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Come and meet Moonface, Silky and Saucepan Man!
The Enchanted Wood - Enid Blyton
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The Enchanted Wood - Enid Blyton
Advantages: Fantastic imaginative storytelling
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.
Summary: Blyton's precursor to The Magic Faraway Tree
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