These were the first mysteries with regular characters I ever read.
The covers were always superbly evocative.
Blyton rarely addressed issues such as poverty and juvenile delinquency, but she made an exception with The Six Bad Boys ('51).
I recently stumbled upon a predictable assault on Blyton from one Philip Hensher of The Independent. In his essay, "The Fatal Childhood Addiction to Enid Blyton", this buffoon declares her unreadable, and attacks the values presented in The Six Bad Boys:
"In one really remarkably nasty one, (The) Six Bad Boys, a working single mother is condemned for not staying at home and cooking endless cakes for her demanding son - her neglect turns the hideous child delinquent. No child now, surely, would find this moral lesson anything but hilarious, or so one would hope."
Interesting how the tables have recently revolved, if not turned completely, on this issue. Blyton's consequence of absent parenting , though simplistic, is not near as "hilarious" as Hensher states. Many modern youth problems have been attributed to the break-up of the family unit and the absence of adult role models. It is not always possible (or financially realistic) for one parent to remain home, but it is certainly better for the child. Only a fool would argue otherwise.
Blyton celebrated the value and utter importance of Motherhood. I have no issue with that.
Interestingly, fathers were often absent in her novels, a situation that paralled her own upbringing.
The author's adventures were always tempered by the proximity of the action to the homes of the adventurers. The children usually managed to get home for "tea". As a very young child reading these books, I was comforted by the occasional presence of dependable adults. Blyton understood the young psyche and its needs very well.
Although I preferred freak circuses and sideshows from a very early age, my initial interest in the circus was stimulated by the author's exciting circus books.
The cover illustration here portends a shade of doom that isn't quite delivered. Still, the world of the big top was portrayed as a scary, foreign place.
I'll leave the second last paragraph to Hensher:
"As is well known, Blyton's attitudes are often frankly antediluvian - they were reactionary at the time, and probably ought to have relegated her to the ranks of unread authors by now. Some tinkering with language and images of golliwogs has been bravely embarked upon by publishers, but still, "foreigners" are automatically funny, dirty or cowardly - it hardly becomes racism, so little does Blyton ever distinguish between different varieties of the non-English."
There is nothing brave about revisionism, Mr. Hensher. It reeks of insecurity and an immature mind. Finally, the writer appears to be looking for a fight that doesn't exist. If Blyton is not drawing obvious race distinctions in her fiction, isn't that commendable? You say so yourself: "It hardly becomes racism." We're all funny, dirty, and cowardly at times. If you'd read enough Blyton, you'd know that she believed that, too, Mr. Hensher. It is your criticisms that are antediluvian.