NATIONAL

`Famous Five' tops favourite books poll

John Ezard

London: Enid Blyton, who was called "the 20th century Mother Goose," still reigns supreme this century. Earlier this week, adults in the U.K. voted her `Famous Five' series as their favourite books for children.

The series, which started 63 years ago, beat friendly lions, hobbits, wizards and big friendly giants. It narrowly pipped `Chronicles of Narnia' to win first place despite the boost given to C.S. Lewis'stories by the current film.

`The Famous Five' are a group of clean-living, well brought-up middle class children who take pride in being "jolly good sports." Their adventures, fuelled by their inexhaustible addiction to ginger beer, lemonade and sandwiches ("Oh goody, cucumber," said George), were dismissed as hopelessly outdated and irrelevant by librarians and others in the 1970s.

They triumphed in a YouGov poll of 2,688 adults commissioned to launch a drive by the U.K.'s National Literacy Trust, sponsored by Starbucks, to get 50,000 books for schools donated to Starbucks stores this Christmas.

A second Blyton title, `The Faraway Tree,' came third, followed by Tolkien's `The Hobbit' and Roald Dahl's `Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.'

- Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

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