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.
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 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 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.