• Paperback Snob

Even better than the real thing: Jacqueline Wilson reimagines The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

The talents of two legendary authors have been combined to make an beloved classic even more wonderful!

I read and reread Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree books over and over again as a child. These stories were an integral part of my youth. I tried rereading them again a couple of years ago to my own children and while we all found them entertaining, the same love just wasn't there for me. It was impossible to ignore the sexism and, though the ideas were engaging, the writing seemed dull and old-fashioned. Some of the lands and their occupants were a little creepy too.

I firmly believe Jacqueline Wilson's reimagining of these stories is far better than the originals and I was honestly blown away by just how good this is. It takes an enormously skilled writer to make a classic their own but Wilson has succeeded. As you're reading, you can tell that Wilson is enormously fond of the original stories and their protagonists and an author's note at the back confirms this.

I love how Wilson writes and I love the new characters. It's amazing how effortlessly the Enchanted Forest and its folk fit into the modern world under Wilson's guidance.

The lands at the top of the tree are much more appealing and far less sinister. There is more comedy from the folk of the tree and their interactions than ever before. I love how Wilson has given Dame Washalot a first name (and a friend with an equally amusing title).

It's brilliant how Wilson actively addresses the sexism of the original books and squashes the gender stereotypes. The female characters have much more agency and are at the centre of the action. I love how good Wilson is at capturing the child's view of the world and understanding how young people might be feeling. The characterisation is much stronger in this new version and the protagonists feel far more developed. All the tasty culinary treats of the past have returned with even more delectable items on the menu. Mark Beech's illustrations are absolutely perfect: whimsical and full of life.

I am absolutely thrilled that this sensational new and improved version exists so that my own children (and future generations) can continue to explore the Enchanted Forest and fall in love with the Faraway Tree. Massive congratulations to everyone involved - this is an absolute triumph.

The Magic Faraway Tree was published by Hodder/Hachette on 26th May 2022 - see this book on the publisher's website

Thanks so much to Hodder/Hachette and NetGalley for my digital review copy. All opinions expressed are my own and I liked it so much, I bought my own copy. You can take a closer look and see inside the hardback on my Instagram page.