Growing up in India in the early '70's, we didn't have much by way of entertainment. There was no TV (we got our first one in the early part of 1980), there was no computer ofcourse, radio catered mainly to adults and I hadn't even heard of video games. The circus came to town only once a year and we were taken to the movies only once every three months, so, when I wasn't playing hopscotch, seven tiles and five stones with my friends, I had my little nose buried in what I thought was the best thing since paper was invented - an Enid Blyton book!
Now, being a British author, I am not sure what her appeal was to children across the Atlantic. I am hoping my American friends will share with me what they grew up reading, but for all of us in India, Enid Blyton was to us what JK Rowling is to kids today.
What was Enid Blyton's appeal? I think it's her versatility. She had the ability to write mysteries, silly tales, boarding school sagas (my favorite), fantasy, adventure and even circus stories. There was something for everybody. When I was around five or so, her tales about Noddy pleased me no end; from five to ten, I was totally captivated by her mystery series like the "Famous Five" and the "Secret Seven", so much so, my friends and I had our own little mystery-solving club with our special password (shhh, you can't make me reveal it) and so on. From ten onwards I was devouring every word of her boarding school series "Malory Towers", "St. Clares" and "The Naughtiest Girl", often wishing I was a boarder in some wonderful school in England rather than just an ordinary day scholar in a Bombay school. She really did make boarding school like the most heavenly place to be! Sadly, when I turned thirteen my heart started to make way for other authors, namely Carolyn Keene of "Nancy Drew" fame, also, I had started to read the occasional Jean Plaidy.