I have just finished reading the three related farm books by Enid Blyton to our 7 year old daughter - The Children of Cherry Tree Farm, The Children of Willow Farm and More Adventures on Willow Farm.
We loved them. The first book tells the story of a family of four children who go to live on a farm (Cherry Tree Farm) with their aunt and uncle because they have been sick in London and need to recover. So they head off to the healthy countryside and learn how to live in the country rather than the city. They meet Tammylan, the wild man who lives on his own and who teaches them all about the animals of the English countryside. At the same time, they start to learn about farm life.
By the end of the book, the children’s parents are convinced that farm life is for them and so they buy a nearby farm, Willow Farm and the following two books tell the story of the first two years of life on the farm.
I have finally put my finger on why as a family we like these books so much. They are similar in expectations and behaviour to our own family. The children are loved and cared for by their parents and other adults (unlike a Roald Dahl book for example!). The children are generally kind to each other and respect authority. When they don’t, there are obvious consequences (Rory nearly burns down the farm in book 3, because he thinks he is cleverer than he is, yet there is real contrition and an admission of the mistake). There is no praise or tacit acceptance for poor behaviour, rudeness and cheekiness like there is in so many more modern books. Makes me sound like an old-fashioned bore I know, but I have expectations of my children and I like it when characters in books don’t constantly undermine that!
Obviously, these books are getting old now, having been written in the 1940s yet they still have great appeal. We loved the descriptions of farm life, and though obviously the practices described are much out of date, it still gave us all more insight into farm life than we had before.
Enid Blyton books certainly still live on with great popularity in our home!