The Enid Blyton Society
Up the Faraway Tree
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Book Details...

First edition: 1951
Publisher: George Newnes
Illustrator: Dorothy M. Wheeler
Category: One-off Picture Story Books
Genre: Fantasy
Type: Picture Story Books

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Reprint Covers
Review by Terry Gustafson


Dustwrapper of 1st edition, illustrated by Dorothy M. Wheeler
Brief Summary by Robert Houghton: Two children, Robin and Joy read a book of exciting stories about Jo, Bessie and Fanny and the wonderful Faraway Tree and determine to go and visit the children from the book and share in their adventures. So off they go and have fun climbing the tree, meeting the people who live there, and visiting magical lands like the Land of Roundabouts and Swings, the Land of Magic, and the Land of Castles as well as having a party in the Land of Cakes!

Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Terry Gustafson's Review
"Once there were two children called Robin and Joy." This is how the fourth of the Faraway Tree series begins in Sunny Stories of July 23rd, 1948. It was in picture-strip form and there were four panels per issue. Due to the popularity of the previous Faraway Tree tales it was fairly obvious that Up the Faraway Tree might also be welcomed as a dedicated book and this took place in 1951. Because of the format the book might not be classed on par with the first three Faraway Tree volumes but that's purely a matter of how you see it. Robin and Joy initially distance the theme by a factor of one and viewed as a whole it might even be considered as a story within a story. The bonus is that the reader is inundated with a host of the lovely Dorothy Wheeler pictures and who could complain about that?
Robin and Joy are reading a book called "The Faraway Tree" and when finished they proceed to do something that we can't - they go and look for Jo, Bessie and Fanny who are the children in the actual story they've just been reading. This appears to be no problem at all because all that's needed is to find the address of the rose and honeysuckle-clad cottage where Jo and his two sisters reside and then pay a visit. Easy Peasie! Jo, Bessie and Fanny are not surprised at all by the unexpected guests and they take them at once to the Enchanted Wood where the mysterious Faraway Tree is situated. For anyone who still doesn't know what this is I can tell you that it's an enormous tree which houses many little people of fairy-extraction inside its wide trunk and it reaches a terribly long way up into the sky. In fact special clouds with strange lands on them often arrive to sit at the very top and it's possible to visit them. They all begin climbing the tree and a little way up Robin and Joy, being outsiders and unfamiliar with Faraway Tree protocol, have a jug of milk thrown over them by a rather bad-tempered pixie whose house they need to pass. What a shock for them but Jo manages to dry them off a little with his handkerchief although he might need to take it out again methinks because a little further up poor Robin gets soaked with some dirty washing water that someone rather carelessly tips down from somewhere up in the canopy. The children come across all the familiar characters which most of us know from previous stories and these include brownies, pixies, fairies, and witches with a fair sprinkling of rabbits and squirrels. Squirrels are climbers whereas rabbits are burrowers but the latter have no problem with the scaling of the tree because there's plenty of magic about to allow this slight deviation from the norm.

Despite their one or two unpleasant experiences, Robin and Joy have a wonderful day. They're introduced to three legendary characters who have made their presence felt via hundreds of thousands of copies of the books over the past 60+ years. Enter Moon-Face, Silky, and Saucepan. Moon-Face is a very friendly and beaming little man with a big head — in fact one could say that it's "moon-like." Silky is an attractive and petite elf, and Saucepan is a little man who would stand out in a crowd because he is a purveyor of pots and kettles and other useful containers which he wears on his body. "Saucepan" doesn't really seem to be a proper name to call him because it would be like addressing a seller of fountain-pens as "Fountain-Pen!" but no one calls the Saucepan Man by any other name so we get used to it. There's another Enid Blyton Sunny Stories character called "Skip" who also sells saucepans and kettles which he hangs around his body but he's a rather naughty little pixie who lives in Fairyland (Chuff the Chimney Sweep & other Stories). I doubt that he's the same character although, as the story featuring Skip came out several years before the first Faraway Tree tales came to light, maybe this seller of saucepans was the mould from which the Faraway Tree "Saucepan" was created. Saucepan gets to meet Robin and Joy when Robin, on his way up through the branches, gets offside with another little man who's snoring away in a deck-chair. This lazybones is known as Mister Watzisname and as he usually sleeps with his mouth open, Robin is tempted and drops a plum in it! Mister Watzisname (he's called that because he's forgotten his real name) almost chokes when he swallows the plum whole and he jumps up in fright. His chair falls down the tree on top of the Saucepan Man who threatens to come up and hit out at the culprit however when he climbs up and is introduced to Robin and Joy he's all friendliness. Robin and his sister are then taken further up the tree to Moon-Face's little house where they find out what "Toffee Shocks" are and also discover a hole in the floor called the "Slippery Slip" which is a fast way of getting to the ground if you don't wish to climb all the way down the tree again. The resolve by all is to make another visit when a pleasant land appears at the top of the tree — they don't particularly wish to visit the current one which is the Land of Smacks because that doesn't sound too inviting.

Comes the time a week or so later when Robin and his sister find what it's like to enter one of the fairy-tale lands. The children are off and Up the Faraway Tree again and as Moon-Face and Silky aren't to be found anywhere they climb to the top by themselves where Robin and Joy are shown a ladder which leads through a hole in the strange cloud that is hovering just above them. One by one they climb the rungs and there they are — in the Land of Castles. Many of the Enid Blyton books would not survive if they were bereft of a reasonable amount of danger and associated evil characters and sure enough the children get their share. In short, they are trapped by an enchanter and a witch but fortunately their calls for help are heard and relayed by a passing pixie to Moon-Face who is back in his little Faraway Tree home. He swings into action and devises a way to free the children from a castle in which they are imprisoned and they are warned not to go up to the magic lands by themselves again. This is fairly wise advice because when mortals visit enchanted settings there is considerable opportunity for disaster to occur just as there is when they descend into the ocean or ascend to the alien surroundings of the thermosphere.

Another expedition to the Faraway Tree takes place and this time they're off with Moon-Face to the Land of Roundabouts and Swings. Now this is not to be confused with the "Roundabout Land" which was discovered in earlier days because the Land of Roundabouts and Swings is a very exciting place to visit but pandemonium reigns as the children and Moon-Face partake of a roundabout-ride. They also have a go on the swings and this reinforces a very important point which needs to be filed away in one's mind for future reference ... in Fairyland, everyday items which you take for granted must be approached with an informed state of mind. Even Moon-Face is affected by this lack of awareness and a frightening time is had by all.

There are some truly wonderful lands which pass over the Faraway Tree and the Land of Wishes is one. What better place to visit when your birthday arrives and it does for Joy who has the time of her life and she even finds out what it's like to fly in the air as a beautiful fairy. Unexpectedly a potentially disastrous situation occurs but it's very fortunately averted by magic so their visit to the Land of Wishes is an experience to be looked back upon with much fondness.

Saucepan joins up with them again in their next foray and as he's very prone to accidents there is a need to visit the Land of Magic to put right something that has happened to him. Poor old Saucepan Man — things go from bad to worse and the picture-panels with the couple of lines of script under them show us exactly what happens to the unfortunate individual. The picture-story moves on with visits to more lands and at one stage Moon-Face's little house is invaded by some horrible people from the Land of Quarrels. The next place to arrive above the Faraway Tree is Toyland which brings plenty of excitement and a little problem involving a couple of straying dolls. Eventually the book ends with a perfectly marvelous land where everyone indulges. Indulges in what? You will find out when you get hold of this fourth and last book in the Faraway Tree collection although there is further Faraway Tree adventure which isn't classed as a separate book not that it couldn't be in this day and age because even single Enid Blyton stories are appearing as mini-novels for young readers.
One can't really end the reviews of the Faraway Tree books without revealing as to whether or not Mister Watzisname's forgotten family moniker was ever re-discovered. In a past issue of The Enid Blyton Society Journal from which all followers of Enid Blyton could benefit by taking out a subscription, there is an article about some of the weird names that Enid Blyton bestowed on various characters in her books and I think Mister Watzisname's real one can take first prize as the "Awfullest" of the lot. He came by it from a most eligible source when Jo, Bessie, Fanny and most of their Faraway Tree friends visited "The Land of Secrets" (The Folk of the Faraway Tree) and you will need good pronunciation capabilities to get around "Kollamoolitoomarellipawkyrollo" because, believe it or not, that's Mister Kollamoolitoomarellipawkyrollo's real name! Heaven help us!
I think this volume could have risen to astronomical heights as far as collecting goes if it had been in colour. Unfortunately this would have meant more expense, especially in the era when it was first produced, so it's up to the little boys and girls who possess a copy to do what has already been done many times before and that's to brighten the panels themselves with crayons, felt-tips or other colouring-in items that can be found in the nursery.