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Little Hands

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Tracey Farren’s formative reading experiences

In a certain land at end of Africa, in a certain province called KZN, in a little coastal town called Pennington, there was a girl who used to ride to the library on a lazy, grey carthorse and tether him to the Stop sign outside. When she’d chosen her books, she climbed back on the donkey and read books all the way home as the carthorse weaved along slowly, stopping often to guzzled guavas off the trees. Yes, long before she ever thought she’d one day be a writer too, and author of the acclaimed novel, Whiplash, Tracey Farren had little hands and this is what she read…

Tracey’s earliest memory of books and reading:

I used to watch my older brother learning to read. I soon realized that I recognized the words! It upset my brother terribly, so I kept quiet and read over his shoulder. I felt like a spy in an older child’s world. The characters, ‘Carol and Roy’ were sedate and tall. They were mature, like my brother. I had this nervous fear that they might find me out.

Tracey’s picture books:

I was mad about Noddy. His blue hat never ever faded and I could rely on his good cheer. South Africa was always atmospherically fraught and home was definitely less predictable than Noddyland. I still feel nostalgic about that ordered little world where the police always come.

Tracey, as an adult, reading with children:

I Want To Be Somebody New When I had my own children, I delighted in the rhythm and the madness of Dr Seuss. I related especially to the monster with blue spots who wanted so badly to be ‘somebody new.’* I found Alice in Wonderland too creepy to finish reading aloud to the kids, but discovered Tolkien with my ten year old son. It was a breathtaking release from the leaden routine I established in my efforts to be a good wife and mother.

*I Want To Be Somebody New (By Robert Lopshire, in the Dr Seuss ‘Beginner Books’ series).


Noddy in the News

A Sampling from the Enid Blyton Society Web Page (many more Noddy reviews at the site):
It’s worth a look at the elements in Blyton’s success, her compound of virtue and vice. She absorbed the world of children and gave it back to them. As someone said of her, “she knew just how children like a story to be.” That was the ace in her pack. She fed the children from four to fourteen, on themselves. She satisfied them and left them hungry for more of the same. She gave children what they liked, though never what they wanted. She did not allow her readers to advance a fraction beyond where she held them. There is part of every child that does not want to grow up, and she catered for this part. Keen reading children will return to Blyton, when they are tired or ill.

(Reading and Righting, Leeson — c.1985)
Enid Blyton Lives.

After three decades of banishment to Politically Incorrect Land, a literary persona non grata, Blyton has been rehabilitated. Blyton’s public face was left mainly to the deliciously wicked television parodies of the 80s (Comic Strip!) but now Blyton rules, okay. She’s back and definitely commercial. Children are asking libraries for Blyton books and after decades, the librarians are taking notice.

(Press Assn — c.August, 1997)
Most people remember today in history as the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated but few realize November 22nd is the day Noddy was ‘born’ 50 years ago. The small fresh-faced picture of an innocent English toy is still going strong with four million Noddy books being sold world-wide every year. Such is his fame, and that of his wise companion Big Ears, that the colour of Noddy’s car, driven on unleaded these days, has become a children’s Trivial Pursuit question. Noddy’s red and yellow car has been seen around the world in 200 million books in forty languages since 1949, according to Enid Blyton Ltd.

(Press Assn — c.November, 1999).

Aims of The Little Hands Trust
• To support initiatives that promote reading for enjoyment.
• To mentor African literary artists, including writers, illustrators and editors, to produce creative, suitable and appropriate children’s storybooks for children of various ages with a focus on early childhood (ages 0 to 9 years).
• To collaborate with African publishers to increase and sustain publication of children’s books in African languages. To initiate and support translations of stories between African languages, from African languages to ex-colonial languages and from ex-colonial languages to African languages.
• To help to orientate and educate adults in the importance and significance of reading to and with children.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Alex Smith</a>
    Alex Smith
    February 10th, 2009 @17:02 #

    Oh, dear quick title with correct spelling is here.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Colleen</a>
    February 19th, 2009 @08:39 #

    "I felt like a spy in an older child’s world." I love this.

    Amazing what an impact Enid Blyton had on whole generations of English-speaking children.


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