As I’ve possibly mentioned before, to my knowledge I’ve never read a Noddy book before. I’ve always been aware of Noddy, and I could probably sing a good chunk of the TV theme song (despite not being sure whether I’ve ever sat and watched it before) but I’ve never read any of his adventures.
Well, I happened to spot two original titles on eBay and I was fairly confident they were 50s editions and not the modern copies so I snapped them up! They’re a bit tatty, but they do have dustjackets (mostly), so I’m pleased enough.
I’m not sure what sort of format this blog is going to take, quite possibly it will just be a rambling stream of thoughts as I read.
HURRAH FOR LITTLE NODDY
First up is Hurrah for Little Noddy, the second title of the 24. (Normally I am a stickler for reading books in order, even if it means having later titles sitting about for years, but I’ll make an exception this time as I doubt not knowing the exact details of Noddy’s move to Toyland will hugely impact my enjoyment.)
The endpapers are the first thing you see when you open the book and these are gorgeous. They are by Harmsen van der Beek, the original illustrator who did the first seven titles before his death in 1953.
I love the image of Toyland, the buildings made out of brightly coloured building blocks. There’s so much to look at – the train and viaduct in the background, the different buildings, all the characters.
The book starts with the milkman’s round and Mrs Tubby tells the milkman that Mr Noddy next door might want some milk. The milkman is a bit surprised about that as there was no house there the day before – but Noddy and Big Ears have apparently constructed one out of toy bricks overnight. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful answer to the first-time-buyer and mortgage issues of today? Just trundle up to an empty bit of land and put together some blocks, sorted!
There’s potentially some controversy on page twelve, Mrs Tubby warns Noddy to be careful of ‘one or two of the golliwogs,’ though she doesn’t elaborate. I know the golliwogs have been replaced with goblins for modern reprints, for reasons I’m not about to start debating as I could go on for ages.
Anyway, the story continues with Noddy going out to work. He furnishes his house with cast-offs from four chimneys, a grand doll house, and gets paid for helping the dolls with their spring cleaning. He then goes to work for Mr Golly at the garage, cleaning the cars.
He leaves his hat behind though, and when he goes back to fetch it he witnesses goblins stealing all the cars. Now Noddy has never driven a car before but he takes an old, rickety one and follows them until it falls apart and he ends up in a heap.
We’re reminded he’s a toy here as he says he’s chipped his shoulder and is worried he might have lost a bit off his nose, but Big-Ears who happens to live nearby assures him it’s fine.
Next bit of controversy – Noddy and Big-Ears share a bed! Shock horror! I’m sure this has been edited out of later editions. I was discussing this with my aunt and mum last week, and my aunt told me she has hardly ever had a bed to herself. She shared with her younger sister as a child (a single bed side by side for a long while, then in their parents old double after they replaced it,) and a teenager, and then moved straight into a house with her husband after that.
It was pretty commonplace for siblings to share beds, and in other Blyton books we see non-related and non-toy character sharing. Jack and Philip share a mattress in Island of Adventure and Dinah and Lucy-Ann share a bed there, and in Castle of Adventure in the underground room to name but a couple of instances.
As far as I’m aware these have been left alone though!
When Noddy and Big-Ears return to Toyland things go a bit pear shaped as everyone believes Noddy is the thief and he gets thrown in jail! Luckily he’s got Big-Ears to stand up for him, and everything gets all sorted out in the end.
I liked the story, and it was actually nice to read how Noddy got his car as it’s quite an integral part of what people think of when it comes to Noddy. As the song goes, Noddy, the little man in the red and yellow car.
The story isn’t a long one, only sixty pages including a lot of illustrations, but a lot happens and yet it doesn’t seem rushed or contrived at all. I think I would really have enjoyed it as a child, heck, I liked it as an adult and I particularly enjoyed the gorgeous illustrations.
The other book I bought was Noddy Gets Into Trouble so I’ll most likely review that in a fortnight, though I’ve no idea what I’ll do next week yet.