Emma Lee-Potter celebrates Enid Blyton in an anniversary year and admires some new illustrations by Laura Ellen Anderson, whilst personally finding them a little ‘too hip’.
In honour of this year’s anniversary Hodder Children’s Books is republishing all 21 Famous Five adventures, complete with dashing new covers by illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson. Meanwhile, a collection of short stories, Good Old Timmy, is being released to mark World Book Day. Diehard Blyton fans like me will be reassured to find that after updating the language in 2010 to make the tales more appealing to today’s generation (‘mother and father’ became ‘mum and dad’, ‘pullover’ became ‘jumper’ and ‘awful swotter’ was changed to ‘bookworm’) the publisher has abandoned the idea and gone back to the previous text.
Anderson’s new illustrations are stunning, capturing the stories’ classic charm and jolly japes but even so, these new incarnations of Julian, Dick, Anne and George are slightly too hip for me. In my eyes the children will always be wearing old-fashioned Aertex shirts tucked into baggy, knee-length shorts and carrying knapsacks filled with ham sandwiches and slices of fruitcake.