Disclaimer: You will be bored beyond words, if you are not a Blyton fan. But if you are, come read my views on her works and share with me your views!
My first Blyton was a Noddy picture book. I was 3, and it was the first book I had ever bought. We were at Delhi airport en route to Jaipur, and I don't know why, my father carried me to the book stall, and asked me, to pick a book. I picked Noddy, 'coz I fell in love with Big Ears. I still love him, and secretly, I refer to one of my good friends, as Big Ears.
Next, my memory takes me back to when I was 5. Summer vacations in Calcutta. We were at my nani's place, and relatives were visiting us. Unlike my father's family which is so huge, that they hardly bother with relatives, my mother's is a small family of 4, and very close-knit with cousins. So, uncles and aunts were visiting, and there was always someone new to meet. One particular uncle, someone I later grew up to be pretty close to, saw me with one of Maa's childhood books. I had just started to learn how to read, in school, and was trying my best. He laughed, and asked Maa to change my clothes. I still remember the walk from the house to the nearby book store, I had been told we are going to buy a book, and I was curious. (Also, yes, it was Calcutta, a city where there are book stores in by-lanes too.)
Half-an-hour later, I walked in, proudly, holding my very first 'proper' book (no more picture books!! ) ~ Bed Time Stories by Enid Blyton. And thus began the love affair, of my mind with her characters.
Who would have known toys can talk and have their own worlds? Who would have known little fairies visit them on windy nights? Who would have known that toys have feelings too, they too love and fight, they too yearn to be their owners favourite?
I grew up to hear a lot of criticism about the values Blyton promoted in her books, but my personal opinion is, it hardly mattered to the little kids who read them. Yes, Golliwogs were black, but no kid would've associated it with apartheid. Kids are innocent, Blyton have their innocence and imaginations wings.
Till I was about eight, my favourite bedtime reads were The Red Story Book, The Green Story Book, The Blue Story Book, Bedtime Stories, The Red Story Book, The Green Story Book, The Blue Story Book, Bedtime Stories, and, Naughtiest Girl series to name a few.
Growing up, the subjects I was reading about changed. A couple of my personal favourites from about age 8 have been:
The Mistletoe Farm series: There are two books in this series ~ Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm and Six Cousins Again. Twins Jane & Jack, along with their parents, little sister Susan and spaniel, Crackers lived in Mistletoe Farm. Suddenly, they are told, their three cousins will come live with them, and they need to make space in their lives. Soon, Cyril, Melisande and Roderick and dropped off at the farm in a fancy car.
How these country cousins and the town cousins take to each other, hate being around the other and later, how they warm up each other, proving to be a support, is what the series is about. I can read the series again, in fact, I read Blyton's books randomly even now, I suggest you gift one of these to your kids, nephews or nieces too.
The Circus series: The series had three books ~ Mr Galliano's Circus. Hurrah for the Circus and Circus Days Again. The trilogy open with the protagonist Jimmy Brown, his parents, his dog Lucky, his friend Lotta and other characters of the circus.
The books talk about the circus and it's people as well as the animals, their lives, daily struggles and some mysteries which Jimmy and Lotta solve. All kids love animals, and living in a circus is a dream for many, like it was for me. The Circus Series was an absolute delight to read, and if I may confess, I still read it.
The Five Find-Outers, The Noddy books, The Secret Seven series, The Malory Towers series, The Famous Five series and The St. Clare's series ~ I can read them all over again, again and again. And I do! Heartbreak, fever, running nose, back ache - doesn't matter why you are in bed reading a book, a Blyton can be your chicken soup and hot chocolate at any age!