Monday #237

Search terms #10

and

On my bookshelf 6

Fifth Formers of St Clare’s is not the fifth book in the series, even it it sounds like it should be. It is actually the sixth and final book, after three books in the first form, one in the second and one in the fourth.

There are three new girls this year; Anne-Marie Longden who considers herself a great poet, Felicity Ray who is actually a great musician who has moved up a form, and Alma Pudden who has been kept down from the sixth form. Further down the school there is also Antoinette, a sister of Claudine’s.

Each of the new girls creates some sort of drama or interest; but the star of the book has to be Mam’zelle who, upon thinking the school is full of burglars ends up locking several girls in cupboards.

Naomi Barlow lives at Ring O’ Bells Cottage in Ring O’ Bells Wood. When the Lyntons (and Barney) meet her they are immediately taken with how she resembles an elderly Red Riding Hood. They think she is perhaps a witch, as she has green eyes, and Ring O’ Bells is the sort of place where you could easily believe in witches. She is a descendent of Old Mother Barlow, who, as the legends say, was once threatened by a pack of wolves. She was saved when the bells of Ring O’ Bells hall rang out and alerted the villagers to the danger. So, perhaps there is some magic in her family!

ring o bells mystery

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Code reader from The Famous Five’s Survival Guide

Published in 2008, The Famous Five’s Survival Guide is now, as far as I know, sold out and out-of-print. There may be a few copies lurking in bookshops but on the whole if you want one; you’ll need to go for second-hand.

There’s just one problem with that. The book should come with a code reader – a thin bit of card with holes cut in it, attached to the book by a bit of red ribbon. Unfortunately the second-hand copies often miss this. Either the previous owner has untied it to use it (though it’s long enough to reach without doing so) or it has accidentally pulled free.

I know this because I have had three or four people contact me in the last year or two with the same story. They had bought a second-hand copy of the book, and it was missing the code reader. I’ve sent photos, and more recently scans of my code reader to these people, so that they can decode the letter on page 31. I’m not sure that it’s integral to solving the mystery, but it must be frustrating for readers for it to be missing none the less.

Anyway, I thought that I should just put the code reader on here so that anyone who needs it can save a copy and print it out, without having to wait for me to read my emails and send a reply. It’s taken me this long, though, as I kept forgetting to take it into work, but I now have my own scanner. So here it is! (And as you can see the hole on the left where the ribbon was tied is almost torn through).

When printed the code reader should be roughly 15cm wide and 10.5cm tall, so you may have to fiddle with your printer settings to get it the right size.

I will also include the secret message you are trying to reveal:

Royal dragon of Siam stolen from king of Siam. It is in my possession. You must return the Dragon. If you fail there will be war.

I’ve made the text above white so I don’t spoil it for you, but you can click and drag to highlight and read it if you need the extra help.

Happy code cracking!

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If you like Blyton: The Cherrys by Will Scott

I’ll begin this with two points:

One – I feel bad about recommending this series because the books are quite hard to find and rather expensive when they are for sale. But not bad enough to not write this post.

Two – That’s not a grammatical error in the title. The family’s surname is Cherry. When talking about them they are The Cherrys. I know it looks really wrong, but it isn’t.


The Cherry series

There are fourteen books in Will Scott’s Cherry series, published from 1952 to 1965.

The Cherrys of River House (1952)
The Cherrys and Company (1953)
The Cherrys by the Sea (1954)
The Cherrys and the Pringles (1955)
The Cherrys and the Galleon (1956)
The Cherrys and the Double Arrow (1957)
The Cherrys on Indoor Island (1958)
The Cherrys on Zigzag Trail (1959)
The Cherrys’ Mystery Holiday (1960)
The Cherrys and Silent Sam (1961)
The Cherrys’ Famous Case (1962)
The Cherrys to the Rescue (1963)
The Cherrys in the Snow (1964)
The Cherrys and the Blue Balloon (1965)

I’ve got two Cherrys book. Book 12, The Cherrys to the Rescue was my mum’s, and book 11 The Cherrys Famous Case was given to me by a very generous stranger in return for some special edition stamps. It wasn’t as weird as that sounds. A lady posted on the Enid Blyton Society Forums that she had a copy of a Cherrys book and she’d like it to go to a good home. I was the first to respond and she offered to post it to me, her only request was that I send her some British stamps in return.

The first twelve books are illustrated by Lilian Buchanan (who did five of the Find-Outers books), though I can’t find any information on the last two books.

An illustration from The Cherrys to the Rescue on the left, and one from The Cherrys Famous Case on the right.


What are the books about?

The Cherrys are a family of four children, Jimmy, Jane, Roy and Pam, and their parents, Captain and Mrs Cherry, and also their monkey Mr Watson, and parrot Joseph.

Captain Cherry, a retired explorer, likes to create mysteries and adventures for his children. These they call ‘happenings’ and together they explore, solve, hunt, search, investigate, hide, escape… and generally have a very jolly time. The happenings occur in several fictional places, set around the Kent coast mainly. Market Cray, St Mary’s Cray, St Denis Bay, and so on are loosely based on real places.

In some of the books they are joined by others such as the Pringle family and the Wilks family.


The Cherrys’ Famous Case

This book begins with the children moping. Captain Cherry is away and as [he] was always the one to get things going when you had nothing to do. His ‘happenings’ as they were called – those wonderful adventure games that were better than any games you ever thought of – were famous with the Cherrys and the Pringles and Mr Wilks next door.

Roy is reading a detective book and says it would be fun to try to follow clues. It’s just his luck that the next day Captain Cherry takes them to visit a professor friend, and he just so happens to have lost a parcel. Perhaps it was stolen! The Cherrys for a police force and must put together a suspect list, find clues and investigate this crime.

Of course this is another ‘happening’ all set up by the Big (as the adults are known). The Littles (as the children are known) solve it in the end, having worked out that the real culprits are Captain Cherry, Mr Wilks and Mr Pringle.


The Cherrys to the Rescue

In The Cherrys to the Rescue, it’s Jimmy who gets the idea for the happening, when his father tells a story about rescuing a professor from the jungle.

Suddenly Jimmy gave a jump. “That would be a good idea!”

Everyone was interested, because ideas for ‘happenings’, their own wonderful adventure games, were always so very welcome at River House.

“If only we could have a missing professor we could organize a relief expedition and rescue him.”

“Absolutely smashing!” cried Joe Pringle. “It would take hours and hours!”

Captain Cherry offers to be the professor, but Roy decides it isn’t fair – poor father always does the organising of the happenings and thus can’t take part. Before they can argue to much about it, Mr Wilks’s brother from the Isle of Wight arrives. They invite him to join their picnic, but he never returns from taking his car to the garage.

I haven’t had time to reread this so I’m not sure how long it takes them to realise that Mr Wilks’s brother has taken the role of the missing professor. Either way, they throw themselves into trying to find him. Things are muddled by the involvement of two mysterious boys they nickname Thin and Fat, as the Cherrys follow the trail Mr Wilks’s brother has left.

Of course they reunite with Mr Wilks’s brother in the end, and the solutions to various puzzles are revealed.


Like Blyton but not like Blyton

Featuring nice, middle-class children of the 1950s having adventures, Enid Blyton and Will Scott’s books have a lot in common

However, there is one huge difference between Scott’s stories and Blyton’s. In Blyton’s books parents are generally packed off as soon as possible – through trips abroad, hospitalisation, caring for sick relatives, or the children themselves go off on camping/hiking/walking/cycling tours to get away from authority. Only then can they fall into hair-raising danger.

Will Scott, however, has not only the Cherry parents but also the Pringles and Wilks parents as well as other adults just as embroiled in the happenings as the children are. Of course the treasure hunt or kidnap trails are all entirely fictional, but everyone enters with such enthusiasm that they become very real. The clues and trails are just as satisfying as are any solutions made.

Much like Blyton’s stories, the Cherrys’ tales are supported by lovely covers and illustrations, by Lilian Buchanan as I mentioned above. What they also have are endpaper maps, illustrating the areas in which the book’s happenings take place.

On the left is the map from The Cherrys to the Rescue (unfortunately my book is an ex-library copy and the left of the map is missing from the front, and the right is missing in the back. I was able to scan each part separately and put them back together though!), and on the right is the one from The Cherrys Famous Case.


So if you ever stumble upon a Cherrys book I heartily recommend them, and I can only hope that one day I can find some more of them myself.

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Letters to Enid part 14

Previous letters pages can be found here.

Again there is no regular letters page as instead we have the remaining prize winners from the Christmas competition.

From the newsletter at the back of the magazine:

NO LETTER PAGE. I am giving this up again in order to complete the list of the Queen’s-Message prize-winning names. It is so very exciting to see your name in print, isn’t it, and fathers and mothers like to see it too. All parents are delighted when one of their children does well. You should just see some of the letters I get from your mothers when you succeed in anything!


Competition winners from Volume 2, issue 2. January 20th-February 2nd 1954

OUR CHRISTMAS COMPETITION

Here are the rest of the messages sent to the queen.

I am sending you and the Duke of Edinburgh, best wishes for a very Happy Christmas, from my two little sisters and myself. We hope you have an enjoyable time in New Zealand and that the rest of your tour will be just as pleasant.
Vivian Matthews, aged 9,
Grays, Essex.

On behalf of the children of Horton Bank Top Primary School, I send you our warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas. Although you are hundreds of miles away I know that every British boy and girl is thinking of you today, and we hope that when you think of  your own children you will also remember us.
June Lombers, aged 10,
Bradford, Yorks.

Christmas Greetings and New Years Wishes from the children of Wivenhoe County Primary School. We hope you and the Duke of Edinburgh will enjoy yourselves on your tour of the Commonwealth.
Shane Parker, aged 10, 
Wivenhoe, Essex

My dear and much loved Queen,
Most gracious lady ever seen,
First sovereign round the world to fly,
Emblem of peace none can deny.
May your Christmas happy be
With all your Empire family.
A day with all your peoples dead,
So memorable in future years.
When you return our cry will be,
“God bless our Queen and long live she.”
Denise Yarker, aged 11,
Burley-in-Wharfe, Yorks.

As Christmas draws near and you are so far away from those who are nearest and dearest to you, may I, in my small way, wish you the happiest Christmas ever.
As you are taking your message of Goodwill and friendship to all your subjects overseas, we shall be thinking of you here at home, and when we hear your voice speaking to us on Christmas Day you will not seem so very far away from us.
Please accept my greeting as coming from all your children here in England.
Margaret Peat, aged 13,
Sheffield, Yorks.

The Children of Cholmondeley School would like to wish you and the Duke of Edinburgh a Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year. We will all be thinking of you in England and looking forward to hearing your voice. We offer our sincere good wishes for a long, happy and peaceful reign.
Marjorie Griffiths, aged 14,
Malpas, Cheshire


I wonder if Marjorie ever thought that the Queen’s reign would still be going 65 years later?

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Monday #236

Letters to Enid part 14

and

If you like Blyton: The Cherrys by Will Scott

The Twins at St Clare’s is the first book in the St Clare’s series. The titular twins, Pat and Isabel don’t want to go to St Clare’s, they want to go somewhere much posher, so when they get to St Clare’s they rebel and refuse to follow the rules. They only make things miserable for themselves, however, and soon realise that St Clare’s is a good school, and perhaps their classmates could be good friends too.

Jimmy Brown starts out the Galliano’s Circus books as a pretty average child. Actually, that doesn’t really change, he stays down-to-earth and kind, but instead of average village child be becomes average circus child. He and his family join Galliano’s Circus, and Jimmy quickly makes friends with more of less everyone in the circus, always helping out and enjoying all the wonderful experiences that go along with living in a working circus.

He even becomes a performer himself after teaching his beloved dog Lucky to do tricks.

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On my bookshelf part 5

I have written about most of my Blyton books already, but there are more children’s books in my collection. I have another shelf of mostly vintage books and one of mostly newer ones, which also has my collection of Blyton biographies.


Some vintage children’s books

From the left;

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce in a 1970s edition formerly a library book.

An huge hardback omnibus of the first four Borrowers books by Mary Norton and a paperback of the last book The Borrower’s Avenged.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman (this is actually a recent paperback).

Jean Becomes a Nurse by Yvonne Trewin.

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. I absolutely love the film but have never finished the book as I found it quite slow.

The Story of The Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit, which I liked but it’s not what I expected from the title. It’s more akin to The Family at Red Roofs than The Treasure Hunters.

Two ‘Cherries’ titles by Will Scott (these are so hard to find!) The Cherrys to the Rescue and The Cherrys’ Famous Case.

The Treasure of Trevellyans by Doris Pocock (bought just because I liked the cover).

Torridon’s Surprise by Mary Muir, this is set in Scotland and I’m looking for the first in the series so I can start reading.

The Secret of the Loch and The Secret of Grange Farm by Frances Cowen.

Then I have some Collin’s Seagull Library books, I love the spines on these and can’t resist if I see them going cheaply in charity shops. They are The Harveys See it Through by Phyllis Gegan, The Children of Primrose Lane by Noel Streatfeild (I have more of hers further along the shelf), The Red Flower Mystery by Juliet Marais Louw, and A Mystery for Ninepence by Phyllis Gegan.

I should put Torridon’s Surprise by the other Seagull Library books, and put the two Phyllis Gegans together – I’m seriously looking at my shelves anew doing these posts.

After that is Sue Barton Student Nurse by Helen Dore Boylston.

Then some school books – Queen of the Daffodils by Leslie Laing, Three Terms at Uplands, The Leader of the Lower School and The School at the Chalet all by Angela Brazil. I’m now questioning why I’ve split my Angela Brazils onto two shelves and how to fix it. Lastly, Kits at Clynton Court School by May Wynne.

Finally, the rest of the Noel Streatfeilds. Party Frock, Ballet Shoes, Apple Bough, The Painted Garden, By Special Request and The Fearless Treasure.

I have to admit I haven’t read quite a lot of these books! I just couldn’t help buying them because they look nice!  At a rough count I have read 14 out of the 29, so not quite half.


Some newer children’s books amongst other things

First, which you can barely see, is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a special edition with the characters names changed to that of my family. It was a present. I’ve read the story but not in that edition, as I find it really weird!

Then are my Roald Dahls (not the most modern of children’s books, but newer than a lot of what I have on my other shelves);

Storyteller, the Life of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock, which I’ve only ever read the first chapter or so of.

The Magic Finger, Esio Trot, Fantastic Mr Fox, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, The Roald Dahl Diary 1997, Boy and Going Solo, Danny Champion of the World, George’s Marvellous Medicine, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Other Stories, The Witches, The Twits, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Great Glass Elevator.

I should also have a copy of Matilda, but I think I might have lent it to my sister. As you can see lots of the Dahls are very well read. My favourites are mostly the longer one; The BFG, The Witches, Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Then some much newer stuff: Diamonds and Daggers by Elen Caldecott, Mr Lemoncello’s Library Olympics (I have read two more in this series, and they are great literary and inventive fun) by Chris Grabenstein, Pea’s Book of Holidays and Pea’s Book of Big Dreams by Susie Day. I have reviewed Pea’s Book of Holidays as it has a Blyton connection.

I have the whole Anastasia Krupnik series by Lois Lowry, they have been read so many times that they are falling apart. The omnibus of the first three books actually has a chunk missing and I really need to get a new copy so I can re-read. In a similar vein, two of the Little Sister books by Allan Frewin Jones. There are a dozen or more of these and I’d love to find some more.

Some classics from the Parragon library. My aunt used to buy me boxed sets of these for my birthdays, so I had dozens but I only kept my favourites (I don’t think I even read them all). I have; A Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson Burnett, Treasure Island by R. L. Stevenson, What Katy Did by Susan M Coolidge (not sure why I didn’t keep the rest of the Katy books!), and Heidi by Johanna Spyri. I’m also wondering why I didn’t keep ones like The Secret Garden! I would like to replace some of these with older editions, if it weren’t for considerations of money and space!

Anyway. Another Noel Streatfeild, Ballet Shoes for Anna, Love From Greg by Maureen Stewart (I’d love to find Dear Emily by the same author, to find out more about Emily, who Greg is writing to in his book).

Then we are back to Blyton stuff! There are four of the Famous Five Adventure Game Books, some with the dice and cards still there. The Whispering Island, The Shuddering Mountain, The Wailing Lighthouse and The Secret Airfield. I’ve never played any of them, and there are eight in total.

The rest are biographies/autobiographies. Enid Blyton by George Greenfield (her literary agent) Enid Blyton and her Enchantment with Dorset by Andrew Norman, So You Think You Know Enid Blyton’s Famous Five? by Clive Gifford (actually a quiz book), Looking For Enid by Duncan MacLaren (gets slated by many fans but I enjoyed it), A Childhood at Green Hedges by Imogen Smallwood (Blyton’s younger daughter), Tell Me About Enid Blyton by Gillian Baverstock (Blyton’s older daughter), Enid Blyton at Old Thatch by Tess Livingstone, Enid Blyton by Barbara Stoney (the seminal biography), The Story of My Life by Enid herself, The Famous Five; Everything You Wanted to Know by Norman Price, and The Enid Blyton Story by Bob Mullan. I’ve also recently purchased The Blyton Phenomenon by Sheila Ray and slotted that in beside the Stoney biography.

On top are;

The Clue of the Velvet Mask by Carolyn Keene. I have hundreds of Nancy Drews but this is my only vintage hardback. The rest are 80s and 90s paperbacks are are stacked in my wardrobe.

The Parent Trap by Erich Kastner, which is really quite different from either of the movies.

The Railway Children by E Nesbit. I’ve not read this edition but I have read the book at least twice before.

The Mysterious Boy by Julie Robinson.

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August 2019 round up

It’s September now, and judging by the sudden plummet in temperatures, Summer is firmly over!


What I have read

I did quite well even though I didn’t read much the week I was on holiday. I spent several evenings in the hot tub then, though, and I thought it inadvisable to take a book in with me! I’m still six books ahead of schedule so I’m doing fine.

What I finished in August:

  • Baby. Boom! – Helen Wallen
  • The Mummy Lessons – Helen Wallen
  • Outlander (Outlander #1) – Diana Gabaldon
  • Discovering Scotland’s Lost Local Lines – Julian Holland*
  • Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next #2) – Jasper Fforde
  • Lies We Tell Mothers – Suzy K. Quinn
  • The Clippie Girls – Margaret Dickinson
  • The Foyles Bookshop Girls (The Foyles Girls #1) – Elaine Roberts

And I’m still working on:

  • The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War (The Foyles Girls #2) – Elaine Roberts.
  • The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next #3) – Jasper Fforde
  • The Devil Wears Prada – Lauren Weisberger
*Probably not the Julian Holland from The Naughtiest Girl books.

I made the same mistake this month and started on the second Foyles Girls book, not realising it was the second in the series. I then read the first, and as I’ve started the second feel I should finish it even though the first wasn’t that great.

Talking of ‘not great’ I (and this is rare) do not recommend The Clippie Girls unless you want to be 30% bored, 30% irritated by almost all the main characters, 10% incredulous at the ridiculous birth details, and 20% in a rage at the hundreds of times the lead female characters bite their lips. The remaining 10% was probably OK. So far in the Foyles Girls books there has only been half a dozen lip-bitings, though most have ended in the metallic taste of blood. Who are these lip chewing women and how have they not disfigured themselves to the point of no return??

Ahem. Anyway, does anyone else find it hard to give up on a rubbish book?


What I have watched

  • Hollyoaks
  • ER season 13
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I’m inclined to try the book now.
  • Murder She Wrote season 5

What I have done

  • Found a few more Oor Wullies
  • Brodie turned two (how??) and had a party
  • Visited the St Andrews Sea Life Centre
  • Organised a LOT of crisp packets for charity
  • Launched my board game library
  • Went on holiday! We stayed on a farm near Banchory in Aberdeenshire, and visited somewhere new every day. We went to Crathes Castle (lovely gardens and an adventure playground), The Deeside Vintage Steam Rally (lots of vintage tractors and other vehicles), The Den and The Glen (lots of life-sized fairy-tale and nursery rhyme characters, castles, vehicles and play parks in a huge garden), Stonehaven beach and park, the Grampian Transport Museum, and the Brechin Castle Centre (no castle, but a large play park with sledges and pedal carts etc).
  • Went to our favourite beach for a paddle and sandcastles, and found a crab and some shrimp-like things

 

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Monday #235

August round up

and

On my bookshelf part 5

The Mystery of the Vanished Prince is the ninth mystery for the Five-Find Outers. As the title suggests the mystery is that a young prince has gone missing. Having already dressed up as the prince’s family, the Five-Find Outers realise that they have significantly muddied the waters of Mr Goon’s investigation, and so it’s up to them to find him. Their clues take them to a baby show, looking for twins, and with a little help from Ern and his brothers, they of course solve the mystery.

Lucian is the unfortunate nephew of Mr and Mrs Eppy,  who are taking a cruise along with the Mannering/Trent children and Mrs Mannering. He latches onto the children straight away as they are the only ones of his age aboard. Although he irritates them at times by being a bit weedy and repeating oh I say a million times, he comes in very useful as a translator and haggler when Lucy-Ann wants to buy a present for Philip’s birthday. It is of course that present which starts the whole adventure. He also screws up his courage near the end of the book to help the children after they have fallen into his uncle’s clutches. I always hope that he is happier once his uncle is out of his life.

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Letters to Enid part 13

I have done all the letters page from the issues of volume 1, and now we have reached the start of volume 2. Previous letters pages can be found here.

There is actually not a letters page in this volume. There are, however, pieces written and sent in by children so I will include them, as part of the idea of this series is to create a digital record of the children’s names and letters so that they might find them again as adults.

Blyton says in her newsletter at the back:

OUR LETTER-PAGE. None this week, because I am giving it up to something MUCH MORE IMPORTANT.


Competition winners from Volume 2, issue 1. January 6th-19th 1954

OUR CHRISTMAS COMPETITION

I know you will all want to read the twelve messages which were chosen to be sent to the Queen, so here are some of them. I am afraid that I haven’t got room for them all this time, but I will give you the rest in our next number. I am starting with the youngest prize-winner!

Your Gracious Majesty,
Best wishes for a Happy Christmas and Speedy return to your Family and to us all in the New Year.

Jill Rawlinson, aged 6.
Barrow-in-Furness.

A very happy christmas to our most gracious and beloved Queen Elizabeth II, in your realms across the seas.
May their blue skies and sunshine bring you health and happiness, and may your visit to distant lands help to bring peace on earth and good will among men at all times.
May God protect you on your journey and bring you safely home again.

Suzanne Maiden, aged 7.
Heaton Moor, Stockport.

Our Very Dear Queen,
I am very happy to be able to write to you this Christmas and hope the visit to your people in other countries will be interesting and enjoyable.
I would like to say to you this Christmas Day, God bless and keep you safe always.

Patricia Salmon, aged 7.
Ipswich.

May this tour bring great pleasure and happiness to your Majesty and to H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh. May it also bring great joy to the people whose lands you are visiting. May the Infant Jesus bless your children this Christmas – and all children throughout the world.

Madeleine Exworthy, aged 8.
Southport.

Your Gracious Majesty,
Loving Christmas Greetings to you and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Best wishes for a happy and successful tour and a safe return to your dear children.

Jim McMaster, aged 9, Co. Down, N. Ireland.


 

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On my bookshelf part 4

I’ve already shown you most of my Blyton collection, as well as my Harry Potter books and some other stuff. So here are the last of my Blytons and then some other vintage children’s book.


The last of the Blytons

These fall into two main categories: school series, and stand-alone titles. Most of the stand-alones are family titles though some are young family and others are for older children. Then at the end are some random non-Blytons.

From the left;

Shadow the Sheep Dog (because it is tall…) then three Naughtiest Girl books, the six Malory Towers titles and the six St Clare’s books, plus Mischief at St Rollos which although a Mary Pollock title is also set in a school.

Younger family type stand alones are Snowball the Pony, Four in a Family, Run About’s Holiday (which should probably be shelved with the fantasy books), Four in a Family, The Very Big Secret and The Boy Who Wanted a Dog.

Then stand alone family books for older children, Holiday House (arguably a bit more of an adventure title than a family one), The Put-Em-Rights, The Six Bad Boys, The Family at Red Roofs, House-at-the-Corner, Hollow Tree House, Those Dreadful Children, The Happy House Children (probably for younger children.)

I have a spreadsheet to track my Blytons, organised by general genre (adventure, family, farm, school etc). There are lots of series, so those books are easy to categorise but with the stand-alones I use the categories in the Cave of Books. I’ve noticed, though, that my shelves don’t match the spreadsheet, as book shelving has more factors than just categories. Book depth and height are important as they affect the way the shelves look, too tall or too deep and a book can hide its neighbour. Thickness is less important but I think books look better when they’re roughly the same size.

Space on a shelf is also a factor, as you don’t want a series split across two shelves. Then there’s colour, spine style, dustjackets… it’s a bookish minefield!

Anyway, the non-Blytons on this shelf are;

The Prince and the Goblin by George MacDonald (one of Blyton’s favourite childhood books), The Nursery Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne, Kristie at College and Dangerous Deadline by Mildred Benson (one of the first writers of the Nancy Drew books).

On the front of the shelf are;

A cassette tape of The Sound of Music soundtrack. I’ve never listened to this, actually, as I don’t have a tape player! I got this when my great uncle died and I helped to clear out his house. I just thought it was a nice cover, I love the film, and when I see it on my shelf I remember him.

A copy of Hello Mary Mouse, my first picture strip book which my mum bought in a local antiques shop for me.

A canvas of a stag’s head made by my mother in law. It rather obscures the books behind it, but it’s one of those items that gets moved around regularly as Brodie is forever knocking it down.

On top of the books ar four slim volumes;

Santa Claus Gets Busy (A Wheaton musical play for juniors), The Enchanted Village (about Bekonscot), and two Adventures in Reading by the Oxford University Press. These are on top as they are such slim paperbacks they would get lost otherwise.


A mostly Malcolm Saville shelf

At least two thirds of this shelf are Malcolm Saville books, followed by some random titles by various authors from a similar time period.

Here is the full Lone Pine series by Malcolm Saville. Most of them are original harbacks, but two of the later ones are Girls Gone By reprints, and the last one is an Armada paperback as that was the first edition. Then there are the radio play scripts of the first three books (in the wrong order, I now notice.) Next to those is a stand alone title The Master of Maryknoll.

Then there are two of the Cherry Ames nursing series by Helen Wells, and The Hidden Valley Mystery by the same author.

Next is Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne (another of Blyton’s favourite childhood books).

Lastly a few school books by two famous authors in the genre – The School on the Moor and An Exciting Term by Angela Brazil, and Song of the Abbey by Elsie J. Oxenham.

In front of the books are;

A postcard showing Ingles Farm, and a lone pine cone picked up by Brodie somewhere.


Next time I will show you the rest of my children’s books.

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Monday #234

On my bookshelf part 4

and

Letters to Enid part 13

Fancy – you never would clean Daddy’s bicycle for him when he asked you to. I suppose it’s because you’ll get a shilling from Mr. Fraser – and Mummy said you ought to do it for Daddy’s love.

Linda is rather cutting to her older brother Roddy in Four in a Family.

Five on a Secret Trail is the Famous Five’s fifteenth adventure. Because Timmy has hurt himself and people keep laughing at his special protective collar, George takes him camping on Kirrin Common where Anne joins her later. Forced to take shelter in a half-ruined cottage because of terrible weather, they experience a frightening night of lights, noises and a face at the window. Thankfully the boys arrive soon after and together they start to look into what’s going on, aided, or perhaps hindered by twins Guy and Harry who aren’t talking or even acknowledging each other at the time.

 

 

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Letters to Enid part 12

Previous letters pages can be found here.


Letters page from Volume 1, issue 21. December 23 1963 – January 5 1954

OUR

LETTER PAGE

 1. A letter from Ann Coutts, St. Bride’s Nr. Onick, by Fort William, Scotland.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I have a cat called Ginger. We both earn sixpence every week. Ginger earns his sixpence by catching mice, and I earn mine doing odd jobs about the house. I enclose a shilling for the Sunbeam Society from us both. Isn’t it nice to think that animals as well a human beings can help Blind Children?
Love from
Ann Coutts

(It’s nice to think that the two of you are so generous, Ann!)

2. A letter from Barbara Anthony, R.A.S.C., H.Q. M.E.L.F.6, Benghazi.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I have a tortoise called Timmy. The other day he was invited to a party at my friend Norma’s house. She has three tortoises and their names are Jigs, Spot and Joey. It was Joey’s birthday, so it was his party. Norma made a cake out of a cucumber, and they had lots of other things they like. I must close now.
Yours sincerely,
Barbara Anthony.

(I would have loved to see the tortoise party, Barbara!)

3. A letter from Wendy Pickett, 3 Canon Square, Melksham, Wilts.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I am a member of the Sunbeams, and as it is near Christmas I want to make a blind girl happy by giving her my doll which I was lucky enough to win a little while ago. I would like a little girls with either the name of Wendy of Elizabeth to have it as those are my names. Wishing you a happy Christmas from
Wendy Pickett.

(A very kind thought, Wendy. Thank you very much!)


More letters from girls this issue, but it’s good to see a letter from Scotland, possibly the first one? Though I wonder what Ginger normally spends his sixpence on!

Barbara’s address almost looks as if it’s written in code but I have deduced that it stands for Royal Army Service Corps Head Quarters, Middle East Land Forces. Can’t say I would like a cucumber for a cake, but it sounds perfect for tortoises. I must admit I had a laugh at the abrupt “I must close now.”

I wonder who got Wendy’s doll in the end, if there was a Wendy or Elizabeth there to receive it.

(Unfortunately my copy of this magazine is missing its front cover, and that is the only image I could find online).

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Eleven things I’ve learned about camping from Enid Blyton

I’m on holiday this week, so I’ve managed to prewrite a few things to keep the blog going while I’m away. I’m not actually camping, though. In fact, here’s a secret: I’ve never gone camping. Ever. I like electricity and running water too much. Even my Brownie camps were held in an old school with bunk rooms.

Yet Blyton manages to make camping sound so wonderful and exciting. Everything about it seems fun, from start to finish.


Eleven things I’ve learned about camping from Enid Blyton

1. No matter where you go there will be drinkable water. Either in the form of a crystal clear spring, underground stream, or a rock-pool of rain-water. Or there might be a waterfall, a well or an old sink with a water-pump. Either way it’s a relief that you won’t go thirsty.

2. Also, there will almost always (exceptions apply when you accidentally go off in the wrong plane or deliberately go somewhere as to not be found) be a farm-house ready to supply you with eggs, bacon, fresh bread, honey and anything else you can possibly eat. So you won’t go hungry either. If the farmer’s wife takes a shine to you you’ll probably come away with freebies. Oh – and of course any food you eat will taste much better out of doors.

3. Toilet facilities are not necessary on camping  trips, you’re fine as long as there’s a stream to wash yourself (and the dishes) in. See point #1.

4. Heather and bracken make entirely suitable and hugely comfortable bedding, and you will sleep soundly all night on them as if you were on an expensive mattress in a luxury hotel.

5. Storms can and will steal tents.

6. If there isn’t space to pitch a tent you can usually squeeze into a handy gorse bush. Even if there’s four of you and a large dog, wearing a protective collar.

7. Failing that, caves with sandy or mossy floors, rooms in ruined castles or cottages, cellars and enlarged puffin burrows will all make adequate places to stay with varying levels of odour.

8. If you think your camp-mates are going to sneak off in the night without you, the best course of action is to tie a string from their tent entrance to your big toe.

9. If someone warns you about ‘things in the night’ or you witness strange noises, weird lights or strange happenings it is almost always a ruse to keep you away from smuggling, kidnappings or other nefarious doings.

10. If you hear howling you shouldn’t worry too much as it’s far more likely to be a pack of trained Alsatians than a pack of wolves.

11. Wherever you camp you will run into some sort of mystery or adventure. And that’s a fact.


These ‘facts’ come from Five on a Treasure Island, Five Run Away Together, Five Go Off to Camp, Five Get Into Trouble, Five on a Hike Together, Five on a Secret Trail, Five Go to Billycock Hill, The Castle of Adventure, The Valley of Adventure, The Sea of Adventure, The Mountain of Adventure and The Secret Island. Can you work out which facts came from which book(s)? (The illustrations might help.)

 

 

 

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Monday #233

11 Things I’ve learned about camping from Enid Blyton

and

Letters to Enid volume 12

Heyho for a starry night and a heathery bed.

Jack doesn’t ask for much on their Secret Island, just a comfortable bed and no rain!

Fun For the Secret Seven is the fifteenth and last Secret Seven book. The story starts out with the Seven looking to help a local man pay a large vet bill, but becomes the more typical mystery when horse thieves strike.

 

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On my bookshelf part 3

As I showed in my first post I’ve got a lot of bookshelves. In that first post I showed you some of my favourite Blytons and various nicknacks, then I showed off a couple of shelves of more random collections.

This time I have two shelves of mostly short story collections from the very bottom of my first bookcase, and also a shelf of non-Blyton children’s books.

Remember you can click on any photo to see it bigger (if you’re anything like me you might struggle to read all the titles on the spines).


Small short story collections

The short story books are more or less organised by height, regular book sized ones on the upper shelf and the bigger annual-sized books on the bottom.

I’ll do a before and after here, because after I had photographed this shelf and written about it, Brodie decided to climb the bookcase, tipped this shelf up and all the books fell on the floor. As it was a bit disorganised and untidy (and some of the series books were in the wrong order) I decided to do some reorganising as I put things away.

Here’s the before (it was taken in poor lighting so it looks even worse!)

As you can see it has a mixture of different heights and there are stand alone titles in between series.

Taking this in daylight with the flash on helps, but I think it looks much better reorganised.

Starting from the left;

The taller books are the eight Hodder story books (now in the right order), four Enid Blyton’s Magazine Annuals, and two Parties at Green Hedges books.

Then the shorter books start with four Methuen colour story books.

After that three incomplete series; I’ll Tell You a Story and the next six make up 7/8ths of the Macmillan Story Readers, then The Brownie’s Magic and the next two books are 3/5ths of the Macmillan Nature Readers, and In Storyland and Happy Stories are two of the five Treasure Trove Readers from the 1940s.

Then there’s three two book series; A Book of Naughty Children and A Second Book of Naughty Children, Rainy Day Stories and Happy Day Stories, Tales after Supper and Tales after Tea.

The last four books are the stand-alone titles, Tales at Bedtime looks like it should be part of the last series especially in the Collins dust jackets with the oval picture windows. Also there is Chimney Corner Stories, Rubbalong Tales and The Book of Fairies, which was previously on the shelf above.

I moved Enid Blyton’s Omnibus up beside my Secret Sevens, and The Fourth Brer Rabbit Book now sits beside my other fantasy titles which I rearranged into proper series order.


Annuals, big books and bits and pieces

While I had the sofa out and was down on the floor I thought I might as well rearrange this shelf too!

Before:

It doesn’t look too bad, but mostly because without titles on the spine you can’t tell that there’s a random selection of stand-alone titles on the left.

Somehow I got them standing a bit straighter after reorganising them. I didn’t move an awful lot, mostly just the random stuff on the left.

From the left;

The Enid Blyton Dossier, the 90s Famous Five Annual and the three recent Famous Five Annuals. These are all modern so go together fine.

Split into small categories the random books are now;

Story collections, starting with Blyton contributions to mixed books – Every Girl’s Annual, Collin’s Children’s Annual, a 70s Purnell Story Book, a Marks and Spencer’s book (one of three), and a Big Noddy Book.

Then two miscellaneous books about animals – The Zoo Book, Down at the Farm, and two Collin’s Colour Camera books about Belinda.

After that are some series which stayed the same.

First the Foyle flower story books, I’ve got four of the eight but one is an abridged reprint, then the holiday books of which I’m missing the first and third.

After taking the initial photo I had thought these should go to the left as stand-alone titles, and actually I was right, I don’t know why I didn’t move them. Anyway these are The Book of the Year, Animal Lovers’ Book and Enid Blyton’s Treasury.

It goes a bit random again at the right with two Alec Rowley plays books (the first edition comes in a single volume), Before I Go to Sleep (an unusual buy for me as I don’t tend to go for the religious books, I have perhaps two or three others and they’re in the bottom of my wardrobe [I think!]), two versions of Eva Rice’s Who’s Who in Enid Blyton, and Noddy’s Farmyard Muddle. But when you shelf books because of their height the randomness can’t be helped.

Crammed on top;

A copy of Tales of Toyland with no spine, a Bedside Book, The Magic Snow Bird and Others Stories (1/8 Pitkin Pleasure series), The Christmas Book, Round the Year with Enid Blyton and the Famous Five Survival Guide.


There are children’s books not by Enid Blyton?

This is mostly my Harry Potter shelf, to be honest! When I first moved in I had Harry Potter, Malory Towers and St Clare’s together, as they are all, technically, boarding school stories. But then my Harry Potter collection expanded and I didn’t like having my remaining Blytons spread over three part shelves, so I did some rearranging. I would have liked to have the Blytons on the top shelf but then I’d have to move the shelf heights around.

Anyway, we have;

The Cursed Child play (I didn’t hate it as much as many fans seem to), the two Fantastic Beast screen plays, a pop-up book about the wizarding world, a special Hufflepuff edition of the first Harry Potter book, and then the whole series in an as-yet unread set of paperbacks (my previous read throughs were done with my mum/sister’s collection and on audible).

There are also a lot of Harry Potter related objects;

On top – an Aragog made of lego and two tiny lego spiders.

A snow-globe of Harry flying his broom, and Funko Pops of Harry and of Snape.

And the lego scene with Harry and Ron that goes with Aragog, and a Ron (and Scabbers) that came out of a surprise bag.

There should be a golden snitch on the shelf but yet again Brodie climbed on the back of the sofa and had stolen it before I took this. One wing was on top of the bookcase and the rest had gotten lost down the back.

Here’s a slightly off centre and less-well lit picture I took before with the snitch in place.

The non Harry Potter stuff has, accidentally, become a sort of If-You-Like-Blyton area. I haven’t yet recommended the Magician’s House quartet by William Corlett, but I should. Stef reviewed The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, I reviewed more than the two I own of the Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens (I now notice these are in the wrong order!), I should recommend The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien, seven of the Adventure Island books by Helen Moss, The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann, and a collection of Sherlock Holmes puzzles which Fatty would like but I have no hope of ever solving.


There are probably two more posts to go, as I have four more shelves of children’s books. One is mostly Blytons, two are vintage childrens and the last is mostly modern children’s with some Blyton biographies on the end.

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Letters to Enid part 11

Previous letters pages can be found here.


Letters page from Volume 1, issue 20. December 9th-22nd

OUR

LETTER PAGE

 1. A letter from Elke Siekmann, 48 Wellington Avenue, Sidcup.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I am writing to thank you for so much pleasure you have given me through your magazine. I am always waiting for my Mummy or Daddy to read it to me. I am a blind girl, nine years old, so I cannot read it myself.
I am at a nice school, and like all children there, I am very happy, although blind, but many blind children are not happy as there are not enough schools for all.
On behalf of all blind children I wish to give thanks to all members of the Sunbeam Society for their goodwill to help us. I have a sister, Regine, aged 4, she can see, and helps me about. She is my own Sunbeam, and I am glad she is going to join your Society.

Much love from,
Elke.

(What a wonderful letter! Thank you, Elke – and please give our love to your own little Sunbeam! You win my letter-prize this week.)

2. A letter from Margaret Hill, Trenorwyn, St Minver, Cornwall.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I thought I simply must write and tell you what happened when I made the curious woodland creature in No. 17 of our magazine. Well, I made it, and to my surprise next morning it had grown a tail, because in the warmth of my room the acorn had put out a shoot. I have made one for my friend, but nothing has happened yet. I do hope it will grow a tail soon!
Yours Sincerely,
Margaret Hill.

(I wonder if anyone else’s “woodland creature” grew a tail, too!)

3. A letter from Brenda Tooke, 8 Smiths Cottages, South Wooton, Norfolk.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I am really writing this letter to dear Mr. Twiddle. My mother belongs to the Women’s Institute, and last week they had a competition, drawing a face on an egg, so Mummy drew Mr. Twiddle, and she came in second, which was very good because the first prizewinner was an artist. So you can tell Mrs. Twiddle how popular Mr. Twiddle’s good looks are!
Yours Truly,

Brenda.

(Mr. Twiddle is very glad his face won a prize for your mother, Brenda!)


Elke’s letter is quite heart-breaking isn’t it? Imagine loving Enid Blyton but not being able to read her books or magazines without help. I wonder if her works were ever translated into braille?

That’s another three letters from girls, though. Where are all the boys?

 

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Monday #232

Letters to Enid volume 11

and

On my bookshelf, part 3

 They go so nice and slowly at first. Then they start to gallop.

Anne Kirrin on holidays in Five Go Off in a Caravan.

In the Fifth at Malory towers is, unsurprisingly, the fifth book set in the Malory Towers boarding school. The fifth formers who have just moved up find that a couple of old fifth formers have been left down, and they of course take charge of the form. The main story however is that they are to put on a pantomime, from scratch. That means writing a script, making the scenery and costumes, writing the song lyrics and music, and then a whole lot of rehearsing! They choose Cinderella, and although the end product is wonderful there are a lot of stumbling blocks along the way.

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Blyton on birthdays

As it would have been Enid Blyton’s one hundred and twenty-second birthday on Sunday, I thought I’d do a post looking at birthdays in her books.


Birthday books

The Exciting Birthday

Published in 1927, The Exciting Birthday is all about Mollie’s seventh birthday. Chock full of presents, fun, parties, meals and magic, Mollie has a truly wonderful birthday. Yes, she even gets a donkey!

The Teddy Bear’s Party

I almost missed this one as the title doesn’t have ‘birthday’ in it! This one is set in a nursery much like the Amelia Jane books. Instead of a naughty doll, there is a rather vain and rude bear called Bruiny. The Old Monkey, wisest of the toys, advises him to throw a birthday party for himself and invite all the other toys as a gesture of good will. In order to do this he is silly enough to start trying to steal sweets and cakes from those very toys! He meant well, I suppose, and he is very lucky that Old Monkey persuades the other toys to throw the party themselves, and by the end of the book they have all made friends with Bruiny.

Birthday Time Books

There are seven of these little books and each could be found in a birthday card, though the cards weren’t Blyton-related, and they were put in at random. I wonder if children begged their parents to buy greetings cards that weren’t needed, in order to get an Enid Blyton book – but perhaps they weren’t well advertised.

The whole list is here, and three of the stories are even available to read in full.

The Birthday Kitten

This isn’t a rare book – published by Lutterworth Press – but it’s one I don’t have. It’s not something I’ve really looked for as I’m probably least fond of the animal books genre (I own Snowball the Pony, and The Boy Who Wanted a Dog but have never read them!) It was originally serialised in Enid Blyton’s Magazine, and I have five of the twelve issues it was in, not really enough!) Anyway, The Birthday Kitten isn’t just about kittens, it’s about a birthday. Technically two birthdays, on the same day, as the main characters are twins called Terry and Tessie.

As this is a ‘young adventures’ title, it’s not as simple as them being given a kitten, like Mollie above is given a donkey. Rather, they find one, half drowned, and as they aren’t allowed a pet at home they must try to look after it without anyone finding out.


Birthdays in the novels

I can’t fall back on my trusty Famous Five knowledge here, as there are no birthdays celebrated over twenty one books! There are probably references to birthdays in many more books, but I’ve stuck to ones where they feature as a reasonable plot point and not just a passing mention or two.

The Land of Birthdays in The Enchanted Wood

The last chapter of The Enchanted Wood has not just Bessie’s birthday, but also the Land of Birthdays appearing at the top of the tree. You can only enter the land of birthdays if one of your group is having their birthday, so everyone is very lucky that is is Bessie’s birthday. You can wish for anything you want when in the Land of Birthdays, but everyone only gets one wish.

Joan’s birthday in The Naughtiest Girl in the School

Joan’s birthday is not a particularly happy birthday tale, even if it all works out well. Joan never gets any letters from her family, even though she writes regularly. Elizabeth, her friend, sees this and decides to make a big fuss of Joan. She buys an enormous cake and lots of cards and presents, but her mistake is pretending they all came from Joan’s parents. She even signs cards from mummy and daddy. Of course Joan writes to thank her parents, and when they actually write back, but to say they have no idea what she’s talking about… well, Joan doesn’t take it well. Being a Blyton story, it does have a happy ending at least.

The great midnight feast in the Twins at St Clare’s

Miss Theobald has a birthday, and most of the girls put half a crown into a collection for her. They don’t say what gets bought but it must have been quite extravagant with that amount of money!

Not long after Janet has her birthday, and her friends all go into town to buy her some small gifts. From home she gets an enormous hamper, containing a big chocolate cake, shortbread biscuits, sardines in tomato sauce, Nestle’s milk and peppermint creams. A slightly strange combination, but a feast nonetheless. The girls all buy an extra item each to supplement this, a jam sponge sandwich, a bar of chocolate, candles (not for eating!), and a cake with almond icing and pink and yellow sugar roses. There are also pork pies, tinned pineapple, ginger-beer and bread and butter to make sandwiches with the sardines.

A jolly time is had by all, even if there are several stomach-aches the next day. And no wonder!

Tessie’s birthday in the O’Sullivan Twins

Tessie is one of Janet’s friends, and generous as she is she know she can’t stretch her birthday money to provide food for all of the first and second formers. She decides to just share it with a few of her best friends instead. She plans a midnight feast along in the music room, down to the detail including frying sausages on an oil stove. There is to be birthday cake, fruit cake, sweets, biscuits, home-made toffee, Nestle’s milk again, ginger-beer and four tins of peaches.

The frying sausages rather prove to be their undoing; those and an unkind girl called Erica who sets Mam’zelle onto the midnight feast, bringing it to an abrupt end.

Philip’s birthday in The Ship of Adventure 

This is the only birthday I can recall being mentioned in the Adventure Series. It’s Lucy-Ann who mentions it first; asking Lucian to help her buy Philip a present while they are on Amulis. He makes a couple of suggestions but Lucy-Ann remembers that Philip has always wanted a ship in a bottle. With Lucian’s help she finds one in a fisherman’s cottage.

I’ll get a bit of paper and wrap it up. I do, do hope Philip will like it. It’s an exciting present, isn’t it?”

Well of course the ship in a bottle sparks off the whole adventure when they discover a treasure map inside it. But before then Philip has a low-key birthday. The only present Blyton mentions is Lucy-Ann’s, but Kiki wishes him a Happy Christmas, several times.

Annette’s sixth birthday from Those Dreadful Children

Although Annette has become less vain by living next door to the Taggerties, on her birthday she still dons her blue silk party dress and prances around asking if everyone likes her dress and doesn’t she look nice.

Twenty children come to her party, all bringing presents. There are balloons, games and crackers, but Annette is so excited she can hardly eat. She has six candles on her cake; each a different colour. Her favourite present is a kitten from the Taggertys, though she got three dolls, a pram, and books and games and toys too!


Short Stories

There are too many short stories to list (though many of them will be repeats I imagine). I will only include the ones I have copies of so that I can tell you more than just their title and publishing details.

The Three Golliwogs’ Birthday from The Three Golliwogs

Thankfully I have a Dean edition which apart from being much cheaper than the original, also features less offensive names for the three main characters.

The three Golliwogs are obviously triplets as they share a birthday. They send out invitations, order cakes and then wait impatiently for the day of the party to arrive.

The postman arrives but only brings a bill, no cards and no presents. What’s worse is that nobody turns up to their party! Not even the cakes come. They are most disappointed, and although they at first think how unkind their friends are, they soon start to think that they must have to be nicer and kinder themselves.

However, the next day, the postman arrives with twenty-one cards, fifteen letters and twelve presents. After that the cakes arrive, and all their friends.

Are they all a day late? No! The silly gollies tore too many pages off their calendar and thought that it was Saturday on Friday!

The Grand Birthday Cake from The Red Story Book

This story is more about a kind deed being rewarded but is set during a birthday. It is Micky’s fifth birthday and Eileen next door admires Micky and his siblings but is too shy to approach them. She just longs to see the birthday cake she has heard about – a great big birthday cake with five fairies on it, each holding a candle for you. 

She goes to peep in the window and sees Micky’s new puppy about to take a bite out of the cake. She warns the family and as a reward gets invited to the party, and finally makes friends with her neighbours.

Peter’s Birthday from A Story Party at Green Hedges

On Peter’s ninth birthday he gets a new bicycle, just what he wanted. Before he rides it his mother and father warn him about reading the highway code and being careful as he is hasty and careless.

Of course he doesn’t listen and goes out, at first being sensible, but then decides to hitch a ride on the back of a lorry going up a hill. He ends up in hospital with a broken leg, no bike, no party, and learns a hard lesson.

Not a very happy birthday tale!

On Jimmy’s Birthday from The Eleventh Holiday Book

There is a party planned for Jimmy but his baby brother (known only as Baby throughout) falls ill and the doctor says there is to be no noise so he can sleep. Jimmy is very disappointed there can be no party, but puts on a brave face.

He has just been around all his friends to tell them not to come, when he bumps into Mr Benny and helps him carry his shopping home. Mr Benny says he can’t bear to see a birthday wasted and organises for Jimmy and his friends to have a party at the zoo with his birthday cake, and crackers, lemonade, sandwiches and buns.

Dan’s Magic Gold from The Teachers World 

This is a story about a fairy queen’s birthday and the efforts of Dan, to make her a lovely present. You can read it in full here.


Birthday letters

I like to think that Enid liked birthdays, there are so many grown ups who think that they don’t matter as soon as you’re an adult, and any adult who makes a fuss about their birthday is a fool. She wrote about her birthday a few times in Teacher’s World, and Bobs (her fox terrier) wrote many times about his birthdays, his parties and his presents.

In 1930 Enid wrote about getting field-glasses for her birthday, twenty-five goldfish, twenty-four big pond snails and a tortoise!

In 1931 Bobs wrote that he had fifty-three cards on his fifth birthday, and many many presents. The next year he had another load of presents including a flag to put on his kennel.

Those are just a couple of examples, Bobs wrote about his birthday several more times.


This isn’t the most exhaustive list – I’ve probably forgotten several birthdays that feature in novels. Maybe I will have rediscovered them in time for Enid’s next birthday!

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July 2019 round up

I had intended to do this last week, but got confused and did another post about my bookshelves instead. Whoops!


What I have read

I feel like I haven’t read so much the past month, but I’m still six books ahead of schedule so it’s all good. Instead I’ve been re-reading bits of fanfic that I’ve written and trying to finish off some stories and that’s taken up a lot of my reading time. What I have read is:

  • Seven Stones to Stand or Fall (Outlander short stories) – Diana Gabaldon
  • Absolutely Smashing It! – Kathryn Wallace
  • The Mystery of the Missing Masterpiece (Adventure Island #4) – Helen Moss
  • Sustainable Home – Christine Liu
  • St Andrews in the 20s, 30s and 40s – Hugh Oram
  • Russian Roulette (Mirabelle Bevan Mystery #6) – Sara Sheridan
  • Victory in My Hands – Harold Russell
  • Miss Carter’s War – Sheila Hancock

And I made progress on:

  • Outlander (Outlander #1) – Diana Gabaldon (audiobook)
  • The Mummy Lessons – Helen Wallen
  • Baby. Boom! – Helen Wallen

I’m almost finished the Outlander audiobook. At time of writing there’s just 1 hour 29 minutes to go!

I’m not reading both the Helen Wallens’ books at the same time, I bought the second one for my Kindle and got a chapter or so in before I realised it was the second in a series. So Naturally I bought the first book and started on that!


What I have watched

  • Hollyoaks
  • Murder She Wrote season 4
  • Series three of Stranger Things, which was probably the best one yet
  • ER season 12

What I have done

  • Gone Oor Wullie hunting, as there’s a new trail.
  • Replaced our kitchen sink and work surface – it’s amazing how much difference a little thing like that makes – and we managed to put up a blind in our bathroom with minimal help!
  • Been to the beach again
  • Made a few trips to play parks, but less than previous months as of course they are full of school kids now!
  • Visited the Botanic Gardens
  • Went to the Emergency Vehicles Day at our Transport Museum
  • Set up the paddling pool (only once, as carrying buckets of water down the stairs is a pain!)
  • Organised crisp packet recycling points at my work
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Monday #231

This Sunday is the 11th of August, and that’s the day I’m holding Brodie’s birthday party as he turns 2 this week! It is also Enid Blyton’s birthday so we will celebrate for her too.

July round up

and

Blyton on birthdays

Jack Trent is red-haired and freckled, earning him the nickname of Freckles from Philip. Jack is an orphan, who before the story starts in The Island of Adventure was living with his sister Lucy-Ann, a crusty old uncle and his uncle’s housekeeper.

Lucy-Ann simply adores Jack and although a few years younger, follows him around all the time. Jack hardly notices her, though he is very fond of her. His major passion in life is birds. He’s absolutely batty about birds. He wants to be an ornithologist when he grows up, and spends a great deal of time peering through field-glasses at anything with wings and feathers. He even has a pet bird, a parrot called Kiki.

She heard me yelling ‘Kiki! Kiki!’, broke her chain in her excitement and flew over – and by  a lucky chance she chose your very porthole!

You’d better tell Aunt Allie all that, it makes a very fine story – better than mine!

Jack more or less admits that he has arranged for Kiki to ‘accidentally’ end up on the cruise ship which she is banned from, in The Ship of Adventure.

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