I’ve gone and gotten it wrong again this week I’m afraid. I said I would review Noddy Has an Adventure, but as anyone with half a brain (i.e. clearly not me) will know, I reviewed that two Noddys ago. So, the next book in the series for me is Noddy and the Bunkey. I didn’t realise I had already done Adventure until I picked it up and looked at the cover. That’s the problem with a lot of Blytons – very vague titles. I can hardly tell one Secret Seven from another as they’re all about Puzzles, Adventures, Mysteries… and entirely interchangeable. At least this Noddy can’t be confused with any other!
I started the book immediately wondering what on earth a bunkey was. Obviously the creature on the front cover, but what was it? It looked like a monkey with donkey ears and for a moment I thought I’d cracked it – it’s part monkey part donkey! A donk… oh. Back to the drawing board then.
I soon began to expect that the mysterious bunkey would have something to do with the circus that was to pass through Toy Village. The story opens with it raining (and Noddy doesn’t get any milk delivered which is unusual) so Noddy goes off in his car, expecting to be busy. He is, but he still has time to go see the circus passing by. As he does so a figure is thrown from a caravan and lands in the road. Its a… part monkey and part BUNNY. A bunkey! It’s also rather hurt and miserable so Noddy takes him to Big Ears’ house for a bit.
Neither Noddy or Big Ears have ever heard of a bunkey before and the bunkey tells them how he has been mistreated by the circus (unusual for a Blyton tale) and gets jeered at by regular toys too. Noddy’s all for taking care of this curious creature but he scares Big Ears’ cat and so can’t stay in the toadstool house. Naturally Noddy ends up taking him home instead.
I got a rather bad feeling about the bunkey from the start. He’s so, so complimentary to Noddy for one thing. An an adult I read that and think ulterior motive! It seemed like a bit of emotional blackmail earlier as well, when Big Ears didn’t want him to stay and the bunkey did a whole routine of preparing to go out into the cold and rain and be all alone. Anyway, he’s super nice to Noddy and extremely helpful too. I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop and things to go wrong.
I didn’t have to wait long! The bunkey persuades Noddy to teach him how to drive and then goes off in the night to steal lampposts. Why? Because Tessie Bear wished for a light at her gate so her Uncle Bear could see where he was going, and Tessie Bear is a dear friend of Noddy’s.
As usual Mr Plod turns up and blames Noddy – a car was heard in the night and it appears Noddy is the only car owner in the whole of Toyland. Mr Plod doesn’t take things any further but he does incur the wrath of the bunkey who is furious that anyone would be unkind to his dear beloved Noddy. Tessie and Noddy do discover who was responsible for the lampposts being stolen and they seem to find it rather amusing, as they feel the bunkey’s heart was in the right place.
The bunkey continues to be very over-protective of Noddy and when Bumpy-Dog jumps over the wall into the garden he gets into a fight with the dog. They manage to wreck Noddy’s flowers and his bench and Noddy is very cross with them both.
The bunkey’s solution is to steal flowers and benches from the park to put Noddy’s garden right, and then to polish Mr Tubby Bear’s shoes with gravy so that dogs will follow him (he complained that Bumpy-Dog didn’t come when called.)
Noddy and Tessie take the bunkey to the police station when they find out what he’s done, and on the way Noddy makes a flippant remark about wishing for a fire engine to come along, to point out how silly it is for the bunkey to try to grant everything Noddy wants.
Well of course, he then blocks a chimney at the police station and brings a fire engine there. Mr Plod reveals the bunkey is in fact only a monkey – the ears are stitched to his hat! – and the circus threw him out for being so troublesome. With that, while Noddy and Tessie are clearing up the mess the bunkey does a bunk and runs off with some clothes he’s taken from Noddy and the Tubby Bears.
I’m not sure how I feel about all that. Are we supposed to feel, like Noddy does, that the bunkey is essentially kind-hearted and therefore to be pitied that no-one understands him? Or is he supposed to be an incurable trouble maker? There’s no satisfying ending, really as we don’t know which and he doesn’t get any comeuppance for his actions.