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After reading The Secret Seven books that I found in a charity shop, I've been on a bit of an Enid Blyton thing so rather than buying books I've been taking them out of the library instead.
The Enchanted Wood, along with the 2 following books; The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of The Faraway tree, was one of the first books I rented, when I was younger I had a large book with lots of pictures that covered all 3 Faraway Tree books and it was my favourite book and got read until it fell to pieces!
The story centres around Jo, Bessie and Fanny, 3 siblings who have just moved from the city to a small cottage in the country. The cottage is next to a large wood, known locally as The Enchanted Wood. One day they take a picnic into the woods and by chance they stumble across a massive tree. They don't know it yet, but they've just found The Magic Faraway Tree!
They decide to climb the tree to see how high it is and are amazed when they find a small house built into the tree. This isn't any ordinary tree, as the children soon find out there is a hole at the top of the tree that leads into magical worlds such as The Land of Do What You Want and The Land of Topsy Turvy. All of these lands can be explored, but they have to be careful - as soon as the land moves away from the hole, it's very difficult to get back! This book leads us through the 3 children's adventures with their new friends who live in the tree, Moonface, Silky, The Saucepan Man and more!
The children's names have been changed in modern versions of the book to try and keep it up to date. Fanny has been changed to Frannie as the original name now has negative connotations. Jo has been changed to Joe as the original spelling is now used more as a girls name. Bessie has been changed to Beth.
The Enchanted Wood was first published in 1939 and 71 years later it is still a firm favourite with children all around the world. When I started to read it I was immediately transported back to my childhood when I used to read under the duvet cover with a small torch! The stories are cute and non threatening, ideal for encouraging young children to use their imagination. Although I have no children yet, I plan to read these stories to my kids and I really think that they will stand the test of time for many years to come.
The 2 books that followed The Enchanted Wood were just as good, if not better. In book 2, The Magic Faraway Tree we are reunited with the 3 children, who have just found out their cousin Dick is coming to stay with them. They start making plans to show him the magic lands at the top of the tree, but the one thing they don't count on is Dick himself! He's a bit of a troublemaker and not keen on being told what to do. He manages to get himself and the others into trouble on numerous occasions. Can the children and the tree folk change him before he goes back home? Only time will tell! Dick's name has also been changed in modern reprints to Rick as again the original now has negative connotations.
In the third book, The Folk of The Faraway Tree, Dick has gone back home, but the children have a new visitor staying with them. Their mother's friend is ill and she has asked if her daughter can stay with them. Connie is very spoilt and likes to look dainty and pretty at all times. She doesn't like the children at all as they get dirty and messed up from their adventures. They take her up the Magic Tree but she is not impressed at all. The folk of the tree aren't impressed with her either and generally ignore her. Can the children turn Connie into a 'normal' child who like to play and get dirty?
My daughter is now 7, and getting to an age where she can read full length stories and graduate from baby books,which proliferate in our house. On a recent shopping trip, I noticed the Enchanted Wood, by Enid Blyton, on the shelf. It took my eye, because it was one of my favourite books when I was her age. I remember at the time when I used to read it, some of the wording was old fashioned, and I wasn't sure whether she would enjoy it as much as I did, but I bought it anyway.
On the night that I gave it to her, we sat and read it together before bed. We got to the end of the first chapter and she stared at me and begged me to read the next one! I think it was a hit! It was really nice for me to revisit these stories, and i'm glad that they resonate with young kids today, despite their old fashioned themes.
The book is about 3 children called Joe, Beth and Frannie. I laughed, because in the original book, her name was Fanny, so they changed it to be more PC. I noticed that the editors had made other minor changes too,( no reference to golliwogs in this one!), and the illustrations had been updated to make the children look more contemporary.
The story starts with the children moving to a new home in the country. They explore the local woods (maybe not adviseable these days), and discover a large tree with its top in the clouds. As they climb the tree, they discover that there are people living in homes in the trunk, such as Silky the Fairy and Moon face. At the top of the tree there is always a new land to explore, but they must make sure that they leave the land before the next land appears at the top of the tree and they can't get home again. Some lands are nice, like the land of Birthdays, but most seem unpleasant, like the snowman-ruled ice world, where the children have to stage a rescue!
The book whisks you away to a world of fantasy and is sheer escapism. It was reported recently that Enid Blyton books are making a comeback, and I think it is because they hark back to a more innocent age.
I bought the book in paperback for £5.99 from WH Smiths. I also bought the sequel, which is called the magic faraway tree, for when we finish this one. there are three books in the series.
The ISBN is 978-1-4052-3027-8
As a child, I was infatuated with Enid Blyton's Famous Five books. I read them all, and then again and again and again. I still read them now, every couple of years or so. Blyton was a brilliant children's author. She managed to capture what every child has in abundance: imagination. The Enchanted Wood says it all in the title, really, and she has written another gem here.
Set in an era without TV or computers, where children had to just use their imagination, Blyton's The Enchanted Wood is the precursor to the better know Magic Faraway Tree, and it features three siblings, Jo, Bess and Fanny, as they go away for the holidays to stay with some relatives, and go exploring in the wood nearby. As they do so, they encounter a number of magical creatures and realise that the wood itself is more alive than they could ever have imagined.
Much in the same vein as The Magic Faraway Tree, this book is a series of different adventures that the children find themselves going on, interspersed with the gentle and relatively unimportant linking tale of the three children as they progressively learn more and more about the enchanted wood. It keeps things ticking along nicely, and means that the adventures, different as they are, don't seem to make the book like a series of short story adventures, which essentially they are.
The continuance of these central characters is quite charming, and I'm sure kids can relate to the feelings and desires and excitement that Blyton shows they have for everything around them. We see the kids' excitement when they first discover the Magic Faraway Tree in the heart of the wood. Home to a host of brilliantly created creatures, it showcases Blyton's knack for imaginative writing. We meet Saucepan Man and Moonface among others, and at the very top of the Faraway Tree, where it reaches up into the clouds, there are further adventures as they are transported into different lands.
Sheer brilliance! Reading it to our son when he was 4, he was riveted every time we settled down for it. He was so eager to hear more, that he would beg for more at bedtime once we had finished, and he often fell asleep while we were still going. Now he has started reading on his own, and although this is still a little too much for him to attempt without assistance, I feel it won't be long before he goes for it. The writing is not complicated in the slightest. It is intended for kids, and so the sentences are shorter, words less tricky, and the adventure short and to the point. No unnecessary waffling. This would lose the kids as they read, boring them. Blyton is a dab hand at concise yet gripping adventure telling.
I highly recommend this for reading to your kids or for them to read themselves. It's probably more suitable for the younger kids, say up to 10 or so, by which time they'll be more ready for something like Blyton's Famous Five series. But really, there's no age cap on them. Even into their teens, kids may like this book. I still enjoy it now when I read it with our son. I retails for around the £5 mark, or you can try picking up a copy from somewhere. If you're not sure, your local library will no doubt have a copy. Either way, I highly recommend this one.
I adored Enid Blyton books as a child - and years later they are still going strong . With a daughter of my own now, I've taken to picking up Enid Blyton books second hand from the local charity shops so I can share some of my favourite stories with her -and one of my absolute favourites is 'The Enchanted Wood' , the first in the Faraway Tree series .
Jo, Bess and Fanny (snigger) move to the countryside, near to a large forest . Exploring the forest, they soon discover that it is home to a whole host of magical and wonderful creatures - but the most wonderful and magical place of all is the Faraway Tree ,a tree so tall that it's top actually comes up far above the clouds .
The children decide to climb this tree and explore it , meeting along the way all the characters that have their homes inside the tree trunk , and discovering that at the top are magical lands that shift from day to day - lands where they can have all kinds of adventures, and meet all manner of new people .
I love Enid Blyton books, because the stories never date . The character names however do - Jo is more commonly a girls name abbreviation, but in this book is a boy, and Fanny is a name that hopefully no child today is saddled with . Even my six year old gets a good giggle over that name !
Some of the vocabulary has also become a little dated, due to modern usage of the English language . Oh, for the days when 'gay' was simply a word used to describe a general stae of happiness and well being . Jo, Bess, and Fanny are forever being 'gay', and sadly, even to my six year old, that word doesn't mean the same thing it used to many years ago .
The characters though are wonderful - Ignore the children, they are, for the most part, distinctly average children who just happen to have some wonderful adventures . But the inhabitants of the tree are very amusing . Dame Washalot for example, who is always washing clothes and tipping the dirty water down the tree causing the children to slip and fall, or the Angry Pixie, who is exactly as his name suggests. Then we have Silky the fairy, with her lovely golden hair and equally lovely nature, and the ever friendly Moon -Face (whose face, funnily enough, looks like a moon!) forever providing drinks and snack, and having the wonderful 'slippery slip' in his house , a huge slide that takes the children quickly back down to ground level .
Then we have the various lands, that revolve around at the top of the tree - The Land of Ice and Snow, The Land of take what you want, Toyland - all these lands have their own adventures, sometimes wonderful, sometimes scary, but always fun to read about .
This book is wonderful , I'm currently reading it aloud to my daughter and she is really enjoying it . Yes, some parts of it are dated in a way which changes the meaning somewhat, and yes, there is plenty of giggling over Fanny (poor kid), but the story itself is magical and wonderfully inventive, and for a book first published in the 30s, it has stood the test of time !
Enid Blyton was a British writer whose career spanned 40 years in which time she published over 700 children's books, some of her characters included The Famous Five, The Secret Seven and more famously Noddy and Big Ears but for me the best book she ever wrote was the Enchanted wood.
I read this book to my daughter who is now grown up and has a daughter of her own and I am now reading the book to her.
They both loved it and I certainly enjoyed reading it to them, both for my enjoyment of the book and to see the wonder and surprise on their faces as the book revealed characters like "the angry pixie", "moonface", "saucepan man", and many, many more.
These characters live in the Faraway tree which went on to be the title of another of Enid`s books which make up the trilogy that this one is part of.
The three main characters are Jo, the big brother, Bessie the middle sister and Fanny the youngest sister, they set off to explore the nearby woods never expecting to find that they are enchanted and have a tree full of such characters.
There is some fear in them but also much curiosity and they cannot help but go on and continue their adventure regardless of the fear of getting themselves into trouble or danger.
The book is an absolute joy to read and I promise you I must have read every page a hundred times yet never tire of it, it is a truly great story written in such a way that only Enid Blyton could, if you have kids then bring a bit of magic into their lives and read them this wonderful book.