I return to blogging after a month during which I was so frantically busy I had neither the time nor energy to read anything but children’s fiction, and previously-read children’s fiction at that. I revisited my Captain Underpants box set, several Eva Ibbotsens, and my collection of Richmal Crompton’s William books (I own all thirty-eight; make of that what you will). I then picked up one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series. The Famous Five, as most know, are a crime-fighting group consisting of Timmy the prescient dog who unfailingly barks at villains and nuzzles the good guys, junior studmuffin Julian, his brother Dick (I kid you not), their weepy-eyed sister Anne and their cousin George, poster child for serious therapy, failing which a sex-change operation is certainly in her future. The foursome lived in some part of Britain conveniently peppered by caves and smugglers, and were always eating enormous teas and renting caravans in between catching Desperate Criminals Who Had Baffled Scotland Yard.
I loved the series as a child. Twenty years later, the book made me want to rinse my eyes out with Purell. The part where Julian tells a female character the trouble with her is she doesn’t have a brother to “keep her in her place”, I quit reading, and donated the book to my local library. (But now, upon sober reflection, I think I ought to have stamped out its existence completely, ideally by stabbing it with a Basilisk fang.)
I now hear the Famous Five is being relaunched as an animated series. By Disney. With the offspring of the original Four as the lead characters. With a new PC angle. According to this article on the BBC website,
They feature 12-year-old Anglo-Indian Jo, short for Jyoti – a Hindi word meaning light – who, like her mother George [NB: So she got that gender thing sorted, eh?], is a tomboy and the group’s team leader.
Other characters include Allie, a 12-year-old Californian “shopaholic” who enjoys going out and getting “glammed up” but is packed off to the British countryside to live with her cousins.
Her mother was Anne in the Famous Five, a reluctant adventurer who has now become a successful art dealer.
The team is completed by adventure junkie Max, who is 13-year-old Julian’s son; Dylan, the 11-year-old son of Dick, and dog Timmy.
(Picture from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7306752.stm)
Back in the days, Blyton’s work had a huge following in the Commonwealth countries; perhaps one of the reasons for introducing Jyoti is an attempt to continue that appeal to the next generation there? I’m really curious to see if the Disney series will do the trick in the Indian market.