Encore for Enid Blyton!

When I was a little girl, my mom told me that children couldn’t live on their own and my dad forbade camping when the weather was stormy. As most children, I lived in a word full of nos.

Fortunately, I had Le Club des Cinq or in English the Famous Five.
Claude, François, Annie, Michel or Mick and Dagobert lived in a world where kids could live on their own and camped regardless of the weather. Actually the more challenging the weather was, the better it was. At least for the reader.
Enid Blyton was as popular in France than she was in the UK and anywhere else in the world. Her characters had personalities that satisfied every reader and their adventures empowered any kid.
Since her books were so well liked, it was almost impossible to get them at my local public library. They were always checked out. So I saved every French franc I could put my hand on to buy one of the Club des Cinq. Since I had no allowance and that my parents never bought books, I bet everything on birthday and Christmas money. A challenge for someone whose birthday is a month before Christmas and whose only source of income came from her grandparents. I learned to be patient but as soon as the money was there, I rushed to the bookstore. I was a fast reader so I was finished sooner than I wished, yet the hours spent with the fives summon some of my best childhood memories.

So this afternoon when I caught the name Enid Blyton in the news, I was instantly transported back to my childhood.
An original manuscript written by the prolific British author has been found among other writing pieces that belonged to the author’s eldest daughter. The 180 pages are typed and have been authenticated by the Enid Blyton Society. It had been bought a few months ago by the Seven Stories, a British Center for children’s literature located in Newcastle. Although the story had been published in a cartoon version after Second World War, nobody knew about the novel. The Seven Stories is planning a retrospective exhibit around Enid Blyton’s work in 2014.
Enid Blyton who died in 1968 remains the fifth most translated writer in the world. More than 400 millions copies of her novels have been sold.

Claude, François, Mick, Annie and Dagobert have been part of so many children’s lives that whenever I mention them to my husband, we forget they are the protagonists of a fiction series. It feels like we are talking about good old friends. And we are kids again.
Kids who despite adults’ opinions could live for the time of a book on our own, could camp under the stormiest weather, and still be safe.

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