Best of Blyton at the library


I’ve started my new job in a library now, and I’ve been taking full advantage of my access to all those books! In a quieter moment I ran a catalogue search for Enid Blyton and it came up with 264 hits over the 14 libraries.

I’ve listed the ones I’m most interested in below.


ADVENTURE SERIES TV TIE-INS

Written by Hugh Morgan, these are novelizations of the 90s TV series. All eight were published, but my library has just the two. Seeing as I just watched the Island of Adventure episode, I’d be interested to see if the novelization adds anything to the overall story.

the-island-of-adventure-tv


MALORY TOWERS AUDIO ADAPTATIONS

I think these are the same adaptations that Stef has reviewed, but I would like to listen to them myself and see what I think.


MALORY TOWERS CONTINUATION NOVELS by PAMELA COX

I’m not sure that there’s anyone who could really and truly capture Blyton’s characters and writing well enough to convince me they are worthy of having her name on the front of a book.Yet, I’d still like to read these continuations. These books pick up after Darrell, Sally and co’s last term at Malory Towers, then seem to focus on Felicity who is in her third year to start with. The blurbs make them sound rather like repeats of the original books – a new girl with a secret, a thief in the fifth form and so on, but the last one sounds interesting at least.

After taking their Higher Certificate, the sixth formers want to relax this term. But the Head has a surprise: a finishing school course, with old girl Gwendoline Lacey as teacher. Yet someone is determined to drive her out — and it takes the return of Darrell to solve the mystery.


ST CLARE’S CONTINUATION NOVELS also by PAMELA COX

There are three of these, filling in the gaps in the St Clare’s series, and my library has two. I think, potentially, these would be harder to believe in than the Malory Towers books as they slot in-between other titles and presumably feature all the main characters. That requires an even bigger skill in capturing personalities and atmosphere.

kitty-at-st-clares


THE NAUGHTIEST GIRL CONTINUATION NOVELS by ANNE DIGBY

The library has the first four novels out of the six that have been written. Some of them sound rather modern – girls called Kerry and Emma, waterpistol fights, a campaign to save a tree in the school grounds – but the first few sound closer to the sort of things Blyton wrote about.


ALSO OF INTEREST 


enid-blytons-holiday-stories

 

Enid Blyton’s Holiday Stories. This is one of the new themed collections that have come out recently (including Christmas Stories and Summer Stories amongst others) and contains a host of short stories from publications such as Sunny Stories for Little Folk. It also has At Seaside Cottage, which is a story about Janet and Peter before they formed the Secret Seven. That’s something I’d like to read, but it would be nicer in its original form.

 


the-riddle-that-never-was

 

The Riddle that Never Was – formerly known as The Mystery that Never Was – is part of a six book series created from stand-alone titles. Gillian Baverstock (Blyton’s elder daughter) edited each of them to form a series about the same children. I have read the original, so it would be interesting to see how it has been changed.

 

 


AND A FEW THINGS I’M PROBABLY BETTER AVOIDING

The first Famous Five Adventure Game I read/played the second in the series and didn’t think it was particularly good, however, my need to ‘complete’ series is making me want to borrow this too.

The Case of the Bogus Banknotes just one of several Famous Five on the Case titles the library has. I don’t think I could stomach a ‘Blyton’ story about bogus anythings.

Bizzy and the Bedtime Bear is another crazy continuation, this time of the Faraway Tree series. There are seven sickening-sounding titles in total. How revolting does this sound?

Recovering the Bedtime Bear from the Sleepeez who live there won’t be easy. Especially when the Faraway Fairies are accused of being ‘party poopers’. They need to put this adventure to bed quickly when Talon the Troll is ready to take advantage of any mistake.

The Island of Surprises is a Wishing-Chair follow up (one of six). These feature Jack and Jessica, and a Pixie called Wishler. They sound marginally better than the Faraway Tree continuations, but that’s not saying much!


AND THE ICING ON THE CAKE

real-fairies

I didn’t truly believe that this Spydus record would turn out to be true. It doesn’t exactly contain much detail, and at the time I viewed it it was apparently in transit from the Children’s Centre to Leisure Reading. It turned out to be amongst the other Blytons in the secondary stock area (where all the books that don’t fit out on the shelves have to live) and amazingly, it is indeed a 1923 copy! I’m going to do a proper blog about it later, so I won’t say anything more about it now.


I can see that I’m going to be very busy borrowing books now – thankfully as a staff member I can borrow up to 30 books and don’t get fined if I bring them back late!

  • Does your library have any good Blytons in its stock?
  • What gem would you love to discover on your library’s shelves?
  • Would you borrow any of these if you had the chance?

 

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4 Responses to Best of Blyton at the library

  1. chrissie777 says:

    Interesting article, Fiona. Thank you. But I can’t help thinking how very ugly the Malory Towers/Wishing Chair/Holiday Stories covers are. More and more often I get the impression that nowadays children book’s illustrators lack any skills.

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  2. I find it very sad that public libraries have been subjected to so many cuts over recent years and that children don’t have the opportunities that I had for – quite literally – spending a day of my holidays just browsing around the various subject areas. I know that things have moved on and must admit that I spend quite a lot of time searching the internet for anything I want to know more about, but there was always that thrill of coming across attractive books just waiting to be taken down from the shelf and “dipped into”. Not everything is available on line and rarely do I make a chance discovery of something which sends me off in another direction to explore a totally different subject as a result of web-browsing – this certainly happened in the library on a number of occasions!

    On the subject of covers and illustrations I confess myself to be old-fashioned! The full-colour dust-jackets of the EB “Adventure” series were masterpieces and I did like the Famous Five fronts – but then the “Mysteries” were almost as good (apart from The Invisible Thief, where PC Goon was totally out of proportion to everything else) as were the Barney books. Internally these books seemed to have really good illustrations as well, albeit in black and white generally. Of course, I am talking about early editions – it seems as though once the paperback era kicked in it was not just the binding that was different. The illustrations seemed to become far less detailed and are little more than sketches. I can still look at Eileen Soper’s FF illustrations and find some detail that i had either not noticed before or had completely forgotten about! I will not cross into the subject of textual revisions – my opinion is that if we don’t update Shakespeare or Agatha Christie there is no need to interfere with Enid Blyton – but it is somewhat anomalous in those editions which retain original illustrations to find that they no longer match the text. In the 1997 Famous Five reprints, for instance, the children are, per the text, inevitably wearing jeans whereas the illustrations quite clearly wearing shorts – as we all did in the 1950s!!!

    Sorry – I seem to have strayed a long way away from the subject of libraries, but even in the city in which I live in South Wales, we have few libraries left now. Most branches have closed, or are now run by volunteers, and book budgets have been slashed. I think my personal library (which probably numbers around 4000 books and 1200 magazines) is at least as large as any of the small branches which have managed to survive. I am so glad, though, that there are libraries elsewhere where EB books can still be found – it’s refreshing after the purge of the 1960s and 1970s when a librarian would have been ridiculed for stocking them. Long may this reversed trend continue!

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    • chrissie777 says:

      Hi Stephen…great post! Growing up in the 1960’s, I went to the public library every 3 weeks when I had to return the dozen+ books from the previous visit. I searched through their children’s/young adult collection (this was a city in Germany with 250.000 population called Braunschweig), but they hardly ever purchased new books. And EB was banned, from the public library as well as the school library :(. Fortunately I had a good friend and her 3 older brothers passed their FF sequels on to her and she let me read them. This was in the fall of 1965. I was 10 years old and turned into an avid reader and still love to read EB books quite often. She’s the best!

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    • fiona says:

      No need to apologise for straying from the topic, it’s all related! I agree that the original hardbacks are infinitely more attractive than just about anything that has come since. Library books, unfortunately, have a propensity for going missing and getting damaged so it’s not surprising that just about everything in my library’s collection is from the 90s and later. I think we are lucky in Dundee to have a huge central library plus thirteen decently-sized community libraries. Libraries everywhere are certainly under threat, though. It’s sad because they are such a wonderful resource for people.

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