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The Magic Faraway Tree describes a series of three children’s books by Enid Blyton. The three books; The Enchanted Wood, The folk of the Faraway Tree and Up the Faraway Tree were published between 1943 and 1951. The theme of the books is none other than The Magic Faraway Tree, this tree is home to several strange characters and its top is permanently shrouded in clouds. Different magical lands that appear in these clouds and are explored by the books characters. The first characters in the books are three children, the archaically named Joe, Fanny and Bessie. The three children live on the edge of the Enchanted Wood and are portrayed throughout as poor but honest children. They explore the Tree in the first book and meet their partners in crime for the ensuing adventures. The Angry Pixie is, unsurprisingly, an aggressive little sprite, Mr Whatzisname sleeps almost straight throughout the series, Dame Wash-a-lot appears only to periodically throw the water from her washing tub over the children. Other characters include Silky, an elf-like creature, Moonface, a round-faced individual of indeterminate species and the Saucepan man. The Saucepan man is a small man who appears to be clothed in cooking utensils, his ensuing deafness from the constant clanking causes much hilarity throughout. These characters all join the children in their adventures at the top of the Faraway Tree in the lands that come to visit, such magical places as The Land of Tea-Parties and The Land of Know-It-All’s. My favourite was always the Land of Spells, were a continual stream of horrid do-gooders shamelessly subjugated stereotyped old women to torture in the name of witchcraft. Ahem. An adaptation of the novels was written and produced by Garry Ginivan and performed with many unforgettable songs such as “Brown Bear Exercises”. Like many of Enid Blytons books these innocently childish stories were slated in the fifties and sixties for their sexism and the idea that they would distract children from reading the “classics". Despite being banned from many libraries in the fifties Enid Blyton is one of the most successful children’s authors to date, with millions of books sold and translations into almost one hundred languages. Parts of the stories were also used as a display of anarchy in the comic V for Vendetta. On re-reading some of these children’s books as a young adult it’s easy to appreciate the humour in them from an adult perspective, and also to wonder if, like many children’s writers, Enid Blyton was smoking crack. Thank you to www.upthefarawaytree.50megs.com, the cutest fan site I’ve ever seen and to Atesh for the V for Vendetta thing!

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