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Fanny! Do Come on!
Enchanted Wood (Audio Cassette)
Enchanted Wood (Audio Cassette)
Date: 22/07/01, updated on 14/11/03 (1499 review reads)
Advantages: Wonderful, lovable characters, Detailed images - Enid Blyton knew excactly what she was writing about, the books draw you in, and are great for improving reading at early years
Disadvantages: slightly dated, in the ususal Enid Blyton, sexist way.
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.
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