Advent Calendar

The First Christmas by Enid Blyton

 

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Paul Henning photographs a Nativity scene made by Hellmuth Weissenborn

I’ve never read Enid Blyton, apart from skimming a couple of her more racist books for this piece. As a child my Mum wouldn’t allow them in the house, which never seemed like a huge loss. So here I am, my first proper Enid Blyton book in front of me and it’s a Christmas one!

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From the first page I can see why Blyton is so popular with children. She writes like one. It’s as if she’s still at school being asked to tell the story of the Nativity. I can see her there, tongue poking out the side of her mouth as she dutifully fills out page after page with her uninspired storytelling.

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The arrival of Jesus at least provokes some lively reaction. Mary is entranced and marvels over His nails, His silky skin and His downy yellow air. There are capital H’s all over this book. Even wicked King Herod can’t help but use them, and he wants Him dead.

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‘I will tell them to come back to me when they have found the baby to tell me where He is, so that I too may go and worship Him – but I shall kill Him!’ 

The wise men arrive, casting their noble glow on the lowly peasants. ‘The sun was sinking. It flashed on the jewels the wise men wore; it glinted on their jingling harness… it was plain that they were great and powerful men.’

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And at the end they all run away from the wicked king and go to Egypt with the pyramids where they live happily ever after.

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I will give Miss Blyton a C for diligent effort, and an A for her use of Paul Henning’s colour saturated photographs showing a wonderfully strange Nativity scene made for the book by the emigre artist Hellmuth Weissenborn.

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