We, the people in our 30’s, and maybe those in 20’s and maybe those even younger; and for that matter also those on the other side of 40’s have a lot to thank J.K.Rowling for. She brought magic into our muggle lives in a way that nobody could have imagined. From the twisted lanes of Diagon Alley to the grand but cryptic moving staircase at Hogwarts, everything made us squeal (even silently) in sheer delight. The sheer brilliance in which she hid magical pathways in the most unobtrusive places – railway platforms, fireplaces, walls of run down bars, made the lot of us look for those in our daily lives. And the best part was that though the stories were filled with magical wonder, they were also grounded in reality. They had the same strife that people face in their daily lives – making ends meet, conflicts with families, relationships with those different than us, hatred for those different than us, corruption that comes from absolute power. They spoke of the same human values that hold our world together – friendship, courage, bravery, loyalty, grit and above all – respect. J.K.Rowling, in all her genius, has given more than just books that we adore. She has given what the best books give – inspiration, hopes and dreams. And magic!
But we know that already, don’t we?
This article is to remember another literary genius who has been responsible for many a children falling in love with summers, picnics in the wood, magical creatures and just reading in general. I’m talking about Enid Blyton and her Faraway Tree series.
These are the books that got me hooked to reading. I still remember looking forward to the library periods in school, racing to the shelves with the English Fiction, picking up an Enid Blyton book, finding a seat with the least number of children, and not once looking up from the book until the bell rung. As a geeky, gawky, bespectacled, introverted child, this suited me more than just fine. Ironically, it was an escape from conversations even though it was the most ideal topic to have conversations on!
The magic of the Faraway Tree was not just in the creatures. It was in the whole setting. Everything the characters did was described so perfectly that you felt immediately transported to the Enchanted Wood. You’d be able to smell the wood, the acorns on the oak tree, or the apples and the pears as the kids climbed higher. You’d taste the Pop Cakes that Silky baked. You’d duck every time Dame Washalot’s soapy water came down the tree trunk. You’d get that funny feeling in your stomach when the kids came down Moonface’s slippery slip. And most of all you’d live through every single kind of enchanted land that came up at the top of the Faraway Tree.
Thanks to Enid Blyton, I got my first tool which would take me away from people when I wanted or bring me close to them when I felt safe. She gave me the love for words strung together, making images far prettier than anything I could see with open eyes. She gave me real magic!
So you see, before there were pensieves and transfiguration and apparition, there was The Enchanted Wood – a real teleportation device into a land as comforting as it was fantastic. If you missed going there before, it’s never too late to pay a visit.