Long ago I received this book as a gift from a friend on my 8th birthday. I'm sure his mom chose it. Like most 8 year olds receiving a book as a birthday present, I was far from impressed, and rapidly set it aside. Then, some months later, by pure chance I happened upon it, picked it up and started reading. I didn't put it down again until I was halfway through. After a little break, I devoured the rest just as quickly. From then on I was hooked.
It's easy to critique this book through contemporary, and worse yet, adult eyes. Sure, by today's standards it is riddled with sexism. And from an adult perspective there are certainly some plot elements that seem a little far fetched. But as psychologists now recognize, learning to accept that other people have different moral world views - and not just because they're stupid, crazy, or willfully bad - is an important part of a child's moral development. And the fact that we as adults can no longer experience the magic of Enid Blyton's world is our limitation, not hers. With a few rare exceptions, most of the "children's books" that adults love aren't really children's books at all. Enid Blyton's books actually are. Her special genius was precisely that she was able to enter into that child's eye view of the world in a way that the rest of us grown-ups no longer can.
So if you happen to know a child of around of around the right age who you'd like to take an interest in the printed word, this is a book that just might help set them on that path. You can't force it upon them, and don't expect any child of that age to leap with joy at such a gift. But who knows? With a little luck, you just might find you've started something.