“When Dick and Fannie became Rick and Frannie” – Guest Post!

Hi Readers! I’d never yeard of Enid Blyton, but I’m sure a lot of you have. So enjoy this essay by Kate Browne, a journalist based in Sydney, Australia. Kate is the mother of two little girls and hopes to cure them of their Disney Princess obsessions one day. She can also be found blogging, occasionally, at tigersandteapots.blogspot.com! – L

When Dick & Fannie Became Rick & Frannie, by Kate Browne

When I was a kid one of my favourite writers was Enid Blyton, the much loved British children’s author. Her books featured terribly English children having terribly marvelous adventures in the 1940s and ’50s and have sold over 600 million copies worldwide.

As a youngster in Australia I devoured her books, and the ones I loved best were The Faraway Tree series, where three young children (Fannie, Bessie and Jo) move to the country and discover an enchanted wood, including a magical tree. The kids, and sometimes their cousin Dick, regularly headed off to the woods for adventures.

If that wasn’t cool enough, at the top of the tree magical lands came to visit. Some were nice, such as the Land of Take What You Want, and the Land of Treats, while others struck a delicious fear into my 5-year-old heart, particularly the land of fearsome Dame Slap, who wasn’t averse to doling out corporal punishment to anyone naughty.

Another thing I loved about these books was the almost entire absence of adults. While the children’s mother popped up occasionally to demand that they do some household chores, they were often then rewarded entire days in the deep, dark woods, unsupervised.

Now I’m a grown up with a 5-year-old daughter.  Keen to share the Enid Blyton love, I took her to the local bookstore to buy a new copy of the Faraway Tree, as my childhood copy had fallen apart. At bedtime we opened the book, so excited, but from the first page I knew something was horribly wrong. In this new version Jo had become Joe, Bessie had become Beth, and worst of all Fanny was now Frannie and cousin Dick had been turned into some kid called Rick.

It seems that an overly politically correct publisher somewhere down the line had decided that the names Dick and Fannie (giggle, giggle) were far too rude for today’s small children. Outraged, I head to the internet for more info.

Thanks to Wikipedia, the picture becomes clearer. Sometime in the ‘90s the names were changed by the publisher because of their “unfortunate connotations.” For good measure Jo became Joe because that’s a more common spelling these days, and Bessie became Beth because it’s more contemporary. What’s even worse is when I read that the fearsome Dame Slap is now the totally lame Dame Snap who instead of smacking children, she just shouts at them.

I take the book and chuck it in the recycling. While I can manage to change the names back to the original ones as I read to my daughter, I don’t think I’m up for revising an entire chapter of Dame Snap back into Dame Slap. And who knows what other overly PC touches I might find further into the book –- would the land of treats now be the “Land of ‘Sometimes Food,’” or even “The Land of Fruits and Vegetables”?

Of course, as I’m ranting and raving, my daughter wonders, “Mummy, what’s wrong being called Dick and Fannie? I think they sound nice.” And that’s why I realize I’m so mad. Apart from messing with a childhood classic thanks to an adult’s perspective on these names, suddenly it’s an “issue.” I’d never thought twice about the names when I was a kid, either. It’s only when I became an adult that they became funny and or rude. So now I have to have a conversation about dicks and fannies. Great.

And that’s just the problem. When we start projecting our adult perspectives onto the world that kids live in things can get more confused than if we’d just left them alone. And where do we draw the line? Should Jane Austen’s “Emma” become “Britney” to make it more “contemporary”? How about Tom, RICK and Harry?

And as for Dame Slap turning into Dame Snap, my daughter sums it up perfectly: “That’s dumb.” So now I’m off to search eBay for some old editions of Enid Blyton tales — Dicks and Fannies and all.

88 Responses to “When Dick and Fannie became Rick and Frannie” – Guest Post!

  1. mollie May 29, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    What’s in a word? It’s a great commentary on how arbitrary and cultural these connotations are; I had no idea the Brits used the word “fanny” to mean anything other than your backside; it was a revelation. I still can’t get my dirty mind around thinking of “fanny” on the front end. 😉

  2. Jennifer May 29, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    I adored the Enid Blyton books as a child–particularly the Famous Five, where the kids, ages 10-12 sail off by themselves to stay on an island overnight. After reading this post I’m very glad I saved my childhood books for my kids to read.

  3. pinkhairedloli May 29, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Runaway Bunny: “I will turn into the wind and blow you where I want you to go.”
    Fun on the Farm: “and share a special bedtime hug.”

    They’re great children’s books, but the 14-year-old corner of my brain still snickers at those passages. It’s not something to get all censory over.

  4. Juniper May 29, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    I had this same experience when my daughter was given a new copy of The Faraway Tree. To say I was *appalled* was an understatement! These books were such a huge part of my childhood. I was so so upset.

    I too threw the book away immediately and then got out my entire Enid Blyton collection from a box under the house, and despite my original copy of The Faraway Tree being very dog eared and tattered around the edges, we read the original and continued on to many others.

    How sad and ridiculous that the publishers felt the need to change classic literature. Ridiculous! Sad!

  5. Nanci May 29, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    This totally reminds me of the episode of Futurama when Fry says something about the planet Uranus and is quickly told that the name had been changed because there had been too many jokes made about it. He asked what it’s called now and is told that it’s new name is Urrectum :)

  6. Ben May 29, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    I found a book of Enid Blyton short stories for my daughter that she loved. Changing a book because of names is ridiculous. It is interesting with older books some of the things that were commonplace that make us at least think of self-editing – smoking for instance. Does anyone remember in the original Curious George that he and the man in the yellow hat enjoy a pipe after dinner.
    Highly recommend Elizabeth Enright as an American author from the 30s and 40s who writes about independent and creative children.

  7. stace8383 May 29, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    I have always hated this idea of censorship imposed after the fact. Not only is it unnecessary – as you’ve pointed out, the kids don’t get why it could be rude – but it also stinks of re-writing history. It’s a denial of how things were, norms and values that were acceptable once upon a time.
    Even if something is offensive now – like derogatory references to black people or something – if we remove it, we pretend that the world has always been equal and friendly, and if that’s the case then we’re denying how far we’ve come and the changes we’ve made to the world!

  8. Susan Rogan May 29, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Couldn’t agree more about political correctness gone mad. I have shared the link on my Facebook page for our families to read.

  9. are we there yet? May 29, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    I’m sympathetic to this but I’m also sensitive to the idea of these names becoming a distraction. Try reading the Swallows and Amazons series aloud with one of the main characters named Titty… As a shortened variant of Elizabeth, it could be changed to Betty or Lizzie or Liza or Beth or anything. I don’t know that I would equate changing Dick and Fanny to Rick and Frannie as taking the N word out of Huckleberry Finn: one is just ornament while the other other is integral to the story.

    So, mark me down as OK with changing names if it doesn’t tamper with the story. Sorry if it doesn’t jibe with your memory but think of it as an updated translation or something.

  10. Gail May 29, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Makes me wonder what has become of The Boxcar Children series. I read the whole series aloud to my daughter when she was little (not that long ago). We both loved those stories.

  11. Metanoia (@metanoia_chan) May 29, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    I’m thankful my mums childhood books (which I had when I was little, and will go to mine) are still in great condition, and that when mum heard about the changes in the 90s she went out and bought the entire set of Noddy, complete with gollywogs, and filled out the famous five and secret sevens that she was missing. I loved the books as a kid too and they developed my love of reading with many a night spent with a torch under the covers past lights off time.

  12. oncefallendotcom May 29, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    We are quite the contrary culture.

    Disney’s been in trouble over the years. Like how the minarets in the background of Aladdin’s cover was said to be phallic symbols. Or how the smoke that mandrill in the Lion King forms the word “sex” for a brief moment. or what about those alleged homosexual Tele-Tubbies (they might be right, the Tele-Tubbies wear their genitals on top of their heads)?

    But with all this crazy censorship, soon we won’t be able to name anyone Peter. Or Willy. Or Russell (the love muscle). And forget about all those Asian names like Wang, Dong, and the like.

    Maybe someday we will convince the Oregon State University Beavers and the South Carolina GameCocks will be forced to change their names. They have never played each other for a reason; you can only imagine the newspaper headlines should they ever play. Maybe even the USC Trojans too, since Trojans remind people of condoms.

    We could censor pretty much all luncheon meats because at some point, we have used lunch meat types to refer to genitalia– salami, bologna, pepperoni, etc. That also goes for Beenie Weenies. Or anything that comes in a cylinder shape.

    Lets not stop with the male genitalia. We’ll have to censor things that make reference to women genitalia, like tacos. Or censoring anything that involves one object being inserted in another object, like keys in a keyhole.

    And yet, somehow we’re not censoring those condescending talking heads at the Howling Ladies Network? That’s crap.

    In regards to the dame slap, we have the Pimp Slap and the Bitch Slap here in the states. If you don’t know what that is, you need to familiarize yourself with rap music, because your kids listen to that. And it is far worse than giggles over Dick and Fannie.

  13. Jenna May 29, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Glad that my parents still have old versions of those books in their possession. Sounds like yet another treasure I will be stealing away with when I visit them next time.

  14. Kim May 29, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    One more reason why, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I spent hours scouring the internet for a book called “The REAL Mother Goose” and digging out some of my mother’s old Little Golden Books, and why I bought a box set of Beatrix Potter books. (Tom Kitten’s mother smacks him and his sisters when they lose their clothes and get dirty before her tea party, and Peter Rabbit and his sisters have a single mom because their father was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor. No sheltering the kiddies in those stories…my daughter LOVES them, and shows no signs of emotional trauma from hearing them.) And more than that, her favorite real-life bedtime stories focus on my grandmother’s experiences of breaking her leg while sliding on a haystack in her parents’ barn, and having to deal with a vicious rooster that used to chase her around the yard trying to peck out her eyes. (He becomes Sunday dinner at the end, in case anyone wants to know.)

    I knew I wouldn’t stomach reading her the PC versions of stories that I loved as a kid, which seems to be all they’re selling today. What’s next…altering the classics so that David Copperfield has a healthy, loving relationship with his stepfather, Beth March recovers from her bout with scarlet fever, and Romeo and Juliet live happily ever after?

  15. Yan Seiner May 29, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    I see this even in trivia…. Miyazaki (of Studio Ghibli fame) created a whole series of wonderful anime films featuring strong girl characters – because there were no films with strong girls, and he wanted good role models for his daughter. So he made them. Tonari no totoro (My neighbor Totoro) is probably the most famous but some of the others are far more powerful. Sen to Chihiro (no idea what it’s called in English) is probably the most powerful. Kaze no Tani Nausica (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind) is a great post apocalyptic view of the world, seen from the eyes of a young girl. Majo no Takyubin (Kiki’s Delivery Service) is just a cute coming of age story about a 13 year old girl gaining independence.

    All of the lead characters are young teen girls, all are strong and overcome their fears, and all conquer through love and understanding and wisdom.

    Anyway, we have the Japanese originals and watch them in Japanese wtih the Disney-fied subtitles. At one point Kiki (a 13 year old girl) is asked if she wants coffee (on the Japanese soundtrack). The disney-fied sub-titled ask if she wants “hot chocolate”.

    We’ve come to the point that we must water down even beverages, since “coffee” must obviously be evil. I could see if she was offered a shot of whiskey, but coffee?

  16. CrazyCatLady May 29, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    Yan Seiner, my daughter says that Sen to Chihiro is “Spirited Away.” I have to agree with you, we all love the characters in the Miyazaki movies. “My Neighbor Totoro” is a particular favorite, in the Fox version, as is his take on “Howl’s Moving Castle.” My daughter (12) wants to make a Nausica glider (and I think she will, at least a scale model, as that is more what we can afford.

    I think that Box Car Children, and Bobbsie Twins, Nancy Drew, and probably Hardy Boys, have all come out with “new up to date” versions. My kids have no interest in them. They are not exciting like they ones from the past were. Nancy Drew could get out of any fix now just by calling on her cell phone, which, when she doesn’t makes the stories not so believable set in today’s society. Not, by using her brains the way that the stories written in the 50’s onward had her doing.

  17. Christopher Byrne May 29, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    The thing about these books, which I also enjoyed as a kid, along with books now forgotten like ” No Boats on Bannermere,” “Half Magic,” and any number of kids’ novels from the period is that they helped children to understand actions and consequences in a fictional context and have experience vicariously that might be dangerous in the real world. In these stories, things went wrong when established structures of the world got out of order, whether it was through magic or mishap. Reading these novels was more than entertainment, it opened the door to ethical and moral questions about how one behaves in a culture and allowed kids to project themselves into the conflicts and resolutions of the characters. Literature opens the door to philosophy and greater human understanding. Just read Dickens of Shakespeare. But we’ve lost that to a certain extent, certainly in popular fiction and decidedly in many of the books that are positioned to young people. But it’s the adults that are diluting this stuff, with the misguided notion that kids can’t handle anything dark, or dangerous–even in fictions.

    Still, the tale of a boy who was as horribly abused as any Dickensian waif, who wrestled with self-doubt and issues of right and wrong as well as violence, injustice and death resonated with contemporary kids. Our kids are not blind to the world, and they want to understand it and overcome the challenges they will all inevitably face. That’s why Harry Potter has been so beloved. Give kids stuff that’s real to them, even in fantastical stories, and they will respond because they know it’s true, and in my experience, truth always works with kids.

  18. Sarah May 29, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Since Enid Blyton has passed away, it does not seem fair to tamper with her work. I would hate to think that if I’m ever fortunate enough to be published someday, someone would “update” my work after my death. It doesn’t seem respectful to the writer. Yes, times change, but can’t we just explain to our kids that these stories were written in a different time? Why not give our children the perspective of times past?

    My son is a Thomas the Tank Engine fan, and when he first took interest in the train series I searched for the corresponding books. The difference between the older ones and the newer ones is pretty striking. In the old stories, the engines get grumpy and snap at each other, and any misbehaving engine is punished, perhaps in ways that might seem harsh. (One engine is sealed into a tunnel with brick walls when he refuses to run in the rain. He is eventually let out.) The engines actually haul coal and things you would expect trains to transport.

    In the newer stories, they are all cheerful and happy all of the time. No one ever seems to get punished. Indeed, there isn’t much need since everyone is always so eager to please. The trains haul cargo like jelly, toys, and party supplies.

    I read both the newer and older stories to my son, and he enjoys them both. I don’t know why they felt the need to sanitize the characters, though. It’s just not realistic. No one is happy all of the time, and sometimes real work has to be done (gasp!). I think a balance of older and newer perspective is important in helping to show our kids that times change, but we can still learn something from the past.

  19. Yan Seiner May 29, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    @CrazyCatLady, my daughter really likes Miyazaki, my son, not so much. I think Miyazaki hit his audience dead-on.

    I agree with you on the Nancy Drew, etc – some of the books I loved seem horribly dated these days, and thus hold no interest for young teens.

    That’s where true fantasy comes in; take away the current society, put in real fantasy, and you have kids solving problems.

    My favorite for boys is “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card; it’s about an 11 year old literally saving the world. It’s pretty heavy scifi, and Card wrote it specifically for 11-12 year old boys. It’s full of fantasy games and kids who solve their own problems with the fate of the world in the balance.

  20. Kathy May 29, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Further to Sarah’s comment, in the Thomas the Tank Engine books, the Fat Conductor has been changed to Sir Topham Hat which drives me crazy. My children’s comment was, “That’s so stupid.”

  21. Merrick May 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    I bought a couple of modern versions of childhood classics…. realised that they weren’t up to snuff (in this case, just because I didn’t like the updated illustrations!) and started getting as many of my kids’ books as possible at thrift stores… they’re cheaper AND they’re the ‘right’ books.

  22. Jessica May 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Any books, or if you want to call some literature, is always a product of its time. Astrid Lindgren (Author of pippi Longstocking books) came under critique for using the phrase “negro-king” about Pippi’s father. In a new edition a few years back there was a discussion on whether to edit the word.

    Then enter the discussion of Tintin in the kongo where black people are portrayed by all the then “acknowledged”stereotypes. Another book, dated early 1930-s by Hugh Lofting, Dr Dolittle, and the book The Voyages of dr Dolittle, had similar references. yet again, that book was published in 1922.

  23. Claudia Conway May 29, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    I’ve never understand the need to protect children from double entendres or coded references to drugs or sex – either they already know what they mean, in which case it’s locking the stable door after the horse has bolted, or they don’t, in which case it doesn’t matter.

    I mean, as I child I heard so many songs with words like ‘I want to get down with you, baby, all night long’, and I just thought they were talking about dancing!

  24. Lisa May 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    The Prince cried, “Who’s this dirty slut?
    Off with her nut! Off with her nut!” Roald Dahl in Revolting Rhymes.

    I have read this to kids at school – just have to explain what it means in that particular context. Dick and Fanny – same deal have read the novel with these characters, I give the kids a moment to have a giggle and then tell them that they are actually names. Why do we have to tiptoe around these things? By the way are we going to rename The Lion, the Witch and the wardrobe to The Lion, the Witch and the Closet in fear that children will not know what a wardrobe is?

  25. Eliza May 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Can you imagine if we change the works of people like Shakespear, Jane Austin or Charles Dickens (I know there are more, but I dont want to bore you with all thier names). Adults will be in an uproar about messing with the classics. I remember studing The Merchant of Venice at school and we did discuss the issues and how society has changed.

    I dont beleive children have the same understanding as adults. That is why when watching a G or PG movie with my child I will laugh at some parts and my daughter would laugh at other parts. And I would like to say a big thank you to my mother who kept all my Enid Blyton books so I could read them to my daughter. I now have put them away and hopefully one day I can read them to my grand child.

  26. Eliza May 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Woops I meant children do not have the same understanding as adults.

  27. Myriam May 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Well I’ve learned something, I’ve been reading the later versions to my children for the past eight years or so and didn’t realise they had been sanitised. Honestly, the stories are great, but the prose is deathly dull, it really doesn’t need to be made any more boring.

    Entire absence of adults – I’ll say. It always makes me laugh when I read these books and others involving middle or upperclass children from that era – the mothers can’t WAIT to get rid of the children, and don’t forget the children have been off at boarding school all term. What usually happens is that as soon as they get off the train from school having been away from home for months they say: Hi Mummy, we did miss you. And she says Hi, how was school? Now why don’t you get out from under my feet and go out on a lovely picnic, don’t come back till tea time.

  28. Marion Ros May 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Myriam: That’s what I always loved about those Blyton and Blytonesque books. There is never a question that the children are well-loved by their parent(s), or that the children love their parent(s), but their love is not conditional to constant hovering, clinging, attention-seeking or even simply being in the same space.

    This is HEALTHY. You don’t have to see your spouse/partner/significant other 24/7 in order to love hir or have a loving relationship, do you? You and s/he have to work, go shop, do stuff.

    I used to work with a man whose wife called him every half hour. We thought it crazy, creepy and disturbing that this adult woman felt the need to constantly connect to her husband and ‘cling to his teat’, as one of us graphically (but accurately) described it. It turned out that she had psychological problems and the marriage didn’t last.
    We all thought that this was an unhealthy relationship, so why would anybody think that it’s a sign of neglect or a clear indication that the children are not loved ‘enough’ (love is measured?) when Mother and/or Father wants the troop of them out in the air and from under hir feet during the summer is beyond me…

    (I remember a piece from Enid Blyton’s wonderful ‘Five Find-Outers’ series where this is actually stated by one of the kids:

    “Listen,” said Pip, “Let’s go exploring a bit these hols. My father made a list of interesting spots we could go see. He said we shouldn’t just mess about doing nothing, he said…”
    “He said that – but what her really meant was that he didn’t want you under his feet all the time,” said Larry. “My father’s just like that too – I mean, he’s an absolute sport, and I’m very proud of him but I do notice that after about ten days of the hols he always gets this idea of us going off for the day – not just one day, but every day.”)

  29. linvo May 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    I got our first Faraway Tree books secondhand and read them to my then 5yo. Then I managed to buy a whole Enid Blyton set really cheaply, which included the newer version of the Faraway Tree books. And everytime I said Frannie or Rick, she would correct their names to Fannie and Dick. So I got fed up and threw the new versions out. There’s nothing particularly wrong with ‘updating’ books, but in this case I just didn’t see any need to change the names.

    And Dame Slap/Snap not smacking the kids… How does that improve or even modernise the story? Nah, we’ll keep reading the original version too.

    I’m currently reading Blyton’s The Island of Adventure to my now 7yo. It. was probably my favourite book when I was a kid. My daughter rolls her eyes and sighs when there’s mention of the old-fashioned role division between boys and girls, but loves it so far. And those kids definitely are free-range.

  30. ebohlman May 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    Eliza: 205 years ago an Englishman named Thomas Bowdler published “The Family Shakspeare” (that was an acceptable spelling back then) which, as you might guess, eliminated “unacceptable” references from Shakespeare’s work. The modern term “bowdlerize” comes from his name. I find it interesting that the use of “family” as a code word for prudery has such a long pedigree.

  31. Katrin Geisler May 29, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    @jessica: I’m from Germany and in german “Pippi” sounds exactly like the german word for pee. But she kept her name until today.

  32. Lianne May 29, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    I love Enid Blyton when I was a kid (mainly the various mystery series, like the ‘Secret’ books and the ‘Adventure’ books). My mother also remembers them fondly, but also remembers the cycles of them being banned because of various reasons. At first, because they encouraged defiance of adults (kids solving mysteries that adults couldn’t!?), and more recently because they are ‘sexist’ and ‘racist’ (they are a product of their times).

    The Wikipedia entry on Enid Blyton has a little section on the ‘Blyton Bans’ of the sixties and eighties. (and wow, she wasn’t a very nice person at times, looking at her personal history)

  33. Taradlion May 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    When he was 7, my jokster son announced he would be naming his children “Dick, Ralph, and John”…..

  34. Heather May 29, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    @Kathy In the original Thomas books, the Fat Controller was a director of the railway called Sir Topham Hatt. He was described as fat, and there’s a bit about how he wouldn’t help the passengers with some physical tasks because his doctor said not to. It’s later that you get the name Fat Controller, which is used by the engines. They still do (we got the boxset of the stories, in the end, but also read lots of the older versions, and have watched both the old and new TV series).

    I have three or four versions of the story about Thomas’ race with Bertie the bus, and the differences are fascinating. The originals were clearly aimed at older kids: the words are far too complex for a two year old, but loads of toddlers love Thomas.

    I don’t see it as a big problem, to be honest, as long as you can still get the old versions. My main trouble is that new stories have been written, which treat the trains as characters in the shape of a train, not as trains with character. No more problems caused by the realities of driving a steam train: now the problems come because Thomas won’t ask for help when he needs it.


  35. peterbruells May 29, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    @jessica The case of TinTin is a little different. Hergé did many – the most important – revisions himself as the time changed and he realized that his upbringing had prevented him from recognizing the casual racism in his works.

    @katrin they may have kept Pippi’s name, but they changed the content in Germany, top. No more “negro king” in the German editions, too. They also “fixed” Michael Ende’s work, by turning China into Mandala.

  36. Uly May 29, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    Booksellers are in the business of selling books. If changing the names means they can sell the books to kids because the parents aren’t worried the children will get needlessly giggly and blushing over them I really couldn’t care less. After all, if they were translated into another language and the names were really silly or offensive in that other language (or just had the wrong connotation, like if a kid had a very “plain” name that’s incredibly uncommon in the other language), nobody would bat an eye.

    Small changes like that don’t really change the story much. Dick, Rick – whatever! You could call him Puddlejumper Entrump if you like, so long as it’s the same story.

    Making more major changes, like changing entire plot points, is a different kettle of fish… but I’m thinking it doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with a minor name change.

  37. Spazztastic May 29, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    I had a similar feeling when I read the ‘Fudge’ books, by Judy Blume. Knowing they had been written before such things as MP3 players, I was surprised to see the words in the new editions of the books. The story, however, had not changed. Knowing her as a strong advocate against censorship, I emailed Ms. Blume about the edits, and her reply was “In order for them to make sense to young readers I decided to make the electronics more consistent. This is very different from censorship. It isn’t something that was imposed on me.” They’re novels, and the historical time of the story is less necessary than the age range of the characters. Because what fourth-grader will know what a ‘transistor radio’ is, or a record player? The story won’t relate to them.

  38. The Rodent May 29, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    Thanks for this article. I had the same reaction when I saw the censored/revamped Dr Dolittle books: into the recycling bin. It’s shameful treatment of these authors.

  39. Jennifer May 30, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    @Spazztastic I have a fourth grader, and she knows what a record player and a transistor radio are because she’s read many books that haven’t been updated (including the Fudge books, which she loves). Children are perfectly capable of learning about the way people lived 20 or 40 or 100 years ago. They learn that while technology changes, people and the things they think and feel are much the same in every era. I think this is an important lesson, and I don’t want to insult my daughter’s intelligence by assuming she won’t be able to relate to someone or something that isn’t completely contemporary.

    I understand what you’re saying about censorship, and I’m not against absolutely all updating of books. But I think we do far too much updating or changing for the wrong reasons. I remember reading a book when I was a kid that took place in London. The book changed all the money to American dollars and cents, presumably because American children would not understand that Great Britain had a different monetary system. All this did was confuse me, because I knew perfectly well that they did not use dollars and cents in London. I think we should give kids more credit for being able to understand differences caused by time and culture.

  40. Jessica May 30, 2012 at 2:41 am #

    @PeterBruells: I’m aware of Hergé’s feeling towards his own works as time went by. But again, books ARE a product of their time. Hergé grew up in a colonial setting. Any author, childrens books and forward, remains a product of its time. The work “The prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli would most certainly not have been published in this day and age but it does mirror the renaissance ideal of Florence. There are numerous other examples.

    I live in Sweden where we have been having a debate on pronouns. A word describing a genderless har arisen. There used to be han (he), hon (she) and there’s now a hen which implies both he and she. Den/det as in it is not used. I’m of the position that I do think a too wide of political correctness is trickling down into just about everything and that not enough credit is given to children, including books. I think that children are not afflicted by Tintin, Pippi Longstocking or Dr Dolittle. I loved Dr Dolittle growing up. Re-reading them as an adult certainly brought another perspective but again, it was written in 1922.
    For those who want to read the original I recommend used book-shops.

    As a child girls around me was reading Kitty-books as if there was no other books around. They seemed to be able to relate to those.

  41. Peter Brülls May 30, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    @Jessica An author changing his books or films by his own will because he thinks it would improve them, because he wouldn’t have written them that way is different from forcing an author to rewrite or rewriting a work posthumously.

    As long as he doesn’t claim that he never wrote the old stuff, which would be dishonest.

    Do I think that taking the guns out of E.T. is stupid? Sure, but when Spielberg feels they were a bad idea to begin with, I’m okay with that. Most popular movies have been messed with between writing them and after the last test screening.

  42. Yan Seiner May 30, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    I think there’s a difference between sanitizing for “the sake of the children” and updating to bring a classic tale up to date. There have been numerous remakes of Shakespeare; my favorite way out there remake is Forbidden Planet as a remake of The Tempest. But that’s different from Bowlderizing an existing work to make it “safe” for the family.

    Read the Old Testament. There’s enough blood and murder and sex and violence to make anyone cringe. Once you start, where do you stop? I get so tired of people re-casting even the Bible as a “family friendly” book of fluffy fairy tales. Life is about conflict and conflict resolution.

    Kids need to learn from an early age that it’s OK to be in conflict with someone, even yourself, and need to learn coping tools. We as adults should model conflict resolution for them, not pretend that conflict doesn’t exist. That’s what those early stories are about; conflict and conflict resolution.

  43. Emily May 30, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    I read all of the Adventure books by Enid Blyton when I was a kid, and I still have a few of them, somewhere (the rest have been long since lost, or just loved to death, unfortunately). Anyway, the kids in that book were named Philip, Dinah, Lucy-Ann, and Jack, so nothing rude there, but they did use the word “ass” as a mild insult quite frequently–not in the sense that most people would think of, but more like “idiot,” or “stubborn,” like a donkey is stubborn. Of course, the books are British, so the connotation is different, naturally, but I can see that being enough to get them banned from a North American school library–which is unfortunate, because the kids in those books were just about as free-range as you can get.

  44. Jessica May 30, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    @PeterBruells, I fully agree with you on who should edit, if any editing is to be done. In most of the more classical works, Hugh Lofting (author of the dr Dolittle-books) died in the late 1940s, he can certainly not agree to any editing. And when the Pippi Longstocking discussion arose Astrid Lindgren had died. Whereas you can argue that older books are not copyrighted, it’s more about general respect and what kind of freedom of expression we want. would we want Where the Wild Things are to be edited as it was a new, less fluffy if you will, than an what had been the norm of children’s book up to then.

    Self-censorship is far more “dangerous” than outside editing. This said, I certainly don’t want to see very violent depictions in children’s books but I don’t appreciate more fluffiness either.

  45. sister sister May 30, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    I have to “edit” any stories I tell my kids that include the name of my home state in it. According to my children’s father, the name “Virginia” is to similar to the word Vagina, and since kids often mispronounce things it’s too embarassing to think that they may accidentally say Vagina in place of Virginia. Ridiculous IMO!!!

    My kids wouldn’t know the differnece if they did say it and we would just have to ignore the “slip-up” and they’d probably never do it again.

  46. Yan Seiner May 30, 2012 at 3:54 am #

    @sister sister: Your children’s father may be shocked to know that Virginia was named for the Virgin Queen: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_I_of_England. Explain that to your kids! :-)

  47. Katie Aaberg May 30, 2012 at 4:40 am #

    Ugh, away with bowdlerized books! Just read your kid the original, and answer any questions they have in a forthright (but age-appropriate) way. “Problem” solved.

    I’m currently reading Swallows and Amazons to my three boys. No one has a problem with Titty’s name. I would hate it if it was changed. Able-seaman Titty is the best character on the Swallows’ ship!

    For anyone unfamiliar with the Swallows and Amazons books, go get them! Amazing adventure stories about six children who are allowed to sail all over a lake and live on an island with no adults. GREAT BOOKS.

  48. Metanoia (@metanoia_chan) May 30, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    I thought of another thing that has changed. Cartoons. Compare old cartoons, Bugs Bunny and the like, and the reason I find them so great is while they’re meant for kids, there is a level of humour that adults also find amusing. Quite often the adults are laughing for a completely different reason the kids are. But this allows the adults to put up with the kids watching the cartoons because both can get some level of enjoyment from them.
    Think also of the comedy of the day. Things like “Are you being served” where a running joke was about how wet Mrs Slocombe’s pussy was. As a kid I found this amusing, but not in the way I found it amusing as a young adult.
    We’re missing out on all these things now because we’re trying to be too politically correct. Won’t somebody think of the children!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  49. Emily May 30, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Judy Blume characters with iPods still seems kind of wrong to me. I’d just as soon leave Peter, Fudge, Sheila, and Jill from Blubber in the 70’s where they belong, with their transistor radios, and hideous polyester plaid pants. I never did read Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, or Deenie, but I really liked Tiger Eyes–I liked the way it was written for young people, but didn’t talk down to them.

  50. poddys May 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    Enid Blyton was my favourite author growing up, and like The Faraway Tree, The Famous Five have seen name changes too over the years, with Aunt Fanny being changed to Francis, and all those “queer goings on”, well that had to change didn’t it!

    It’s such a shame that books have to change with the times, because they really do fit with the time that they were written.

    It seems amazing to us from the UK that someone has never heard of Enid Blyton (although she was never that popular in the USA), because she wrote over 700 books during her life, which is an amazing accomplishment.

    It’s good to see that her books are still selling well, and 2012 is the 70th anniversary of the Famous Five books.

  51. linvo May 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    @metanoia, I don’t really agree. I find lots of modern kids’ movies a bit annoying because they deliberately try to make them more appealing to adults. Yes, it can be funny, but I think sometimes the effort that goes into adding that other level of humour actually makes it less appealing to kids, even though the references to adult topics do go over their heads. I personally can do without the deliberate addition of ‘subtle’ adult content in kids’ movies. I don’t think its wrong, just unnecessary and I think it takes something away from the magical experience of a movie ‘just for kids’. It probably is just personal taste though…

  52. pentamom May 30, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    On the technology thing, I think updating technology is way underestimating kids and actually conveys a couple of wrong messages. It’s not a big deal, but for one thing, it implies that you can’t relate to someone’s problems and reactions if you don’t know what a transistor radio is, so it undermines the idea that the things kids experience are variations on things everyone has always experienced, and the solutions are basically the same. Also, it deprives the kids of a look into the past, and the feel of experiencing a different generation’s mode of life, at least in the little ways. That’s actually one of the FUN things about reading books written before you were born. Also, it seems to imply that the substance of the book can’t stand on its own — “Gee, the kids won’t get into my book if the people in it use technology that is unfamiliar or outdated.” It seems really strange that the author herself would take that approach.

    It’s not a disaster, but it seems needless and actually takes away from some of the things a kid could learn from reading a book written more than five minutes ago.

  53. pentamom May 30, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Anyway, let’s hope no one ever decides to update To Kill a Mockingbird, to get rid of outdated technology and racist/sexist attitudes. 😉

  54. pentamom May 30, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    linvo, I generally agree with you, but I agree with metanoia too — Warner Brothers managed it artfully and humorously. Maybe the modern versions are trying too hard. It seems like WB just stuck in there whatever they thought was funny, and if the kids got it they got it, and if they didn’t, there was still something really funny going on to laugh at. The modern stuff tries harder — inserting more adult stuff with obvious “winks and nods” and making it so that if you don’t get the adult humor, there’s no joke at all until the next kid-oriented joke comes along. It’s hard to put my finger on, but it IS different.

  55. Brian May 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Sorry but the original Dr. Doolittle and Jungle Book didn’t just use “the n-word” they had overt racist undertones. These works were about colonialism and presented a eugenicist view of the world. Not to mention some of the illustrations in the originals.

    It is a problem that is magnified when in the context of children’s literature. Like many other troubling things they are probably best dealt with by reading along with your kids and having conversations. These are GREAT works of literature for kids with so many amazing themes we don’t dare address today. The price for that is some views which we have thankfully moved beyond in our society.

  56. Brian May 30, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    BTW if you want a great British series the Bagthorpes are amazing. Really funny about a family and their misadventures. Absolute Zero is the first, I think. This is not adventure style like being discussed above. Just really funny funny family drama with some slap stick thrown in.

  57. Emily May 30, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

    P.S., I also really liked Just As Long As We’re Together, and Here’s To You, Rachel Robinson. I really don’t think that “contemporizing” these books is necessary, because, well, isn’t it good for kids these days to know that, 30 or 40 years ago, human nature was basically the same? Sure, the young female protagonist might have pinned up posters of different celebrities on her bedroom walls, or saved up her babysitting money for a transistor radio instead of an iPod Touch, but those differences are pretty immaterial in the big picture, and there are experiences that transcend time, such as the first day of high school, first big school dance or house party, first kiss, first prom, peer pressure to experiment with alcohol, etc. Like I said–I’d just as soon leave Peter, Fudge, Sheila, and Jill in the 70’s where they belong.

  58. LadyTL May 31, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    Brian, I think some of the problem si we haven’t moved as a society beyond those views, we are just pretending we have. Hiding the existence of anything negative or different (in the case of updating technology) from children does more harm than good. Why does showing children old technology in a book mean something is wrong? Wouldn’t knowing about it and looking it up encourage more reading and ideas? Same with issues and views that aren’t currently socially acceptable. Why is getting children more interested in the world and history such a bad idea to people these days?

  59. Marie May 31, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    @sister sister – I hope your kids never mispronounce “clock” the way my oldest did for a long time, dropping the L. Your husband might have had trouble with them learning to tell time.

  60. Katrin Geisler May 31, 2012 at 3:06 am #

    @peter: My daughter has a book with stories about school, its only a few years old. There you can find the chapter in which Pippi attends school for a day and she talks about her father as negro king. I don’t know about the collected volumes, we still have my old books with the original expression, too

  61. Brian May 31, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    To me there are only 2 choices. Read the book or don’t read the book. You cannot edit literature and pretend that it has the same value. I am also absolutely not talking about words, any words. Language from a time and place is a fascinating aspect of what literature gives us.

    However, eugenics is not simply “not currently socially acceptable.” it is a failed theory that caused the deaths and subornation of millions of people. There are some ideas that should be killed off like small pox because they too easily become contagious and infect societies.

    Great literature might, in some instances, justify the release of these ideas as the benefits of the work outweigh the harms. The key is to help vaccinate in advance and prevent infection while enjoying these texts.

  62. Peter Brülls May 31, 2012 at 3:34 am #

    @katrin The change was in 2009.

  63. Donna May 31, 2012 at 4:57 am #

    I don’t think that they should change the CONTENT of a story, but I can’t get up in arms about making Dick into Rick and Fannie into Frannie. The names of the characters don’t impact the story in any way. I think that changing the names is ridiculous, but getting upset about it and refusing to read the story is equally ridiculous to me. It seems like a lot of people on both sides are just trying to make a point about something that doesn’t matter to the kids for whom the story is aimed. Now the CONTENT change may be worth not reading the story over. I’ve never read either versions so I can’t say.

  64. Jessica May 31, 2012 at 5:23 am #

    @Brian, if we are to get into the practice or cleaning up and exterminating some ideas out of books, then we have a great deal of work ahead of us, and one I’d rather just be without. I studied classical asian literature for years, now THERE’S something we can get stuck editing. Eugenics has been popular on and off throughout history. Some people today hold it as definite truth (right-wing fanaticism). There are books out there that suggest genocide and in any way you try to put it, it’s absolutely darwninian. I maintain that you do need to think about the context on how and where the book was written.

    My parents read to me every day as I grew up in 3 different languages. I then became a book worm myself. I don’t see the need to update books. A transistor radio is a transistor radio and not an ipod. If nothing else it can be used as a history lesson as to what once was.

    In all, what books to have children read is basically up to the parents but as we’ve seen in so many areas of children’s lives; the boundaries of what is considered correct and safe keeps being moved forward. Censorship is censorship and cleaning out books/literature/media just “because” or “it might”, that doesn’t teach anyone anything.

  65. gap.runner May 31, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    I didn’t have time to read through all the comments. But I hate when books are sanitized in the name of political correctness.

    My son got a copy of “The Real Mother Goose” when he was a baby or toddler. The end of the poem about the old woman who lived in a shoe ended, “…and she kissed them all sweetly and sent them to bed.” My stepmother happened to have a copy of that same book from her childhood. I looked up the poem and it ended with, “…and she whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.” That’s the ending that I grew up with.

  66. Uly May 31, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    Of course, gap.runner, it must be admitted that the first one doesn’t make much sense. WHY is she whipping her kids? It doesn’t say! Did they make a mess? Steal something? Curse her out? ALL of them?

    It’s worse than the shoe thing in the first place.

  67. Emily May 31, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    @Gap Runner–I had a copy of “The Real Mother Goose” when I was a kid too, but I don’t remember if the Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe poem had the traditional ending, or the sanitized one. I never really understood the whipping thing either (because, as Uly said, it never explained what the kids did wrong to deserve being whipped), but my memories are a bit hazy, because I remember having this book read to me before I could read well enough to read it myself, and I don’t remember if my mom read the traditional ending, if she changed it so I wouldn’t be traumatized, or if the editors of the book had changed it so that an entire generation of children wouldn’t be traumatized. It doesn’t even really matter because that wasn’t my favourite book as a child–that honour would have to go to Robert Munsch’s “The Paper Bag Princess,” which shaped my life by giving me my very first lesson in feminism, at the ripe old age of four.

  68. Emily May 31, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    When Judy Blume updated the electronics in her books (and also apparently updated the feminine hygiene products in “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” from the belted kind to the adhesive kind), did she also give the characters a wardrobe makeover? Because, on the one hand, it’d be kind of strange to see our friends Peter and Sheila listening to iPods and playing with Nintendo Wii’s, but still wearing polyester bell-bottoms and peasant shirts, but on the other hand, if she took it a step further and put them in, oh, let’s say, skinny jeans and graffiti hoodies, it’d be almost like a completely different book–and it’d still be unrealistic, because a lot of the adventures the kids in those books have are “free-range” (like when Fudge is allowed to walk to school with another little boy, and no parents, at the age of five), and just wouldn’t happen today….but, if she made it realistic, it’d be boring–it’d be like, “Peter, Sheila, and Fudge were driven to and from school every day by their parents. Peter did not tease Sheila, because the school had a zero-tolerance policy on ‘harassment.’ Fudge didn’t ask for a ‘bike just like Pee-tah’s’ for Christmas, but rather, a virtual BMX game for his Nintendo Wii. He stayed inside and played it on the couch, while stuffing his face with high-fructose corn syrup. When he couldn’t take the sedentary and the sugar, and acted out, his parents decided he had ADHD, and medicated him with Ritalin. The End.”

  69. Emily June 1, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    Okay, let me do a contemporary version of “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret:”

    Margaret was confused about religion, because her mother was Christian, and her father was Jewish, and each set of grandparents tried to sway her their way. She was also very hormonally charged, and full of questions about puberty. So, she went on the Internet, typed her questions into Google, and chose the most popular responses on Yahoo Answers. She found religious enlightenment by listening to the Jonas Brothers, and she also learned that female empowerment could be attained by purchasing the feminine hygiene products with the coolest commercials, and the flashiest packaging. The End.

  70. Emily June 1, 2012 at 1:01 am #

    P.S., the parents-of-different-religions thing probably wouldn’t even register as controversial nowadays, because the O.C. already did it, with minimal fuss–Ryan and Seth’s parents handled it by having the family celebrate “Christmukkah.” ‘Nuff said.

  71. Uly June 1, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    she also learned that female empowerment could be attained by purchasing the feminine hygiene products with the coolest commercials, and the flashiest packaging.

    It’s a nice change from years of commercials featuring people in white clothes on bikes randomly stopping to discuss their menstrual protection, and all those ads geared towards teens and preteens about how to hide the fact that you might ever, ever, ever need to use menstrual products at all. Because if your crush ever found out you’d just DIE.

    I’m just saying.

    With that said, menstrual cups ftw!

    Ryan and Seth’s parents handled it by having the family celebrate “Christmukkah.” ‘Nuff said.

    Yes, but what do they do in spring for Easter/Passover? On the one hand you’ve got Lent and cookies, on the other you’ve got no Lent but also no leavening. Help?

  72. pentamom June 1, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    Wait, are we really questioning why a nursery rhyme doesn’t make sense? How many of them DO?

  73. Uly June 1, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    How many of them DO?

    Well, that depends. Are nursery rhymes a closed canon or an open one?

  74. Emily June 1, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    @Uly–I don’t think Lent or Passover ever came up on the O.C., just Christmukkah…..but good question. I’d write to the producers of that show, if it hadn’t gone off the air years ago.

  75. Nicole K June 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    “What’s next…altering the classics so that David Copperfield has a healthy, loving relationship with his stepfather, Beth March recovers from her bout with scarlet fever, and Romeo and Juliet live happily ever after?”


    You need to read or see the play “Good Night Desdemona, Good morning Juliette”, it is hilarious, about a grad student who gets magically placed in the plays and tries to set things right. R&J don’t kill themselves… they end up as 2 obnoxious teens married to each other.

    It is rather awersome.

  76. Nicole K June 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    Uly wrote, in regards to the old woman who lived in a shoe:

    “Of course, gap.runner, it must be admitted that the first one doesn’t make much sense. WHY is she whipping her kids? It doesn’t say! Did they make a mess? Steal something? Curse her out? ALL of them?

    It’s worse than the shoe thing in the first place.”


    Now, if you’ll recall…

    There was an old woman who lived in a shoe
    who had so many children she didn’t know what to do

    Because she was stressed out! She snapped!!!!

  77. Uly June 2, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    Interesting hypothesis, Nicole : )

  78. Lisa June 3, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    The tree little pigs has changed – now instead of the wolf eating the first two pigs now they escape and run to their brothers house. The wolf is no longer killed when he comes down the chimney but instead burns his bottom and runs away. Thats not story I remember from my childhood.

  79. Uly June 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Actually, Lisa, that’s the story I remember from MY childhood. It wasn’t until my teens that I found the version(s) that have the pigs being eaten.

    When it comes to fairy tales there are generally many, many different variations of them. Some of them will be lighter and some of them will be darker, and some will be from an unusual or unique perspective (I know of at least one version of The Three Little Pigs that’s from the wolf’s perspective, and another one set in the Southwest).

    It’s really not fair of you to say from one version “Oh, it’s changed, it’s wrong!” Even back before any of them were written down there were many, many, many regional variations. What’s sad is that nowadays people are generally only familiar with ONE variation and think that’s the ONLY right one. That’s not the way it used to be.

  80. Emily June 4, 2012 at 1:42 am #

    @Lisa–Do you also remember the original Goldilocks and the Three Bears? In that story, the bears corner Goldilocks in the bedroom, and she jumps out the window, and either dies, or just breaks her leg, but either way, she’s never seen again. In the more modern version (that I remember from my youth), the bears chase Goldilocks down the stairs and out the door. When the popular kids’ program “Super Why” did that story, Goldilocks merely cleaned up the mess she made, and all was forgiven. Also, in the original “Little Red Riding Hood,” the wolf eats the grandmother, and that’s that. In the version from my childhood (Golden Books–remember those?), the woodcutter comes and cuts open the wolf’s stomach, and retrieves the grandmother–and, somehow, both the grandmother and the wolf are still alive after the ordeal. In the very newest, watered-down version, the wolf merely “spits up” the grandmother, perfectly intact, after having swallowed her. Okay, technically, he would have vomited her up, but I guess the author/editor of the book didn’t feel that “vomit” was appropriate terminology for children.

  81. Lisa June 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Emily – yes I remember that version of Red Riding Hood, although I can’t remember the Goldilocks version where she is killed. It seems all the old stories get watered down. Its a shame as I don’t think I was particularly traumatised as a child by the older version. I do remember having a book of Grimms Fairytales, now they were violent (and I loved them)

  82. valleycat1 June 5, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    Even back in the ’50’s when I was a little girl, Grimms fairy tales were being sanitized (the originals are VERY dark, as Lisa said). And in one version of Cinderella we read as children, the stepsisters cut off toes and heels to try to cram their feet into the glass slipper. Then when I had a child I found out one of my childhood favorites, Little Black Sambo, had been banned from the acceptable reading lists (I loved the idea of tigers turning into butter). With a new grandchild, I need to encourage seeking out the original versions of the stories/series that are still popular today!

  83. Rachel June 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    I sold a set of at least 20 hard-backed Enid Blyton books to a collector when I was 13. The one occasion when I could have used a hovering parent to tell me how much I would regret it 18 years down the line…
    I wonder how they’ve revised Frederick Algernon Trotville, the chubby leader of “five findouters and dog”, aka “Fatty”, to make him more PC?

    Well, really, Mr Twiddle!

  84. empressnasigoreng June 12, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    I had exactly the same experience when my children reached Enchanted Forest age! Some of the other changes include replacing phrases like “I say” with “Wow”! I have managed to track down 2 shelves of older Enid Blyton books for me, I mean, my kids. Has been quite a fun exercise.

    The Galliano’s Circus ones are particularly interesting as apparently these are considered too un-PC to even be printed in the UK – and this is NOT because of Mr Galliano’s cigar-smoking or the fact that the dogs have names like Nigger and Darkie (!) but because circuses in general are frowned upon in the UK.

    In terms of Australian examples, there is the Hippopotamus on the Roof Eating Cake which was changed a few years ago to remove the reference to the young protagonist getting a smack for damaging her father’s book.

  85. empressnasigoreng June 12, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Here is a blog post I did a few years ago on those plucky free range kids you find in Enid Blyton books:

  86. Susan Rogan June 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    I hadn’t noticed the change in There’s a Hippopotamus…..quite unnecessary and I wonder how much Hazel Edward’s was pushed by her editor, and how much it was her own decision.

  87. empressnasigoreng June 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    She was interviewed in the media at the time about it. I think she agreed in the interests of getting her book re-published. It had been out of print for quite a while before then.


  1. Fun Range For The Kids - June 14, 2012

    […] “When Dick and Fannie became Rick and Frannie” – Guest Post … This summer, kids can drop in at playgrounds and there are some staff around. Low key! Free-Range! Fun! bit.ly/Lc71Z2 1 day ago; Monday on Oregon Public Radio's "Think Out Loud" show around 9 a.m. Free-Range Kids . […]