Newest Review: ... than delighted, but I suppose it is fiction! Pages - 178 divided into 36 chapters. Cost - The R.R.P for this book is only £4.99 which ... more
Reliving the Magic of Enid Blyton!
The Magic Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton
Member Name: jo1976
The Magic Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton
Date: 12/08/09, updated on 21/12/13 (423 review reads)
Advantages: Captivates children's imagination
Disadvantages: Some archaic language
My oldest son is almost seven and is becoming a fairly confident reader, thankfully going past the stage where reading was becoming a chore rather than a pleasure. Given his rediscovered interest in reading, I have taken a great delight in dusting down some of the books that I enjoyed from my own childhood now that he is of an age to appreciate them. I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to books, so I still have the original copies of most of my old favourites including the Magic Faraway Tree which is just one of the many Enid Blyton classics that I loved as a child.
The Magic Faraway Tree is actually the second book of a series. I can remember reading the first book 'The Enchanted Wood' but can't find that one so we ended up starting with this book instead which didn't spoil our enjoyment at all. This one features the same group of siblings, Jo, Bessie and Fanny and also introduces their cousin Dick. (I must admit that I had a little giggle to myself when first re-reading their names but my son remains in blissful ignorance about any alternative meanings.) The children have discovered a magical tree in the middle of the Enchanted Wood which is home to many magical creatures including pixies, fairies and the unforgettable Moon Face. The main reason that the children keep going back to the Magic Faraway Tree is because of the strange hole at the very top of the tree that leads into a magical land through the clouds! Every few days the lands revolve and a new and equally magical land will appear. The children were always getting into 'fixes' and 'scrapes' as kids in Enid Blyton novels are prone to doing, most of which was the fault of naughty Dick who couldn't help letting his curiosity or greed get the better of him.
When I first started reading the book to my son, it only took him a little while to really apprecriate the beauty of the stories within it. Once the chldren actually got up to the first magical land at the top of the tree, he was absolutely enthralled and, as I only read one chapter per night to him, on some evenings he would stay up continuing to read the book to himself as he was so desperate to discover what would happen next! The language seems basic enough for him to master by himself but most of the story was shared between the two of us. (I didn't want to miss out on a book I loved so much first time around!) Some of the language used in my 1986 Beaver book edition is a little archaic with lots of typical 'Blytonisms' - lots of 'gosh', 'I say' and 'gracious' in there. (The story was actually first published back in 1943.) I also had to explain a couple of words as my son had never come across 'spanking' or, for obvious reasons, 'golliwogs.' Some aspects of the story clearly depict a very different lifestyle to that of modern children. It is hard to imagine a world where children would be allowed to disappear off to the woods for hours on end without some parental concern! My son, however, had no difficulties engaging with the story despite these differences and his imagination was totally set ablaze by the adventures that the children got up to.
My son's favourite parts of the story were the nicer lands that the children visited. It's not hard to see why a six year old would be so entranced by the idea of the 'Land of Goodies', 'Land of Toys' and the 'Land of Presents', not to mention the 'Land of Do-As-You-Please!' He also loved the Saucepan Man's character particularly as he was so deaf and always ended up hearing the wrong thing, usually with hilarious consequences. Some of the magical food featured in the story was also guaranteed to have my son sitting there with his mouth open and eyes glowing in amazement - any other Blyton fans remember Toffee Shocks, Pop Biscuits and Google Buns? Fantastic stuff!
Both of us have really enjoyed every minute of this story and I'll no doubt be searching the internet for copies of the other stories from this series. There are many different issues of this particular book available and some of the more modern versions have been modernised, changing some of the characters' names and removing references to some of what is now seen to be inappropriate language. Personally, I'd prefer to read the books in the original form as I think they are a product of their era and it is unrealistic to try and impose modern values on classic fiction. If anything, the outdated language and social values are a useful starting point for children to start to understand how our culture has developed over recent times. Thankfully, there is still room within modern life for a young child to be left spellbound by a tale about magical creatures and magical lands.
This is a book that still has the power to enchant different generations and proves that kids don't need computers and special effects to be transported into a different world. A few words by Enid Blyton still works its magic for us.
Summary: A beautiful book to share with your children