28 October 2008

The case for the Famous Five

I wonder if Enid Blyton is spinning in her grave to see what is becoming of her creations. Chorion, a British company, has set about modernising the books. Chorion seems to be under the impression that the Famous Five and all the other series we know and love so well from our childhood, are not relevant or attractive enough for today's children.

As the new series of Famous Five books are published, coinciding with an animated Disney series, I find that I am saddened.

The characters of the new series are children of the original five, named Jyoti (Jo), Max, Dylan and Allie, are modern, Ipod, mobile phone and laptop wielding children. Timmy the dog is still, thankfully, Timmy the dog..... though I would imagine he has been microchipped by now!

We love the Enid Blyton books in our family. Little Possum (6) loves Naughty Amelia Jane, The Wishing Chair Adventures and the Faraway Tree books. They are favourite bedtime stories. Doodlebug (9) loves the Famous Five stories, and we are reading book 5 at the moment.

The first book in the series was written in 1942, the last (no 21) in 1963, so these books are from a different era. The language used is unfamiliar today, but it doesn't seem to worry Doodlebug. He understands the concept of history and can see these stories as being of a time and a place when things were different. I am not unduly concerned that he will assume that gender roles today are or should be as they were then. These are things we can discuss with him.

I believe firmly that my children benefit from reading literature that is rich in language - where they can learn different styles of prose, expand their vocabulary and hopefully be set up for a future reading the classics!

The next modernisations are also on the way with the Wishing Chair Adventures remade and Silky the Fairy from the Faraway Tree in her own spin-off series called "the Enchanted World". I am so glad that we have the original versions!

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