Happy birthday Enid Blyton!

Enid Blyton was born on this day in 1897. Happy birthday Enid!

I’ve become increasingly fascinated by Blyton the more I’ve worked on the second chapter of my thesis. I’m considering the changing relationship of children’s literature with landscape; the Arcadian idyll of the Victorian period shifting through to the movements of the post-war period where boundaries were able to be transgressed and challenged … and Enid forms a big part of this discussion.

The more I’ve worked on Malory Towers and St Clare’s, the more I’ve become convinced that Blyton’s texts work in a unique liminality; they talk back to the patriarchal dominance of the age but also, quite subversively, present alternative modes of female existence. Choice, really. And that’s quite the thing to find in an author who is, so often, read as a bastion of gendered problematics. I’m not denying the existence of these problematics but rather asking us to read beyond them in a way…

So happy birthday Enid and, in a slightly Pythonesque manner, here’s a list of facts and other things …

  • Enid Blyton is the fourth most translated author in the world. The three authors above her? Agatha Christie, Jules Verne and William Shakespeare. (Unesco, 2015).
  • Enid Blyton had 762 books published. Just. Let. That. Sink. In.
  • I suspect popular children’s fiction would be in a very different state today were it not for Blyton. You know those Daisy Meadows books? And similar? Consider what they’d be without the nature of Blyton and the way she showed the voracious appetites of what readers could be….
  • She gave us the Malory Towers swimming pool. Still possibly the best swimming pool in the entirety of children’s fiction. And yes, this is niche, but I’m willing to argue at length about this.
  • The house she once lived in is fabulously surreal.
  • She wrote the weirdest, cagiest, and possibly best author autobiography I’ve ever read.
  • She gave us Anne; one of the most complex and misunderstood female characters ever.
  • She practically defined the idea of ferociously readable writing. Yes, this may have come at the expense of a myriad of other factors, but the woman could write. I don’t think I know of a more determined writer.
  • She wrote some of the most definitive school stories out there. The St Clare’s and Malory Towers books are woefully undercritiqued and yet, there they are, immensely and perpetually popular and also subtly promoting a whole host of diverse representations of girlhood.
  • Ginger beer. Never had some. Not sure I want to, because I think it might ruin the mystique…

 

So here’s to you Enid, and your crazy, readable ways. You’re not the most run of the mill person, nor are you infallible, and I’m fairly sure I will never write a sentence about you that doesn’t involve the word ‘complicated’, but I am very sure that you are unique. Happy birthday!

Works cited:-

UNESCO (2015) Index Translationum : Top 50 Most Translated Authors http://www.unesco.org/xtrans/bsstatexp.aspx?crit1L=5&nTyp=min&topN=50 [accessed 06/07/2015]

 

A Miffy Birthday Cake

Oh my God I love the Miffy series by Dick Bruna. I really, really do. In fact I’d go so far as to say Dear Grandma Bunny is possibly one of the best books regarding death ever.

There’s something about Miffy that just makes me smile every time I see her. And this cake is utterly perfect. It’s simple – clean – and sort of perfectly Miffyish!

Thank you Nicola of Snowballs in Summer for letting me feature this very beautiful cake! She’s done an excellent post on the creation process here and I recommend you have a look at her blog – she’s got the *most* gorgeous Very Hungry Caterpillar cake on there as well!

Image: Nicola (Snowballs in Summer)

A Clarice Bean Birthday Cake

Hello! Today’s birthday cake is gorgeous and a feat of fondant icing. I’m including two pictures because I think you don’t really get the full effect just from one.

It is (as if you need me to spell it out for you!) a Clarice Bean cake based on the ACE series by Lauren Child. What I really love about this cake is the innocent expression on the Clarice figure and the HAIR!! I love the detail that’s gone into that one little strand across the eye – it’s exactly how the book has it. Lovely work!

Image: mags_eb (Flickr)

Image: mags_eb (Flickr)

A Gruffalo Birthday Cake

Silly old snake, doesn’t he know?

there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo!

 Today’s Birthday cake is a ridiculously amazing Gruffalo cake by Creative Cakes by Cat. I found this and genuinely had to stop and just drool for a good few minutes. Look at the grass! And the fox! And the tiny tiny Gruffalo toes! And the gorgeous colouring! And the toadstools!  Brilliant 😀 Thank you for letting me feature your cake Cat!

Image: Creative Cakes by Cat

Choose Your Own (GirlsOwn) Adventure

Image: kthread (Flickr)

As part of my blog birthday celebrations, I decided to write a Choose Your Own Adventure style story and I decided to set it around a birthday party in the fictional school of St Swithin’s. You take the role of a new girl and, as the story progresses, have to decide how to navigate the social nuances of schoolgirl life!

I am heavily indebted to this post for technical guidance and inspiration. Writing a story like this is hard – they get so big so quickly! 😀 But I am very pleased I persevered and it was sort of fascinating for me to see the way it developed. It did get a little Star Wars-ish at points (will you choose the way of the Jedi or the Sith?) during the development phase, but I hope that’s not translated too much to the final version.

So – here we are. Hyperlinks are underlined and there’s one or more on each page (apart from the ‘Your Adventure Ends Here’ pages) and that’s how you navigate through the story. Hopefully it works and you enjoy The New Girl At St Swithin’s !

PS – Let me know if you can guess which bit in the story was inspired heavily by Enid Blyton!

A Jacqueline Wilson Birthday Cake

Let the birthday celebrations begin! Over the next week or two I will be posting some of my very favourite children’s literature themed birthday cakes!

This is my first, and as you can tell it’s a Jacqueline Wilson themed cake! I love how they’ve caught the exact nature of Nick Sharratt’s illustrations and the bright colours that totally characterise his work with Jacqueline Wilson.  This is utterly gorgeous and made me very jealous of Millie 😉  It’s by Lisa @ Chubbybubcakes and I am in love with it. Thank you for letting me feature it Lisa!

Image: Lisa @ Chubbybub Cakes

Birthdays!

Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt (Flickr)

It’s my birthday! And it’s also my blog birthday in about two and a half weeks!

So, officially, I’d like to invite *you* to the beginning of my birthday themed posts over the next week or so. We’ll be covering things ranging from the perfect schoolgirl birthday party (clue: there’s lots of food, and if you’re a ‘bad’ girl, it’s all followed by a dose of tummy trouble and a healthy serving of repentance), my favourite birthday parties in children’s literature, perhaps a dose or two of my favourite birthday fanfics, and quite probably a trip to Matron to recover from the festivities. We’ll stop off at some amazing book birthday cake recipes, explore the wondrousness of book themed birthday food and perhaps get a bit giddy on Etsy when the sugar highs kick in and point and flail at something amazing and book related.

Enjoy the festivities!