On pondering while being bookishly crafty

It’s come to my last week at Adelaide Fringe for this season, so I thought I better talk about something that occurred to me while working there a few weeks back while doing one of the hundreds of odd jobs I do as part of my job. I lent a helping hand to the design team a while ago, and as I have mentioned before, one of the key concepts the Fringe Designer used this year was that of creating things out of book pages. She needed to create a new skirt out of book pages, so I obliged by pasting pages from a couple of Enid Blyton books onto cardboard, ready to be cut into strips and transformed into a skirt.

I pulled the book apart, stripped each page from the binding, and then started working out how to position the pages in a pretty fashion on the cardboard. I was initially thinking that I would try and alternate the pages so there would be a page with an illustration, and then a page of just text. However, as I started laying out pages, I began to realise – there are hardly any pages in the three Enid Blyton books that did not have illustrations! Have a look (you can see one of the skirts in the background of the first image):

'Mr Meddle's Mischief'

‘Well Really, Mr Twiddle’

'Mr Meddle's Mischief'

‘Well Really, Mr Twiddle’

One of the Secret Seven books

One of the Secret Seven books

Remembering reading many an Enid Blyton title as a child, I don’t recall there being that many illustrations. I knew there were a few, but not every page! This sort of made me re-evaluate what age Enid Blyton stories are for. I loved Enid Blyton right up until eleven or twelve, and would have reread stories by her up until this age (as well as more challenging books). However, books with illustrations on every second page, or more, says ‘beginner reader’ to me. Does this mean that I shouldn’t have been reading Enid Blyton at twelve years old? Should Enid Blyton only be for readers of six or seven years old?

I think not. I’m not ashamed to admit that even now, at twenty-two, I will occasionally reread an Enid Blyton favourite on a rainy day. I think Enid Blyton has an appeal for children (and grown ups) of all ages, and maybe this is why it has so many illustrations. The illustrations mean it is readable and approachable for six year olds, but the delightful characters and whimsical British writing means it can still be read by a twenty-two year old an entertain her.

Here’s another way that our designer upcycled some of the books we rescued at that same event – books used as centrepieces, and note the book covers used to cover the bars in the background:

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