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Just 8 things every Enid Blyton fan will know.

Recently, one of my favourite writers Neil Gaiman said that he found it very hard to re-read the books of popular children's author Enid Blyton.

"I even find her hard to read to my kids," Gaiman told The Guardian. "It’s weird because I remember just how much I loved Blyton, and I’m somebody who loves going back to beloved children’s books, and yet whatever I loved isn’t there when I go back as an adult."

So I did what any reasonable person would do - I re-read Blyton's The Naughtiest Girl in School, which is the first Blyton book I distinctly remember reading.

First published in 1940, the tale is about the very spoilt, and obviously very naughty, Elizabeth Allen, a young girl who does not want to go to boarding school. After being "forced" to go, she decides to do everything within her power to get expelled so she can be sent home.

It was - and is - a delightful book.

I've kept the book all these years. I wonder if it's now worth a million dollars since I am old? Image: Adrienne Tam.

Now, I of course understand there have been points raised about Blyton's problematic racist and xenophobic language in some of her books. I'm not here to defend her use of that language - she was wrong.

I would like to hope that if she were alive today, she would acknowledge that herself.

However, my love for the books I read in my childhood has not dimmed. And, growing up in Fiji, the books I read in my childhood were pretty much all Blyton books.

Every book I'd take out of our small library would be a Blyton book. Every time I went to the bookstore - there was only one bookstore in town - I'd look to see if any more Blyton books had come in from overseas.

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For a child who loved reading, I wasn't given much of a choice of what I could read. And that's OK. Because Blyton opened my eyes to worlds that existed at the top of tall trees and the fact that picnics could happen anytime, anywhere.

So if you're still reading this far, I hope you'll come along with me as we journey back to our childhoods. 

Here is a definitive list (meaning, I totally just made this list up because I am a fan) of all the things Enid Blyton readers know. 

Oldies but goodies. Image: Adrienne Tam.

1. The woods are magic.

Houses in Enid Blyton books inevitably backed up into a vast wood. And once the children from these houses investigated these woods, they would find an abundance of magical beings that lived within it.

There were fairies and fairy queens, brownies, mischievous pixies, and best of all, faraway trees that housed creatures called Moon-Face (he had a moon-shaped face), Saucepan Man (he was hung all over in saucepans and pots), Dame Washalot (she, well, washed a lot - be careful when she flung her water down the tree), and Mister Watzisname (his real name is Kollamoolitumarellipawkyrollo, but he understandably forgot it).

2. Everyone drinks ginger beer.

Since ginger beer didn't exist in Fiji when I was a kid, I always wondered what it tasted like. In every Famous Five book, they'd drink ginger beer. In fact, in every book where kids were offered a drink, it would be ginger beer.

This was fascinating to me. Originally I thought it was alcoholic because of the word "beer" and was a little disappointed to find out that no, kids in England do not drink beer when they're 12. 

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Watch: The Famous Five trailer. Post continues after video.


Video via TIFF Kids.

3. Food is very, very good.

There is A LOT of food in Enid Blyton's books. A LOT. I used to get hungry reading the books.

From treacle pudding and pork pies to tinned peaches and potatoes with their jackets on, Blyton knew how to describe a meal. There was even a story set in the Land of Goodies where everything was edible.

Blyton made up food too. Special mention goes to "pop tarts" from The Enchanted Woods - which in recent years have been called pop cakes because some person decided "tarts" is a little naughty - that get bigger and bigger in your mouth until it explodes into flavour.

Food in tuck boxes, food eaten at the top of lighthouses, food at picnics, food at campsites, food, food, food... is it dinner time yet? 

YUM. Image: Adrienne Tam.

4. Holiday houses have secret passageways.

I mean, that's why holiday houses exist in the first place, right? 

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If ever the Famous Five or Secret Seven went on holidays - or indeed any child in any Blyton book - the house they stayed in would somehow have a hidden room or passageway which would contain clues or treasure.

Or, sometimes, captives and hostages.

Mum, Dad - this is why I would knock on the walls of every house we entered, by the way.

5. Adults are always sensible.

This is the only lie Enid Blyton ever told. 

I'm still not sure I've forgiven her for it.

6. There's always a mystery to solve.

Ah, what adventures were there to be had in a Blyton book. Whenever two or more children happened to be in the same place at once, a mystery would present itself. 

One of the most well-known of Blyton's mystery book series is of course The Famous Five. The storyline of every Five book is the same: it's the summer holidays and siblings Julian (the leader), Dick (later called Rick because, again, someone thought "Dick" was a little naughty), Anne (the nice one), and their cousin George (the tomboy) plus her dog Timmy, meet up and go somewhere. Somehow, they fall into a mystery.

My favourites are: Five Go To Demon's Rocks, Five Have A Mystery To Solve (that title was a big lazy, I admit), Five Go Adventuring Again, and Five Get Into A Fix.

7. Furniture can sprout wings.

OK look, this pretty much only happened in The Wishing-Chair but I included it here because it was utterly fascinating to me as a child. I constantly stared at my desk chair, willing it to grow wings.

Alas, it never happened.

In the book, siblings Mollie and Peter befriend a pixie named Chinky. After visiting an antique store, the shopkeeper frightens the kids and they wish to go home. Luckily, they happen to be sitting in the wishing chair when they make that wish, so lo-and-behold, it sprouts wings and flies back to their house.

I'm willing to bet all of us could do with a chair like that.

8. It all works out in the end.

Because of course. Happy endings is what childhood books are all about and Blyton definitely subscribed to this theory.

No matter what the obstacle was or how complex the riddle, things would always turn out OK by the time you reached that final page.

Is it any wonder we all got lost in the world of Enid Blyton?

When I think back on my childhood, Blyton looms large. I spent my days reading in trees, sometimes popping my head at the top to see if any other land had somehow swung by.

Blyton took me on adventures all around the world from the safety of my home.

Her words helped me find mine.

So, thank you, Enid Blyton. I'm raising a ginger beer to you.

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