Enid Blyton - ridiculous

(182 Posts)
JumpRope Mon 10-Feb-14 20:17:52

Dick and Fannie from The Magic Faraway Tree have been renamed Rick and Frannie.

I'm a bit pissed off. How ridiculous!

squoosh Sun 13-Apr-14 13:05:23

God yes, The Six Bad Boys is an odd one isn't it? Enid Blyton Tackles Social Issues or demonstrates her disdain for the working classes more like.

I used to love Billy Bunter as a kid, but it basically just pokes fun at him for being fat, lazy and unheroic.

Jennings is still great though!

Snatchoo Sun 13-Apr-14 14:30:45

I loved the Faraway Tree and Adventurous Four books when I was a child. I also read the Naughtiest Girl books which I think were EB.

I don't remember racism or classism (but then I didn't read the books for younger children and didn't realise that Gollies were based on black people till I read it on MN blush) but I do remember being perplexed at why the girls couldn't do everything the boys did.

My children genuinely don't 'know' about racism, as in they wouldn't recognise it because who on earth would discriminate against someone because of their skin? Sexism however is still so prevalent however I'd be wary of exposing them to it in literature.

I hope I'm making sense here! I never connected for eg, a gypsy girl is bad therefore gypsies are bad when I was small, the girl was bad because she just was! Whereas there was never any question that the boys would do ironing etc or the girls would play cricket.

Snatchoo Sun 13-Apr-14 14:33:46

That is so poorly written, apologies! I know what I mean I just can't seem to write it.

I have a copy of the Faraway Tree I might re-read and see if I still like it. For me, I loved all the food and magic toys they got which I guess tells you a bit about me as a child blush

bakewelltartandcustard Sun 13-Apr-14 20:39:01

I don't understand all you intelligent literate people loving Enid Blyton. I tried her books and threw them away in disgust when I was about 9. They were just so badly written and unoriginal.

VictoriaOKeefe Sun 20-Apr-14 14:14:09

About the Adventurous Four: I think Mary and Jill will have to be updated to Sydney and Paisley given the latest generation of name fads for girls! And what's with making Andy a schoolboy just because kids can't leave school as early as they did in Enid's time? Maybe instead of fighting the Nazis, the twins and Andy could fight some Moslem terrorists trying to sneak things into the UK?

tulipsaredelicious Sun 20-Apr-14 14:21:08

I feel very sorry for poor cousin Connie in the Faraway Tree. She's obviously an unhappy little girl, whose mother is ill, and yet everyone is just beastly to her - including the narrator. I had to point that out to my dc while we were reading it.

MrsWombat Sun 20-Apr-14 16:01:12

Dd has downloaded an audio version of one of Enid Blyton's books. It's the one where they stay with a rich, black family, whose son is at school with one of the brothers.

This sounds like The Secret Mountain. The Secret Island from the same series is my favourite EB book.

MrsWombat Sun 20-Apr-14 16:02:28

Or it could be River of Adventure but the boy they stay with is from a small Central European country.

ithaka Sun 20-Apr-14 16:26:51

I loved the EB Adventure books as a child. Just to horrify thecat I then went onto to take a degree in Literature (with a capital L, of coursewink) at an ancient. Shouldn't be allowed, really, for EB readers to have a subtle & flexible mind & not grunt unintelligibly at a fish (world's most simplistic and patronising analogy award?)

My children had their EB phase as well. It is a bit like Barbie, they work through it in their own time.

Children are smarter than you give them credit for. Let them read, voraciously and widely, and judge for themselves.

Cliona1972 Sun 20-Apr-14 17:45:17

So we need to revise "Noddy felt a little queer too?!" I don't find any issue with EB books if one explains to the young reader that they were written in different times and how women/foreigners were treated ,whilst not to be applauded, was the thinking of the day and "we know better now!"

fuzzpig Sun 20-Apr-14 18:18:19

It's good for kids to think about and articulate why some societal attitudes are wrong, consideration for others isn't a skill you can spoon feed, it needs to become an integral part of their character. A bit of righteous indignation as Anne is put to wash up yet again while the boys do "manly" stuff doesn't do any modern child any harm.

Agree with this wholeheartedly, particularly with the sexism in FF - DD will encounter sexist attitudes in everyday life as she sees more of the world beyond our little home (where attitudes are presented as FACT, be it a male friend who insists he should never do housework or a music video/advert that portrays women as nothing but objects to be judged by appearance, etc) - reading fiction books that bring up these topics and naturally invite discussion has actually been a brilliant way of bringing up the issues and talking about them together.

It's helped her develop some 'mantras' (not that she would refer to them as such) like "girls can do anything boys can" and that sort of thing. She's become more critical and able to spot sexism (though again, she's not aware that's what it's called yet) in say a Disney movie or a situation at school, and will make suggestions as to how to resolve it.

VictoriaOKeefe Mon 05-May-14 01:09:59

Some of the changes are just bizarre, though. Take the changes to the Adventurous Four - what was so wrong with the names Jill and Mary? Also they changed it so Andy is now a schoolboy because the school leaving age is different now - but that doesn't fit with the WWII setting of the book!

tiredandsadmum Mon 05-May-14 01:32:43

the rewrite that has been annoying me the most as I read them to Ds is the change in the currency to £1 coins. Why? Kids cope with foreign money so why cant they accept that our currency has changed since the books were written!

Thruaglassdarkly Mon 05-May-14 01:58:07

My nine year old reads them and doesn't bat an eye. For her they are just names not sex organs. Not sure why this is a problem for people.

thecatfromjapan Mon 05-May-14 02:03:38

ithaka - I think I said that I enjoyed Enid B. and let my own children read her. In fact I said quite a few positive things, along with pointing out the (obvious) negatives.

I'm sure I also said that both myself and a friend loved the "Adventure" series and both of us went on to study English - he's a Prof of Lit now. You are not alone on that score.

Sorry to be so picky, but I sometimes get a bit fed up with the fact that you aren't allowed to demonstrate nuance or flexibility on mn. If you try it, other people are very happy to distort/simplify what you wrote.

I'm very capable of flexible thinking/entertaining and engaging with a number of viewpoints. As are a lot of other mn-ers.

I know it sounds astonishing but I still come onto mn in the hope of having a conversation, not just listening to people shout past each other. And not just to stick a (one-dimensional) opinion on the www - like a small piece of graffitti in the void of eternity. Not always. Sometimes I do just want to be a bit shouty.

But with this thread, I really was quite interested. She really is an odd mix of someone who writes stories that really engage children (and she really does continue to engage a lot of children) and some really awful content.

And, given a lot of us on this thread would both have been readers of Enid Blyton and have children reading Enid Blyton, i was curious about the strategies developed for reading her books. How people dealt with the content they found distasteful - and if they found it unpleasant, indeed.

I'm also interested in the people who absolutely couldn't bear to read it.

Certainly for me, none of these approaches/experiences are invalid or something to be mocked.

VictoriaOKeefe Mon 05-May-14 14:34:49

You'd think that if kids can cope with sickles and Quidditch they could wrap their heads around people in Ye Olden Days having different money.

puddock Mon 05-May-14 14:40:27

My eagle-eyed DS noticed that the modern edition of The Lighthouse-Keeper's Lunch that we have is different from the one at Nana's house; when the seagulls tease Hamish the cat, the line has been changed from "pretty pussy, like a piece of lobster mornay" to "pretty kitty".

Pandering to an Americanized audience!

Summerbreezing Mon 05-May-14 16:26:38

I was really irritated when I was reading a 'Five Findouters' book with my nephew and the shillings and sixpences had all been changed to decimal currency. It's ridiculous. Kids will ask if they don't understand something in a book, and then you can explain to them about 'old money', so they actually learn something about the past. Also, I presume kids reading books set in America get their heads around dollars and cents so why can''t they be allowed to read about old English money?

GatoradeMeBitch Mon 05-May-14 18:22:42

puddock Yet there are so many 'fanny' references in American shows that come over here - from SpongebobSquarepants (a real pain in the fanny) to Golden Girls (while the sun beats down on your fanny) blush

I wish they would use 'Frannie' instead of 'Fanny' in Jane Austen's novels too.

VictoriaOKeefe Mon 05-May-14 20:58:31

Jane Austen's novels are aimed at adults, that's probably why Fanny still rules the roost there.

tobysmum77 Mon 05-May-14 21:06:35

Bakewell 9 was probably too old. I loved eb books and will encourage my children to read them (while having discussions about the outdated attitudes) but I was more like 7-8.

MiaowTheCat Mon 05-May-14 21:38:31

If there's anything derivative, craply written and formulaic - it's bloody Harry Rip Off Everything In Sight Potter... not as fashionable to sneer on that, despite small issues like the blatant child abuse in the first book (keeping Harry in the cupboard under the stairs).

Blyton's books are a product of the era she was working in - unlike lots of stuff from that era that seems to fly under the radar - it seems fashionable to be morally outraged over her in particular and to get the pitchforks and burning torches at the ready for her. You don't like the writing style - fine... move on to something else... you have issues with the content - like people mentioned, there's a space for prefaces, there's a space for discussion, there's a space for handling it the same way you'd handle anything written in a different era. But with Blyton the two just seem to get merged in a "oh I didn't like her books they're crap.... so I'm going to demand they're banned on the racist AND CRAP grounds." If crap was grounds for banning books can I nominate the Twilight shit please?

And for what it's worth - as a not appearance obsessed tween in the 80s,taking shit from bullies for not having the right shoes, or wanting to spend my days sticking posters from Smash Hits up on my bedroom walls... her books were a haven for me in having some female characters that were out there climbing up trees and doing non stereo typically "girlie" stuff. If my girls want to read them I'd have no objections within the context of a discussion about how they've dated and society has changed... I will never approve of censoring reading.

Summerbreezing Mon 05-May-14 21:41:12

I agree. Blyton has her faults but a lot of far worse stuff being written and promoted nowadays. I think, as part of a wider reading list, they are quite good for kids and give them an idea of what life in England was like in their grandparents' day.

ChampionofWitterers Mon 05-May-14 21:54:51

She's obviously an unhappy little girl, whose mother is ill, and yet everyone is just beastly to her - including the narrator. I had to point that out to my dc while we were reading it.

Therein lies why parents shouldn't be breathing over their children's shoulders with their books and should be letting them read and explore CHILDREN'S books by themselves. Adults should keep their over-analysing brains to themselves when it comes to kids books. Way to ruin the mood. smile
(Sorry, I have commented on this thread previously. I just can't be arsed to go back and see what my name was. grin )

VictoriaOKeefe Mon 05-May-14 23:30:47

It can be justly argued that there is worse stuff from Blyton's era than Blyton... take Billy Bunter and the comedy Indian "dialect", or that Just William story where William decides to lead a bunch of kids and emulate the British Union of Fascists against a Jewish shopkeeper.

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