This was one I bought in a big lot of Noddy books and unfortunately when it came I discovered it was a reprint, one of the ones with the different sort of lettering on the front. The dustjacket still has the same lettering on it as the earlier copies and there are still gollies everywhere so I hope it hasn’t suffered any updating.
Noddy Goes to School is the sixth in the series even if it’s the 11th one I will have read.
So as the title suggests, Noddy goes to school in this story. For me this makes me wonder if he’s a child or a grown-up. He lives alone and drives a car which suggests ‘grown up’ but much of his behaviour certainly says ‘child’!
It’s Big Ears that puts the idea into his very swollen head (more on that in a moment) when he points out that Noddy can’t count past twenty or read many big words. I suppose because he was made by an individual and arrived in toy town at least partly grown means he never learned a lot of things. Other Toy Village inhabitants seem to be born? Or at least start as children. Or maybe they’re made as children and never grow up? It’s very confusing trying to work it all out.
The reason Big Ears brings this up is because he’s very cross with Noddy for singing such boastful songs about his intelligence. In fact Noddy has become so big-headed he has actually gotten, well, big-headed. His hat no longer fits him because of it (though the illustrations don’t seem to show his head looking all that big.)
So Noddy dutifully goes to school the very next day (apparently it’s very easy for a toy of indeterminate age to enrol in Toy Village).
Unsurprisingly, he does not make the best first impression. When asked if he knows his tables he immediately launches into a speech about the table in his living room at home. Also, he’s sitting next to a young golly who’s already been cheeky to him so he’s bound to have some trouble there.
It would seem Noddy’s not as clever as he thought, either. His teacher doesn’t want to hear songs he’s made up himself and he doesn’t know Jack and Jill. The only thing he can write is his name, and not even very well at that! He can’t dance without kicking people and offers to bring the teacher her slipper without understanding that it means someone is to be spanked. (It seems my fear of updates is unfounded.)
He’s so disheartened by it all that he goes straight to Big Ears who sets him some homework. Noddy’s a bit too literal about the answers though – for example if there were three cats in Big Ear’s garden and a dog joined them, how many animals would they see out of his window? Noddy answers one dog, as the cats would have run away, which is quite clever in its own way!
He then spoils that idea by thinking he can take a shilling and go buy himself some brains.
Things get a little better for him at school and he creeps up from the bottom of the class. What a horrible idea that is though, having a list produced weekly to tell you how you did in relation to your classmates. No matter how hard people try, someone has to be at the bottom. Anyway, Noddy’s happy about that and struggles not to do any boasting as his hat still doesn’t fit him.
The school is to give a concert near the end of the book, but Noddy doesn’t have a talent for it. He can’t sing, or dance, or recite poetry, or quack or growl! So he doesn’t take part in the concert though he claps very hard for everyone who does. The clockwork mouse is supposed to present their teacher with flowers at the end of the show but he has a fit of stage fright and Noddy takes over. He doesn’t know the prepared speech but comes up with one of his own songs for her instead and impresses everyone.
He has become so modest by now that he doesn’t believe he shall win a prize at all, and watches all his classmates going up for theirs until, lo and behold, his name is called. He has won a prize for being such a dear little fellow. He’s thrilled by that, and, later, he’s even more thrilled that his hat fits on his head again.
Despite this not being my favourite type of Noddy plot (I prefer the ones with some sort of mystery) it was enjoyable enough. I haven’t covered every detail of the story here, but there are plenty of other amusing bits and pieces like Noddy practising his writing on his (washable) walls and a scene involving Gilbert Golly and a borrowed lampshade. It’s a nice, simple tale of Noddy getting too big for his boots and then learning how to be a bit more humble, so we shall see how humble he remains in the next books!