Entertainment

Faraway Tree fans mark time for film

Enid Blyton's - The Magic Faraway Tree

Enid Blyton's - The Magic Faraway Tree

News of Sam Mendes’s production house bringing Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree stories to the big screen released the floodgates for a tidal wave of nostalgia for Saucepan Man, Silky, Moonface and others.

The Faraway Tree series has four books written between 1939 and 1951. The first, The Enchanted Wood (1939), tells the story of Jo and his sisters, Bessie and Fanny, who move to the country from town. Happy to leave the smoky, crowded city behind, the three children discover an enchanted wood behind their cottage where the trees seem darker and whisper to each other. As they explore the woods, they come upon the tall tree in the centre of the woods whose top seems to be going through the clouds. They climb the tree only to discover a hole in the clouds, which is a portal to different lands on top of the tree.

Through the course of the book, the children visit the many magical places, including the Land of Ice and Snow, ruled by an angry, bitter snowman, Roundabout Land, and the Land of the Red Goblins. All kinds of fruits grow on the Faraway Tree. The children get to know the folk who live in it — the Angry Pixie, who hates anyone peeping into his house, the owlm who is always asleep, Dame Washalot and the forgetful Mister Watsizname. Moonface, who has a slide going from his house right to the bottom of the tree, the Slippery Slip, Silky, the fairy and Saucepan Man become the children’s good friends.

In the second book, The Magic Faraway Tree (1943), the children’s cousin, Dick, comes to stay with them and takes part in their adventures. The Folk of the Faraway Tree (1946) has curious Connie visiting. In the beginning, she doesn’t believe in the Faraway Tree and its magical residents.

The last in the series, the not-so-popular Up the Faraway Tree (1951), is a kind of meta-novel in which two children, Robin and Joy, after reading about the Faraway Tree, decide to see it for themselves.

All the novels follow a similar pattern with an equal distribution of good, bad and ugly lands. There are silly lands such as Land of Topsy Turvy, Dreams, Rocking and Round About and marvellous lands such as Spells, Enchantments, medicine and secrets. The scary lands are the ones of Temper, Red Goblin and Dame Slap. And the fun lands — there are a lot of them including the Land of Do-as-you-Please, Take-What-You-Want, Presents, Tea Parties, Treats and Birthdays.

For all the political incorrectness of Blyton (the names have changed from Fanny to Frannie and Dick to Rick), in these days of downright disturbing young adult fiction, getting lost in the land of Toys or Marvels is not such a bad thing.

Yes, it is quite annoying that Bessie has to make toffee for Moonface, Silky is forever washing her hair and Dame Washalot is always washing clothes. But that does not take away from the joy of reading about toffee shocks, google (yes before the search engine behemoth) buns or pop biscuits.

Silky’s clock running on big flat feet, the land of Magic Medicine, which makes the children’s mum all right, and the land of Enchantments, where Connie gets her voice back after losing it after on hearin a powerful witch’s secret, takes us to a simpler, happier time. The end of the world as we know it, is not brought about by a virulent mutating virus released on the world by ruthless grown-ups. It is just greedy goblins who get their comeuppance thanks to a clever wizard. What a relief!


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Printable version | May 27, 2022 8:01:10 am | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/faraway-tree-fans-mark-time-for-film/article7867028.ece