Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Fiction Reads: The Six Bad Boys by Enid Blyton

The Six Bad Boys was written by Enid Blyton for an entire family. I caught hold of a copy of this book as an adult and what a beautiful experience it was to read this book. As the note from the author in the book tells the reader:

"It is written for the whole family and for anyone who has to do with children. It is written, as all stories are written to entertain the reader - but it is written too to explain some of the wrong things there are in the world, and to help to put them right. 

I love children, good or bad. I know plenty of good ones - and I have been to the juvenile courts and seen plenty of bad ones. One of the finest magistrates of these courts is the well-known Mr. Basil Henriques, who deals so wisely and kindly with all the delinquent children brought before him. I have watched him at his court dealing with these children.In trepidation, I asked him if he would be kind to enough to read through my book to see if I had made many mistakes in Court procedure."

This sets the pace of the book.The Mackenzies at Barlings Cottage finally have neighbors; two families with children have moved into their neighborhood. The Mackanzie kids: Donald, Jeanie and Pat are tremendously excited. Being a friendly lot, they look forward to being friends with the others. However all is not hunky-dory with the other families. Summerhayes, the Berkeleys' home is a place of discontent with the parents fighting, while the children: Eleanor, Harriet and Tom appear surly. The Kents at Hawthorns are no different; while Bob is a friendly boy and wants his mother to be a stay-at-home mother, she has other plans. Familial discord lead Tom and Bob to escapism.

The descriptions in this book are though-evoking and familiar. Bob's chance encounter with The Four Terrors Gang (Les, Jack, Patrick and Will) at a 'small, dark, stone cellar' is an induction for him into the gang where Tom is included later. Here is a description of the gang: "The gang always wanted money - money to buy food, money to go to the pictures, which they loved above anything else. To sit in a comfortable seat in a warm place and see the people being chased and shot, to see horses galloping at top speed, cars tearing down along at eighty miles an hour, aeroplanes being revved up...this was all glorious to them. They didn't have to think, or use their brains at all - they only needed to sit back and look." Les and Will's mother does not care while Jack has a family to go back to; however 'the boy escaped from home as much as he could. The rooms were dirty and smelly and untidy. No one could eat, sleep or read in comfort. Jack hated his home, and though he really loved his mother he couldn't bear her whining voice and miserable face'. Further it is 'no wonder the boy went to find happiness somewhere else - and to him the little hidy-hole down in the cellar was heaven'.

Tom and Bob have similar traits; they are nice boys who have gone wrong and let off steam knowing fully well that it is a silly thing to do. Their circumstances are in sharp contrast to what the Mackenzie household is: full of warmth and kindness. Long story short, this tale is about reforming such kids.

The setting of this book is Lappington and this book was first published in 1951. It is a recollection of Blyton's childhood. The illustrations were created by Glenn Steward.

(Article by Kabita Sonowal)

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