in the School stories (with a spoilt, selfish heroine who decides to be the worst behaved schoolgirl ever) you’ve definitely missed out.

2 comments so far

Leave a Reply