Here we are, already at story 8 of 26!
Previous parts look at story 1, stories 2 and 3, stories 4 and 5, and stories 6 and 7.
It looks like this was originally published under a different name – Dan Loses His Hanky, and was one a few stories about Dan and Daisy. Its first publication was in a 1947 edition of Good Housekeeping. Its only reprint during Blyton’s life was in The Big Bedtime Book from Woolworths 1951 – at which point it changed to John’s Hanky – and that’s one I don’t have. It is then reprinted a few times in 1975 and later.
A brief review
This is a very short story, taking up less than three pages in the paperback – and that’s with reasonably large print and line spacing.
It’s about John and his twin Alice. It’s very hot and mother has told them to wear their sun-hats in the garden, but John is lazy and makes a hat out of his hanky. He then scratches his hand on a thorn, and looks for his hanky, but can’t find it… I can totally relate to this, but it’s a shame he then pummels his sister when she tells him he does indeed have his hanky.
As the story takes place on a hot, sunny day that is how it ties in with the theme of the collection.
Without the original edition I can’t really say anything about the updates, other than they’ve left in John smacking Alice, pulling her off the seat, her pulling him down, them rolling around pummeling each other and John ending up sitting on Alice. It’s possible that they’ve softened some of the language there, but I can’t tell. It’s also possible that the twins were John (or possibly even Jack!) and Joan or something as Blyton likes to alliterate.
Again, without the original I can’t say much other than it was originally illustrated by Stanley Jackson, and then Dorothy Hall in the Bedtime Book.
What I can show you is the entirely unrelated illustration that the paperback gives us on the title page of the story. I haven’t brought these up before because they fail to ever relate to the stories – in fact they are all elements from the front and back cover of the book, and are repeated at random for the stories within.
The Magic Watering-Can
Although I don’t have a copy of this story I thought I was going to be able to do a full review and updates check on this one, but I’ve made an error somewhere along the way.
The story is from Sunny Stories For Little Folk #227 (1930). However there is also a story titled The Magic Watering Can (note the lack of hyphen) in Sunny Stories for Little Folk #87. Unfortunately after that the hyphens are inconsistent and I’ve gotten muddled. A friend kindly sent me a scan of News Chronicle Boys’ and Girls’ Story Book No. 4 from 1936 – but it’s actually the story from SSfLF #87.
A brief review
Despite having two different publications (and a differing choice of hyphenation) both stories are actually very similar. I’ll review the version in the paperback, though.
Tweeky, a lazy pixie, has a garden badly in need of watering but instead of doing it himself he intends to ask a neighbour for a spell to help. As she is out when he visits he steals a spell instead and has the can do the work itself. In a plot recognisable from many other stories, the can just goes on and on, until the garden is flooded and everything inside the house is wet. The original owner of the spell is kind enough to stop it, but it leaves Tweeky with a lot of work to do to undo all the damage.
The link to the theme of the collection is that the weather is hot.
Blyton herself has written other variations of this – often about magic ice-cream that won’t stop flowing, but it’s also similar to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the magic brooms. (I know this as a disney piece from 1940’s Fantasia with Mickey Mouse, but the original idea is from an 1832 poem by Goethe titled Der Zauberlehrling which translates to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Her other Magic Watering Can story is about a Brownie gardener who is too lazy to water his employers’ garden. Upon seeing a neighbour using a magic can he steals the can itself (much more a premeditated crime, rather than an opportunistic one as in the version above). Of course the result is very similar, with the can watering everything in sight, including the brownie and his employers’ house. The neighbour stops the spell, gives the brownie a smack, and then the brownie has to sort out all the mess that has been left.
I can’t see anything obvious, but no doubt they’ve slipped a few in somewhere.
The Sunny Stories illustrator is not credited. The Daily Mail annual’s illustrator was Leslie Illingworth – but the Cave has the illustrations for all Blyton’s entries in it credited to Spot.
Ok, on to one I actually do have! This was first published in Sunny Stories #468 (1949) and was first reprinted in The Eleventh Holiday Book in 1956. There is also a story titled The Peppermint Rock from Teachers World, and reprinted elsewhere later.
A brief review
Sue and Robin are off to their Auntie Ellen’s at the seaside for the day. Instead of having a lovely time with their cousin Jim they spoil it with their quarreling. They begin the story with a lot of squabbling, each blaming the other for being the squabbler, but intend to keep a lid on it in front of their big cousin.
It doesn’t last long, of course, and comes to a head when they get sixpence from Auntie Ellen and buy a piece of peppermint rock, and immediately start fighting about how to share it. Robin breaks it in half, but Sue insists he got the bigger piece.
Jim comes along and says he can fix the problem, by taking a bite of Robin’s piece. Only it was a big bite and now Sue’s piece is larger. I’m sure you can see where this is going. Of course they end up with nothing, and have learned hard lesson.
Honestly none of the children come out well from this story, they are all unlikeable! Jim doesn’t come across as someone trying to help by teaching them a hard lesson – rather he delights in not only upsetting his younger cousins but also in getting to eat all the rock!
This one is at least a clear summer holiday story, even if it is only a day trip. It’s a short tale so there isn’t any time to spend on the beach but knowing they’ve gone off on the train to the seaside is enough, and the buying of rock is such a quintessential British summer holiday thing to do.
No names are changed this time, but I’m no longer surprised by the inconsistent changes.
Jerseys become sweaters, though I’ve never used either word as I’d call it a jumper! I think that sweater is a more common term in the USA rather than the UK.
Of course the money is changed. Sixpence becomes fifty pence, and threepence is twenty-five pence. Somehow fifty pence seems a very stingy amount for an aunt to two children to share. How much do you think you could buy for fifty pence in Margate in 2015?
And lastly half a sentence is cut for no obvious reason
they were polite to each other and didn’t quarrel at all becomes just they were polite to each other.
What’s not changed is the children getting the bus alone to the seaside town where Aunt Ellen lives.
In Sunny Stories the illustrator is credited as Beattie, while in The Eleventh Holiday Book they are by Mary Brooks – one of the illustrators from the Noddy series, and who has also done illustrations stories in six of the Holiday Books.
The colours are again very, er, vibrant, in red, yellow and green. Brooks has drawn the twins – and Jim – looking rather young – maybe too young to be going on a bus alone to the seaside?