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Sharing a sprinkle of childhood fairy dust

The Enchanted Wood illustrations

The lovely Zoe over at Playing by the Book has set up a rather fabulous linky (I’m a week late to this particular party – been a little preoccupied with work recently!). Once a month Zoe will post on a specific topic in her “I’m looking for a book about…” series and invite other bloggers to contribute a link to a blog post with reviews or references to books that fit in with that month’s topic. The idea is brilliant and designed to create a wonderful hub of books for anyone searching on a particular theme or topic.  This month is “elves and fairies”… and well, writing this post has been ever so nostalgic. Ever so, ever so nostalgic.

Let’s get started. In this post I have chosen to get a little gooey eyed over some of my old favourites, and on Thursday I’ll introduce to you a new book that Milo and I have been enjoying a lot recently.

I imagine that there are lots of bloggers sharing Enid Blyton’s books as part of this month’s topic, but there is absolutely no way that I couldn’t include them myself. Well, one series in particular; The Enchanted Wood / The Magic Faraway Tree series. For anyone reading this blog who knew me as a child will remember that I was completely and utterly obsessed with these books. It would seem that my tattered copy of The Enchanted Wood was read by me in Junior 2. I can assure you that my handwriting is much neater now and I know where to put my apostrophes.

The reasons I loved these books so much were:

A magic wood people, magic!
A tree with little houses in (tree houses were and still are, in my opinion, the best thing ever)
Moonface’s slippery slip (which just sounds a bit dodgy when you write it down doesn’t it?)
The food, the wonderful, wonderful imagery and inventiveness of Enid Blyton’s food…
The illustrations (in my copies at least)

The illustrations in my copy of The Enchanted Wood were drawn by Lesley Smith and I absolutely adored them as a child and still do. They completely shaped in my imagination what Moonface and Silky the fairy looked like and for me, later illustrations paled in comparison.

I read the first chapter of The Enchanted Wood to Milo recently as he’s been a little bit pre-occupied with fairies. Namely the fluff fairy… a daft story I told him one night when he was exhausted and had popped the blue sock fluff that he’d rescued from his toes, kept in his hand throughout books, bath, getting pjs on, blow-drying his hair, more books and into bed, next to his head on his pillow. I was worried that he’d be sad when he woke in the morning to find it gone so I said the fluff fairy would come and take it and maybe turn it into a jumper or dressing gown for another fairy. Well, he rather liked that so at about 11.45pm that night when I suddenly remembered what I’d said, I made a little card from the fluff fairies to say thank you for the blue sock fluff (they’d turned it into a duvet cover), and left some shredded cotton wool fluff for him with a little fairy dust on (edible glitter!) on his bedside table. Well, this was terribly exciting. As was the fact that his blue sock fluff was still on his pillow (how?!) the next morning. And so, a little curiosity about fairies was born. Yay!

I also have this copy of Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree.

The illustrations are by Rene Cloke and I do like them a lot, not quite as much as the illustrations in The Enchanted Wood but so much more so than the very modern versions. For me fantastic illustrations carry as much weight in story books as they do in picture books.

Milo asked me to include this one of the train. He thinks it’s the Little Red Train!

My other favourite fairy book as a child was this one… A Visit to Fairyland by Barbara Hayes, illustrated by Mary Brooks (Purnell Books).

This book reminds me completely and utterly of reading with my mum. I remember her reading it to me again and again, I remember pouring over the illustrations together, I remember trying to recreate the illustrations myself either through drawing or making. But most of all I remember the naughty little bear and the gorgeous little brother. Oh, they were such delights.

I think A Visit To Fairyland is now out of print. Sob. So for those of you who didn’t own this as children, here’s a snippet to give you a hint of the tone of the book …

“They say that Fairyland is over the rainbow,” Mummy had remarked – and then she had hurried on with her shopping. Mummies are usually in a hurry, aren’t they?

But the thought of Fairyland had stayed in Debbie’s head.”

Debbie then goes to bed, drifts off to sleep and embarks on an amazing adventure in Fairyland. Her brother David joins her and they are both later joined by teddy who is a bit naughty in Fairyland.

“Afterwards, naturally, the grown-ups said that it had all been just a dream — and perhaps it was; but Debbie couldn’t help believing that what happened that night might have been real.”

I just love the illustrations in this book, the detail, the imagination, the colours and the soft tone. They are utterly delicious.

I used to look for little houses in trees like this. I don’t think I ever once presumed that they didn’t exist, I just assumed that the fairies didn’t come out during the day and only at night so that’s why I couldn’t see them. I”d also make little houses like this for my Flower Fairies to live in.

I’m excited about sharing these properly with Milo as he gets older. In the meantime though (when we are not reading Oliver Jeffer’s books) we are ploughing through Ladybird’s classic Fairy Tales at the moment and he is just loving that experience. Last night’s bedtime book was The Elves and the Shoemaker which I hadn’t read before but knew the story well. I honestly think that he completely believes that fairies, elves and little people are real. He has no reason not to. He is not so keen on the wolves he is meeting in these books, but then, neither am I!

Tomorrow will be an extra special Fairyland inspired Bookish Bites so be sure to pop back then.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Zoe #

    What a lovely trip down memory lane. I have not read a single one of these… I will amend this situation! can’t wait to see your bookish bites tomorrow. And dont’ forget to leave a link via the linky so it’s easy for others to find your post from the round up :)

    May 22, 2012
    • natashaworswick #

      Will do! Glad that you liked the post and have added some books to your reading list. I’m sure that A Visit to Fairyland must be lurking in a second-hand bookshop somewhere… it’s such a funny book. Very of its era. But it’s the illustrations that I love the most.

      May 22, 2012

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