Short stories from Enid Blyton’s Happy Story Book


Recently I wrote a post about Enid Blyton’s short stories with the intention of then reviewing some of the stories. Well, being short stories I thought they would be quick to do and therefore kept putting it off, the end result being no stories being read or reviewed!

I picked Enid Blyton’s Happy Story Book as I know it has Eileen Soper illustrations, and it seemed a good a place to start as any. There are 16 stories in the book, and I intend to just review a few.

enid-blytons-happy-story-book

I have chosen The Girl Who Tore Her Books, Susy-Ann’s Clock and Ellen’s Adventure based on the titles sounding interesting!


Ellen’s Adventure

Ellen’s Adventure is the seventh story, originally published in Sunny Stories No.11 Apr 26, 1937.

It’s not really an adventure, but what can you expect in under 9 pages. Ellen is on her way back to afternoon school when she helps a lady whose car is stuck in a ditch. By cycling to the nearest garage to fetch help she is late back to school and gets scolded – until it turns out that the lady Ellen helped is the duchess who is visiting the school that very afternoon. What’s more, is the duchess is so grateful to Ellen that she buys the apron Ellen made for the sale of work – the apron Ellen thought was ruined because the strings didn’t match the rest.

Like most of Blyton’s short stories it’s very simple. Saying that, there are two ‘plots’ woven together. The first is how Ellen was careless in not leaving enough material to make matching apron strings, the second is how she was kind enough to put herself out in helping a stranger, who then comes to appreciate the mismatched apron. Of course, in Enid Blyton land the stranger you help will almost always turn out to be important and you will be rewarded for your selflessness and that’s exactly what happened to Ellen.


Susy-Ann’s Clock

Susy-Ann’s Clock is story number 11, originally published in Sunny Stories No.154 Dec 22, 1939.

While Ellen’s (admittedly minor) flaw was not planning well, Susy-Ann’s flaw is being late for everything, from school to meals to bed. She blames this on her clock rather than having the self-awareness to know it’s her own fault, so in true Blyton style I suspect that she will end up being punished for this. And so she is.

Her clock is not an ordinary clock, it has thoughts, feelings and the ability to run to whatever time it wants! Annoyed with Susy-Ann blaming it for her failings her clock starts to run fast, forcing her to rush around. What’s more is it gaslights her by then changing back to the right time when she goes back to check it. Rushing around as she does she forgets things, almost misses out on lunch and is most upset about it all. However she is a clever girl and figures out the clock is trying to wind her up, and she catches it red handed. She and the clock then strike a deal that they will both behave for as long as the other does. (Excuse all the clock related puns there, I couldn’t resist!)

This is a little longer at 11 pages, but still takes place in a single day. It has a clear moral – don’t blame anyone else for your own failings and also tries to warn children not to be lazy and slow.


The Girl Who Tore Her Books

The Girl Who Tore Her Books is the 14th story of the 16, originally published in Sunny Stories No.8 Mar 5, 1937.

This tale is about Anna who looks after her toys well, but loves to tear up books! Her mother tries to channel her tearing tendencies into ripping newspapers, but no, she just loves destroying books. I hope she learns a good lesson here! One evening she takes a big nursery-rhyme book down with the intention of tearing up the pages, but something very strange happens. Old Mother Hubbard’s and her giant shoe full of children grows out of the book and fills the nursery, while Anna shrinks to the thinness of a sheet of paper.

Mother Hubbard and the children know who she is – and what she does to books – and the children threaten to tear her up. They tear her dress and scare her into running off, but not before she promises never to rip up another book again. When she reappears in the real world her dress is really torn and her mother is cross.

This is like a tiny bit of science fiction. Anna couldn’t simply have been dreaming or her dress wouldn’t have been ripped! Blyton clearly felt the punishment should fit the crime here as so often is the case. I was confused by the nursery rhyme, though, as I thought Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard etc and the old lady who lived in a shoe didn’t have a name.


So there you are – three random short stories. Each has a clear moral, with one child getting rewarded for a good deed and two being punished for bad ones.

I like how Blyton short story collections jump from standard stories to stories in worlds where clocks are secretly alive and back. You never know what you’re going to get from a story.

These collections great for those of us who don’t have Sunny Stories, which can be hard to find. Being a magazine Sunny Stories is more fragile than a book and liable to be passed around from child to child until it fell apart.

 

This entry was posted in Book reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Short stories from Enid Blyton’s Happy Story Book

  1. The Girl Who Tore Her Books –

    I think you didn’t really understand Enid in this instance. This story is consciously a spoof of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carol, a novel which was enormously popular and well known when Enid was writing her story.

    Here we have a set of nursery rhyme characters, as in ‘Alice’. Enid’s tale is even set in a nursery. Enid gives us a spoof version of Carol’s Playing Card characters, the King, Queen and Knave of Hearts, with the little girl in Enid’s tale becoming a paper character herself: i.e. emulating a playing card.

    Like Alice, the girl shrinks and grows. She is threatened by the Nursery characters (just as Alice is put on trial by them in Wonderland). And Enid names her child ‘Anna’, a name which has a definite similarity to ‘Alice’.

    Enid was not aiming to write a science fiction tale, but a straightforward spoof of Lewis Carol. In the end, Enid spoils her own tale: in order to give it an “Enid Blyton ending” she allows the girl to have her dress torn, as a punishment for her misbehaviour, when the logic of the situation demands that it be all a dream. But it’s still Carollian nonsense, not science fiction.

    Like

    • fiona says:

      That’s an interesting theory, but I don’t think we can ever say for sure what Enid’s inspirations were for her stories. I doubt she would ever have deliberately ‘spoofed’ another book. I’m not sure who the king, queen and knave are you’re referring to in the Blyton tale. There’s the old woman, the boy Anna hits and a range of other children who are in the background. Also, she doesn’t shrink or grow. The boot and the other characters emerge out of the book and fill the nursery, hence when she runs out and down the stairs she bumps into her mother.

      Perhaps science fiction wasn’t quite the right term but it’s not the same as her usual fantasy where children discover strange creatures in their world and/or visit other worlds.

      Like

  2. I only meant that in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, there are three characters who are made of paper: the King, Queen and Knave of Hearts. And Enid makes her own girl hero into a character made of paper in her tale.

    Sorry if I misunderstood you. I don’t have a copy of this tale, so was judging it from your descriptions. You specifically say that the girl hero “shrinks”, and that Mother Hubbard and her Shoe “grow”. So I was going by that, and it is very similar to the events of ‘Alice in W’.

    With literature, you usually must decide for yourself which literary influences the author is exhibiting in a tale. You can rarely ask him/her. It would have been impossible of course for Enid to have grown up when she did and be unfamiliar with Lewis Carroll.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.