Sunday, 1 June 2014

#bookaday June 1st Favourite Book from Childhood

I have sooooo many favourite books from my childhood.  I loved reading Matilida, The Magic Finger, Miles and the Screwdriver, The Naughtiest Girl in the school series but by far the one that takes me back is the one I am currently reading with my oldest son "The Faraway Tree".

The series, written by Enid Blyton, take place in an enchanted forest in which a huge magical tree grows, The "Faraway Tree". The tree is so tall that the topmost branches reach into the clouds, within its trunk are small houses where magical folk live. The forest and the tree are discovered by three children named Jo, Bessie, and Fanny, who move into a house nearby, they soon learn of it's magic and the lands at the top of the tree and embark on exciting, and sometimes dangerous adventures to the lands in the clouds.

The first book in the series, The Enchanted Wood, was published in 1939  where the children first climb the Faraway Tree and meet it's inhabitants including Moon-Face, Silky the fairy, The Saucepan Man, Dame Washalot, Mr. Watzisname and the Angry Pixie. At the very top of the tree they discover a ladder which leads them to a magical land. This land is different on each visit, because each place moves on from the top of the tree to make way for a new land. The children are free to come and go, but they must leave before the land moves on or they will be stuck there until the land returns to the Faraway Tree.

The lands at the top are sometimes extremely unpleasant – for example the Land of Dame Slap, an aggressive school teacher – and sometimes fantastically enjoyable, notably the Land of Birthdays, Land of Goodies, Land of Take-What-You-Want and the Land of Do-As-You-Please.

In the various books that follow, The Magic Faraway TreeThe Folk of the Faraway Tree and Up The Faraway Tree the context is the same but the children are joined by various relatives and friends who come to stay with them.

Sadly in line with the ever changing cultures these books have been updated with re-prints and loose some of their magic for me.  I am lucky enough to have an original printed version where Bessie, Fanny and Jo can be themselves and Dame Slap does live up to her name.  In the updates (and the TV series that was made) Jo has been changed to Joe, and Bessie is now Beth (the former name having fallen out of usage as a nickname for Elizabeth). Fanny and Dick (whose names now carry unfortunate connotations), have been renamed Frannie and Rick. The character of Dame Slap has become Dame Snap, and now reprimands her students by shouting at them instead of corporal punishment.

What was your favourite book from childhood?

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