Lucy Mangan considers some of the books and authors that have meant the most to her, including Enid Blyton:
I am listing Blyton instead of a single book because the fact is, she wrote the same one eight billion times a year: it is both pointless and practically impossible to elevate one above another. Wherever you start, you will soon have the measure of proto-lesbian George, dickless Dick, Anne the idiot, Julian the interwar home counties' answer to Jack Bauer, and Timmy the dog. They neither change, evolve nor behave in any way approximating that of real people, probably because their inventor was possessed of only two adjectives - "Queer!" and "Rather queer!" - which weren't as interesting then as they are now.
But it doesn't matter. Just as the plottiness of Dan Brown or Jeffrey Archer is sometimes all you're up for in adult life, so Blyton's linear, literal narratives are all kids require at some point or other. If you're a natural reader, you may realise after the capture of the 97th group of smugglers in a not-particularly-well-hidden cove that you are ready for a spot of characterisation or some oblique light commentary on the human condition. If you're not, you probably won't. But you will have learned something about telling a good story - and how to make a bed out of bracken.