“ Author: Enid Blyton / Genre: Children's Books / Narrator: Jill Shilling „
Hi, Having read all these stories when I was a little girl and loved them I now want to get them for my daughter but dont want the updated versions with Joe, Beth & Frannie....pls could you help me locate a copy that still has the original names etc .....Much appreciated...AdeleB
When you think of Enid Blyton's works what springs to mind? Maybe the adventures experienced by the Famous Five? How about the escapades of the Secret Seven? Or the loveable Noddy and friends? These are all well known stories that out parents read to us and in some cases we are reading to our children. But what about the adventures of Jo, Bessie and Fanny? Or the funny ways of the Saucepot Man? Or Moon-Face, the man with a great beaming, round face along with a great beaming smile? Hmm, they're not so well known!
The Enchanted Wood is a brilliant read, full of mystery and delightful enchantment, things I constantly daydreamed about and desired! Let me start from the beginning.
I have to confess, even though I knew the name well, I didn't really have any idea about the individual behind that name. I'd always imagined a lady in her mid-forties with a wicked sense of humour and a captivating personality for both adults and children alike. I was right.
Enid was born in a tiny flat in East Dulwich in 1897. The eldest of three children, she was described as always having her nose in a book, much to the frustration of her mother, Theresa Mary Hamilton. As her father, Thomas Carey Blyton, was a skilled, imaginative man (he wrote poetry, painted, taught himself languages, played the piano and was a keen photographer) Enid was expected to become a musician. Enid's mother did not support her husband's pursuits whatsoever and when Enid's father had affair, Teresa moved, with her children, to Beckenham in Kent. While Thomas was hardly ever around the children, he did sustain their tuition and paid regular funds towards their wellbeing.
Her first published works were in magazines and were often poems. Although, as mentioned previously, Enid's family had anticipated she would be a musician, it was writing that she really treasured and loved. Therefore, she carried on undismayed by their efforts to stop her doing so. She published various books, but it was only in the 1920's that she dedicated herself to being an author.
Enid's earliest complete junior adventure book was The Secret Island, published in 1938. During the Second World War publishing was severely restricted due to the economic hardships the country faced. Yet, in true Blyton style she managed to get her books in print. The Faraway series was first published in 1939.
Enid died peacefully in her sleep in November 1968. She wrote in total over 700 books and articles and although some of her books are frowned on because of claims they are discriminative, chauvinistic and pretentious by some, they have always found new (and old) booklovers from all generations.
______ The Good Ol' Days ______
As this book was written almost 70 years ago, you would expect the language to have completely altered from the way children's books are written today. Even the very names of the children are obsolete. For example Jo today is widely regarded as a girl's name, short for Joanna/e (whereas today 'Joe' is the male version of Joseph) so it can be quite confusing to read that 'Jo was helping his father in the garden.' Bessie (short for Elizabeth) isn't used much, if at all, these days except maybe for cows and Fanny is a rather crude term for ladies genitals in Britain.
Some of the language is completely out of use, for example: 'hallo', 'I say!', and 'queer' being some of the phrases the children often say! Even still, despite the differences in language the book is still exceptionally enjoyable and understandable.
Also, I thought I'd add the point that several characters and key storylines have recently been altered so as not to offend anyone. These changes did initially take place in Australia. For example, ABC news held a story in 2001 that highlighted some of the changes to make the books more 'modern' and 'politically correct'. These included:
a. The removal of the Golliwog, who's been replaced with a teddy bear
b. The character Dame Slap becoming Dame Snap, and no longer smacks children,
c. Bessie has been changed to Beth because of connotations of black slavery, Jo to Joe and Fanny to Frannie (for obvious reasons)
I've yet to see a revised edition, but to be quite honest; I don't think I'd want to. Altering these wonderful books would be like repainting the Mona Lisa in The Simpson's style just so that younger people would look at it more. And surely it's drawing more attention to black people and rude body bits. A lot of children would pick up these amendments as different to the original stories and wonder why people thought they were so incompetent to comprehend that literacy changes over time. When children read the original books and ask what a Gollywog is, parents can talk to children about how things have changed and how things were.
That's my little rant over, back to the book!
______ The Faraway Tree Collection ______
The stories revolving around the Faraway Tree and its loveable characters start with 'The Enchanted Wood'. This book introduces us to the children and the main characters in the Tree.
The next book in the series is 'The Magic Faraway Tree' where the children take their cousin Dick (no laughs please!) to the wood.
'The Folk of the Faraway Tree' revolves around their snobby, posh cousin Connie and her adventures with the Tree and its populace, and the final instalment is
'Up the Faraway Tree', where the children are joined by Robin and Joy who have read all about the magic Faraway Tree and want to share in it's magic and enchantment.
This review is focused on the first book of the series.
______ The Characters ______
The characters in this book are as follows:
Jo, Bessie, Fanny
The three children. They lived in the town but were so happy to find themselves in the country. Jo is the oldest of the three and assumes the protective older brother role. Bessie is the middle child and takes care of her two siblings in a very motherly way. Fanny is they youngest of the three and as such is prone to crying and getting worn out easily.
Mother and Father
It seems that Father moved to the country for work reasons. Whatever the case, the parents are quite happy to let their children explore the woods and surrounding areas, and even meet some of the residents of the tree! They play a very menial role in the book.
A rather odd chap, his head is big and round and when he smiles it shines like the moon! He lives nearest the top of the tree and is always getting into trouble for being so mischievous. He knows a good few magic spells and lots of the inhabitants of the woods. He plays a large part in all the faraway tree books and accompanies the children on all their adventures. He acts as their mentor, advising them which lands to go in and which to stay far away from! In his round room is the Slippery-Slip, a slide that helter-skelters all the way down the tree. They must use a pillow otherwise it could be quite painful! A rabbit in a red coat waits at the end of the slide to collect the pillows!
The maker of Pop Biscuits, she is very kind and loving toward the children and looks after them as if they were her own. She is a pixie and has long, silky, golden flowing hair.
Mr Watzisname and The Saucepan Man
These are great friends and seem to have known each other for a long time. When the Saucepan Mans world floats by and leaves him behind in the tree he lives with Mr Watzisname. As you can tell, the names are very descriptive. Saucepan is quite and old man and is covered in, yes, you guessed it, saucepans! As a result of all the noise they make he has been left slightly deaf and always keeps the children in fits of laughter! Mr Watzisname doesn't know his name (we find out later in the series) and can be grumpy at times! He loves laughing at Saucepan's deafness too!
He really lives up to his name! When Jo sees a window in a tree imagine how surprised he is! Now what child (or adult for that matter) wouldn't want to have a peek? When he does he really feels the wrath of the AP!
A lady that loves to wash! She is forever washing clothes and tipping the water down the tree. The children get soaked by her on numerous occasions. Now how did she get that water up there is what I want to know!
There are lots of others too, like the Snowman and the Polar Bears, Dame Slap, Goldilocks and her Three Bears, the walking-chiming clock
______The Lands in the Tree______
I won't go into too much detail, but these are some of the lands encountered
The Land of Take-What-You-Want
As the name suggests, you can take whatever you want! Your imagination is the limit, so if it's a plane, a cow, some chickens, a clock, a sack of gold, an endless supply of candyfloss, absolutely anything, you can take it! Picture it, what would you take?
The Land of Birthdays
can you believe the luck of it? Bessie's birthday is coming up and it ties in perfectly with the arrival of the Land of Birthdays! The cake is a real wishing cake, and you can imagine how things turn out with Saucepan's turn! The children party all night long and are surprised and surprised again and again by this wondrous land!
The Land of Dame Slap
This isn't such a nice place. The children end up here by a slip-up from a previous land and are mistaken for naughty children in Dame Slaps School! They are taken to lessons and have pranks pulled on the by the other naught elves and fairies and as a result get locked in the naughty cupboard! How will they get out and get back home?
There are many more lands that the children visit, but you'll have to read the book to find out what they are!
______Why So Appealing to Children?______
The reason I loved these books is because when you read them, you can actually imagine yourself being there with the characters, in the lands, having their adventures and sharing in their fun. It completely draws you away from reality to a place with no rules, no parents and no oppression. They are timeless and can be read again and again and again.
In the books, the adult characters are usually either authority figures such as policemen, teachers, or parents, or enemies to be overcome by the children and their friends. The children are often self-sufficient, spending whole days, or even more than one day, away from home with no worries from their parents. Any adults featured in the book have menial roles; I suppose to keep the book within reality a tiny bit!
Back when these books were written (after WWI and during WWII) children were used to a rationed way of life. Food was bland, they couldn't explore and many lived in fear of death. These books portrayed a world free from this opression, where their parents would allow their children to have endless days in the counntry, going where they pleased, eating what they want and coming back at early hours of the morning! It was a life that children missed and some never got the chance to have.
______ Availability ______
I first recived the 1970's version of the book, the green one with the 70's style drawings on it, from my Grandads collection. These are still available and can be bought off eBay for about £5 inc. postage. Elsewhere (Amazon, Waterstones etc) the newer, 2000 and onward version retail at about £3.99 plus p&p.
I'd stick to eBay and get the old school style books. That way, the language ties in with the book cover and it looks a lot better!
______ What I Think ______
I much prefer these books to any other, including the Rowling books. They are so magical and well told, your children will love having them read to them and you'll love reading them just as much! Enid Blyton is a well reputed author and her stories have fascinated children for decades upon decades. This book especially was my favourite and I still love reading it even today!
Imagine a place in the countryside called The Enchanted Wood where three ordinary children live on its edge and have adventures inside it where there is the most enormous cute tree which has people living in it. And these are not ordinary mortals but pixies, elves, talking animals, brownies, wizards, and a lovable person called Moon-Face because he has a round face like the moon! Jo, Bessie and Fanny share their adventures in four books of this series 1. The Enchanted Wood 2. The Magic Faraway Tree 3. Folks of The Faraway Tree 4. Up The Faraway Tree The Enchanted wood grows very thickly, and if you listen carefully, you can hear the trees whispering ??Wisha-wisha??! In the middle of this wood is the most enchanted tree in the world called ?The Magic Faraway Tree? which has queer fairy-folk living on every branch and grows every kind of fruit! The tree grows right upto the clouds, and at the top of it there?s always some strange land. By climbing up a little ladder through a hole in the cloud that always lies on the top of the tree, you can get into some peculiar land! There is a different land from time to time, and what lands! There is the land of treats, the land of spells, the land of secrets, the land of tea-parties, the land of know-alls, the land of nursery-rhymes and almost anything you could ever imagine! Try thinking up of more lands, it is a child?s treat to play it as a game! Reading these books takes me on a magical journey, refreshing my childhood, making me remember all those myriad fantasies of those yesteryears well-spent with these beautiful books...
For those of you who don't know, I collect old children's books, particularly Enid Blytons. I also sell the same kind of books to other collectors on the web. Without exception, the most sought after books are Enid Blyton's Enchanted Wood series. There are three books in the original series - The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree, and The Folk of the Faraway Tree. There is also a fourth book, "Up the Faraway Tree" which is much scarcer. I have never been surprised by the number of adult collectors seeking these books. They are so magical, so wonderfully imaginative and yet so beautifully simple, that they instantly capture the imagination of any child who reads them. It is these children who have grown up and long to recapture the innocent rapture they had as a child when reading The Enchanted Wood. There are four main elements to The Enchanted Wood, which are the key to it's success. These are: 1. The Children, Jo Bessie and Fanny 2. The Magic Faraway Tree 3. The lands which come to the top of the tree 4. The characters who live in the Wood and especially in the tree Firstly, the children around which the story centres. Jo is the eldest, and his younger sisters are Bessie and Fanny. Fanny is the youngest, and Bessie is a typical Enid Blyton girlie girl, who loves to cook toffee, and plays "mother" to the others. The children's actual parents are hardly ever mentioned in the book, and don't seem to mind or even notice their children going off at all hours of the day or night. Another factor which is never mentioned in the book is school. When the children are not at the Enchanted Wood, they are helping around the house or garden. This is appealing to all children - Jo, Bessie and Fanny are normal, fun children, yet their parents never get cross, and they never have to go to school. We will not think about the social services, or what they would have
to say about this level of care (or neglect?) nowadays. The second element of the book is the wonderful "Magic Faraway Tree". This is the biggest tree in the Enchanted Wood, and full of all sorts of interesting characters. The tree grows all sorts of different fruit and nuts, at different parts and on different days. The most magical thing about the Faraway Tree is what lies at the very topmost branches - a thick white cloud with a purple hole, and a ladder which leads up to a new and exciting land. Some of these lands are lovely, like the Land of Take-What-You-Want. Some are rather scary, like Dame Slap's school, and the Roundabout land, which spins round and round. And some are just very exciting, like the Land of The Three Bears, and the Land of Snow. The lands at the top of the Faraway Tree move every so often, so the children always have to be careful that they get back down through the hole in time. Finally, the characters who live in the Enchanted Wood. This is my favourite part of the book. There is the Angry Pixie, who hates people peeping into his little window in the tree. Mr. Whatsizname, who is always fast asleep with his mouth open. Mr Whatsizname's friend, the Saucepan Man, who comes down from his land at the top of the Faraway Tree for a visit, and ends up joining the children on may of their adventures. Saucepan Man is a trifle deaf, and likes to sing little made up nonsense songs, which are always funny to hear. Then there is Dame Washalot, who frequently flings her dirty soapsuds down through the branches of the tree, soaking any unsuspecting visitors who happen to be climbing up at that moment. The children's best friends in the tree are Moonface and Silky. Silky is a beautiful fairy who makes lovely treats like Pop Biscuits and odd ones, like Toffee Shocks. Moonface is the owner of the Slippery Slip, a fabulous slide which goes all the way from the top of the tree, down
the middle, and out through a trapdoor at the bottom, to save any tired child, pixie or friend from climbing all the way down after an exciting adventure. There are no complicated plots - the book basically consists of the children visiting their friends, going up to the lands at the top of the tree, having an exciting one-chapter-long adventure, then coming home and not being questioned by their parents. If your children have not had the opportunity of reading this book, or indeed, any of the books in this series, then do try and get hold of a copy, before the magic is spoilt by the cynicism of adulthood. The books are still in print, but the names have now been changed, as well as some of the content because apparently Fanny was offending someone. I have no hesitation in recommending the original versions of these books. If you need help locating a copy, let me know in the comment section and I will get back to you. This is possibly the most magical anbd popular book Enid Blyton ever wrote. Hrry Potter and Famous Five, eat your heart out.
Having read all the Faraway Tree stories when I was small I could not wait to read them to my four year old daughter. We have now read them all and she has thorughly enjoyed them. However, she is also a fan of audiobooks and as she enjoyed the story so much I bought this as an addition to her chapter a night. However, I now find myself redundant! The plot is thus: Three children go to live in the countryside and stumble upon the Enchanted Wood and the Faraway Tree at the heart of it. Many interesting characters (Angry pixie, Dame Washalot, Moonface. Silky the fairy and my favourite Saucepan Man, to name but a few) live in the tree but the really magical thing is that different lands come to the top of the tree every few days. These range from the scary, such as Dame Slap's school, to the brilliant, i.e., the Land of Take What You Want. Various mishaps happen to the children and their friends during their many adventures, but there is always the required happy ending, with a moral to the story to boot. Why the Audio version? What makes the audio book stand out is Kate Winslet's reading. This fine actress from Sense and Sensibility, Heavenly Creatures and Hideous Kinky shows that her talents do not just lie on the silver screen. She really brings the story to life creating a voice for the magical world the children inhabit. I defy any adult or child not to be drawn completely into the tale thanks to this wonderful reading. The first night we put this on, I found my daughter awake five hours later. She had been so enthralled by the story that she had been putting tape after tape in just to see what happened next. The reading bought the plot alive in a way I, no thespian, ever could. Educational Value: The story is a great also for kids imaginations as it allows endless possibilities for new lands, creating new games for you and your child to play. My daughter tells me in great detail now about which lands she would like t
o see at the top of the tree and we have great fun deciding what would be there and what might happen. Also, in having a moral to each tale, as I have already mentioned, it teaches that very old fashioned thing - good manners. Any bad points: Now we are in the 21st century some of Enid's more old fashioned ideas have been changed. Obviously some are necessary but I felt it a shame that the children's names had been changed (Bessie to Beth; Fanny to Frannie; Dame Slap to Dame Snap) as this caused some confusion between the three books and this tape. Factual Stuff: I would say it was suitable from age four to eight or nine. The tape is unabridged and runs at over five hours on four tapes. It is published by Chorion, and includes a souvenir booklet. There is an offer whereby you can send off for some free character stickers (v. popular in this household) More info from www.blyton.com One final thing: Kate..PLEASE follow this up with recordings of The Faraway Tree and Folk of the Faraway Tree.
The Enchanted Wood is one of Enid Blyton's most delightful stories form the classic Faraway Tree series, and is now brought wonderfully to life by Kate Winslet's charming new narration. Follow what happens when three children discover their very own Enchanted Wood, and meet new friends Silky the Fairy, Moon-Face and the Saucepan Man who all live in the magical Faraway Tree.