Another unforgettable character (among the ever so many) of my sweet childhood and school days is Enid Blyton - the juvenile storyteller, who created some of the eternally popular children's series - The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Adventures at Malory Towers, Noddy etc. I'm most certain even the worst book haters (dim-witted people who hate reading this posts like this ;)...) would have read atleast one book among the several series created by her.
I am indebted to Enid Blyton in a special way. I wouldn't have developed a penchant for reading at a young age if not for her "mystery" (mysterious indeed ... for kids..)novels. I was fond of the Famous Five series in particular. This consisted of the boyish and bold Georgina aka George, the girlish Anne, Julian Dick, and George's lovely dog Timothy (aka Timmy). The five together solve mysteries which range from treasure islands to bank thefts..I sort of liked George in particular ...and its not difficult to guess why...I wonder if any of her books have been motionized..Wouldn't be a bad idea...they've got enough masala for even the Indian movies...
Malory Towers was a boarding school for girls, and it was a hostel life brought to you in writing..the girls and the pranks they are capable of, their girlish skirmishes, their tearful reunions and of course their atrocious study hours. The Fatty series, starring a fat guy called Fatty (Frederick something..) was also my favourite. I was so obsessed with Enid Blyton's works that my library report card of the seventh and eighth standards carried this "...Likes to read Enid Blyton's works in particular..". And I was so proud of that card.. I am preserving it for my grandchildren to read ..You never know what they may get to read at that age!!!Let them read my report card atleast :)
And how can one forget 'Tinkle'? the fornightly comics from the house of 'Amar Chithra Katha'? It carried stories with illustrations and went straight into your grey cells. Remember, a picture speaks more than a thousand words....and in Tinkle, the pictures speak as well..literally..Tinkle had some regular characters like Suppandi..the good-hearted innocent but foolish servant, Shikari Shambu - the extremely lucky but totally incompetant shikari, Kalia - the clever crow who manages to always outwit the enemies, the tactfult and deceitful minister - Tantri, the Mantri who keeps plotting (and failing) to kill the king - Hooja, the Raja, Anwar - the Indian adaption of Dennis the menace, etc.
Tinkle had some exceptionally good folklore from different lands - Japanese, African, Chinese and of course very very Indian...Tinkle Digest was a richer collection of stories and was released once in a while. I read and re-read the stories until I memorized every page and discussed it with my neighbour. It was a shame if we couldn't recollect a story unless it was too boring. Like a true religious kid, I was fond of the Indian mythological stories beautifully illustrated from the same house of Amar Chitra Katha - Tenali Raman, Ramayana, etc
Champak and Chandamama were two of my other favourite comics of those days. Sometimes I pestered my cousins and grandparents to animatedly storytell those stories (since they didnt have the rich illustrations, and yet I wanted to get the better of those stories).
I then slowly (very slowly) graduated to Agatha Christie from Enid Blyton, post-graduated to Sidney Sheldon , Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham from Christie. Hercule Poirot -the little Belgian detective with his little ideas was my hero...Nowadays I read fiction only if I have to travel( and when I don't have a good-looking co-traveller) and I pick only the bestsellers, unwilling to experiement. If I want to read, I prefer non-fiction and the more serious ones these days...Well, as you know, this is typically what I would call growth.
Am not sure if today's children read Tinkle or Enid Blyton with the same fervour as I or my neighbours used to. Harry Potter is the ubiquitous favourite these days. No, am not fretting, am just wondering as we advance into the information age, children have time for a real physical book at all, and if they do find some time, what would their tastes be???
Do share your favourite comics and books in your comments section...