The Enid Blyton Society
The Magic Faraway Tree
Back Book 2 of 3 in this category Next

Book Details...

First edition: 1943
Publisher: George Newnes
Illustrator: Dorothy M. Wheeler
Category: Faraway Tree
Genre: Fantasy
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Artwork
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations

Reprints


Wraparound dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Dorothy M. Wheeler
Deep in the country live three children who are named Jo, Bessie and Fanny. They are extremely fortunate because they live near an enchanted wood in which there is a gigantic tree. This tree grows so high that it reaches special clouds that contain magical lands which visit every now and again and rest on the top-most branches. The children often enter the wood to climb this Faraway Tree right up to where the Fairy-Tale places are and one place they visited was Rocking Land and it was rather unpleasant because whilst you are there the ground tips up and sideways and you keep falling over. They have also been to Nursery Rhyme Land, the Land of Enchantments, and the Land of Treats and they have made friends with several fairy people who actually live in little dwellings carved out of the tree itself. There's a round-faced man called Moon-Face not to mention another gentleman who is a little hard-of-hearing and who sells saucepans which he wears all round his body and you can hear him coming a mile away.

This is the second Faraway Tree book. Jo, Bessie and Fanny have a cousin staying with them and his name is Dick. When he is told about the Faraway Tree he's naturally skeptical but they manage to convince him they're on the level and then he can't wait to see it. Next day they are off to the Enchanted Wood and Dick hears the leaves on the trees making a soft sound in the breeze — "Wisha, Wisha, Wisha!" as he is led to the spot where the Magic Faraway Tree is located. He experiences much the same as the children did when they first climbed up and he gets the same treatment as Bessie from the first book did when she peeped in at one of the windows set in the tree-trunk. It belongs to the house of the Angry Pixie and his method of evening the odds when passers-by look in on him is to empty a kettle of water over the nosy-parkers. Jo and Co. are old hands so they are all right but Dick becomes rather soaked! Further up they meet the little elf known as Silky and Dick thinks she is the loveliest creature he has ever seen. She joins them and they climb up to call on Moon-Face. Due to his lack of knowledge regarding the Faraway Tree, Dick has some more wetness added to his clothing because there happens to be a washer-woman further up who uses a considerable amount of water in her trade although the book doesn’t tell us how it is piped up to her place of residence. Dame Washalot is her name and she gets rid of the spent water by simply emptying it down the tree so Dick learns another valuable lesson. Shortly he is introduced to Moon-Face who tends to be looked upon as the leader. He has a slide in the floor of his little home and it goes right down to the bottom of the tree and it is just one of the attractions which supply the children with so many good times. The tree also grows different types of fruit on its branches so there is plenty of sustenance for the tired climber who needs to keep on going up and up and up to reach the current land at the top.

Now the scene is set for the children to do what the Faraway Tree books are all about — visiting one land after another and experiencing adventures. A ladder at the top of the tree leads to a hole in the cloud where each land rests so they just climb it and Hey Presto! Jo has a rather trying time in one place they visit because it's the Land of Topsy-Turvy and when he is rather aggressive with a policeman he's immediately turned upside down and has to walk on his hands. Despite their connections with the Fairy-world his Faraway Tree friends can't take the spell off so poor Jo has to stay topsy-turvy and as this would make it a little difficult to get down the tree again he stays the night at Moon-Face's and they all hope that the next land which comes along might have some remedy for his plight. Jo, Bessie and Fanny's mother is very understanding of the children's relationship with their friends in the wood and is quite happy to let Jo stay the night with Moon-Face although she expects him back the next day because he has his share of the chores — as they all do. Jo is helped with his problem when the Land of Spells hovers over the tree but another situation arises and this time it's because of the Saucepan Man's carelessness. Dick and the girls go up the tree again to join Jo, Moon-Face, Saucepan and Silky and then things go from bad to worse. When a land is due to leave its position over the tree and head for faraway places a cold wind begins to blow. That's the signal for you to clear out otherwise you'll be wafted away to goodness knows where! The children and their friends make an error of judgment and it looks as if they will not be able to reach the Faraway Tree in time because they have stumbled into the territory of some very nasty people — one is an enchanter ... and now they are all in a terrible fix and Enid Blyton will tell us how they manage to get out of it in one piece.

Such exciting adventures are experienced that the children deliberately stay away from the tree every now and again just to get over them but eventually they're off again for more thrills. One foray is reminiscent of an adventure that Molly, Peter and Chinky experienced (Wishing Chair tales) when they visited The Land of Dreams. Yes, the magical lands are enticing and varied and here's a few more to whet the appetite — the Land of Do-What-You-Please, the Land of Goodies and the Land of Tempers. Many dangerous, fascinating and even hilarious situations occur as we accompany the children on their adventures and sometimes a visit to the tree will become so involved that it may take up two or more chapters during which the characters stray into deeper and darker circumstances.

Near the end of the book Silky, Moon-Face and Saucepan are nowhere to be found and the children are informed of this by another inhabitant of the Faraway Tree — Mr Watzisname who visits them and even stays the night at their home. There follows a big hunt and to make matters worse there is an invasion of the Tree by people from a rather horrible land which is visiting. Help is sought and amongst those whose expertise is called upon is a flock of birds! As touched upon, quite a few of the funny situations in the Faraway Tree stories are caused by Saucepan's minimal hearing ability and, added to other peculiar happenings, there is an endless supply of material to stimulate the reader's interest. Here are a few instances that feature in this particular book: Saucepan's nose grows as long as Pinocchio's. Dick becomes as tall as a giant. A woodpecker acts as postman — which shows that the Faraway Tree people are well organized even down to mail delivery. The children's mother has an invasion of sheep in her nice clean kitchen (Saucepan again)! Dame Washalot of whom we don't hear about all that much, loses her temper in one chapter and displays quite alarming strength by throwing the children, Moon-Face and the Saucepan Man up into one of the strange lands. There is also a visit to The Old Woman who Lives in a Shoe and you can imagine how uncomfortable that could turn out to be, and — "Is it a bird? Is it a 'plane? Is it a wishing chair? No! It's a table soaring skyward with the children squeezed on it followed by a bench bearing Moon-Face, Silky and Saucepan and if you don't believe a situation like this could take place just take a look at the Dorothy Wheeler picture. Wheeler was the faithful soul who originally illustrated these books and she is a very well regarded Enid Blyton artist.
It's a strange and mysterious environment the children have at their doorstep and it supplies two things — adventures for Jo, Bessie, Fanny and friends, and excellent entertainment for those children and adults who are keen on the books that Enid Blyton produced via her little typewriter many years ago. Are you getting value for money? I think — "Yes" because there are twenty-six chapters in this book so you'll be set for a good few hours of entertainment once you get hold of a copy. Produced originally in 1943, this title is a popular one and was described very aptly by a fan as "One of Enid Blyton's most enchanting tales." These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.