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Books That Children Will Love - St. Clare’s And Malory Towers Series

Of the many writers to have made their mark on the literary world, the most popular among children would be Enid Blyton. The English born writer had an illustrious career that spanned more than five decades. She has written quite a number of books all of which have sold more than a million copies around the world and have been translated into a number of languages. While later critics have opined that her books have xenophobic undertones and are too gender-conforming in nature, she remains to this day one of the most successful children’s books writers of her time. Even today, her books continue to be sold across the world and have helped a number of children develop their reading habits. Her books cater to both boys and girls. While her mystery stories, the Famous Five and Secret Seven series have been popular among boys, her boarding school series of books, the St. Clare’s series with six books beginning with ‘The Twins at St. Clare’s’ and the Malory Towers series, which began with ‘First Term at Malory Towers’ have been popular among girls.

The Boarding School Books

Enid Blyton’s ‘boarding school books’, the Malory Towers series and the St. Clare’s Series follow a similar theme with the central character experiencing the ups and downs of teenagers at the school. With wise teachers to guide them through the turmoil of growing up, several themes like bullying, class system, elitism and poverty are addressed. Neither of the series change their tone as the characters grow up into teenagers, rather we see the protagonists have blossomed into fine young women ready to take on the world as the series ends. In both series of books, one sees that the central characters become head-girls of their schools, indicating that they have changed and are ready to step into a leadership role.

The Malory Towers series focuses on Darrel Rivers, a caring and responsible girl whose major flaw is her short temper which often gets her into trouble. Darrel enrolls at Malory Towers in the first year and makes friends with a number of girls from her class. As the years pass, she excels in sports and writing. The girls often play tricks on a timid teacher and do get reprimanded for their actions. Darrel eventually befriends the harsh Sally Hope who is revealed to be resentful of her parents for sending her away. She also befriends the timid Mary-Lou who becomes more confident than she used to be. As the series progresses, Darrel becomes the sports captain and later when she becomes Head-Girl, the baton is passed to her best friend, Sally. When the series ends with the sixth and final book, ‘Last Term at Malory Towers, Darrel has enrolled at the University of St. Andrews with Sally and is ready to further her education.

Like the Malory Towers series, the St. Clare’s series follows a similar story-line but is far more serious than the former. The series follows twins Patricia and Isabel O Sullivan who are a little stand-offish and arrogant because they were tutored at an elite school. Not wanting their daughters to become spoilt and arrogant, their parents enroll them at the more no-nonsense St. Clare’s Boarding School. The girls are initially arrogant but gradually change their ways and become well-liked. As the series progresses, several story-lines are explored. A former Circus girl, Carlotta enrolls at the school and her addition causes a furor at the school. It is her friends from the circus who help a wealthy heiress from being kidnapped. The series has several themes like class system, elitism and the snobbish attitude of girls from very wealthy families. Towards the end of the series, Patricia and Isabel are selected as head-girls.

Books that are loved even today

Both the Malory Towers series and the St. Clare’s series had a recurring theme of central characters evolving into better people. Both books were quite popular and despite criticism from some quarters for the repetitive story-lines of midnight feasts, pranks and spoilt, rich children creating problems for the characters, the series had a devout fan-following, especially among girls of a similar age. These books were written before popular books of today like Harry Potter were written, and the popularity of the latter may have diminished the demand for the former. Yet, children’s books lists can never be complete without a mention of Enid Blyton and her vast collection of books.

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