The 1950s, continued
Father Christmas and Belinda, 1951
I reviewed this two years ago, giving an overview of the story as well.
The Six Bad Boys, 1951
Although not a Christmas title in the traditional sense, it does feature Christmas in the middle. Probably to draw a parallel between the happy family Christmas in the family homes compared to the one in the boys’ cellar.
The day before Christmas came at last. There was great excitement at Barlings Cottage. The Christmas-tree had come and was being decorated by the three children. Parcels were arriving by every post. Cards stood all along the mantelpiece and on the book-cases.
Frisky was as mad as the children. He tore here and there, barking when the postman came, barking when the tree fell over, barking at ever opportunity he had!
“I wish I could bark like that,” said Donald, standing perilously on top of the ladder to pin up some holly-berry strands. “I should be barking all day long too! Isn’t Christmas fun? I wonder how Bob and Tom are getting on. Mother, isn’t it a shame, Bob’s mother is going away for Christmas, ad he’s got to go to an aunt he doesn’t like.
– leading to –
[the policeman] also described how Bob had been found down in the cellar on Christmas Day.
“He had dressed a little Christmas-tree, and hung it with presents for the rest of the gang,” said the policeman, amid a dead silence. This was the first they knew of the Christmas-tree! Good old Bob! They all wished they had seen the tree. Bob hung his head. That Christmas night seemed a long time ago now but he could suddenly see the gaily-decorated cellar, and that little tree lit with its candles.
The Little Christmas Tree from Enid Blyton’s Buttercup Story Book, 1951
This story is about Robin and Susan, whose mother is ill at Christmas – and it shows Blyton doing what she was so good at, taking a familiar element and working it into a new story.
Daddy doesn’t know all the things Mummy does when Christmas comes,” said Robin. They both looked very gloomy indeed. Christmas without Mummy would be horrid.
“Mummy always digs up the little Christmas tree that grows in the garden, and hangs it with dear little presents,” said Susan. “We can’t expect Daddy to do that – he’s so busy and worried. The little tree will be sad not to be dressed up and made pretty.”
“Well – I don’t want it without Mummy,” said Robin. He looked gloomily out of the window to see the tiny fir tree growing in the garden. It really was a dear little tree.
Susan looked at it too. A sparrow flew down to the tiny tree and perched on the topmost spike. Susan suddenly had an idea.
“Robin! I’ve got such a good idea!” she said. “Even if we don’t feel like using the tree for ourselves, we could use it for the birds. We could hang biscuits and crusts and nuts and bacon rind on it. The birds would love it.”
Their neighbour sees all this and thinks them very good children for doing it, instead of grumbling about not having a proper tree. So once all the bird treats have been eaten off the tree she borrows it and loads it with candles and presents for Susan and Robin.
Santa Claus Gets Busy from Enid Blyton’s Bright Story Book, 1952
And here is another story with recycled elements (not to mention an already much-used title!)
Santa’s reindeer are ill and sneezing their heads off. The stable-man suggests that Santa heads out in a helicopter to deliver the presents.
Santa Claus snorted like a reindeer. “A helicopter! What next? I don’t go in for these new-fashioned things. I’m old fashioned and I like reindeer for Christmas Eve. Now – where in the world can I get some?”
I found that bit particularly funny as my two-and-a-half year old niece saw a helicopter a few nights ago and said, very seriously, that’s Santa bringing my presents.
Anyway, this Santa ends telephoning London Zoo and asking to borrow some reindeer for the night. The zoo keeper is most disbelieving until Santa looks up his name in his book (conveniently there is only one John Robins in the world) and reminds him of what he got for Christmas 25 years ago.
He then instructs the zoo keeper to whisper annimaloolipatahmakaroo in the reindeer’s ears and to put fly-paint on their hooves, and thankfully has four eager reindeer to do his rounds with that night.
All the Way to Santa Claus from The Seventh Holiday Book, 1952
There was a tremendous noise in the castle of Santa Claus. The workers there were getting thousands of toys ready for Christmas.
Tops were humming, toy ducks were quacking, rocking horses were rocking, trains were ratting round and round rails, and teddy bears were practising their growls. Everywhere you went you could see and hear the toys being made ready by the workers of Santa Claus.
Now one of the little workers was a brownie called Slick. He was the one that taught the Jack-in-the-Boxes to jump straight out of their boxes on their springs, and made people jump. Nobody liked him very much. He didn’t always tell the truth, and he was rather sly.
Uh-oh! If you suspect that Slick is going to cause trouble, you are right. He is planning to steal the sack of toys! The sack is made by Mr Hessian (nice little pun) and can hold every single toy Santa plans to hand out though it looks like it could only hold a hundred gifts. Slick is going to pretend there is a practice march – as that is how the toys end up in the sack – and trick all the toys into getting into the sack early.
The captain of the toy soldiers is the one to come up with an escape plan once Slick has loaded the toy sack into the back of a car. He cuts through the sack with his sword and they all climb out one by one. They are already in the next town by now, and after scaring off a policeman who thinks they are rats, they find two children to help them.
And another idea is reused: all reindeer apparently know the way to Santa Claus’ castle (incidentally I was never brought up with stories of Santa Claus in a castle, he was just at the North Pole), and so they go to London Zoo (yes, Santa’s castle is just outside London…)
These reindeer don’t need fly-paint on their hooves, and already remember the magic words from when they were living near Santa’s castle and are soon flying the toys back to Santa.
The reindeer are rewarded for their help by getting to pull the sleigh on Christmas Eve, and the two children are in for a great number of presents for helping the toys find the zoo – as are all children with the same names as Santa can’t be sure which ones are the right ones. Oh, and Slick is to be punished in some way – if he ever comes back!
Mr. Twiddle’s Christmas Mistake from Well Really, Mr. Twiddle, 1953
Well, Mr Twiddle is always making mistakes and Christmas time is no different.
It begins with him feeling very happy…
It was almost Christmas time. He had made some really beautiful Christmas cards, and had painted them himself. Most of them had robins and holly on them, because those were the two things he drew the best.
He had a cupboard full of parcels. He was going to give Mrs Twiddle a lot of nice surprises on Christmas Day. And he had bought twelve circus tickets.
Three days before Christmas the circus was coming
to Twiddle’s town. Twiddle loved a circus, especially one with elephants in, and this one had three.
So he had saved up his money and had bought twelve tickets, two for himself and his wife, and ten for all their grandchildren.
Well, I can just imagine all the ways that Mr Twiddle might mess that up!
He starts by losing his pen just as he wants to write his Christmas cards, and after lots of interruptions from their cat and dog, he manages to lose Mrs Twiddle’s pen too. When he comes back from posting his cards Mrs Twiddle thinks he has missed the post, because the cards are sitting on the dresser. But no – he’s sure he posted them all!
Of course what he has done is posted the circus tickets by mistake! Thankfully he is able to catch the postman as he empties the post box and retrieves the tickets… but he does forget to take the cards to post!
Make a Carol Singer’s Lantern – The Eighth Holiday Book, 1952
What Happened on Christmas Eve from The Eighth Holiday Book, 1953
Santa is out delivering his toys late on Christmas Eve, and is just about to leave no toys for Elizabeth and Jonathon who have not been very good, when an aeroplane flies by, very low. They avoid a collision but the air current knocks Santa and the sack of toys out of the sleigh. Santa manages to cling on – not realising the toys have gone overboard – and proceeds to the next town.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Jonathon are awake and feeling very bad. Their mother is in hospital (yet another one!) and they are wishing they hadn’t been so rude to her lately. Hearing the toys falling from the roof they get up to investigate.
They went down the stairs and opened the back door. Scattered all over the garden were many little dark things. Elizabeth picked up the first one and looked at it in the moonlight.
“Jonathon! Its a doll! The prettiest one I ever saw in my life. Do look!”
But Jonathon was picking up a train – and a big ship with magnificent sails – and three golliwogs in a row together! Elizabeth began to pick up things, too. Another doll – two fat teddy-bears – a doll’s house with its chimney off – a music box. Really there seemed to be no end to the toys in their garden that night.
They work out that Santa has dropped the toys by mistake and are honest enough to know they can’t keep them, so they bundle them all into an old sack and leave them on the lawn where he can find them again.
At first Santa is sure these two must be on his ‘nice’ list and is willing to let them pick their own toys, but on hearing their names he realises they have been quite bad. The fact that they are willing to admit their wrong doings, and are determined to turn over a new leaf means he is moved to offer them a small gift each after all. Selflessly they ask that he gives their mother a new watch instead. He does that – but also leaves the pretty doll and train for the children.
A Christmas Stocking Puzzle from The Eighth Holiday Book, 1953
Xmas Paper Chains from Enid Blyton’s Magazine Issue 20, Vol.1, 1953
A Little Christmas Play from Enid Blyton’s Magazine Issue 20, Vol.1, 1953
Mary. I say! It’s nearly Christmas-time! Has everyone made up their minds what they want?
John. I have! I called up the chimney yesterday and asked for a clockwork train.
Peter. I called up too. I shouted up for an aeroplane.
Winnie. I hope you said please! You don’t get anything unless you ask politely.
Jane. I didn’t call up our chimney. I didn’t now I should. Is it too late to shout up and say what I want?
Harry. Of course not – you can call up the chimney right to Christmas Eve. I called up last Christmas Eve for a ship – and I got one.
Jane. Oh, I do, I do want to call up the chimney. I want to do it now, here in school! I might forget to-night.
Mary. Well, go to the fireplace and call up the chimney then! Go on. We’ll all hear what you want to have.
Jane. Can I shout for anything? Anything in the world?
John. Oh yes – but I shouldn’t think that silly wishes or greedy wishes would come true.
So Jane goes to the fireplace and shouts up, and she asks for Santa Claus to come and visit them! The other laugh at her silliness, but soon they hear sleigh bells. It’s one of Santa’s helpers who then brings Santa in for a visit, and he hands out crackers, balloons and presents to everyone!
One Christmas Night from Enid Blyton’s Magazine Issue 21, Vol.1, 1953
One Christmas Eve three children – Tom, Polly and Sue, are shivering in a caravan. They have had to move out of their home into the caravan while their father is out of work. They are hoping their mother will be bringing them nice things from the shops but she has very little money.
Sue, the youngest, is very upset at the lack of Christmas things and is worried that Santa won’t leave them anything as there is no chimney.
The lack of chimney does pose a problem, and Santa drops the sack of presents off the roof while hunting for one. He then manages to go off with a big sack of potatoes instead of his toys.
Tom puts the sack out in the open with a lantern on it so that Santa can find it again and in the morning they discover that Santa has filled the socks on the washing line with toys and sweets for them.
“Easy-to-Make” Xmas Tree Decorations from Enid Blyton’s Magazine Issue 21, Vol.1, 1953
One Christmas Eve from The Ninth Holiday Book, 1954
This is another play, this time for a family.
Lucy has just finished reading a story to the others and then gets up to stretch her legs.
MOTHER: You can never keep still for long, can you, Lucy! It’s a good thing you haven’t got a bad leg like poor Joan!
LUCY: Poor Joan! She hasn’t been able to walk or run for six weeks now, has she, Mother? I do wish she would get better. She can’t go to school for go for walks, or help or do the shopping or anything.
JOAN: It’s so dull lying here – but it hurts me to move my leg. You don’t know how much I long to rush around as you do, Lucy. I can’t even go to the School Party, can I, Mother? And there’s going to be a Christmas Tree!
Lucy asks if she can still go, and says she desperately needs a new dress to go in. Mother says no, she can’t afford that and that if Lucy won’t go without a new dress she won’t go at all. The family seem to be in some trouble at the moment as their brother Dick’s shoes are full of holes. Dick then comes home, rather late, having been trying to find the owner of a lost glove. He and Joan seem to be taking their lumps very well this year.
And then there’s a knock at the door:
1ST BROWNIE(bowing): We hope we are not disturbing you, but we heard that you had found our master’s glove.
2ND BROWNIE (making a dart at the glove and picking it up, to wave it in triumph): Here it is! Oh Good! Where did you find it, boy?
DICK: In the road. Who are you – and who is your master?
1ST BROWNIE: Our master is Santa Claus, of course! We are two of his servants. It’s Christmas Eve and he is already driving around in his sleigh.
Santa is to come back to pick up his servants, but before he can do that the brownies tell Dick that the glove is magic and grants wishes to anyone who wears it. The only catch is that the wishes must be for someone else.
So Dick wishes that his mother’s money back could be full instead of empty (a sneaky way around it perhaps, as he will still benefit!), he also wishes for a new dress for Lucy (which mother could have bought her!). Lucy then takes the glove and wishes for new shoes for Dick, and finally, Mother wishes that Joan’s leg would get better.
The Little Carol Singer from the Ninth Holiday Book, 1954
John is very disappointed as he has a cold and cannot go carol-singing. He was going to sing Good King Wenceslas, Nowel Nowel, The Holy Babe and Here We Come A-wassailing. Though he doesn’t know what wassailing is. His grandfather explains that it is a merry party where wassail is drunk. He then sits John down to tell him about when he was six years old and singing carols.
“It was winter-time, very cold and frosty. There was my Mother and I and my little sister Hannah, all living in a tiny cottage together.”
“Where was your father?” asked John.
“He was dead, said Grandfather. “He left my Mother a little money but it soon went – and that winter, when Christmas was near, my poor mother couldn’t even pay the rent of the little cottage.”
“What happened?” asked John. “Was she turned out?”
“The landlord was a hard man,” said his Grandfather. “He said that unless she could find some money to give him she must be turned out of the cottage with me and my little sister. We had nowhere to go and it was bitter weather. I remember my mother crying bitterly.”
“What did you do?” asked John.
“Well, I made up my mine that I must get some money somehow,” said Grandfather. “So I put on my cap and coat and out I went into the snow. But nobody wanted a little boy’s work! Nobody wanted snow swept away or errands run…”
Then on his way home he heard a party of carol-singers going house to house where the would be welcomed in for mulled wine and cakes. He joined the carol-singers secretly and went in to sing at one of the big houses, hoping to warm up and get something to eat. His singing is so good that he is asked to sing a verse alone, and is rewarded with some cakes and a drink. He puts the cakes in his pocket to take home and is accused of stealing them from one of the other singers.
It has one of Blyton’s traditionally happy endings when the lady of the house jumps to his defence – and after hearing his story offers them a free cottage in return for teaching him in music.
A Surprise on Christmas Eve, from Enid Blyton’s Marigold Story Book, 1954
Click on the image to see it large enough to read.
Santa Claus Gets Busy from The Tenth Holiday Book, 1955
This is the third time this title has been used, and this is yet another different story though it has familiar elements. Santa Claus is cross to be disturbed by a phone call:
WHAT? Gone off with my reindeer? I never heard such a thing. Get them back at once! AT ONCE! How can I go out next week with my sack of toys and my sleigh if I haven’t got my reindeer to pull me?
The stable boy has let a stranger in who promised to put some go-faster polish on the reindeer’s hooves, but instead he has stolen them. As with several other stories the solution is to borrow some reindeer from the zoo… but this time they can’t as the zookeeper won’t believe in Santa and anyway, the reindeer have coughs. They try to get a helicopter but nobody will loan one to Santa and so in the end he magically enlarges a toy helicopter and delivers toys in that. (So perhaps my niece wasn’t so far off the mark earlier!)
Noddy Meets Father Christmas 1955
I reviewed this a while back too, and it isn’t a very Christmassy book though it obviously features Father Christmas.
One Christmas Eve from The Twelfth Holiday Book, 1957
Yes – another new story under an old title.
This one has Father Christmas with some new and rather useless reindeer who do things like taking him to factory chimneys to deliver presents. He is so used to his reindeer just taking him to the right place he pops all the way down this enormous chimney without thinking.
He fell down and down and down at a most alarming speed! The chimney was very tall indeed, very black inside, and very smelly. Father Christmas lost his red hat trimmed with white fur. His coat caught on a jutting nail, and was ripped off his back. It broke his fall, though, and when he landed at the bottom of the big factory chimney he only got a jolt and a bump that made him gasp and sit down suddenly.
Worse is yet to some, though, when a policeman (who looks remarkably like Mr Plod as it is illustrated by Peter Weink) catches him and does not believe that he is Father Christmas!
Can’t you think of a better one than that? Father Christmas indeed! You look more like a sweep. Open that bag! I shall want you to give me the contents and come along to the police station with me!
Father Christmas then does a runner and gets chased by the policeman. He knocks on the window of a little cottage and is let in by the children there, and they hide him in a cupboard when the policeman comes by. He then borrows a Father Christmas costume from the children, and after a wash, he looks more like himself again. The children are a little disappointed that their stockings were not filled by their visitor, but in the morning the cupboard Father Christmas hid in is opened to reveal a huge hoard of new toys.
Happy Christmas, Five! from Princess Gift Book for Girls 1962
Christmas Eve at Kirrin Cottage – and the Five were all there together! They were up in the boys’ bedroom, packing Christmas presents in bright paper. Timmy was very excited, and nosed about the room, his long tail wagging in delight.
“Don’t keep slapping my legs with your tail, Tim,” said Anne. “Look out, George, he’s getting tangled up with your ball of string!”
“Don’t look round, Anne, I’m packing up your present,” said Dick. “My word – there’ll be a lot to give out on Christmas, with all of us here – and everyone giving everyone else something!”
“I’ve a B-O-N-E for Timmy,” said Anne, “but it’s downstairs in the larder. I was afraid he’d sniff it out up here.”
[George’s] father and mother were packing up parcels, too. They seemed to have as many as the four cousins upstairs! Mrs Kirrin looked at the pile of packages on the table.
“Far too many to go on the tree!” she said. “We’d better put all our parcels and the children’s too into a sack, Quentin. We can stand the sack at the bottom of the tree, and you can be Father Christmas and hand them out tomorrow.
“I am NOT going to be Father Christmas,” said Mr Kirrin. “All this nonsense at Christmas time! Bits of paper everywhere – parcels to undo – Timmy barking his head off. Hark at him now! I shall go mad! He’s to go to his kennel.”
Timmy further annoys Uncle Quentin by bashing him with his tail and barking more, so he does indeed end up in his outdoor kennel. This is just as well, as he is able to then follow the thief that has snuck inside and stolen the sack of presents. He follows him to where he hides the sack and carries the presents back in his mouth one at a time.
Christmas Stocking Puzzle answers:
- Teddy Bear
Merry Christmas everyone!