Enid Blyton’s Holiday Stories then and now, part 8

This series was seeming to drag for a bit, but suddenly I’ve only got ten stories left to do!

Previous parts look at story 1, stories 2 and 3, stories 4 and 5, stories 6 and 7, stories 8 to 10, stories 11 to 13 and stories 14 to 16.


Adventures Under the Sea

One of the few stories in this collection that hasn’t come from a magazine, this was actually first published in the Merry Moments Annual of 1923, making it the oldest included story. Its only other printing in Blyton’s lifetime is in a collection I had never heard of before – Tarrydiddle Town and Other Stories, which comprises 8 stories all taken from Merry Moments. It has been reprinted a few times in more recent years as well.

A brief review

I found this a bit of a strange story, though it had some fun elements. Dick is woken by a fairy one night and, as he was kind enough to rescue a star fish on the beach earlier, she takes him under the sea to meet Neptune as a reward.

Blyton has written many, many stories where a good deed is rewarded, but usually we read about the good deed first. This just has the fairy ask Are you the little boy who picked up a jellyfish…

Anyway, Dick heads off with this fairy and goes under the sea where he meets Neptune and gets a tour. He sees a merman who catches the reflections of the stars with his net, the small ones are for the baby sea fairies to play with while the bigger ones are turned loose and becomes star fish. Jellyfish are really underwater balloons that don’t pop, and a more well-known idea is that the foaming waves are really the manes of water horses.

So its quite amusing and clever, but still a bit odd. It’s quite abrupt in throwing us into the under water world and equally abrupt in Dick riding a horse back home to bed.

The updates

As I don’t have the original so my comments here will be limited but it does appear that in the Merry Moments Annual the title was just Under the Sea.

One thing I can say is that I’m surprised they didn’t change the boy’s name. Dick in the Faraway Tree books has had his name changed to Rick, and various other names have already been modernised in this collection so this seems an odd one to leave.

The illustrations

Tarrydiddle Town and Other Stories has illustrations by Rosa C. Petherick, while it looks like the Merry Moments print had different illustrators, with Lola Onslow providing illustrations for Under the Sea. I would liked to have seen either’s artwork as the wording does bring up some very vivid images in my mind!

An Exciting Afternoon

Originally published in Sunny Stories #417 in 1947, this was first reprinted in The Water-Lily Story Book in 1953. After that it has had seven further reprints between 1965 and 2015.

A brief review

Tom (or Desmond depending on which version you are reading) is a keen bird watcher. Only his bike is stolen while he’s busy watching a yellowhammer. As he begins to walk home a police car passes and he gets a lift. To everyone’s astonishment they see the man on the stolen bike and from there it’s a simple matter to stop him and recover the bike.

It is a straightforward story relying on coincidence, or luck, but then it is a short story which doesn’t leave room for much toing and froing.

The updates

After several barely updated stories this one has been hacked to pieces.

As above, Desmond has become Tom. Desmond is pretty old-fashioned, but then so is Dick these days…

There are the usual changes to the style, some exclamation marks are removed, and also italics and hyphens. As is always the case it is a much flatter read without the emphasis.

Field glasses are updated to binoculars which is a shame as I like the old name. Likewise a trice becomes a flash, and cigarette boxes become gold boxes. That last one is odd because a previous story hinged on the kind of cigarettes and matches men were using. Yet bicycle is always bicycle, and not the common, modern, bike – the single usage of bike in the original is actually lost in the cuts made to the reprint!

A number of small and very random changes are made to bits of wording.

With these he could see birds a long way away / He could see a long way with them

He could never catch up the man / He could never catch the man up

After a bit a car came along / After a while a car came along

A tale becomes a story, sonny becomes lad in one instance and is left as sonny on the second usage.

One of the policemen caught the handlebars / One of the policemen caught hold of the handlebars

A correction, I suppose, as it was a question – said the policeman becomes asked the policeman.

pedalling quickly home / as he pedalled quickly home

Lady Landley’s goods become her property

An unknown Somebody / becomes just a somebody

Forty miles an hour becomes thirty miles an hour – perhaps forty miles an hour is a bit fast for a guy on a 1940s bike? It’s not my area of expertise (I can’t actually ride a bike…) but Google tells me that 25-30 is a speed that professional racers can maintain – so maybe they could hit 40 at a sprint? But these would be on fancy bikes with lots of gears and with the riders wearing lycra I bet. Could an average man in average 1940s clothes do that? Downhill, maybe? Was the editor here a keen cyclist who could only dream of hitting 40?

Moving on from bikes we get to the most hacked up part of the story. I can understand at least some of this.

Perhaps he could get a lift in a car. He could try is removed. This I can understand as you don’t want to be encouraging children to get in strangers cars. Yet this could also be dealt with by explaining at the start or end of the story that these were different times.

A car does come along and originally Desmond wondered if it could give him a lift, so he put up his hand to see if it would stop. It did stop – and then the boy got a shock. He had stopped a police-car! This is changed to just It was a police car. It stops, entirely unprompted, and in both versions the policemen still look Desmond/Tom up and down.

If you stop a police car you probably expect to be looked at, but the car stopping on its own accord to examine a boy seems unwarranted.

Back to the original text –

“What do you want?” asked the driver.

“I’m so sorry to stop you – I wouldn’t have if I’d seen this was a police-car,” said Desmond. “I just wanted a lift.”

“Now, look here – why can’t you youngsters stretch your legs a bit?” said the driver. “In my young days we walked and liked it.” Desmond went red. “It’s only because I’ve had my bike stolen,” he said. “I’ve never asked for a lift before, sir; I like walking and bicycling. I’m not lazy.” 

Again, I can see how this might seem problematic. First off, you don’t want children thinking that police aren’t approachable with that What do you want? – but that could easily have been changed to What’s the problem? or something. Secondly, you don’t want them to think they shouldn’t flag down the police – with Desmond saying he wouldn’t if he’d known, and again, suggesting he’d not stop a police car but would stop a stranger. It’s difficult to change this text without cutting a lot of it, which is why making any changes becomes a slippery slope. More text could have been salvaged if, say, Tom deliberately stopped a police car, said sorry, but then asked for a lift, with the policeman interrupting with his rant before Tom can say because my bike was stolen. 

All of the above is replaced with –

“What are you doing walking out here on your own?” asked the driver.

Tom went red “I’ve had my bike stolen,” he said. “And now I have to walk home.”

The police’s response still seems OTT, and it’s surprising that Tom is embarrassed and doesn’t ask for help.

Both versions have the next line “Oh, so you’ve had your bicycle stolen, have you?” seems a more unnecessary repetition in the reprint as it is directly after Tom says it.

And lastly That’s rather different is removed as it’s no longer needed given the police aren’t chastising Tom for being lazy.

The illustrations

Jessie Land (The Adventurous Four) did the original illustrations, but Marjorie L Davies provided them for the reprint I have. There are only four of them, but with the exception of the bike being stolen they could pretty much tell the story without any words!



This entry was posted in Book reviews, Updating Blyton's Books and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Enid Blyton’s Holiday Stories then and now, part 8

  1. Andreas says:

    Thank you for your comment on the story. Would you be so nice, to send me the scans of the 4 illustrations? Because I have only the originals from Sunny stories. Best regards, Andreas.


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