Letters to Enid 19: From volume 2 issue 7

Previous letters pages can be found here.


Letters page from Volume 2, issue 7. March 31st-April 13 1954

OUR

LETTER PAGE

A letter from Sunbeam Christine Warren, 51 Central Road, Wembley.
Dear Enid Blyton,
Today I left my big china doll, Daphne, in her cradle sitting up with my Enid Blyton’s Magazine in her hands, and I went downstairs to tea. When I came up she looked as if she was reading it. I looked to see what page it was open at and she was looking at the News Sheet, straight at the  place of the Sunbeams’ News, looking as if she would like to be a Sunbeam. So I enclose a postal order for her badge. Daphne is about 27 years old and I hope she is allowed to join.
Love from
Christine.

(I am delighted to have Daphne for a Sunbeam as well as you, Christine!)

A letter from Margery Wallace, Leith Hill Place Farm, Holmebury St. Mary, Surrey.
Dear Miss Blyton,
When I knew that March 18th was the first birthday of our Magazine I said to my friends: “Those of us who are members of the F.F., will drink a toast on that day for its birthday. We will each bring a glass and a nice little bottle of cherry-ade, and at “break” we will sit on the forms and I will make a speech, and we will all stand and drink the toast.” They thought it was a good idea and I hope you will too.
Love from
Margaret Wallace.

(I think it’s a splendid idea, Margaret, thank you very much!)

3. A letter from Margaret Paterson and Lorna Coad, 75 Tudor Gardens, West Acton.
Dear Miss Blyton,
We are fond readers of your magazine and books, especially “The Famous Five.” We have a club which is called “The Adventurous Club,” and we use the F.F.’s Club badge. When we write to each other we use invisible ink or secret codes. For our clubroom we use an attic.
Much love from
Margaret and Lorna

(This excellent little club is typical of many. Good luck to it!)


Such nice letters this week, and they make a refreshing change from the frequently seen letters about how much money has been raised by the writers.

 

Posted in Magazines | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Christmas bits from Enid Blyton’s magazines

Continuing the theme, I thought I’d have a nosy in the magazines for more Christmassy things. I’ve included some crafts and stories in some other posts but I have some new magazines to look through, and there are other things I’ve not used before.


Christmas Letters

Naturally Blyton references Christmas in several of her letters at the start of magazines published in November and December.

And now I must send some special messages of my own to my readers. First, the Famous Five Club members: Happy Christmas, Famous Five Members, and may you enjoy the next adventures of Julian, George, Dick, Anne – and Timmy! Thank you more than I can say for all the help you have given to our little Children’s Home this year. You really are good friends.

Next, the Busy Bees. Happy Christmas to all my Bees, and may you buzz loudly and often in the coming year! Thank you very much indeed for all your kindness to animals and birds this year, and your really splendid work.

And last the Sunbeams, our newest Society. Happy Christmas, Sunbeams, and may you shine brightly in the months to come. Thank you with all my heart for the way your are helping our little Blind Children.

And now to every one of my readers, big and small, I send my warm wishes for a wonderful time at Christmas – plenty of cards, children, a stocking full to the top on Christmas morning, a fine Christmas pudding, Christmas tree, balloons and crackers! I must wish you a Happy New Year too, because it will be in 1954 before I write to you again.

– Vol 1 Issue 21, Dec 23 1953

DEAR BOYS AND GIRLS,

Only a little more than four weeks and Christmas will be here! I have had many letters from you, telling me of your Christmas plans – and I am very pleased to hear that o many of you are thinking more of that to give other people than of what you are going to have yourselves! Some of you are suggesting that you might send toys to our little Children’s Home here, but as the generous Famous Five Club members have, as usual, send me almost enough money to buy new toys for every one of our small children, I suggest that you send your toys to the Evening News, who are asking for Christmas Toys for Sick Children… I know they will be grateful. The toys will go to children ill in hospital, of course.

And now I must tell you some news you have been waiting for. I told you that my pantomime “Noddy in Toyland” is to be performed again this Christmas – and that I had written another play also, for older children, about the Famous Five. Well, we are now busily rehearsing for both plays – and they will both be in the same theatre, one in the afternoon (Noddy) and one in the early evening (Famous Five), and the theatre is – PRINCES THEATRE in London. I know that hundreds of you could not see “Noddy in Toyland” [I think there are a few words missing here!] telling you early, in order that any of my readers may be sure of seats at either of the plays.

– Vol 3 Issue 23, Nov 23 1955

DEAR BOYS AND GIRLS,

Now that we are in December I expect you are all thinking of the excitements of Christmas-time – the carol-singing, gay cards arriving, mysterious parcels – the Christmas tree and the Christmas pudding – parties and pantomimes! It really is a merry time, isn’t it? I have already had my first Christmas cards – they came from abroad, where they had to be posted early – and they must have caught a fast boat because they certainly arrived in good time. One is from South Africa, two from New Zealand, and three from Australia. I wish I could post cards back to the kind senders, but they wouldn’t get there in time.

As you can guess, I am very, very busy now, not only with Christmas, but with rehearsals for the two plays… which must be ready to be performed the week before Christmas. We haven’t much time left!…

There will be another number of the magazine for you before Christmas, so I shall be able to give you my Christmas wishes there. We shall all be feeling very excited by then, shan’t we?

– Vol 3 Issue 24, Dec 7 1955

There is also another letter from Father Christmas in Vol 2 Issue 26.


Christmas adverts

While Sunny Stories was advert-free from what I’ve seen, Enid Blyton’s Magazines have quite a lot of adverts. Some are for her own books, and lots of others for Noddy toys, but there are plenty for other toys of the time as well as adverts for sweets and chocolates.

Here are a selection of Christmas-themes adverts I’ve picked out (some are similar to ones that had already been running with ‘perfect for Christmas’ type wording added!).

Three consecutive years (1853, 1954 and 1955) feature a list of books which would make good Christmas gifts.

Of course an Enid Blyton book is at the top of each of these lists! Malcolm Saville features on them all as well.

The Children of Green Meadows even gets its own advertising space in 1954, after being serialised.

These are just some of the Noddy adverts – if I’d shown all the ones from November/December issues we’d have been here all day. I’ve just picked the ones that say ‘Christmas’ in them. Also in there is an advert for the Enid Blyton Diary.

And here are a couple of confectionery adverts which feature Christmas. The comic-style one is for Mars and tells the story of a boy who dreams that Santa only gives Mars bars to boys who help others. The boy then goes carol-singing for the children’s hospital and is rewarded with a Mars bar.

The Palm toffee bar advert is a good example of the times Enid was living in – and why she used golliwogs so often. You can see along the bottom that the banana split flavour is illustrated by a banana, the fruit and nut by a strawberry, and the chocolate and liquorice flavours with a golliwog’s face (I assume as they are ‘dark’ or ‘brown’ flavours). That’s far worse than anything Blyton ever wrote! I’ll stop there as this is supposed to be a Christmas post not a debate about racism in her books.


And some other bits

If you do decide to make skittles out of cotton reels I’d advise you to leave off the stereotypical ‘Chinaman’ additions. You could easily paint them in reds and greens with more pointed hats as elves, or in red, black and white with a cotton-wool beard and red hat for Santa.

Possibly the least-festive Christmas greeting I’ve ever seen!

 A part advert and part puzzle from Cadbury.

And lastly a Christmas carol.

Posted in Seasonal | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Monday #249

Christmassy bits from Enid Blyton’s Magazine

and

Letters to Enid 19

Hallo, hallo, here’s Santa Claus,
He’s come to see you all because
To-morrow’s Christmas Day!
So bring the ducks and bears and gollies,
Motor-cars and books and dollies,
Crackers bright and gay.

One of Santa’s songs from Santa Claus Gets Busy.

santa-claus-gets-busy-no-6

Margery from The Enormous Stocking is painted as greedy and piggish. And to be fair – she probably is, as she always takes the largest portion and the best toys. Her Christmas list is also very very long. Saying that – her solution, knitting an enormous stocking – is not only clever but very industrious. She works long and hard to make a big enough stocking for all she wants and it’s quite harsh that all she gets is vegetables in it! I think her ingenuity should have been rewarded at least a little bit.

Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

November 2019 round up

It’s the penultimate round up of the year already!


What I have read

I reached my target of 100 books this month! It was helped along by me working through quite a few short books, classic children’s ones that I missed out on. But I read several ‘real’ books, too!

  • One of Our Thursdays is Missing (Thursday Next #6) – Jasper Fforde
  • Undead and Unwed (Undead #1) – MaryJanice Davidson
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends – Shel Silverstein
  • Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
  • Dead Girls Don’t Dance (Undead 1.5) – MaryJanice Davidson
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day – Judith Viorst
  • The Snowy Day – Jack Ezra Keats
  • The Four Streets (Four Streets #1) by Nadine Dorries
  • The Woman Who Died a Lot (Thursday Next #7) – Jasper Fforde
  • Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park #1) – Michael Crichton
  • The Harveys See it Through – Phyllis Gegan (reviewed here)
  • Undead and Unemployed (Undead #2) – MaryJanice Davidson
  • The Lost World (Jurassic Park #2) – Michael Crichton
  • Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories – Dr Seuss
  • A Light in the Attic – Shel Silverstein
  • Bite (Five short stories) – Laurell K Hamilton and other authors

And I’m still working on:

  • The Naughtiest Girl in the School – I’m doing a text comparison on this one
  • Hocus Pocus and the All New Sequel – A.W. Jantha
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  • Five Fall Into Adventure – Reviewed here

Off this list I do not recommend The Four Streets as it was dire, and unless you’re a fan of at least a few of the authors in Bite (I was only reading for the MaryJanice Davidson story from the Undead series) I wouldn’t go for that either. I’d already read the Charlaine Harris entry and the others were pretty awful.


What I have watched

  • Hollyoaks
  • Only Connect
  • More of Taskmaster
  • Tiny House Nation on Netflix where people build very small homes, usually on trailers.
  • Murder She Wrote, season six
  • The start of the new adaptation of His Dark Materials
  • George Clarke’s Old House New Home and some of Grand Designs House of the Year
  • Some of Tutankhamun with Dan Snow which explored possible reasons for the pharaoh dying so young, his less than stellar burial rooms and other mysteries.

What I have done

  • Hosted International Games Week at my work and did a few games events
  • Visited the wildlife park
  • Hosted International Games Week at work
  • More trips to increasingly damp playparks
  • Did a few rather muddy walks in the woods
  • Educated Brodie on Christmas songs by putting the music channels on
  • Did some Christmas shopping (but not enough!)
  • Went to our annual Christmas event and Brodie was not impressed by Santa

 


What I have bought

I’ve been back on eBay again – much to my bank balance’s horror! I’ve bought ten more of Enid Blyton’s Magazine, as I’m trying to fill the gaps in volume 2 so that I don’t have to skip any letters pages. I also bought two Mary Mouse strip books from the same seller as I couldn’t resist.

Please excuse the terrible photos, I only have time to take blog photos after dark these days!

Posted in Personal Experiences | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An updated round-up of Christmas posts 2019

We’ve done this once before but have written a lot since then – so here’s a new guide to all our Christmassy posts from the past six years. (I had written this ready to go up in December 2018, but due to a scheduling glitch it didn’t post! I have now updated it again and hopefully it will post this year.)


Book reviews

Enid Blyton’s Christmas Stories – one of Hodder’s short story collections.
Enid Blyton’s Christmas Treats – another Hodder short story collection.
Enid Blyton’s Christmas Stories Audio – the audio adaptation of the Hodder short story collection.

The First Christmas – Blyton’s retelling of the nativity story.
Noddy Meets Father Christmas – the 11th Noddy book.
The Christmas Book – a one-off novel about Christmas traditions.
Father Christmas and Belinda – a Collin’s Colour Camera Book.


Songs and poems

Christmas Gifts
Christmas News
In the Stable
Santa Claus Gets Busy
The Party


Guides and round ups

Blyton at Christmas – a guide to stories, books, poems, puzzles and more.
1920-1945
1946-1950
1951-1962

Winter and Christmas reads – a guide to Blyton’s seasonal novels
Part 1
Part 2

Decorating for Christmas
Decorating the Blyton way


Blyton Christmas Presents

We’ve been lucky enough to get lots of Blyton goodies for Christmas (and birthdays):

Birthday/Christmas 2018
Birthday/Christmas 2017
Birthday/Christmas 2016
Birthday/Christmas 2015
Christmas 2015
Birthday/Christmas 2014
Birthday/Christmas 2013
Christmas 2012

And we’ve come up with some ideas for gifts for other Blyton fans:

Gift guide 2019
Gift guide 2018

We’ve even thought about what Blyton’s characters would have been given:
What would Enid Blyton’s characters be unwrapping?


Recipes

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a ton of food!

Mince Pies
Gingerbread by Katie Stewart

Plus we have lots more recipes which can be found here – after all, who says that treacle tart or shortbread can’t be devoured over Christmas?

Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Monday #248

A very rounded week this week.

Round up of Christmas posts

and

November round up

“That’s the way I always go into and out of a house.It’s much more exciting than using the door.”

Father Christmas extols the virtues of using chimneys as an entry and exit point to a house in Father Christmas and Belinda.

The Man Who Wasn’t Wasn’t Father Christmas doesn’t have any other name given. He resembles Father Christmas, and would like to be as generous, but as he is poor he has nothing to give any children. He takes a job on Christmas Eve, dressing as Father Christmas and handing out adverts for a toy-store and feels quite disgusted with himself. All he wants is to be handing out sweets or toys so he is very happy when the real Father Christmas allows him to do so while he takes a break.

Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Five Fall Into Adventure

This is the ninth book in the series, so I’m almost half-way with my reviews. Just as a random point – I always confuse this title with Five Go Adventuring Again. It doesn’t hep that they are two of the vaguer titles and have the adventure/adventuring similarity, but I know they’re not that similar. I just have a bit of a mental block about them.

If I’m trying to remember plots I have to think for a moment about Fall Into Adventure, Plenty of Fun and Wonderful Time (but I know what Adventuring Again and Get Into Trouble are about instantly… the mind is a strange thing.)

Anyway, I am writing about Five Fall Into Adventure today, so I do know the plot. If I happen to call it by the wrong name, forgive me?


A story in three parts

Continuing what I’ve started by dividing each book into chunks:

  • Part 1 – The first days at Kirrin
  • Part 2 – George is kidnapped and Jo is found to be involved
  • Part 3 – They go searching for George but lose Jo
  • Part 4 – Up the coast to Red Tower’s place

You could combine parts 3 and 4 for a very long search and rescue mission, but a lot happens and all the drama at the end is quite different from what comes before.


A series of somewhat unfortunate events

Dick foolishly remarks that two weeks isn’t long enough to find an adventure when they arrive at Kirrin. But the very next day a chain of events begins which will lead to a pretty big adventure.

First they get rid of Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny to Spain, amidst phone calls from the press. Quentin is not long back from America where he has attended a conference and attracted quite a lot of attention.

Later they see a man and boy on the beach, and the boy is bold enough to sit in George’s sand hole. That turns into an argument which Dick breaks up, he won’t let George fight a boy. Only, once the boy has punched Dick and Dick has punched him back, it turns out that the boy is actually a girl.

And so we meet Jo, who I will dedicate a section to later, and the Five are already on the slippery slope to adventure though they don’t know it yet.

That night Anne sees a face at the bedroom window in the middle of the night – and it wasn’t a dream because the ivy is damaged. The boys are a bit worried but downplay it for Anne’s sake. They have no leads so there’s not much they can do anyway.

They have another meeting with Jo the next day on the beach – and a damson stone spitting competition, of course – and she makes friends with Timmy, much to George’s horror.

Uncle Quentin’s study is burgled that night, and Timmy didn’t react as he had been doped with something while on his evening walk.

joan joanna five fall into an adventure

The Five manage to deal with all this quite well – even becoming bored of the police as they ask their endless questions and eat their way through all of Joan’s baking.

As you can see there has been a steady series of small events – seemingly unrelated – all leading to the real disaster striking. George and Timmy go missing – though it takes a while for anyone to realise as they think they’ve just gone off fishing early in the morning. By late afternoon they are quite concerned and then a ransom note arrives!

The note says that the kidnappers want to swap George and Timmy for another of Uncle Quentin’s notebooks so it’s up to Julian, Dick, Anne and Joan to come up with a plan to foil the kidnappers and rescue George and Timmy. The telephone wires have been cut and someone is watching to make sure none of them leave to get help. In a clever idea where they swap Dick for Sid the paper-boy Dick is able to follow the person who comes to collect the notebook – and lo and behold, it’s Jo!


What next?

What are the three remaining Famous Fivers to do? They have one of the gang in custody, but Jo’s just a messenger, or so she says. She admits to having let the burglars in, doped Timmy and shut the front door to make it seem like George had returned. So she’s in deep but she wants to help them, mostly because she’s taken such a liking to Dick.

Nobody is sure if they can trust her or not, but she’s got inside information and they decide it’s worth a try. She leads them towards Ravens Wood where she thinks they’ll have taken George, but on the way she is dragged off by a friend of her father’s.

Julian, Dick and Anne make the rest of the journey by themselves and even manage to find the caravan – but George and Timmy aren’t there. All that’s been left behind is a strange scribbling on the wall, Red Tower, Red Tower, Red Tower…


The exciting finale and my usual thoughts and nitpicks will come next.

Posted in Book reviews | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Decorating for Christmas – the Blyton Way

Christmas today is probably quite different from Christmas back in Blyton’s time. There weren’t any plastic trees for a start (though ones made of feathers or brush bristles had been around a while) and while it’s easy to imagine it all as idyllic and cosy there was at least a certain level of consumerism and tat. Saying that, the majority of the Christmases that feature in Blyton’s works are very wholesome and that’s what I’ve tried to capture in this post.


Making your own paper decorations

Bring a bit of 1950s festivities to your home by cutting out various shapes from paper or card and making all these lovely decorations.

These are designed to be tied to a stick but you could easily string them across a ceiling instead. I think they would look great with red tissue paper over the windows, or even red cellophane saved from sweet wrappers. For the gum feel free to substitute a glue stick!

This one strikes me as challenging – to draw and cut out fourteen identical bells! I think I would have to make a template and trace the rest.

Paper chains can easily be made – there are plenty of shop-bought kits with precut strips and little bits of double sided tape to stick them together. When I was young we had kits of gummed paper that just needed to be licked at the end then stuck down. Or you could easily make your own by cutting up wrapping paper, newspaper or any other paper and gluing them into links.

Very fancy paper chains are shown in one of the magazines, though they wouldn’t be much use for hanging bells from.

I’m not sure how festive fish or birds (excluding robins, of course) are! but these could look quite effective if done using metallic paper as suggested.

These paper robins are definitely Christmassy. If I had the time I would give them a go – maybe in a few years when Brodie is old enough to want Christmas crafting projects.

If you have my crafting skills easy probably isn’t the right word for these, but there are some interesting uses for milk bottle tops if anyone still has the same type!

This looks like it would be really effective (but I’d have to use a template again, me freehanding would just make for really wonky trees!). If you used card instead of paper you could cut two trees and then cut slits in them, one from the top and one from the bottom then slide them together.


Decorating your tree

Something that has become more popular again recently is having a tree that is planted outdoors through the year and then brought in for Christmas before being replanted again. Now it’s being done for eco reasons, but it is mentioned in several of Blyton’s stories as a perfectly normal way of doing things.

Decorating the tree, however, has changed a lot!

Lots of Blyton’s Christmas stories involve trees decorated with toys and gifts which are then given to children attending a party, or the children who live in that home.

In Five Go Adventuring Again Anne hopes for the fairy doll from the top of the tree, whereas now I’m sure most people reuse the same fairy doll every Christmas. In The Christmas Tree Aeroplane Mrs Lee who holds the party gives each child a present (including a toy boat) from the tree. And in The Christmas-Tree Party the tree is hung with dolls, and engines and books and motor-cars. It seems strange to think of toy cars and boats and dolls ‘decorating’ a tree.

Five Go Adventuring Again

The other big difference is using candles as tree-lights! They were clipped on to the ends of branches and must have created a huge fire hazard. This is one ‘tip’ I don’t recommend!

In another make-your-own (but not out of paper) you can have little baskets of sweets on your tree.

It would be fun to make some gay little baskets to hang on the Christmas tree, full of sweets.

We want some flat round corks, some long pins, and some bright coloured wool.

Perhaps Mother has a pickle-cork she can let us have, a nice flat one that we can cut into two, and use for the bases of two baskets. If you are not very old, ask Mother to cut the cork for you, or you may hurt yourself with the knife.

Now we have our flat cork. Stick the long pins in all round – not too close together. Now take a gay length of wool and begin to twist it from pin to pin. You must begin weaving at the base of the pins, of course, not at the top. Go on weaving until the pins are quite covered with the wool, and you have your little basket.

A piece of wire (or a hairpin) will do for a handle. Twist some wool over it, then bend the ends to catch under the edges of the basket, just as in the picture.

Now put your sweets in, and hang your little basket up on a twig of the Christmas tree. If you make half a dozen, they will look very gay hanging on the tree.

I suspect the corks mentioned are cork jar lids rather than the type of corks we use now for wine bottles.


A different kind of tree

There are a few mentions of an outdoor tree – but not the kind we see now with outdoor string lights.

Rather how about decorating a tree (or bush!) for the birds?

As suggested in The Little Christmas Tree

“Robin! I’ve got such a good idea!” [Susan] said. “Even if we don’t feel like using the tree for ourselves, we could use it for the birds. We could hang biscuits and crusts and nuts and bacon rind on it. The birds would love it.”

They took a coco-nut and broke it into bits. They made holes in the middle of the bits and threaded them with string. Then they tied the bits of coco-nut to the branches, just as if they were toys.

The the children brought out some bits of bacon-rind and they hung those on the tree too. They brought out a bone and tied that to one of the strongest branches! Then the children tied crusts of bread and biscuits on to the tree, and then three fine sprays of the millet-seeds that the birds love so much.

  • The Tiny Christmas Tree

I imagine both trees would have to be refreshed and redecorated every few days as the birds ate away at the decorations!


Other decorations

In keeping with bringing a real rooted tree indoors, in several Blyton books and stories families bring in real holly and mistletoe to decorate with. Best to ask permission before you cut any down, though, unless it has grown in your own garden!


 

 

I wonder how many of these things Blyton decorated her house with at Christmas?

Posted in Crafts, Seasonal | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Monday #247

Thursday is the 51st anniversary of Enid Blyton’s death. We have done a special post in the past to mark the occasion but I haven’t anything planned this year, as I write something every week that I hope shows the impact her writing had on me and her many other readers.

Decorating for Christmas – the Blyton way

and

Five Fall Into Adventure

“It’s Santa Claus,” said Brer Rabbit in a deep voice. “I’ve got a sack of presents for you, Brer Fox.”

“Come on down then,” said Brer Fox, pleased.

“I can’t,” said Brer Rabbit. “I’m stuck.” Brer Fox unbolted his door and went into the garden to look up at the roof. Sure enough, in the moonlight he could see someone in his chimney.

Brer Rabbit pretends to be Santa Claus to trick Brer Fox in Brer Rabbit is Santa Claus!  from Enid Blyton’s Book of the Year.

Harry from The Christmas Tree Aeroplane found in The Second Holiday Book is one of Blyton’s almost too good to be true children. A lady with a grand house has invited him and several other local children to her special Christmas party. Harry comes from a poor home and his mother is ill at the time. Still, he is generous without fault. He doesn’t complain when he doesn’t win any of the games, and  gives away his balloon to a child whose balloon has burst. He gives his toy ship from the tree to a child who was accidentally missed out and gives his bonnet from his cracker to another child, too. And he doesn’t say a word about being left without anything to take home. He is lucky that the lady hosting the party notices, and when she hears how he gave all his things to others, she gives him the special Santa-in-an-aeroplane from the top of the tree as well as some cakes, jelly and a ride home in her car.

Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If you like Blyton: The Harveys See it Through by Phyllis Gegan

You might remember the name Phyllis Gegan from my review of A Mystery for Ninepence recently.

I bought this one partly because I like the Collin’s Seagull Library spines and partly because I like collecting books by authors I already have (even if I haven’t read them yet!). Anyway, it’s the second of the only two books she was known to have written, and it’s a different genre.


If a Mystery for Ninepence is like a Blyton mystery, then The Harveys See it Through is like…

As I said above, The Harveys is of a different genre to Gegan’s other book. It is far more like one of Blyton’s ‘family’ books – The Family at Red Roofs, House-at-the-Corner, or even The Four Cousins in a way.

It is not as deep as either of the first two I have mentioned. The Harveys do help someone out and manage their own home in the absence of their father, but as none of them have any deep character flaws to begin with, they don’t have to develop or learn any lessons along the way. Their situation is also not as serious as either of those books – nobody is presumed dead or gravely ill or anything like that.


The cast

The Harveys are

  • Miranda, 15
  • Julian, 13
  • Verna, 11
  • Giles, 9
  • Mr Harvey
  • Mamie (Giles’ spoiled cat)

There is also:

  • Miss Hodges the lodger
  • Mr Blake the neighbour whose garden meets the bottom of the Harvey garden
  • Nicky, 14, and Jo-Ann, 13, Weavers, friends of the children

The general plot

The story opens with the Mr Harvey telling his children that he is to go off to America on business for six weeks. He will leave them housekeeping money, an emergency five pound note, and a grown-up lodger as he doesn’t want them alone over-night. (Their mother died several years before and their daily woman is recovering with a broken leg).

While not overjoyed at the prospect the children take it well and resolve to be sensible about everything.

The main part of the story develops when they discover that Mr Blake has been in a car accident and ended up in hospital. They do not get on with Mr Blake as he unjustly accused Julian of causing the death of his dog. They can see that Mr Blake’s raspberries and currants are ripe, and know that he normally picks them and sells them.

So despite heartily disliking him, and being disliked back just as much, the children spend a lot of their summer holiday picking Mr Blake’s fruit and selling it by the roadside, intending to give him all the proceeds. They even turn a load of it into jam when it looks like it will rot before they can sell it.

When Mr Blake first returns home from the hospital he is incensed to see the Harveys have been in his garden and accuses them of stealing from him. However, when he receives the letter, account book and money from them, he is forced to apologise and a friendship is struck up between the neighbours.

The sub-plot regards the family managing without their father and daily woman. There is the shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry to consider. Things become much worse when a visiting puppy eats his way through several envelopes which had contained a weeks worth of housekeeping money each. They then have to live very frugally – even with using the emergency money – until Mr Blake produces a miracle from the shredded notes.

In between these plots are various bits of fun where the children have their friends over, redecorate their fathers’ room, attend a fair and so on.


What’s Blyton about it?

First up the adults are quickly disposed of, excepting the lodger who is happy to have little to do with managing the children. There are plenty of good meals and even more scrupulous honesty in dealing with Mr Blake’s fruit, down to the last penny spent on sugar for the jam.

As I’ve mentioned, children having to earn money and/or manage a household alone features in a few Blyton books.


Is it as good as Blyton?

No, of course not, but very few of Blyton’s contemporaries do match up in my opinion.

The story lacks a compelling reason for them to be putting such effort into selling the fruit. If Mr Blake had been a very dear friend, I could understand it. Or even if he had been a kindly stranger! However, doing good for the sake of doing good doesn’t work so well.

The children, while likeable and having sufficient personality to stand out from each other, very rarely get cross, fall out, get upset or react in any interesting way. They tease each other, and there is a small amount of upset once or twice but generally they trundle along cheerfully.


Final thoughts

It may sound dull when I describe it, but the story isn’t boring. The ways in which the children manage to pick and sell the fruit is interesting and is interspersed with other plots like their tree-top party and a treasure hunt in the public gardens.

Giles often provides light comic relief with his nonsense over his cat, and his mosaic cake is funny (if concerning on a hygiene level…). There are even a couple of occasions when the children comment on terrible grammar which was appreciated by me, though your mileage may vary!

If you can pick this one up cheaply in a charity shop or online it’s worth reading. And as a bonus it will look good on your bookshelf.

Posted in Book reviews, Reading Recommendations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Enid Blyton Christmas gift guide 2019

This year’s gift guide has been a bit harder to put together. Last year there were plenty of new Noddy-related toys and games tied in with the Dreamworks’ Noddy Toyland Detective tv show. This year, however, none of the big toy retailers have any of those items left in stock and there’s nothing new either.

All is not lost, however, as there are plenty of new books!


Hodder Bumper Short Story Collections

I’ve lost count of how many of these there are now, but it’s somewhere in the region of 20 I’d guess.

This year’s offerings are Animal Stories, Summer Adventure Stories and Tales of Tricks and Treats which I mentioned in my Halloween post.

Animal stories £6.99, Summer Adventure Stories £6.99, Tales of Tricks and Treats £6.99


Malory Towers and St Clare’s

There the new short story collection for Malory Towers, written by several authors (I’ve asked for this!)

New Class at Malory Towers, £6.99

There are also the 2018 editions of Malory Towers and St Clare’s with the old fashioned covers by Ruth Palmer which I have raved about a couple of times. They’re only available as sets at the moment, with 12 for Malory Towers and 9 for St Clare’s as they include the continuation books by Pamela Cox.

Malory Towers boxset, £16.99

St Clare’s boxset £13.99


A few more new books

This year there is also Favourite Enid Blyton Stories which is a collection of excerpts chosen by famous people.

Favourite Enid Blyton Stories £11.99

I’m not sure why I’m including Mystery of the Theatre Ghost because based on my review of the first one, I think it will be pretty terrible. Children might like it, though!

Mystery of the Theatre Ghost £6.99


Enid Blyton quotes on just about any product you could imagine

Amazon is absolutely full of these, all from one company. Unfortunately there are only three choices of quote, ones which are always associated with Blyton –

The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.

Leave something for someone but don’t leave someone for something.

and

If you can’t look after something in your care, you have no right to keep it.

These are wise sayings but give me a falling ash tree quote any day!

But you can have either on a chopping board, pillow, temporary tattoo, bookmark, babygrow, wall plaque, water bottles, cork trivet, coasters, magnetic clips, money box, clock, pin badge, makeup bag, drawstring bag, mirror, tissue box, letter holder, trinket box, clutch bag, phone case, tea towel, and so many more I’ve given up on writing them down.

Chopping board £11.99, Clutch bag £9.99, Tote bag £9.99,

The other unfortunate thing (to me anyway) is all these items are plain white (with the exception of the plain wooden ones) and in my house would get impossibly grubby.

Still, it’s a vast range and not particularly expensive either.


Create your own product

Last year I got a book light with a Famous Five cover on it from Klevercase and I love it. I couldn’t see any Blyton covers on their products this year but they are doing a create your own cover product. So you could upload any book cover from Blyton’s extensive collection and get it made into an e-reader or tablet cover, a book light, a notebook or diary.

Create your own product from £20.00


A new game

There are no new Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups, just the ten that came out in 2016 and 17, not that I’m too upset by that. There were three card games last year and another one this year.

Sticky wicket pranks and diversions, £7.81


 

And a few Noddy bits just so he’s not left out

Noddy backpack

A very expensive Noddy doll by Steiff

And a very expensive Noddy car

Brodie would absolutely love this car.


I hope you all get something nice on Christmas day, Blytonian or otherwise!

Posted in Purchases, Seasonal, Toys and Games | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Monday #246

I did warn you last week: The Christmas posts are starting from now! (There are less than six weeks to go, you know.)

Christmas gift guide 2019

and

If you like Blyton: The Harveys See it Through by Phyllis Gegan

It stood in the hall, with coloured candles in holders clipped to the branches, and gay, shining ornaments hanging from top to bottom. Silver strands of frosted string hung down from the branches like icicles, and Anne had put bits of white cotton-wool here and there to look like snow. It really was a lovely sight to see.

The Kirrin Cottage Christmas tree in Five Go Adventuring Again.

Five Go Adventuring Again

Father Christmas and Belinda is a lovely book full of colour photographs. Belinda’s owner gets a new doll at a Christmas party and relegates her and her doll-friend Tod to the window-ledge because they are old and dirty.

Because of that they are able to spot Father Christmas and he takes them on a sleigh-ride to deliver presents to a few children he has marked as special because of their unhappiness, and for a visit to his castle.

It ends with them being reunited with their owner who has missed them terribly!

Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Naughtiest Girl in the School: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? Part 3

You can find part one, chapters 1-4, here, and part two with chapters 5-8 here.

I am comparing the 1944 5th reprint by George Newnes (which should be more or less identical to the true first edition) to a 2012 edition by Hodder and Stoughton.


CHAPTER IX Rita has a Job for Elizabeth / CHAPTER NINE RITA HAS A JOB FOR ELIZABETH

The editor must have fallen asleep during this chapter as not a single thing changes. To be fair there isn’t very much I would have seized upon as a potential for updating but all the italics are left alone as is the record on the gramophone.


CHAPTER X Joan’s Secret / CHAPTER TEN JOAN’S SECRET

Despite all the italics being left in the previous chapter, several are removed from this one.

  • I tell you I shan’t.
  • I do love them so much
  • I don’t know what you’d do if you did find a letter there one day
  • It was a story

Removing the emphasis can change the meaning of a sentence in quite a subtle way. There is a difference between I do love them so much and I do love them so much for example. Without italics readers will put their own emphasis – or read it flatly.

There are two queers in this chapter. One becomes odd, the other very queer people, is left alone.

Also left is a reference to two shillings. If you’re going to update a book at least be consistent!


CHAPTER XI The Meeting Punishes Elizabeth / CHAPTER ELEVEN THE MEETING PUNISHES ELIZABETH

The original book has the chapter title repeated on odd pages and the book’s title on even ones. Strangely in this chapter the title loses the capital P on the odd pages.

One change I approve of is the removal of silly capital letters. It’s always the Meeting in both, but the meeting is talked about as if it’s a live entity the Meeting hates and so on. Whereas there’s really no need for the box they put the money in to be called the Box. So I approve of it become plain old the box.

More money is changed. Queenie asked for half a crown (two shillings and sixpence) to buy a present for her old nurse’s birthday. Whether you rely on converting two shillings to pounds or consider that she’s asking more a bit more than her weekly pocket money, the new amount should be two pounds fifty or thereabouts. But no. She asks for one pound. How is she supposed to buy a present for a pound? And if all she needs is a pound why can’t she just spend half her pocket money?

John Terry’s request for a spade is originally priced at twelve shillings and sixpence. A considerable amount at over 6 weeks pocket money. This has been updated to five pounds, less than three weeks money. Five pounds seems rather cheap for a spade, especially when John has made a point of saying how expensive it it. Why isn’t it ten or twelve pounds?

In a pointless change refuses to clean it becomes refused to clean it. Elizabeth did refuse to clean it in the past so refused is not incorrect. But she made it clear that she refuses to ever clean it, so refuses is also not incorrect and therefore didn’t need to be changed.

Lastly italics are removed from the first of two italicised words in the sentence Lessons you don’t seem to like, you must miss those you do like.


CHAPTER XII Elizabeth has a Bad Time / CHAPTER TWELVE ELIZABETH HAS A BAD TIME

Italics are attacked inconsistently again. In one case where only half a word is italicised the italics are extended to the whole word I want everyone to I want everyoneThe two more or less mean the same so changing it is pointless. But later however is left half in italics.

Also left is I shall have a few pence over for sweets. You wouldn’t get many sweets for pennies even back in 2012. I remember buying individual penny sweets in high school, but by the time I left (2004) it was mostly two-penny and five-penny sweets. (I shudder remembering the little tray with the sweets on it on the shop counter, and how many fingers must have touched the sweets before anyone bought them!)

Elizabeth’s stamps get updated from twelve penny ones and twelve ha’penny ones to twelve first class ones and twelve second class ones. 

Also in this chapter I first noticed the full stops have been removed from abbreviations like Mr.

This is the only chapter with an illustration for the paperback, but it’s a different one to in the original. Cable depicted Nora speaking to Elizabeth who is in bed, the French mistress praising Elizabeth for good work and Elizabeth raging at the boys who are teasing her.

Hindley shows Elizabeth stuck inside at her desk while her class sketch outdoors.

I’m struck by just how pointed everyone’s shoes are. Can Hindley not draw shoes, but just does crude triangles?


 

The count

Some things are changed more than once, but they are the same change and only get counted once:

Already counted:

Roman numerals to words
Case change for chapter titles
Removal of hyphens from good-bye, to-day, etc
Removal of italics for emphasis
Extra word capitalised at start of chapter
Quotation marks
Dash length

New:

Full stops removed after abbreviations
Queer to odd

Total: 2

Unique changes (some of which will move to the above list if I see more examples later):

Capital letter removed from the Box
Queenie’s money
John Terry’s money
Refuses/refused
Stamps

Total: 5

Total this post: 7

Over all total : 32

Posted in Updating Blyton's Books | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Letters to Enid 18: From volume 2 issue 6

Previous letters pages can be found here.


Letters page from Volume 2, issue 6. March 17th-30th 1954.

OUR

LETTER PAGE

 1. A letter from  Sunbeam Susam Biffen, 11a Hazel Road, Rubery, Birmingham
Dear Miss Blyton,
We are sending you £2 os. 8d. for the little Blind Children. I enclose one News-Sheet, showing how we made this money. Gifts – 18s. 1d. … Earned Money – 11s. 7d. … Puzzle Money – 7s. 10d. … Pocket Money – 3s. 2d. Don’t forget we are always ready to help anyone, you can call on any of us.
Ann, Jane, John, Marlene, Barry, Edward, Brian and Susan. (Sunbeams.)

(What a splendid little band! I am proud of each of you.)

2. A letter from Freda Whale, 53 Clifton Road, Weston-super-Mare.
Dear Enid Blyton,
One day my Uncle Fred found an old sun hat. He put it on and said, “What would people say if I went on the sea-front with this on my head?” And Jimmy, my budgie, said, “Pretty boy!”
Love from,
Freda Whale.

(Your budgie is clever enough to put into a story, Freda!)

3. A letter from Patricia English, Melbur House School, Fore Street, Tregony.
Dear Miss Blyton,
Thank you for our Sunbeam badges. The school is now shining with badges. We are delighted with them and our teacher says she is quite dazzled. All the pupils in our school are now Sunbeams.
Yours sincerely,
Patricia English.

(Yours is the first school in which everyone is a Sunbeam, Patricia. My warm congratulations.)

4. A letter from Doreen Burton, Hole Farm Bungalow, Wareside, Ware.
Dear Enid Blyton,
One day when Mummy was out shopping she bought me one of your magazines. She didn’t know it, but it was the first one out! I liked it so much that she ordered it for me, and I have had it ever since.
Lots of love from, Doreen Burton.

(What a good thing your mother saw it, Doreen! You are one of our oldest readers.)


Four letters this week, and some boys again, even if they didn’t write the letter.

 

Posted in Magazines | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Monday #245

This is the last week before I start on the Christmas posts, you have been warned!

Letters to Enid part 18

and

Updates to the Naughtiest Girl part 3

The Mystery of Banshee Towers is the fifteenth and final Five-Find Outer book. It is fairly widely regarded as the worst of the series and a weak mystery but I don’t think it’s as bad as all that. It’s not my least favourite of the series at any rate.

Banshee Towers is an art gallery which is supposed to be haunted by a wailing banshee. Naturally the Find Outers are curious about this phenomenon and visit, only to become involved in a mystery regarding stolen paintings.

Snubby, real name Peter, would irritate me if I ever met him in real life. Despite that I think he gets rather a harder time than he deserves. He is an orphan who spends school holidays rotating between various aunts and uncles, some of whom seem to rather unwelcoming.

Despite that the best for for Snubby is irrepressible. He is always cheerful and full of mischief. He plays the fool most of the time but he would never play a trick with malice. His best friend is his utterly mad spaniel called Loony.

Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

October 2019 round up

The blog turned 7 years old on Tuesday, so happy birthday to us!


What I have read

I’ve read a lot more this month. I’ve now read 88, so I’m 5 ahead of schedule. Two months left in the year and only 12 books left to read! (I won’t stop if I reach 100 before December 31st of course.)

  • Something Rotten (Thursday Next #4) – Jasper Fforde
  • The Wartime Midwives – Daisy Styles
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
  • Miss Nightingale’s Nurses (Nursing #1) – Kate Eastham
  • Five Get Into Trouble – reviewed here
  • A Mystery for Ninepence – Phyllis Gegan, reviewed here
  • First Among Sequels (Thursday Next #5) – Jasper Fforde
  • The Mystery of the Vanishing Skeleton (Mystery Island #6) – Helen Moss, recommended here.
  • The Liverpool Nightingales (Nursing #2) – Kate Eastham
  • Mr Lemoncello’s All Star Breakout (Mr L’s Library #4) – Chris Gabenstein
  • The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War (The Foyles Girls #2) – Elaine Roberts.
  • The Bomb Girls (The Bomb Girls #1) – Daisy Styles

And I’m still working on:

  • The Naughtiest Girl in the School – I’m doing a text comparison on this one
  • The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel – Diana Gabaldon
  • The Four Streets (Four Streets #1) by Nadine Dorries

I’m really struggling with the graphic novel – I find it really hard to work out what’s going on and who is who!


What I have watched

  • Hollyoaks
  • Finished ER, and felt very sad about it.
  • Only Connect
  • More of Taskmaster
  • Some more of the Letdown
  • The Dark Crystal Resurgence on Netflix. I love the film – though I didn’t discover it was a film until I was about fifteen. I’d had a book based on the film and loved it, so I was amazed to find a DVD in a shop and discover there was a film!
  • The Bookshop, a 2017 film starring Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy
  • Murder She Wrote, seasons five and six

What I have done

  • Visited the Botanic Gardens
  • Gone to several parks
  • Been to the beach in our coats, hats and boots
  • Gone on some very muddy woodland walks
  • Visited the deer at the Scottish Deer Centre
  • Started my Christmas shopping nice and early!
  • Recycled a lot of crisp packets

What I have bought

A new section which won’t appear every month (thankfully for my bank balance).

This month I’ve rediscovered eBay and bought:

  • The Third Holiday Book
  • The Rabbit’s Party and Other Stories

I needed these to help complete the two series they belong to, so I’m down to missing one from each – The Holiday Book and Susan and the Birds and Other Stories. Neither has a dust jacket and both are a little tatty but they were both well under £5 each so I am very pleased.

Posted in Personal Experiences | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My twenty-sixth Noddy book: The second Big Noddy Book

Seeing as it’s Noddy’s 70th anniversary this month I thought I would look at the only Noddy book I have but haven’t yet reviewed.


About the book

The second Big Noddy Book, is as the name suggests, a large volume like an annual. Published in 1952 it has pictures by Beek, the original Noddy illustrator.

In her preface Blyton says:

This is little Noddy’s second Big Book. You liked the first one so much that he thought you would like another. Isn’t he lucky to have Little Books about him, and Big Books, too?

In fact she would go on to write another six big books, and eighteen more little books, not to mention the many many other stories, picture strips, board books etc she wrote about Noddy.


The contents

There is a mix of things, though perhaps not as much variety as some of her other annual-type books. They were all specially written for the book, rather than being taken from her magazines, and as far as I can tell none of them have been re-used (unless their names have been changed. There is a story titled Well, Really, Noddy in a later magazine but it’s not the same story), making this an even nicer book to have.

There are eight short stories, around five pages each: A-tishoo, Noddy and the Little Dolls, Noddy and the Squeaker, Stop Noddy Stop!, Noddy’s Tail, Noddy is Quite Clever, Big-Ears’ Red Hat, and Noddy and the Moon.

The other three stories are in picture-stip format, and those are: Where’s Your Car Noddy?, Well Really Noddy!, and Noddy Gets a Shock.

A Picture to Colour is exactly as it sounds – a colouring page, Can You Find the Twins? is a picture-puzzle and Noddy’s Car is a poem.


The stories

In A-tishoo! Noddy catches a cold – or as he says, a cold has caught him.

His poor car then catches it and Noddy takes care of it by pouring hot water and lemon into its water tank and keeping it warm under a blanket.

In Noddy and the Little Dolls, Noddy is asked to take nine(!) little doll children out for a picnic. Noddy’s car is a marvellous thing clearly as he can drive it with a picnic hamper under his feet (not to mention its ability to catch the cold!). They have a lovely time and a wonderful picnic;

Egg sandwiches, tomato sandwiches, banana sandwiches. Chocolate biscuits, ginger biscuits. Fruit cake and ginger cake. Lemonade and orangeade.

Now I love a banana sandwich but they don’t keep well for long, so I hope they are all right by the time they ate their picnic!

Anyway, when it comes to home-time Noddy carefully counts the dolls to make sure he has them all. But alas! He remembers there are ten of them in total but can only count nine. He is terribly apologetic when he returns the little dolls to Mrs. Jolly-Doll but she laughs. Silly Noddy forgot to count himself!

In Noddy and the Squeaker Noddy goes to a party at Mrs. Fluffy-Doll’s. He wins a squeaker in a cracker and puts it in his pocket without realising what it does.

The squeaker ends up falling into the lining of his shorts and making a noise every time Noddy sits down, and he gets more and more upset thinking he keeps sitting on a cat. Eventually Big-Ears solves the mystery for him.

Noddy borrows Big-Ears’ bicycle in Stop, Noddy, Stop! because his car is in the garage being mended. He stops to buy Big-Ears an ice cream as a thank-you but when he rides back an elephant chases him shouting Stop! and It’s mine!

If you look closely at the two illustrations I’ve included I think you’ll all be able to see why, and it has nothing to do with the ice cream.

In Noddy’s Tail, Noddy finds a tail lying on the road and tries it on for fun. He then forgets about it and takes a clockwork mouse to the train station.

Everyone has a good laugh at his expense – except the owner who comes to claim his property!

Noddy is Quite Clever has Noddy going to tea with Mrs Tubby and Miss Tibby. Miss Tibby is upset as she has had an unpleasant time at the shoe-shop as the toy serving her laughed at her clawless back paws.

Noddy, desperate for some of Mrs Tubby’s chocolate cake, fashions some claws from rose thorns and presents them to Miss Tibby.

In Big-Ears’ Red Hat, Big-Ears’ loses his hat when Noddy drives him very quickly down a hill. Noddy tries his best to find the hat, but all the red things he spots belong to other people.

Just as Big-Ears is getting very cross they arrive back at his house to find the wind has returned his hat for him!

And lastly in Noddy and the Moon, Noddy is at his most foolish as he tries to catch the moon’s reflection in a pond.


The picture-strips

In Where’s Your Car, Noddy? Noddy’s car goes missing – having floated away on a big bunch of balloons!

Then in Well, Really, Noddy, Noddy (who really shouldn’t be allowed to drive!) crashes into a toy house and demolishes it. Seeing as it’s made of building blocks it isn’t too hard to put it together again but he can’t find the chimney. Then follows a lengthy series of visits to different people. Mr Bricks the builder will give Noddy a chimney if he brings him two eggs, the farmer will give him two eggs if he brings him a ladder, and so on. He completes all these tasks – luckily the farmer gives him some milk without  payment of any sort or the story might never have ended – and Noddy gets his chimney.

Only, the house never had a chimney to start with, so he gives it to Mr Tubby for his hen-house.

Noddy Gets a Shock seems to feature his car as well –  I wonder what disaster can possibly befall it now! Well, it seems to have disappeared from in front of the ice cream shop! He and Mr Plod search all over the town for it and hear that a brownie was seen driving it. It turns out that Big-Ears saw it outside the shop for so long he thought that Noddy had forgotten it and took it home for him. Normally Big-Ears is much more sensible than that!


A colouring page, a puzzle and a poem

The colouring page has been mostly done already.

The puzzle is a nice one – all the Beek drawings in this book are great actually;

And here’s the poem;


This is a really lovely book. I often find Noddy a bit tiresome but these stories are so short he doesn’t have time to mope or howl or be annoying. His problems also get solved nice and quickly so he doesn’t seem quite so idiotic!

There are hundreds of lovely illustrations throughout, which makes it very bright and colourful too.

Posted in Book reviews, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Monday #244

Noddy is 70 years old this month! His first book, Noddy Goes to Toyland was published in November 1949. I thought we would have a bit of a Noddy theme today and a review of a Noddy book on Wednesday to celebrate.

The Big Noddy book #2

and

October round up

Oh, Wind, you’re very rough today,
You blow the clouds along,
You puff my chimney smoke away
And sing a windy song.
You shake the washing to and fro,
You make me dance and sing,
You take my little bells and blow
To make it jingle-jing!
Oh, it is a happy thing
To have a little bell to ring!

One of Noddy’s songs from Noddy and Tessie Bear.

Toyland is full of towns and villages populated by toys. There is Toy Village where Noddy lives, Bouncing Ball Village, Golliwog Town, Humming-Top Village, Wooden-Engine Village, Doll’s-house Town, Skittle Town, Toy-Cat Village, Noah’s Ark Town, Rocking Horse Town, Clockwork Clown Village and Toy-Dog Town amongst many others.

Apart from Toy Village the rest are populated by a single type of toy.

 

Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Naughtiest Girl in the School: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? Part 2

You can find part one, chapters 1-4, here.

I am comparing the 1944 5th reprint by George Newnes (which should be more or less identical to the true first edition) to a 2012 edition by Hodder and Stoughton.


CHAPTER V Elizabeth is Naughty / CHAPTER FIVE ELIZABETH IS NAUGHTY

Something I didn’t note the last time, the first word of each chapter is capitalised in the original, the first two in the paperback. I’ve never understood the need for capitalising any words at the start of chapters, to be honest.

I also forgot to mention the punctuation differences. The hardback uses double quotation marks, the paperback single. The hardback also uses a long M dash and the paperback the short N dash.

The only edit to this chapter is changing queer for strange. The same substitution as the other time it has been used so far.

Interestingly Elizabeth still kicks the monitor over, and he still pulls her hair. Usually slaps/kicks/any sort of violence is removed or toned down, like when Darrell slaps Gwen in the first form.

The paperback has its first proper illustration in this chapter, showing the same scene as one from the hardback, Elizabeth kicking the monitor. As there are only four different chapter title vignettes, they start to repeat from this chapter and I won’t bother including them again.

I have many questions about the new illustration. First is, did Elizabeth need a step-ladder to get up on such a high swing, and if she kicks the boy surely she’d get him in the face at that height? The rest concern her outfit. Why is she wearing stripy stockings? The text repeatedly refers to brown stockings. Why is her skirt tartan? That doesn’t match the description of her uniform either. It’s after Easter, so why is she wearing a scarf?


CHAPTER VI Elizabeth joins her Class / CHAPTER SIX ELIZABETH JOINS HER CLASS

The mere threat of violence is removed from this chapter. Nora originally threatens that she will spank you with a hairbrush. This becomes give you what for. Both are followed by Monitors do that sometimes, you know! which makes much more sense in the first example, seeing as she’s already spoken quite severely to Elizabeth before.

After that Elizabeth felt that she couldn’t bear to be spanked by Nora, but that then becomes Elizabeth felt like she couldn’t bear to test Nora’s threat. Why not? She’s intending to push as many boundaries as she can to be sent home!


CHAPTER VII The First School Meeting / CHAPTER SEVEN THE FIRST SCHOOL MEETING

As before all references to the pocket money has changed from two shillings to two pounds. 

All references to money after that also have to be changed, but of course, they get changed with little consistency or thought.

Shillings and sixpences, half-crowns and even a ten-shilling note or two went into the big box becomes Pound coins and fifty pences, five pounds and even a ten pound note or two went into the big box. The sentence begins with Money clinked into [the box] which works better with the longer list of coins and the rarity of a note.

Elizabeth’s money started out as Six shillings, two half-crowns and five sixpences. In the paperback it is Six pound coins, two fifty pence pieces and five twenty pence pieces. Initially they seem to be replacing every shilling with a pound, but a half-crown is two and a half shillings, not half a shilling, so replacing them with fifty pence pieces greatly reduces how much Elizabeth had. Elizabeth had thirteen shillings and six pence, so she should have put in thirteen pounds and fifty pence, surely?

There are two requests for money at this first meeting.

I should like sixpence extra becomes I should like sixty pence extra. Again sixpence should equal fifty pence if two shillings equals two pounds.

Then May I have one and ninepence extra to pay for an electric light bulb? is changed to May I have ninety pence extra… Surely that’s £1.90 by the editors logic (if one shilling is one pound, and sixpence becomes sixty)? But if actual logic is applied, based on the 1s=£1, it would be £1.75, as nine pence is 3/4 of a shilling. Oddly they still specify electric light bulb in the paperback, as if there would be another kind!

What doesn’t change is that the request for six/sixty pence is to go towards a new gramophone!

Also inconsistent is the use of form. When describing the room it’s said that all the children are sitting on forms. Forms are also mentioned later in the chapter. Yet, the line Ruth saw the purse on the form is changed to Ruth saw the purse on the floor. If they didn’t think children would know what a form was, why not change all uses to bench? Why change one to floor, when it’s already been said that Elizabeth pushed the purse under herself and sat on it?

The one queer in this chapter is also changed to strange (hardly widening the vocabulary!).

There’s another illustration for this chapter, and again they’ve shown the same scene.

I’m still baffled by the uniform. The other girls seem to be wearing leggings instead of stockings, and Elizabeth has knee length leggings over her stripy stockings? There’s a whole page dedicated to Elizabeth arguing about wearing her socks instead of stockings. Surely, SURELY, if she then wore stripy stockings instead of plain Nora would have had something to say about it? It’s like the illustrator either didn’t read the book, or just didn’t care that her work doesn’t match the text. They’re also sitting on chairs and not forms.


CHAPTER VIII The First Week at School / CHAPTER EIGHT THE FIRST WEEK AT SCHOOL

There are more references to gramophones and records in this chapter, but only one of them is changed from She wondered if they had the gramophone record to just the record. Records would still have been a very outdated term in 2012! I know records have had an upsurgence lately as people like the sound of them but it’s a reasonably niche and specialist interest and it’s unlikely that schools or girls of 10 would be in the record buying club.

It’s said that the children can go to the cinema once a week, which got me wondering if that was likely on £2 a week. I decided in the end it was possibly, if they went to a special kids club showing (Odeon, Cineworld and many of the other big chains do these for £1.50-£2.50 on weekend mornings). They’d not be able to buy any popcorn or sweets, though!


The count

Some things are changed more than once, but they are the same change and only get counted once:

Already counted:

Roman numerals to words
Case change for chapter titles
Removal of hyphens from good-bye, to-day, etc
Removal of italics for emphasis
Queer to strange

New:

Extra word capitalised at start of chapter
Quotation marks
Dash length

Total: 3

Unique changes (some of which will move to the above list if I see more examples later):

Spank with a hairbush to give what for
Be spanked to test her threat
List of money going into box
Elizabeth’s money
Request for sixpence
Request for one and nine
Form to floor
Gramophone record to record

Total: 8

Total this post: 11

Over all total : 25

Posted in Updating Blyton's Books | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remember, remember the fifth of November

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot.
There is no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Blyton clearly agreed as she featured Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night several times in different books, stories and poems. That or she just found it a good inspiration for writing!

I’ve already written one post featuring various excerpts from books and stories about bonfires, guys and fireworks. We’ve also already posted a couple of poems, The Bonfire at Night and Firework Night.


On Bonfire Night

On Bonfire Night is the first story in volume 1, issue 17 of Enid Blyton’s Magazine. It runs for eight pages so I won’t reproduce it in full here.

on bonfire night

Health and safety clearly being a concept unknown in 1953, six children have saved up their money to club together and buy a load of fireworks to go with their bonfire. (Blyton does work in a lengthy warning about keeping pets indoors, however). They plan to make a magnificent guy and invite lots of friends to share their fireworks with.

Once they have saved a whole pound they go to the toy shop and buy a selection of fireworks. Some of the possible choices were Rockets, Roman Candles, Big-Flashes, Swish-Bangs, Catherine Wheels and Bang-Jumpers.

Bonfire Night arrives but Harry, one of the group, is so eager to have fun he starts setting off fireworks on the way to the bonfire site. He scares a horse which goes running off, and George, the main character of the story ends up spending bonfire night in a ditch taking care of the frightened horse and so misses the fireworks.

He and the rest of his group – except Harry of course – get another bonfire night courtesy of the farmer and his wife.

An interesting moral tale for modern readers! Children can buy fireworks and light them, just as long as they don’t throw them at horses or forget to shut the cat in a room!


A letter from Bimbo

In the same issue as On Bonfire Night Blyton sends the ‘take care of your pets’ message via Bimbo, her Siamese cat.

 


Bonfire Night is Coming

Enid Blyton’s Magazine volume 2 issue 22 comes a year after volume 1 issue 17, so Bonfire Night has come around again.

In this one David is a member of a fireworks club, but he is the poorest member and can’t contribute to the funds. He thinks that’s not fair of him and proposes to resign but the others insist he stays, and makes his contribution by collecting firewood and things to burn on the bonfire.

He works very hard and collects twigs from the woods, cardboard boxes, old bits of furniture and even a mouldy old cushion. As it turns out the cushion contains a load of cash, and upon returning it to its owner he gets to keep ten whole pounds. He can then buy some fireworks and put the rest aside for his mother’s birthday and other nice things.


A letter from David

David, the boy from Bonfire Night is Coming writes a letter in a similar vein to Bimbo last year. (Though strangely they’ve squeezed it in thirteen pages before the actual story and it rather gives away the ending!)


The Firework Club

Two years later in volume 4, issue 20 The Fireworks Club follows a very similar pattern to Bonfire Night is Coming.

Tom is also part of a fireworks club, his family aren’t as poor as David’s but he gets very little pocket money. The money he does earn doing chores he spends on flowers for his sick grandmother, replacing his little sisters’ lost pocket money, and nylons for his mother’s birthday.

His group are also kind, however, and insist that he still comes to the firework night but won’t be allowed to light any as he has contributed the least money.

His good deed is finding a dropped box of fireworks and returning them to the owner instead of keeping them for his club. His reward is an invitation to a grand fireworks party the next night.

You can read the story in full here.


A letter from Enid

Enid Blyton’s Magazine volume 5 issue 23 is another November issue. Enid begins with her usual letter to her readers which includes another warning about caring for pets on bonfire night.


One Bonfire Night

Also in volume 5 issue 23 is One Bonfire Night. Despite the name being similar to the first story in this post, and it is about caring for animals again, it’s a very different story.

First it’s set in the made up Village of Tick-Tack, which is populated by little folk and witches. The little folk are most anxious that their bonfire night with fireworks not upset any animals so they send a bell-man though the village to warn everyone to keeps their cats, dogs and ponies etc inside.

Witch Green-Eyes is incensed at being told what to do and refuses to keep her cat, Cinders, in. Well, poor Cinders is scared out of her wits and runs away. She finds a nice new owner and never returns to help Witch Green-Eyes with her spells.

Read the whole story here.


Noddy and the Bonfire

Readers got a second bonfire story in the next issue as well, though since this magazine came out on November 20th it’s not a bonfire night story.

Noddy and Big-Ears light a bonfire to burn all their rubbish (a concept which might seem a bit strange today.)  Big-Ears is very firm that Noddy must not light the fire himself. Noddy loves the bonfire so much that he then goes and lights the Bear family’s rubbish heap next door. Mrs Bear is quite happy that it has been done, because it has started raining, but Bruiny Bear howls because he’s hidden a birthday present in the rubbish and now it’s gone.

Poor Noddy has to pay all his saved money to Bruiny to replace it. I actually feel quite sorry for Noddy as there’s no way he could have known about the present and it’s a rather silly place to have hidden it. But then he does light the fire for selfish reasons rather than genuinely wanting to help!

You can read the story in full here.


Adventure for a Guy (a short story)

Volume 6 issue 23 is another November issue, with another seasonal story. This is more of a mystery tale, involving Peter and George (but not of the Secret Seven).

They chat to a newspaper seller who complains that his money keeps getting stolen when he goes for a cup of tea. He won’t give up his tea, and he must leave the tin for people to put money in as they take papers, so what can he do?

Nobody would steal if there was a policeman watching, but that would only prevent a theft not catch the thief. What he needs, he says, is an invisible man.

Peter dresses as a guy and George wheels him into position near the newspaper stand. With George inside a shop, Peter watches lots of honest people putting in a penny and taking a paper. Then someone else comes along and steals the whole lot!

Luckily Peter recognises who it is and they can confront him later.

There’s a nice little bit about the boys honesty here – they’ve promised not to ever beg for money with a guy so if anyone gives them anything they’ll give it to the newspaper man.

Read the story in full here.


Bonfires (a poem by Enid Blyton)

I don’t have access to many Sunny Stories but number 44 has a poem about Bonfires, which hasn’t been published anywhere else.

When dark November comes along
And leaves are falling down,
The gardener builds a bonfire up
Of rubbish old and brown.

He strikes a match – he lights the fire –
It flares up high and bright!
We jump and dance around in glee,
It’s such a lovely sight!

The flames go up, the smoke blows round,
The bonfire crackles loud,
It sizzled like a frying-pan,
And sparks fly in a crowd!

It looks so lovely in the dark –
Oh, gardener, may we stay
And sit close by it all night long?
Do tell us that we may!


Guy Fawkes Day (a poem by Enid Blyton)

Another poem which hasn’t been used elsewhere is Guy Fawkes Day from Teachers World November 1922.

In gardens all around are bonfires big and small,
And we’ve got a simply lovely one behind our garden wall;
I’m very busy poking it to make it flaming-red,
And Peter’s getting all our fireworks from the garden-shed.

The sky is full of whizzing rockets- just a streak of light,
And then a bunch of coloured stars comes falling thro’ the night,
Then bang! A Roman candle shoots its glory in the air,
And it lights up all the garden with a green and yellow glare!

The catherine wheels are spluttering and whizzing round and round,
And golden rain is dripping with a pretty crackling sound;
Funny little squibs are jumping everywhere about,
And some go hopping in the fire, and find they can’t get out!

Oh! poke the bonfire harder, till the sky is all a-glow,
And shout, “three cheers for Guy who lived so very long ago!”
For whatever poor old Guy Fawkes did that shouldn’t have been done,
It’s all because of him we’re having fireworks and fun!


Bobby’s Fireworks

This one’s also from Teachers World, November 1938 this time.

Bobby has bought a lot of fireworks for fireworks night and he and his friends have been building a bonfire on the hill. One evening he takes an old chair that his granny has given him to burn, and finds the shepherd has fallen and hurt his leg.

The shepherd begs Bobby not to leave him – not even to fetch help – so Bobby sets off all his rockets a few at a time until help arrives.

The doctor who treats the shepherd gives Bobby some money as a reward so he can guy even more fireworks!

Read it in full here.


Mister Guy Fawkes

Mister Guy Fawkes, I’m afraid,
Was not a kindly man,
With others helping him he laid
A bad and foolish plan
They said, “We don’t like James the First
Upon the English throne,
We think he is the very worst
Of all the kings we’ve known.”
So quite a lot of time they spent
Within a cellar small
Beneath the Houses of Parliament,
And there, against the wall,
The stores the gunpowder away,
A very deadly thing,
To blow up Parliament the day
‘Twas opened by the King.
But someone heard about the plot
And to the cellar sped,
Discovered Guy Fawkes on the spot-
And so he lost his head!
And ever since we all remember
Guy Fawkes’ wicked plan,
And on the fifth of each November
We do all we can
To make a really frightful noise
With fireworks loud and bright!
We’ll thank old Guy Fawkes, girls and boys,
For starting Firework Night!

A nice little history lesson in a poem. I wonder if children now are as aware of the reason for the 5th of November celebrations as they presumably were in Blyton’s time. You don’t see children making Guys anymore, and I don’t know if many displays still put Guys on them.

It’s strange to see her (twice) thanking Guy Fawkes for his actions. Bonfire night is meant to be a celebration of foiling the plot! Maybe ‘thanks for being so incompetent, Guy, so that nobody died but we get to have bonfire night’ just wouldn’t fit into a poem.


My house has a great view of one of the two parks the fireworks are set off from, but I won’t be home until 8.30, long after all the fun, on November 5th this year. Oh well – I hope you can all go and see the fireworks and have lots of fun.

Posted in Magazines, Poetry, Seasonal | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment