21 de mai de 2009


y introduction to Fairyland, in all its numerous manifestations, came through the now sadly out-of-fashion English writer, Enid Blyton. My father taught me to read before I started school, and I quickly exhausted the limited supply of ‘suitable’ books in our tiny little house and wanted more. So one glorious day, I was wrapped up in my 1950s duffle coat, and marched down to the local library, which had a children’s section in a side room; it seemed immense to me at the time, and I thought there could not be so many wonderful books in the world, although I believe now that I probably have more volumes on my own shelves than there were in that bright and airy little room.

In those days, Enid Blyton was a hugely popular author for children, and her countless works out-numbered those by other writers as I scoured the library bookshelves. She was able to write for any age of child, and her different series of books took me from pre-school days (with Noddy and his Toytown chums) to my early teenage years, when I was hooked on ‘The Famous Five’ and the various ‘Adventure’ stories.

But the books that affected me most deeply and most permanently were the three about The Magic Faraway Tree. This was a tree in an enchanted wood, inside of which lived all manner of fairies and elfs and other eccentric creatures. Most magically of all, if you climbed to its very top, you would gain access to a different land, but the lands themselves moved around, so each one was only there for a short period of time, and you had to get back to the tree before it moved, or you would be trapped there for ever. Some lands were lovely, and others were less so. They included Nursery Rhyme Land, The Land of Tea Parties, The Land of Know-alls, The Land of Treats, The Land of Spells, The Land of Dreams, The Land of Do-What-You-Please, and many others. In each chapter of the three books, the child heroes and heroines would climb the tree, have an exciting adventure in the marvellous land, and be home safely in time for tea, often having learnt an important life lesson as a result of their experiences. Even now, I find it hard to think of a more versatile and imaginative premise for a book for children.

Although I eventually outgrew the Faraway Tree, it left me with a love of magical worlds, and specifically of magical worlds that could be accessed from our own mundane one. Not for me the self-contained and self-sustaining universes of Middle-Earth or Discworld; my love is for lands like Wonderland and Oz and Neverland and Narnia, worlds that I might one day discover myself, stepping out of my front door and tumbling down a rabbit hole or being whisked away by a cyclone. A few years ago, I was driving along a motorway when I came upon a stretch of road where a builder’s lorry had spilt some of its sand, and turned the road yellow. Just for a moment, the little child inside me grew excited, and shouted out to follow the yellow road because it would take me to Oz.

And that is the effect Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree had on my life. Even now, I always think there could be a Fairyland round the next corner. And even now, I keep seeking it.

Michael O’Connor, 55 anos, editor e escritor, Inglaterra.

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