I’ve been promising this review for years, well, OK since April, and I’ve finally beaten my writer’s block and finished it, hooray!
Humpty Dumpty and Belinda is one of two Collins Colour Camera Books where the story is written by Enid Blyton. (The other is Father Christmas and Belinda.) There are actually other Collins Colour Camera books about Belinda, but those are not written by Blyton.
As Tony Summerfield kindly explained:
It would seem that Belinda and Father Christmas by Hugh and Sally Gee was published in America by Chanticleer Press in 1948. Obviously Enid Blyton saw this book and fancied writing her own version of the story and it was published by Collins in 1951 as Father Christmas and Belinda. This would not be the first time that Enid saw illustrations from another book and wrote her own story to fit the original illustrations as she did exactly that with Let’s Pretend.
It seems that Hugh and Sally Gee did write other books about Belinda [such as] Belinda and the Magic Journey, but Enid just rewrote the two of them.
As some of you may remember Humpty Dumpty and Belinda is the book I bought in Leakey’s bookstore in Inverness, while I was on holiday in April.
It’s a slightly unusual book, in that it has 14 full-page colour photographs illustrating the story as well as 21 line drawings by Sally Gee.
The title page explains the story was created by Hugh Gee (Daddy), and Sally Gee (Mummy) for Jane (in the book as Jane.)
The story starts with Jane discovering that Humpty Dumpty (a toy made by her Daddy in his workshop) has fallen off the wall, and has broken into many little bits. She goes and looks at a story-book featuring Humpty, alongside her dolls Belinda and Tod. When Jane goes to bed Belinda and Tod go to see poor Humpty and use some of Daddy’s glue to put him back together. They stick everything in place, but when they’re done they realise he’s not quite right. He’s got an arm where a leg should be, and a leg for an arm and his mouth and one of his eyes is upside down. This means he talks a bit like Yoda – everything backwards comes out a bit, and he walks rather awkwardly too. Using Jane’s storybook as a doorway, the three toys walk into the King’s castle. The King is in his counting house, counting out his money just as he is in the nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence. The King says all his men and horses can’t fix Humpty, but he does have a spell for magic glue.
Here is a really magic glue
That makes all broken things quite new.
Go find the things that here you read:-
A pocket full of rye you’ll need,
Some water from a magic well,
A tinkle from a silver bell,
A crooked sixpence, almost round,
A sheep’s tail that’s been lost and found,
A pie from off a pieman’s tray,
A bit of wool, not white or grey;
Mix all these things together well
And you will have a magic spell,
To mend all broken things – a glue
To make them whole again for you.
All of these things come from well-known nursery rhymes. A pocket full of rye is from Sing a Song of Sixpence, the magic well is from Jack and Jill, the silver bell from Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, the crooked sixpence is from There Was a Crooked Man, the sheep’s tail is from Little Bo Peep, the Pieman from Simple Simon and the wool is from Baa Baa Black Sheep.
In order to gather all these items Tod and Belinda must leave the castle and head out into nursery-rhyme world. Before that, they meet some more characters in the castle – the Queen who’s eating bread and honey while complaining about all the blackbird pies she’s served and the maid who’s hanging out the washing and trying to protect her nose from a blackbird.
Out in nursery-rhyme land they meet the characters of all the nursery rhymes above, and must persuade, or in some cases trick, them into giving up an item for the magic glue. When they get back with all their ingredients in a bucket, Humpty is less than pleased that he will have to be broken-up before he can be fixed. He runs away, but ends up tripping and smashing himself anyway. The magic glue is just as magic as its name and once it is brushed on each broken piece a thick mist rises up. It clears away after a loud bang to reveal a completely repaired Humpty.
The three toys return to the workshop through the book again, and Belinda and Tod sneak off to bed where they whisper their story to a sleeping Jane.
– – – – – – – – – –
This is such a charming story, which I think is even lovelier thanks to all the ‘cameos’ from all the iconic nursery rhyme characters.
The colour photos are lovely too, the ones of nursery rhyme land remind me of the work of Walter Wick – he does all the images for the Scholastic I Spy Picture Riddle books. These books feature beautiful double-page photographs, and a list of objects to find described in riddles written by Jean Marzollo. There are different types of images in the books, but Wick often creates miniature sets (using proper miniature items as well as things like thread spools and toy items). I’ve added a couple of images below to give you an idea of his work.
I like Sally Gee’s line drawings and they closely resemble what’s seen in the colour pictures.
I’m really glad I bought this book when I saw it, I genuinely enjoyed reading it. Yes, I am twenty six and I enjoyed a nursery rhyme story probably aimed at five year olds. Am I ashamed? No. But I recommend you track down a copy and spend a lovely half hour pretending you’re five again too.