My fourteenth Noddy book is the thirteenth in the series (that isn’t confusing at all) and it’s one I only have in paperback. I’m not sure of dating it but I’m guessing around the 70s or 80s as it is priced at 35p.
This story starts with Noddy having had a very successful morning ferrying the residents of Toy Village around. He has earned a pocketful of sixpences and is feeling very happy with himself until disaster strikes. Someone’s parked their car much too close to a corner (in direct violation of the highway code) and he’s gone right into the back of the vehicle. He ends up in Sid Golly’s fruit barrow and his little car is badly damaged. So much so it reverts to saying poooooop, like it did after getting soaked at the beach, instead of its usual parp parp.
The driver of the other car is a wooden man who’s bigger than Noddy. He’s called Mr Honk and is from Toy-Car Town. Despite the fact Mr Honk’s car isn’t damaged at all (being much bigger and tougher than Noddy’s little car) he’s very angry at Noddy.
Mr Plod is a bit useless when he turns up as despite Mr Honk being in the wrong he tells Noddy off. It isn’t until Miss Fluffy Cat interjects that the policeman concludes that Mr Honk may have some blame for the incident. Mr Honk, realising he may well get into trouble, slyly backs down and tows Noddy’s car to Mr Golly’s garage for repairs then speeds off, laughing unkindly.
The whole scene there is probably has the most realism of any Noddy storyline I can think of. These things happen in real life. People park badly and sometimes the wrong person gets blamed for a car accident. Of course there’s no car insurance in Toyland (maybe there should be though!).
Anyway, poor Noddy has to do without his car for a while as it’s being repaired. He doesn’t feel at all brave about this but Big Ears makes him buck himself up with one of those songs that I tend to skip over when reading.
Ever resourceful, Noddy borrows Big Ear’s bike to run errands and earn some more money. He’s quite happy with this until he sees Mr Honk ferrying his usual passengers about in his big car. He can take more passengers than Noddy can (though apparently Noddy can squeeze two toys in his car at a time, which is shown later) so Noddy worries that he’ll have no business left when his car is running again.
The toys of Toy Town are with Noddy, though, and say they will go back to him when his car is fixed. Mr Honk is apparently rather rude and doesn’t carry their luggage. On the first day of having his car back Noddy has a job lined up to collect Mr Tubby Bear’s brother from the train station. When he arrives, however, Mr Honk has beaten him to it. Mr Honk gloats after he drops off his passenger at the Tubby Bear house and Big Ears comes up with a unusually immoral plan. He steals the wind-up key for Mr Honk’s car and says he will hold it to ransom until Mr Honk agrees to leave Toy Village.
Mr Honk is rude and unkind but he isn’t doing anything wrong in working as a driver in Toy Village. If the toys exercised their right not to choose him as a driver because of his bad service that’s one thing, but I’m not sure I can justify Big Ears stealing from him to force him out of town. We don’t even get that full resolution from the tale as it ends when they see Mr Honk’s car has run down on his way back from dropping Mr Tubby Bear’s brother off.
All in all it’s a slightly disappointing ending. I think it would have been more pleasant had the Toy Village residents kept their dislike of Mr Honk to themselves until after Noddy had his car back and showed him their solidarity in choosing him over Mr Honk, forcing the bigger toy to admit defeat.