Monday #248

A very rounded week this week.

Round up of Christmas posts


November round up

“That’s the way I always go into and out of a house.It’s much more exciting than using the door.”

Father Christmas extols the virtues of using chimneys as an entry and exit point to a house in Father Christmas and Belinda.

The Man Who Wasn’t Wasn’t Father Christmas doesn’t have any other name given. He resembles Father Christmas, and would like to be as generous, but as he is poor he has nothing to give any children. He takes a job on Christmas Eve, dressing as Father Christmas and handing out adverts for a toy-store and feels quite disgusted with himself. All he wants is to be handing out sweets or toys so he is very happy when the real Father Christmas allows him to do so while he takes a break.

Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Five Fall Into Adventure

This is the ninth book in the series, so I’m almost half-way with my reviews. Just as a random point – I always confuse this title with Five Go Adventuring Again. It doesn’t hep that they are two of the vaguer titles and have the adventure/adventuring similarity, but I know they’re not that similar. I just have a bit of a mental block about them.

If I’m trying to remember plots I have to think for a moment about Fall Into Adventure, Plenty of Fun and Wonderful Time (but I know what Adventuring Again and Get Into Trouble are about instantly… the mind is a strange thing.)

Anyway, I am writing about Five Fall Into Adventure today, so I do know the plot. If I happen to call it by the wrong name, forgive me?

A story in three parts

Continuing what I’ve started by dividing each book into chunks:

  • Part 1 – The first days at Kirrin
  • Part 2 – George is kidnapped and Jo is found to be involved
  • Part 3 – They go searching for George but lose Jo
  • Part 4 – Up the coast to Red Tower’s place

You could combine parts 3 and 4 for a very long search and rescue mission, but a lot happens and all the drama at the end is quite different from what comes before.

A series of somewhat unfortunate events

Dick foolishly remarks that two weeks isn’t long enough to find an adventure when they arrive at Kirrin. But the very next day a chain of events begins which will lead to a pretty big adventure.

First they get rid of Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny to Spain, amidst phone calls from the press. Quentin is not long back from America where he has attended a conference and attracted quite a lot of attention.

Later they see a man and boy on the beach, and the boy is bold enough to sit in George’s sand hole. That turns into an argument which Dick breaks up, he won’t let George fight a boy. Only, once the boy has punched Dick and Dick has punched him back, it turns out that the boy is actually a girl.

And so we meet Jo, who I will dedicate a section to later, and the Five are already on the slippery slope to adventure though they don’t know it yet.

That night Anne sees a face at the bedroom window in the middle of the night – and it wasn’t a dream because the ivy is damaged. The boys are a bit worried but downplay it for Anne’s sake. They have no leads so there’s not much they can do anyway.

They have another meeting with Jo the next day on the beach – and a damson stone spitting competition, of course – and she makes friends with Timmy, much to George’s horror.

Uncle Quentin’s study is burgled that night, and Timmy didn’t react as he had been doped with something while on his evening walk.

joan joanna five fall into an adventure

The Five manage to deal with all this quite well – even becoming bored of the police as they ask their endless questions and eat their way through all of Joan’s baking.

As you can see there has been a steady series of small events – seemingly unrelated – all leading to the real disaster striking. George and Timmy go missing – though it takes a while for anyone to realise as they think they’ve just gone off fishing early in the morning. By late afternoon they are quite concerned and then a ransom note arrives!

The note says that the kidnappers want to swap George and Timmy for another of Uncle Quentin’s notebooks so it’s up to Julian, Dick, Anne and Joan to come up with a plan to foil the kidnappers and rescue George and Timmy. The telephone wires have been cut and someone is watching to make sure none of them leave to get help. In a clever idea where they swap Dick for Sid the paper-boy Dick is able to follow the person who comes to collect the notebook – and lo and behold, it’s Jo!

What next?

What are the three remaining Famous Fivers to do? They have one of the gang in custody, but Jo’s just a messenger, or so she says. She admits to having let the burglars in, doped Timmy and shut the front door to make it seem like George had returned. So she’s in deep but she wants to help them, mostly because she’s taken such a liking to Dick.

Nobody is sure if they can trust her or not, but she’s got inside information and they decide it’s worth a try. She leads them towards Ravens Wood where she thinks they’ll have taken George, but on the way she is dragged off by a friend of her father’s.

Julian, Dick and Anne make the rest of the journey by themselves and even manage to find the caravan – but George and Timmy aren’t there. All that’s been left behind is a strange scribbling on the wall, Red Tower, Red Tower, Red Tower…

The exciting finale and my usual thoughts and nitpicks will come next.

Posted in Book reviews | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Decorating for Christmas – the Blyton Way

Christmas today is probably quite different from Christmas back in Blyton’s time. There weren’t any plastic trees for a start (though ones made of feathers or brush bristles had been around a while) and while it’s easy to imagine it all as idyllic and cosy there was at least a certain level of consumerism and tat. Saying that, the majority of the Christmases that feature in Blyton’s works are very wholesome and that’s what I’ve tried to capture in this post.

Making your own paper decorations

Bring a bit of 1950s festivities to your home by cutting out various shapes from paper or card and making all these lovely decorations.

These are designed to be tied to a stick but you could easily string them across a ceiling instead. I think they would look great with red tissue paper over the windows, or even red cellophane saved from sweet wrappers. For the gum feel free to substitute a glue stick!

This one strikes me as challenging – to draw and cut out fourteen identical bells! I think I would have to make a template and trace the rest.

Paper chains can easily be made – there are plenty of shop-bought kits with precut strips and little bits of double sided tape to stick them together. When I was young we had kits of gummed paper that just needed to be licked at the end then stuck down. Or you could easily make your own by cutting up wrapping paper, newspaper or any other paper and gluing them into links.

Very fancy paper chains are shown in one of the magazines, though they wouldn’t be much use for hanging bells from.

I’m not sure how festive fish or birds (excluding robins, of course) are! but these could look quite effective if done using metallic paper as suggested.

These paper robins are definitely Christmassy. If I had the time I would give them a go – maybe in a few years when Brodie is old enough to want Christmas crafting projects.

If you have my crafting skills easy probably isn’t the right word for these, but there are some interesting uses for milk bottle tops if anyone still has the same type!

This looks like it would be really effective (but I’d have to use a template again, me freehanding would just make for really wonky trees!). If you used card instead of paper you could cut two trees and then cut slits in them, one from the top and one from the bottom then slide them together.

Decorating your tree

Something that has become more popular again recently is having a tree that is planted outdoors through the year and then brought in for Christmas before being replanted again. Now it’s being done for eco reasons, but it is mentioned in several of Blyton’s stories as a perfectly normal way of doing things.

Decorating the tree, however, has changed a lot!

Lots of Blyton’s Christmas stories involve trees decorated with toys and gifts which are then given to children attending a party, or the children who live in that home.

In Five Go Adventuring Again Anne hopes for the fairy doll from the top of the tree, whereas now I’m sure most people reuse the same fairy doll every Christmas. In The Christmas Tree Aeroplane Mrs Lee who holds the party gives each child a present (including a toy boat) from the tree. And in The Christmas-Tree Party the tree is hung with dolls, and engines and books and motor-cars. It seems strange to think of toy cars and boats and dolls ‘decorating’ a tree.

Five Go Adventuring Again

The other big difference is using candles as tree-lights! They were clipped on to the ends of branches and must have created a huge fire hazard. This is one ‘tip’ I don’t recommend!

In another make-your-own (but not out of paper) you can have little baskets of sweets on your tree.

It would be fun to make some gay little baskets to hang on the Christmas tree, full of sweets.

We want some flat round corks, some long pins, and some bright coloured wool.

Perhaps Mother has a pickle-cork she can let us have, a nice flat one that we can cut into two, and use for the bases of two baskets. If you are not very old, ask Mother to cut the cork for you, or you may hurt yourself with the knife.

Now we have our flat cork. Stick the long pins in all round – not too close together. Now take a gay length of wool and begin to twist it from pin to pin. You must begin weaving at the base of the pins, of course, not at the top. Go on weaving until the pins are quite covered with the wool, and you have your little basket.

A piece of wire (or a hairpin) will do for a handle. Twist some wool over it, then bend the ends to catch under the edges of the basket, just as in the picture.

Now put your sweets in, and hang your little basket up on a twig of the Christmas tree. If you make half a dozen, they will look very gay hanging on the tree.

I suspect the corks mentioned are cork jar lids rather than the type of corks we use now for wine bottles.

A different kind of tree

There are a few mentions of an outdoor tree – but not the kind we see now with outdoor string lights.

Rather how about decorating a tree (or bush!) for the birds?

As suggested in The Little Christmas Tree

“Robin! I’ve got such a good idea!” [Susan] 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.”

They took a coco-nut and broke it into bits. They made holes in the middle of the bits and threaded them with string. Then they tied the bits of coco-nut to the branches, just as if they were toys.

The the children brought out some bits of bacon-rind and they hung those on the tree too. They brought out a bone and tied that to one of the strongest branches! Then the children tied crusts of bread and biscuits on to the tree, and then three fine sprays of the millet-seeds that the birds love so much.

  • The Tiny Christmas Tree

I imagine both trees would have to be refreshed and redecorated every few days as the birds ate away at the decorations!

Other decorations

In keeping with bringing a real rooted tree indoors, in several Blyton books and stories families bring in real holly and mistletoe to decorate with. Best to ask permission before you cut any down, though, unless it has grown in your own garden!



I wonder how many of these things Blyton decorated her house with at Christmas?

Posted in Crafts, Seasonal | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Monday #247

Thursday is the 51st anniversary of Enid Blyton’s death. We have done a special post in the past to mark the occasion but I haven’t anything planned this year, as I write something every week that I hope shows the impact her writing had on me and her many other readers.

Decorating for Christmas – the Blyton way


Five Fall Into Adventure

“It’s Santa Claus,” said Brer Rabbit in a deep voice. “I’ve got a sack of presents for you, Brer Fox.”

“Come on down then,” said Brer Fox, pleased.

“I can’t,” said Brer Rabbit. “I’m stuck.” Brer Fox unbolted his door and went into the garden to look up at the roof. Sure enough, in the moonlight he could see someone in his chimney.

Brer Rabbit pretends to be Santa Claus to trick Brer Fox in Brer Rabbit is Santa Claus!  from Enid Blyton’s Book of the Year.

Harry from The Christmas Tree Aeroplane found in The Second Holiday Book is one of Blyton’s almost too good to be true children. A lady with a grand house has invited him and several other local children to her special Christmas party. Harry comes from a poor home and his mother is ill at the time. Still, he is generous without fault. He doesn’t complain when he doesn’t win any of the games, and  gives away his balloon to a child whose balloon has burst. He gives his toy ship from the tree to a child who was accidentally missed out and gives his bonnet from his cracker to another child, too. And he doesn’t say a word about being left without anything to take home. He is lucky that the lady hosting the party notices, and when she hears how he gave all his things to others, she gives him the special Santa-in-an-aeroplane from the top of the tree as well as some cakes, jelly and a ride home in her car.

Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If you like Blyton: The Harveys See it Through by Phyllis Gegan

You might remember the name Phyllis Gegan from my review of A Mystery for Ninepence recently.

I bought this one partly because I like the Collin’s Seagull Library spines and partly because I like collecting books by authors I already have (even if I haven’t read them yet!). Anyway, it’s the second of the only two books she was known to have written, and it’s a different genre.

If a Mystery for Ninepence is like a Blyton mystery, then The Harveys See it Through is like…

As I said above, The Harveys is of a different genre to Gegan’s other book. It is far more like one of Blyton’s ‘family’ books – The Family at Red Roofs, House-at-the-Corner, or even The Four Cousins in a way.

It is not as deep as either of the first two I have mentioned. The Harveys do help someone out and manage their own home in the absence of their father, but as none of them have any deep character flaws to begin with, they don’t have to develop or learn any lessons along the way. Their situation is also not as serious as either of those books – nobody is presumed dead or gravely ill or anything like that.

The cast

The Harveys are

  • Miranda, 15
  • Julian, 13
  • Verna, 11
  • Giles, 9
  • Mr Harvey
  • Mamie (Giles’ spoiled cat)

There is also:

  • Miss Hodges the lodger
  • Mr Blake the neighbour whose garden meets the bottom of the Harvey garden
  • Nicky, 14, and Jo-Ann, 13, Weavers, friends of the children

The general plot

The story opens with the Mr Harvey telling his children that he is to go off to America on business for six weeks. He will leave them housekeeping money, an emergency five pound note, and a grown-up lodger as he doesn’t want them alone over-night. (Their mother died several years before and their daily woman is recovering with a broken leg).

While not overjoyed at the prospect the children take it well and resolve to be sensible about everything.

The main part of the story develops when they discover that Mr Blake has been in a car accident and ended up in hospital. They do not get on with Mr Blake as he unjustly accused Julian of causing the death of his dog. They can see that Mr Blake’s raspberries and currants are ripe, and know that he normally picks them and sells them.

So despite heartily disliking him, and being disliked back just as much, the children spend a lot of their summer holiday picking Mr Blake’s fruit and selling it by the roadside, intending to give him all the proceeds. They even turn a load of it into jam when it looks like it will rot before they can sell it.

When Mr Blake first returns home from the hospital he is incensed to see the Harveys have been in his garden and accuses them of stealing from him. However, when he receives the letter, account book and money from them, he is forced to apologise and a friendship is struck up between the neighbours.

The sub-plot regards the family managing without their father and daily woman. There is the shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry to consider. Things become much worse when a visiting puppy eats his way through several envelopes which had contained a weeks worth of housekeeping money each. They then have to live very frugally – even with using the emergency money – until Mr Blake produces a miracle from the shredded notes.

In between these plots are various bits of fun where the children have their friends over, redecorate their fathers’ room, attend a fair and so on.

What’s Blyton about it?

First up the adults are quickly disposed of, excepting the lodger who is happy to have little to do with managing the children. There are plenty of good meals and even more scrupulous honesty in dealing with Mr Blake’s fruit, down to the last penny spent on sugar for the jam.

As I’ve mentioned, children having to earn money and/or manage a household alone features in a few Blyton books.

Is it as good as Blyton?

No, of course not, but very few of Blyton’s contemporaries do match up in my opinion.

The story lacks a compelling reason for them to be putting such effort into selling the fruit. If Mr Blake had been a very dear friend, I could understand it. Or even if he had been a kindly stranger! However, doing good for the sake of doing good doesn’t work so well.

The children, while likeable and having sufficient personality to stand out from each other, very rarely get cross, fall out, get upset or react in any interesting way. They tease each other, and there is a small amount of upset once or twice but generally they trundle along cheerfully.

Final thoughts

It may sound dull when I describe it, but the story isn’t boring. The ways in which the children manage to pick and sell the fruit is interesting and is interspersed with other plots like their tree-top party and a treasure hunt in the public gardens.

Giles often provides light comic relief with his nonsense over his cat, and his mosaic cake is funny (if concerning on a hygiene level…). There are even a couple of occasions when the children comment on terrible grammar which was appreciated by me, though your mileage may vary!

If you can pick this one up cheaply in a charity shop or online it’s worth reading. And as a bonus it will look good on your bookshelf.

Posted in Book reviews, Reading Recommendations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Enid Blyton Christmas gift guide 2019

This year’s gift guide has been a bit harder to put together. Last year there were plenty of new Noddy-related toys and games tied in with the Dreamworks’ Noddy Toyland Detective tv show. This year, however, none of the big toy retailers have any of those items left in stock and there’s nothing new either.

All is not lost, however, as there are plenty of new books!

Hodder Bumper Short Story Collections

I’ve lost count of how many of these there are now, but it’s somewhere in the region of 20 I’d guess.

This year’s offerings are Animal Stories, Summer Adventure Stories and Tales of Tricks and Treats which I mentioned in my Halloween post.

Animal stories £6.99, Summer Adventure Stories £6.99, Tales of Tricks and Treats £6.99

Malory Towers and St Clare’s

There the new short story collection for Malory Towers, written by several authors (I’ve asked for this!)

New Class at Malory Towers, £6.99

There are also the 2018 editions of Malory Towers and St Clare’s with the old fashioned covers by Ruth Palmer which I have raved about a couple of times. They’re only available as sets at the moment, with 12 for Malory Towers and 9 for St Clare’s as they include the continuation books by Pamela Cox.

Malory Towers boxset, £16.99

St Clare’s boxset £13.99

A few more new books

This year there is also Favourite Enid Blyton Stories which is a collection of excerpts chosen by famous people.

Favourite Enid Blyton Stories £11.99

I’m not sure why I’m including Mystery of the Theatre Ghost because based on my review of the first one, I think it will be pretty terrible. Children might like it, though!

Mystery of the Theatre Ghost £6.99

Enid Blyton quotes on just about any product you could imagine

Amazon is absolutely full of these, all from one company. Unfortunately there are only three choices of quote, ones which are always associated with Blyton –

The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.

Leave something for someone but don’t leave someone for something.


If you can’t look after something in your care, you have no right to keep it.

These are wise sayings but give me a falling ash tree quote any day!

But you can have either on a chopping board, pillow, temporary tattoo, bookmark, babygrow, wall plaque, water bottles, cork trivet, coasters, magnetic clips, money box, clock, pin badge, makeup bag, drawstring bag, mirror, tissue box, letter holder, trinket box, clutch bag, phone case, tea towel, and so many more I’ve given up on writing them down.

Chopping board £11.99, Clutch bag £9.99, Tote bag £9.99,

The other unfortunate thing (to me anyway) is all these items are plain white (with the exception of the plain wooden ones) and in my house would get impossibly grubby.

Still, it’s a vast range and not particularly expensive either.

Create your own product

Last year I got a book light with a Famous Five cover on it from Klevercase and I love it. I couldn’t see any Blyton covers on their products this year but they are doing a create your own cover product. So you could upload any book cover from Blyton’s extensive collection and get it made into an e-reader or tablet cover, a book light, a notebook or diary.

Create your own product from £20.00

A new game

There are no new Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups, just the ten that came out in 2016 and 17, not that I’m too upset by that. There were three card games last year and another one this year.

Sticky wicket pranks and diversions, £7.81


And a few Noddy bits just so he’s not left out

Noddy backpack

A very expensive Noddy doll by Steiff

And a very expensive Noddy car

Brodie would absolutely love this car.

I hope you all get something nice on Christmas day, Blytonian or otherwise!

Posted in Purchases, Seasonal, Toys and Games | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Monday #246

I did warn you last week: The Christmas posts are starting from now! (There are less than six weeks to go, you know.)

Christmas gift guide 2019


If you like Blyton: The Harveys See it Through by Phyllis Gegan

It stood in the hall, with coloured candles in holders clipped to the branches, and gay, shining ornaments hanging from top to bottom. Silver strands of frosted string hung down from the branches like icicles, and Anne had put bits of white cotton-wool here and there to look like snow. It really was a lovely sight to see.

The Kirrin Cottage Christmas tree in Five Go Adventuring Again.

Five Go Adventuring Again

Father Christmas and Belinda is a lovely book full of colour photographs. Belinda’s owner gets a new doll at a Christmas party and relegates her and her doll-friend Tod to the window-ledge because they are old and dirty.

Because of that they are able to spot Father Christmas and he takes them on a sleigh-ride to deliver presents to a few children he has marked as special because of their unhappiness, and for a visit to his castle.

It ends with them being reunited with their owner who has missed them terribly!

Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Naughtiest Girl in the School: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? Part 3

You can find part one, chapters 1-4, here, and part two with chapters 5-8 here.

I am comparing the 1944 5th reprint by George Newnes (which should be more or less identical to the true first edition) to a 2012 edition by Hodder and Stoughton.


The editor must have fallen asleep during this chapter as not a single thing changes. To be fair there isn’t very much I would have seized upon as a potential for updating but all the italics are left alone as is the record on the gramophone.


Despite all the italics being left in the previous chapter, several are removed from this one.

  • I tell you I shan’t.
  • I do love them so much
  • I don’t know what you’d do if you did find a letter there one day
  • It was a story

Removing the emphasis can change the meaning of a sentence in quite a subtle way. There is a difference between I do love them so much and I do love them so much for example. Without italics readers will put their own emphasis – or read it flatly.

There are two queers in this chapter. One becomes odd, the other very queer people, is left alone.

Also left is a reference to two shillings. If you’re going to update a book at least be consistent!


The original book has the chapter title repeated on odd pages and the book’s title on even ones. Strangely in this chapter the title loses the capital P on the odd pages.

One change I approve of is the removal of silly capital letters. It’s always the Meeting in both, but the meeting is talked about as if it’s a live entity the Meeting hates and so on. Whereas there’s really no need for the box they put the money in to be called the Box. So I approve of it become plain old the box.

More money is changed. Queenie asked for half a crown (two shillings and sixpence) to buy a present for her old nurse’s birthday. Whether you rely on converting two shillings to pounds or consider that she’s asking more a bit more than her weekly pocket money, the new amount should be two pounds fifty or thereabouts. But no. She asks for one pound. How is she supposed to buy a present for a pound? And if all she needs is a pound why can’t she just spend half her pocket money?

John Terry’s request for a spade is originally priced at twelve shillings and sixpence. A considerable amount at over 6 weeks pocket money. This has been updated to five pounds, less than three weeks money. Five pounds seems rather cheap for a spade, especially when John has made a point of saying how expensive it it. Why isn’t it ten or twelve pounds?

In a pointless change refuses to clean it becomes refused to clean it. Elizabeth did refuse to clean it in the past so refused is not incorrect. But she made it clear that she refuses to ever clean it, so refuses is also not incorrect and therefore didn’t need to be changed.

Lastly italics are removed from the first of two italicised words in the sentence Lessons you don’t seem to like, you must miss those you do like.


Italics are attacked inconsistently again. In one case where only half a word is italicised the italics are extended to the whole word I want everyone to I want everyoneThe two more or less mean the same so changing it is pointless. But later however is left half in italics.

Also left is I shall have a few pence over for sweets. You wouldn’t get many sweets for pennies even back in 2012. I remember buying individual penny sweets in high school, but by the time I left (2004) it was mostly two-penny and five-penny sweets. (I shudder remembering the little tray with the sweets on it on the shop counter, and how many fingers must have touched the sweets before anyone bought them!)

Elizabeth’s stamps get updated from twelve penny ones and twelve ha’penny ones to twelve first class ones and twelve second class ones. 

Also in this chapter I first noticed the full stops have been removed from abbreviations like Mr.

This is the only chapter with an illustration for the paperback, but it’s a different one to in the original. Cable depicted Nora speaking to Elizabeth who is in bed, the French mistress praising Elizabeth for good work and Elizabeth raging at the boys who are teasing her.

Hindley shows Elizabeth stuck inside at her desk while her class sketch outdoors.

I’m struck by just how pointed everyone’s shoes are. Can Hindley not draw shoes, but just does crude triangles?


The count

Some things are changed more than once, but they are the same change and only get counted once:

Already counted:

Roman numerals to words
Case change for chapter titles
Removal of hyphens from good-bye, to-day, etc
Removal of italics for emphasis
Extra word capitalised at start of chapter
Quotation marks
Dash length


Full stops removed after abbreviations
Queer to odd

Total: 2

Unique changes (some of which will move to the above list if I see more examples later):

Capital letter removed from the Box
Queenie’s money
John Terry’s money

Total: 5

Total this post: 7

Over all total : 32

Posted in Updating Blyton's Books | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Letters to Enid 18: From volume 2 issue 6

Previous letters pages can be found here.

Letters page from Volume 2, issue 6. March 17th-30th 1954.



 1. A letter from  Sunbeam Susam Biffen, 11a Hazel Road, Rubery, Birmingham
Dear Miss Blyton,
We are sending you £2 os. 8d. for the little Blind Children. I enclose one News-Sheet, showing how we made this money. Gifts – 18s. 1d. … Earned Money – 11s. 7d. … Puzzle Money – 7s. 10d. … Pocket Money – 3s. 2d. Don’t forget we are always ready to help anyone, you can call on any of us.
Ann, Jane, John, Marlene, Barry, Edward, Brian and Susan. (Sunbeams.)

(What a splendid little band! I am proud of each of you.)

2. A letter from Freda Whale, 53 Clifton Road, Weston-super-Mare.
Dear Enid Blyton,
One day my Uncle Fred found an old sun hat. He put it on and said, “What would people say if I went on the sea-front with this on my head?” And Jimmy, my budgie, said, “Pretty boy!”
Love from,
Freda Whale.

(Your budgie is clever enough to put into a story, Freda!)

3. A letter from Patricia English, Melbur House School, Fore Street, Tregony.
Dear Miss Blyton,
Thank you for our Sunbeam badges. The school is now shining with badges. We are delighted with them and our teacher says she is quite dazzled. All the pupils in our school are now Sunbeams.
Yours sincerely,
Patricia English.

(Yours is the first school in which everyone is a Sunbeam, Patricia. My warm congratulations.)

4. A letter from Doreen Burton, Hole Farm Bungalow, Wareside, Ware.
Dear Enid Blyton,
One day when Mummy was out shopping she bought me one of your magazines. She didn’t know it, but it was the first one out! I liked it so much that she ordered it for me, and I have had it ever since.
Lots of love from, Doreen Burton.

(What a good thing your mother saw it, Doreen! You are one of our oldest readers.)

Four letters this week, and some boys again, even if they didn’t write the letter.


Posted in Magazines | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Monday #245

This is the last week before I start on the Christmas posts, you have been warned!

Letters to Enid part 18


Updates to the Naughtiest Girl part 3

The Mystery of Banshee Towers is the fifteenth and final Five-Find Outer book. It is fairly widely regarded as the worst of the series and a weak mystery but I don’t think it’s as bad as all that. It’s not my least favourite of the series at any rate.

Banshee Towers is an art gallery which is supposed to be haunted by a wailing banshee. Naturally the Find Outers are curious about this phenomenon and visit, only to become involved in a mystery regarding stolen paintings.

Snubby, real name Peter, would irritate me if I ever met him in real life. Despite that I think he gets rather a harder time than he deserves. He is an orphan who spends school holidays rotating between various aunts and uncles, some of whom seem to rather unwelcoming.

Despite that the best for for Snubby is irrepressible. He is always cheerful and full of mischief. He plays the fool most of the time but he would never play a trick with malice. His best friend is his utterly mad spaniel called Loony.

Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

October 2019 round up

The blog turned 7 years old on Tuesday, so happy birthday to us!

What I have read

I’ve read a lot more this month. I’ve now read 88, so I’m 5 ahead of schedule. Two months left in the year and only 12 books left to read! (I won’t stop if I reach 100 before December 31st of course.)

  • Something Rotten (Thursday Next #4) – Jasper Fforde
  • The Wartime Midwives – Daisy Styles
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
  • Miss Nightingale’s Nurses (Nursing #1) – Kate Eastham
  • Five Get Into Trouble – reviewed here
  • A Mystery for Ninepence – Phyllis Gegan, reviewed here
  • First Among Sequels (Thursday Next #5) – Jasper Fforde
  • The Mystery of the Vanishing Skeleton (Mystery Island #6) – Helen Moss, recommended here.
  • The Liverpool Nightingales (Nursing #2) – Kate Eastham
  • Mr Lemoncello’s All Star Breakout (Mr L’s Library #4) – Chris Gabenstein
  • The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War (The Foyles Girls #2) – Elaine Roberts.
  • The Bomb Girls (The Bomb Girls #1) – Daisy Styles

And I’m still working on:

  • The Naughtiest Girl in the School – I’m doing a text comparison on this one
  • The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel – Diana Gabaldon
  • The Four Streets (Four Streets #1) by Nadine Dorries

I’m really struggling with the graphic novel – I find it really hard to work out what’s going on and who is who!

What I have watched

  • Hollyoaks
  • Finished ER, and felt very sad about it.
  • Only Connect
  • More of Taskmaster
  • Some more of the Letdown
  • The Dark Crystal Resurgence on Netflix. I love the film – though I didn’t discover it was a film until I was about fifteen. I’d had a book based on the film and loved it, so I was amazed to find a DVD in a shop and discover there was a film!
  • The Bookshop, a 2017 film starring Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy
  • Murder She Wrote, seasons five and six

What I have done

  • Visited the Botanic Gardens
  • Gone to several parks
  • Been to the beach in our coats, hats and boots
  • Gone on some very muddy woodland walks
  • Visited the deer at the Scottish Deer Centre
  • Started my Christmas shopping nice and early!
  • Recycled a lot of crisp packets

What I have bought

A new section which won’t appear every month (thankfully for my bank balance).

This month I’ve rediscovered eBay and bought:

  • The Third Holiday Book
  • The Rabbit’s Party and Other Stories

I needed these to help complete the two series they belong to, so I’m down to missing one from each – The Holiday Book and Susan and the Birds and Other Stories. Neither has a dust jacket and both are a little tatty but they were both well under £5 each so I am very pleased.

Posted in Personal Experiences | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My twenty-sixth Noddy book: The second Big Noddy Book

Seeing as it’s Noddy’s 70th anniversary this month I thought I would look at the only Noddy book I have but haven’t yet reviewed.

About the book

The second Big Noddy Book, is as the name suggests, a large volume like an annual. Published in 1952 it has pictures by Beek, the original Noddy illustrator.

In her preface Blyton says:

This is little Noddy’s second Big Book. You liked the first one so much that he thought you would like another. Isn’t he lucky to have Little Books about him, and Big Books, too?

In fact she would go on to write another six big books, and eighteen more little books, not to mention the many many other stories, picture strips, board books etc she wrote about Noddy.

The contents

There is a mix of things, though perhaps not as much variety as some of her other annual-type books. They were all specially written for the book, rather than being taken from her magazines, and as far as I can tell none of them have been re-used (unless their names have been changed. There is a story titled Well, Really, Noddy in a later magazine but it’s not the same story), making this an even nicer book to have.

There are eight short stories, around five pages each: A-tishoo, Noddy and the Little Dolls, Noddy and the Squeaker, Stop Noddy Stop!, Noddy’s Tail, Noddy is Quite Clever, Big-Ears’ Red Hat, and Noddy and the Moon.

The other three stories are in picture-stip format, and those are: Where’s Your Car Noddy?, Well Really Noddy!, and Noddy Gets a Shock.

A Picture to Colour is exactly as it sounds – a colouring page, Can You Find the Twins? is a picture-puzzle and Noddy’s Car is a poem.

The stories

In A-tishoo! Noddy catches a cold – or as he says, a cold has caught him.

His poor car then catches it and Noddy takes care of it by pouring hot water and lemon into its water tank and keeping it warm under a blanket.

In Noddy and the Little Dolls, Noddy is asked to take nine(!) little doll children out for a picnic. Noddy’s car is a marvellous thing clearly as he can drive it with a picnic hamper under his feet (not to mention its ability to catch the cold!). They have a lovely time and a wonderful picnic;

Egg sandwiches, tomato sandwiches, banana sandwiches. Chocolate biscuits, ginger biscuits. Fruit cake and ginger cake. Lemonade and orangeade.

Now I love a banana sandwich but they don’t keep well for long, so I hope they are all right by the time they ate their picnic!

Anyway, when it comes to home-time Noddy carefully counts the dolls to make sure he has them all. But alas! He remembers there are ten of them in total but can only count nine. He is terribly apologetic when he returns the little dolls to Mrs. Jolly-Doll but she laughs. Silly Noddy forgot to count himself!

In Noddy and the Squeaker Noddy goes to a party at Mrs. Fluffy-Doll’s. He wins a squeaker in a cracker and puts it in his pocket without realising what it does.

The squeaker ends up falling into the lining of his shorts and making a noise every time Noddy sits down, and he gets more and more upset thinking he keeps sitting on a cat. Eventually Big-Ears solves the mystery for him.

Noddy borrows Big-Ears’ bicycle in Stop, Noddy, Stop! because his car is in the garage being mended. He stops to buy Big-Ears an ice cream as a thank-you but when he rides back an elephant chases him shouting Stop! and It’s mine!

If you look closely at the two illustrations I’ve included I think you’ll all be able to see why, and it has nothing to do with the ice cream.

In Noddy’s Tail, Noddy finds a tail lying on the road and tries it on for fun. He then forgets about it and takes a clockwork mouse to the train station.

Everyone has a good laugh at his expense – except the owner who comes to claim his property!

Noddy is Quite Clever has Noddy going to tea with Mrs Tubby and Miss Tibby. Miss Tibby is upset as she has had an unpleasant time at the shoe-shop as the toy serving her laughed at her clawless back paws.

Noddy, desperate for some of Mrs Tubby’s chocolate cake, fashions some claws from rose thorns and presents them to Miss Tibby.

In Big-Ears’ Red Hat, Big-Ears’ loses his hat when Noddy drives him very quickly down a hill. Noddy tries his best to find the hat, but all the red things he spots belong to other people.

Just as Big-Ears is getting very cross they arrive back at his house to find the wind has returned his hat for him!

And lastly in Noddy and the Moon, Noddy is at his most foolish as he tries to catch the moon’s reflection in a pond.

The picture-strips

In Where’s Your Car, Noddy? Noddy’s car goes missing – having floated away on a big bunch of balloons!

Then in Well, Really, Noddy, Noddy (who really shouldn’t be allowed to drive!) crashes into a toy house and demolishes it. Seeing as it’s made of building blocks it isn’t too hard to put it together again but he can’t find the chimney. Then follows a lengthy series of visits to different people. Mr Bricks the builder will give Noddy a chimney if he brings him two eggs, the farmer will give him two eggs if he brings him a ladder, and so on. He completes all these tasks – luckily the farmer gives him some milk without  payment of any sort or the story might never have ended – and Noddy gets his chimney.

Only, the house never had a chimney to start with, so he gives it to Mr Tubby for his hen-house.

Noddy Gets a Shock seems to feature his car as well –  I wonder what disaster can possibly befall it now! Well, it seems to have disappeared from in front of the ice cream shop! He and Mr Plod search all over the town for it and hear that a brownie was seen driving it. It turns out that Big-Ears saw it outside the shop for so long he thought that Noddy had forgotten it and took it home for him. Normally Big-Ears is much more sensible than that!

A colouring page, a puzzle and a poem

The colouring page has been mostly done already.

The puzzle is a nice one – all the Beek drawings in this book are great actually;

And here’s the poem;

This is a really lovely book. I often find Noddy a bit tiresome but these stories are so short he doesn’t have time to mope or howl or be annoying. His problems also get solved nice and quickly so he doesn’t seem quite so idiotic!

There are hundreds of lovely illustrations throughout, which makes it very bright and colourful too.

Posted in Book reviews, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Monday #244

Noddy is 70 years old this month! His first book, Noddy Goes to Toyland was published in November 1949. I thought we would have a bit of a Noddy theme today and a review of a Noddy book on Wednesday to celebrate.

The Big Noddy book #2


October round up

Oh, Wind, you’re very rough today,
You blow the clouds along,
You puff my chimney smoke away
And sing a windy song.
You shake the washing to and fro,
You make me dance and sing,
You take my little bells and blow
To make it jingle-jing!
Oh, it is a happy thing
To have a little bell to ring!

One of Noddy’s songs from Noddy and Tessie Bear.

Toyland is full of towns and villages populated by toys. There is Toy Village where Noddy lives, Bouncing Ball Village, Golliwog Town, Humming-Top Village, Wooden-Engine Village, Doll’s-house Town, Skittle Town, Toy-Cat Village, Noah’s Ark Town, Rocking Horse Town, Clockwork Clown Village and Toy-Dog Town amongst many others.

Apart from Toy Village the rest are populated by a single type of toy.


Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Naughtiest Girl in the School: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? Part 2

You can find part one, chapters 1-4, here.

I am comparing the 1944 5th reprint by George Newnes (which should be more or less identical to the true first edition) to a 2012 edition by Hodder and Stoughton.


Something I didn’t note the last time, the first word of each chapter is capitalised in the original, the first two in the paperback. I’ve never understood the need for capitalising any words at the start of chapters, to be honest.

I also forgot to mention the punctuation differences. The hardback uses double quotation marks, the paperback single. The hardback also uses a long M dash and the paperback the short N dash.

The only edit to this chapter is changing queer for strange. The same substitution as the other time it has been used so far.

Interestingly Elizabeth still kicks the monitor over, and he still pulls her hair. Usually slaps/kicks/any sort of violence is removed or toned down, like when Darrell slaps Gwen in the first form.

The paperback has its first proper illustration in this chapter, showing the same scene as one from the hardback, Elizabeth kicking the monitor. As there are only four different chapter title vignettes, they start to repeat from this chapter and I won’t bother including them again.

I have many questions about the new illustration. First is, did Elizabeth need a step-ladder to get up on such a high swing, and if she kicks the boy surely she’d get him in the face at that height? The rest concern her outfit. Why is she wearing stripy stockings? The text repeatedly refers to brown stockings. Why is her skirt tartan? That doesn’t match the description of her uniform either. It’s after Easter, so why is she wearing a scarf?


The mere threat of violence is removed from this chapter. Nora originally threatens that she will spank you with a hairbrush. This becomes give you what for. Both are followed by Monitors do that sometimes, you know! which makes much more sense in the first example, seeing as she’s already spoken quite severely to Elizabeth before.

After that Elizabeth felt that she couldn’t bear to be spanked by Nora, but that then becomes Elizabeth felt like she couldn’t bear to test Nora’s threat. Why not? She’s intending to push as many boundaries as she can to be sent home!


As before all references to the pocket money has changed from two shillings to two pounds. 

All references to money after that also have to be changed, but of course, they get changed with little consistency or thought.

Shillings and sixpences, half-crowns and even a ten-shilling note or two went into the big box becomes Pound coins and fifty pences, five pounds and even a ten pound note or two went into the big box. The sentence begins with Money clinked into [the box] which works better with the longer list of coins and the rarity of a note.

Elizabeth’s money started out as Six shillings, two half-crowns and five sixpences. In the paperback it is Six pound coins, two fifty pence pieces and five twenty pence pieces. Initially they seem to be replacing every shilling with a pound, but a half-crown is two and a half shillings, not half a shilling, so replacing them with fifty pence pieces greatly reduces how much Elizabeth had. Elizabeth had thirteen shillings and six pence, so she should have put in thirteen pounds and fifty pence, surely?

There are two requests for money at this first meeting.

I should like sixpence extra becomes I should like sixty pence extra. Again sixpence should equal fifty pence if two shillings equals two pounds.

Then May I have one and ninepence extra to pay for an electric light bulb? is changed to May I have ninety pence extra… Surely that’s £1.90 by the editors logic (if one shilling is one pound, and sixpence becomes sixty)? But if actual logic is applied, based on the 1s=£1, it would be £1.75, as nine pence is 3/4 of a shilling. Oddly they still specify electric light bulb in the paperback, as if there would be another kind!

What doesn’t change is that the request for six/sixty pence is to go towards a new gramophone!

Also inconsistent is the use of form. When describing the room it’s said that all the children are sitting on forms. Forms are also mentioned later in the chapter. Yet, the line Ruth saw the purse on the form is changed to Ruth saw the purse on the floor. If they didn’t think children would know what a form was, why not change all uses to bench? Why change one to floor, when it’s already been said that Elizabeth pushed the purse under herself and sat on it?

The one queer in this chapter is also changed to strange (hardly widening the vocabulary!).

There’s another illustration for this chapter, and again they’ve shown the same scene.

I’m still baffled by the uniform. The other girls seem to be wearing leggings instead of stockings, and Elizabeth has knee length leggings over her stripy stockings? There’s a whole page dedicated to Elizabeth arguing about wearing her socks instead of stockings. Surely, SURELY, if she then wore stripy stockings instead of plain Nora would have had something to say about it? It’s like the illustrator either didn’t read the book, or just didn’t care that her work doesn’t match the text. They’re also sitting on chairs and not forms.


There are more references to gramophones and records in this chapter, but only one of them is changed from She wondered if they had the gramophone record to just the record. Records would still have been a very outdated term in 2012! I know records have had an upsurgence lately as people like the sound of them but it’s a reasonably niche and specialist interest and it’s unlikely that schools or girls of 10 would be in the record buying club.

It’s said that the children can go to the cinema once a week, which got me wondering if that was likely on £2 a week. I decided in the end it was possibly, if they went to a special kids club showing (Odeon, Cineworld and many of the other big chains do these for £1.50-£2.50 on weekend mornings). They’d not be able to buy any popcorn or sweets, though!

The count

Some things are changed more than once, but they are the same change and only get counted once:

Already counted:

Roman numerals to words
Case change for chapter titles
Removal of hyphens from good-bye, to-day, etc
Removal of italics for emphasis
Queer to strange


Extra word capitalised at start of chapter
Quotation marks
Dash length

Total: 3

Unique changes (some of which will move to the above list if I see more examples later):

Spank with a hairbush to give what for
Be spanked to test her threat
List of money going into box
Elizabeth’s money
Request for sixpence
Request for one and nine
Form to floor
Gramophone record to record

Total: 8

Total this post: 11

Over all total : 25

Posted in Updating Blyton's Books | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remember, remember the fifth of November

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot.
There is no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Blyton clearly agreed as she featured Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night several times in different books, stories and poems. That or she just found it a good inspiration for writing!

I’ve already written one post featuring various excerpts from books and stories about bonfires, guys and fireworks. We’ve also already posted a couple of poems, The Bonfire at Night and Firework Night.

On Bonfire Night

On Bonfire Night is the first story in volume 1, issue 17 of Enid Blyton’s Magazine. It runs for eight pages so I won’t reproduce it in full here.

on bonfire night

Health and safety clearly being a concept unknown in 1953, six children have saved up their money to club together and buy a load of fireworks to go with their bonfire. (Blyton does work in a lengthy warning about keeping pets indoors, however). They plan to make a magnificent guy and invite lots of friends to share their fireworks with.

Once they have saved a whole pound they go to the toy shop and buy a selection of fireworks. Some of the possible choices were Rockets, Roman Candles, Big-Flashes, Swish-Bangs, Catherine Wheels and Bang-Jumpers.

Bonfire Night arrives but Harry, one of the group, is so eager to have fun he starts setting off fireworks on the way to the bonfire site. He scares a horse which goes running off, and George, the main character of the story ends up spending bonfire night in a ditch taking care of the frightened horse and so misses the fireworks.

He and the rest of his group – except Harry of course – get another bonfire night courtesy of the farmer and his wife.

An interesting moral tale for modern readers! Children can buy fireworks and light them, just as long as they don’t throw them at horses or forget to shut the cat in a room!

A letter from Bimbo

In the same issue as On Bonfire Night Blyton sends the ‘take care of your pets’ message via Bimbo, her Siamese cat.


Bonfire Night is Coming

Enid Blyton’s Magazine volume 2 issue 22 comes a year after volume 1 issue 17, so Bonfire Night has come around again.

In this one David is a member of a fireworks club, but he is the poorest member and can’t contribute to the funds. He thinks that’s not fair of him and proposes to resign but the others insist he stays, and makes his contribution by collecting firewood and things to burn on the bonfire.

He works very hard and collects twigs from the woods, cardboard boxes, old bits of furniture and even a mouldy old cushion. As it turns out the cushion contains a load of cash, and upon returning it to its owner he gets to keep ten whole pounds. He can then buy some fireworks and put the rest aside for his mother’s birthday and other nice things.

A letter from David

David, the boy from Bonfire Night is Coming writes a letter in a similar vein to Bimbo last year. (Though strangely they’ve squeezed it in thirteen pages before the actual story and it rather gives away the ending!)

The Firework Club

Two years later in volume 4, issue 20 The Fireworks Club follows a very similar pattern to Bonfire Night is Coming.

Tom is also part of a fireworks club, his family aren’t as poor as David’s but he gets very little pocket money. The money he does earn doing chores he spends on flowers for his sick grandmother, replacing his little sisters’ lost pocket money, and nylons for his mother’s birthday.

His group are also kind, however, and insist that he still comes to the firework night but won’t be allowed to light any as he has contributed the least money.

His good deed is finding a dropped box of fireworks and returning them to the owner instead of keeping them for his club. His reward is an invitation to a grand fireworks party the next night.

You can read the story in full here.

A letter from Enid

Enid Blyton’s Magazine volume 5 issue 23 is another November issue. Enid begins with her usual letter to her readers which includes another warning about caring for pets on bonfire night.

One Bonfire Night

Also in volume 5 issue 23 is One Bonfire Night. Despite the name being similar to the first story in this post, and it is about caring for animals again, it’s a very different story.

First it’s set in the made up Village of Tick-Tack, which is populated by little folk and witches. The little folk are most anxious that their bonfire night with fireworks not upset any animals so they send a bell-man though the village to warn everyone to keeps their cats, dogs and ponies etc inside.

Witch Green-Eyes is incensed at being told what to do and refuses to keep her cat, Cinders, in. Well, poor Cinders is scared out of her wits and runs away. She finds a nice new owner and never returns to help Witch Green-Eyes with her spells.

Read the whole story here.

Noddy and the Bonfire

Readers got a second bonfire story in the next issue as well, though since this magazine came out on November 20th it’s not a bonfire night story.

Noddy and Big-Ears light a bonfire to burn all their rubbish (a concept which might seem a bit strange today.)  Big-Ears is very firm that Noddy must not light the fire himself. Noddy loves the bonfire so much that he then goes and lights the Bear family’s rubbish heap next door. Mrs Bear is quite happy that it has been done, because it has started raining, but Bruiny Bear howls because he’s hidden a birthday present in the rubbish and now it’s gone.

Poor Noddy has to pay all his saved money to Bruiny to replace it. I actually feel quite sorry for Noddy as there’s no way he could have known about the present and it’s a rather silly place to have hidden it. But then he does light the fire for selfish reasons rather than genuinely wanting to help!

You can read the story in full here.

Adventure for a Guy (a short story)

Volume 6 issue 23 is another November issue, with another seasonal story. This is more of a mystery tale, involving Peter and George (but not of the Secret Seven).

They chat to a newspaper seller who complains that his money keeps getting stolen when he goes for a cup of tea. He won’t give up his tea, and he must leave the tin for people to put money in as they take papers, so what can he do?

Nobody would steal if there was a policeman watching, but that would only prevent a theft not catch the thief. What he needs, he says, is an invisible man.

Peter dresses as a guy and George wheels him into position near the newspaper stand. With George inside a shop, Peter watches lots of honest people putting in a penny and taking a paper. Then someone else comes along and steals the whole lot!

Luckily Peter recognises who it is and they can confront him later.

There’s a nice little bit about the boys honesty here – they’ve promised not to ever beg for money with a guy so if anyone gives them anything they’ll give it to the newspaper man.

Read the story in full here.

Bonfires (a poem by Enid Blyton)

I don’t have access to many Sunny Stories but number 44 has a poem about Bonfires, which hasn’t been published anywhere else.

When dark November comes along
And leaves are falling down,
The gardener builds a bonfire up
Of rubbish old and brown.

He strikes a match – he lights the fire –
It flares up high and bright!
We jump and dance around in glee,
It’s such a lovely sight!

The flames go up, the smoke blows round,
The bonfire crackles loud,
It sizzled like a frying-pan,
And sparks fly in a crowd!

It looks so lovely in the dark –
Oh, gardener, may we stay
And sit close by it all night long?
Do tell us that we may!

Guy Fawkes Day (a poem by Enid Blyton)

Another poem which hasn’t been used elsewhere is Guy Fawkes Day from Teachers World November 1922.

In gardens all around are bonfires big and small,
And we’ve got a simply lovely one behind our garden wall;
I’m very busy poking it to make it flaming-red,
And Peter’s getting all our fireworks from the garden-shed.

The sky is full of whizzing rockets- just a streak of light,
And then a bunch of coloured stars comes falling thro’ the night,
Then bang! A Roman candle shoots its glory in the air,
And it lights up all the garden with a green and yellow glare!

The catherine wheels are spluttering and whizzing round and round,
And golden rain is dripping with a pretty crackling sound;
Funny little squibs are jumping everywhere about,
And some go hopping in the fire, and find they can’t get out!

Oh! poke the bonfire harder, till the sky is all a-glow,
And shout, “three cheers for Guy who lived so very long ago!”
For whatever poor old Guy Fawkes did that shouldn’t have been done,
It’s all because of him we’re having fireworks and fun!

Bobby’s Fireworks

This one’s also from Teachers World, November 1938 this time.

Bobby has bought a lot of fireworks for fireworks night and he and his friends have been building a bonfire on the hill. One evening he takes an old chair that his granny has given him to burn, and finds the shepherd has fallen and hurt his leg.

The shepherd begs Bobby not to leave him – not even to fetch help – so Bobby sets off all his rockets a few at a time until help arrives.

The doctor who treats the shepherd gives Bobby some money as a reward so he can guy even more fireworks!

Read it in full here.

Mister Guy Fawkes

Mister Guy Fawkes, I’m afraid,
Was not a kindly man,
With others helping him he laid
A bad and foolish plan
They said, “We don’t like James the First
Upon the English throne,
We think he is the very worst
Of all the kings we’ve known.”
So quite a lot of time they spent
Within a cellar small
Beneath the Houses of Parliament,
And there, against the wall,
The stores the gunpowder away,
A very deadly thing,
To blow up Parliament the day
‘Twas opened by the King.
But someone heard about the plot
And to the cellar sped,
Discovered Guy Fawkes on the spot-
And so he lost his head!
And ever since we all remember
Guy Fawkes’ wicked plan,
And on the fifth of each November
We do all we can
To make a really frightful noise
With fireworks loud and bright!
We’ll thank old Guy Fawkes, girls and boys,
For starting Firework Night!

A nice little history lesson in a poem. I wonder if children now are as aware of the reason for the 5th of November celebrations as they presumably were in Blyton’s time. You don’t see children making Guys anymore, and I don’t know if many displays still put Guys on them.

It’s strange to see her (twice) thanking Guy Fawkes for his actions. Bonfire night is meant to be a celebration of foiling the plot! Maybe ‘thanks for being so incompetent, Guy, so that nobody died but we get to have bonfire night’ just wouldn’t fit into a poem.

My house has a great view of one of the two parks the fireworks are set off from, but I won’t be home until 8.30, long after all the fun, on November 5th this year. Oh well – I hope you can all go and see the fireworks and have lots of fun.

Posted in Magazines, Poetry, Seasonal | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monday #243

Remember, remember the fifth of November


Updates to Blyton’s Texts: The Naughtiest Girl in the School

The countryside lay smiling in the afternoon sunshine. Cottages clustered together here and there, and cattle grazed in the fields. In the distance, a curious, steep hill caught her eye. It rose up very suddenly, and at the top was a strange building. It looked like a small, square castle, for it haad towers at each end.

Pam looks out the window and sees Cliff Castle for the first time in The Secret of Cliff Castle.

The Children at Happy House is the first book of three about Jack, Jane and Benjy, who in typical Blyton fashion, move to the countryside from the city. Aimed at younger readers there is no high drama or adventure, just a nice family story about getting a dog and earning some money to buy mother a birthday present.


Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Letters to Enid 17: From volume 2 issue 5

Previous letters pages can be found here.

Letters page from Volume 2, issue 5. March 3rd – 16th 1954





 1. A letter from Egan Crowley, aged 12, 23 Rugby Road, Belfast.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I send you a P.O. for 14/- which was collected by a gang of us in this road. We made camp fires in the lane, and sold chips and tea and fried bread and anyone could have the food provided they paid the price marked on the slate. We hope it will come in useful for your little blind children. We did enjoy ourselves collecting it. With love from all the members of the hang in Rugby Road and from
Egan Crowley

(Thank you, Egan – I wish I’d come along and had tea and chips too!)

2. A letter from Nanette Williams, 17 Charleville Circus, Sydenham, London, S.E.25
A letter from 
Dear Enid Blyton,
Last week my Daddy made a bird house for me and put it in the garden, and every morning we put bacon scraps, bread and a small bath of water out. Daddy put straw in the house and there are three robins living in there now.
Yours sincerely,
Nanette Williams

(What an interesting piece of news, Nanette!)

3. A letter from Rosemary Ford, Bolankan Farm, Praze, Camborne, Cornwall.
Dear Enid Blyton,
My best pet is a hen who is one year old to-day. She is black, with lovely bright blue beady eyes, and her name is Susie. We both earn sixpence every week. Susie earns hers by laying three eggs each week, and I earn mine by helping Mummy. I enclose sixpence for the Sunbeam Society from us both.
With best wishes from
Rosemary Ford,
and a very big “Cluck” from Susie.

(Thank you, Rosemary, thank you, Susie – how kind you both are!)

Finally, another letter from a boy! I must say, what a nice ‘gang’ he seems to belong to!

I love Nanette’s address – Charleville Circus. I even looked it up on Google maps, and it’s a very round street. All the houses are lovely big ones and Nannette’s is now covered in ivy, I wonder how much ivy there was in 1954?

I like that Enid includes those who raise lots of money, but also those kind enough to share just sixpence.

Posted in Magazines | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Enid Blyton for Halloween?

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but Enid Blyton didn’t really do Halloween. She wrote about most other holidays, but Halloween perhaps wasn’t a big thing in Britain when she was writing. Despite that, here are some Halloween-themed Blyton things!


Hodder have tried to cash in with three sets of short story collections. None of them say Halloween, but it’s clear they are in that theme.

Stories of Wizards and Witches came first in September 2017, then Stories of Magic and Mischief in September 2018, and then Tales of Tricks and Treats in September of this year. All just in time for Halloween!

Broomstick rides and bubbling cauldrons, Perfect for sharing at Halloween, and Who will be on the receiving end of a trick, and who will win out with a treat? are just a few of the phrases used to describe these books so nobody can deny they’re trying to link them to Halloween.


Children have been dressing as Enid Blyton characters for a long time, possibly less for Halloween and more for World Book Day and other literary events. I’ve seen some great Saucepan Man (and woman) costumes – I don’t want to put any in here as the photos don’t belong to me but if you Google Saucepan Man, there are lots of images.

It’s also not too hard to dress as the Famous Five or Adventure Series kids – some shorts, a shirt and pullover, a rope around your waist and you’re good to go!

I have, however, seen some official Enid Blyton costumes this year and to be honest I think you might be better making your own! There are three on – Malory Towers, St Clare’s O’Sullivan Twins and Famous Five Anne, though they’re aimed at World Book Day rather than Halloween.

The Malory Towers one is probably the best as it follows the description in the book with all the brown and orange.

Your little girl can dress just like Darrel Rivers when she wears our wonderful Malory Towers Costume this World Book Day. Inspired by Enid Blyton’s series of Malory Towers books, this costume comes with a School Uniform style Brown Jacket and Skirt, with a matching Hat and Brown Book Bag also included to complete the ‘Schoolie’ look.

I’ve copied that directly from the site, so yes, they spelled Darrell wrong. This is priced at £22.99, which I suppose is cheaper than buying a brown skirt, jacket and hat specially for a costume. I bet it’s horrible synthetic fabric, though. It comes in age 7-9 and 10-12 so sadly I won’t be trying it out!

The St Clare’s one isn’t too bad either, though it is clearly modelled on a recent version of St Clare’s, most likely the 2005 Egmonts, hence the purple jumpers which don’t feature anywhere in the text.

Your Child will look like they’re enrolled in St Clares Boarding School when they wear a St Clare’s O’Sullivan Twins Costume from our Enid Blyton collection. Perfect for World Book Day, parties, even just to play around in! Our costume contains an embraided Purple Jumper, Skirt and School Tie, letting your little girl look just like Pat or Isabel.

Again, copied directly, complete with missing apostrophes, and the wonderful ’embraided’, a cross between embroidered and braided? Not to mention the awful random capitals! This is only £18.99, as it doesn’t have a hat or bag I assume. This is easier to do yourself if your school uniform already has a grey skirt. If not supermarkets do school skirts and jumpers for a few pounds (purple is a popular colour in my area for uniforms, may not be the same everywhere).

The absolute worst is the Anne costume. Although the St Clare’s one is based on a modern illustration, it’s fairly inoffensive and recognisable. Anne, however…

This is so clearly based on the Laura Ellen Anderson’s version of the Five where they wear the same outfits regardless of the book’s setting or weather. I want to know where the other three’s costumes are, if Anne is recognisable surely the rest are too?

Are you trying to find a fantastic Famous Five Costume? Well now Children dress up as Anne this World Book Day when they wear our Famous Five Anne Costume from our Enid Blyton costume collection. Great for girls, this Famous Five inspired outfit lets you look just like Anne, and includes a beautiful Blue and Red Dress, striped Tights and Headband with attached Flower.

This is £19.99, and I would happily pay you that and more if you could destroy all evidence this monstrosity ever existed. Why pick the ugliest version of Anne that ever existed? If the dress wasn’t such a clashing blue/red it might have been not so bad, but the stripy tights on top make it ridiculous.

The worst thing is, Smiffy’s are capable of reasonably period costumes – if you look at their 1940’s section there’s some decent looking stuff if you ignore the odd shiny suit! It’s also a shame there’s so little choice for Blyton costumes, when the Roald Dahl bit has several costumes for boys, girls and adults.

P.S. This isn’t a sponsored post as I don’t do those. If Smiffy’s had paid me for this, I’m pretty sure they’d want their money back!

Posted in Seasonal | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Monday #242

Enid Blyton at Halloween?


Letters to Enid part 17

Curly runned away, he runned fast!

Benny blames his pigling for leading him astray in Five Go to Billycock Hill.

The Saucy Jane Family is the second book about the Caravan Family. But in this book they abandon the caravans (which need painting) and move onto a canal boat called the Saucy Jane. They are used to cramped quarters so adjusting to life on a narrow boat isn’t too big a problem, but the fact that Ann can’t swim poses a bit of an issue. The family spend several weeks on the boat, taking a trip or two along the canal on other boats to experience life and work on the canal.


Posted in Blog talk | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Naughtiest Girl in the School: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition?

It has been more than two years since I’ve done a text comparison (I blame Brodie!) but I was in a branch library the other week and spotted a recent paperback of The Naughtiest Girl in the School. I thought that would be perfect for comparing – not long after looking at all the different covers for the series.

I will be comparing the 1944 5th reprint by George Newnes (which should be more or less identical to the true first edition) to a 2012 edition by Hodder and Stoughton.

Before the first chapter

The first thing I notice is the book features an introduction by Cressida Cowell. I know she’s a famous author but I couldn’t tell you what she’s written as I’ve never read any of it. Ok I can tell you she wrote How to Train Your Dragon as it says so above her introduction. I think that may have been made into a film?

Anyway, Cowell says that Blyton played a crucial role in turning her into an avid reader as a child. The Naughtiest Girl in the School was one of her favourites.

The original illustrator was W. Lindsay Cable, the new version has been illustrated by Kate Hindley. At first I thought illustrated wasn’t accurate as all I had spotted was some crude vignettes above the chapter titles (a mouse, a pencil, a pencil-sharpener and an ink-bottle with beetles, repeated one at a time) but then I realised there are perhaps half a dozen full-page illustrations too.


The first change is the chapter headings. Both have CHAPTER in capitals but the original uses what I find a slightly annoying Title Case. The 2014 edition uses all capitals. It also replaces the roman numerals with words.

Perhaps interestingly, both books use the opposite style for their contents list. The original has all capital chapter titles, and the new one has Annoying Title Case.

There aren’t any actual changes to the main text of the first chapter, however. A few things I thought might be changed but weren’t are Elizabeth’s stockings, vests and bodices. Also ink-bottle and drawing-room both in terms of being old-fashioned and having hyphens.

Illustration-wise the original has three small illustrations. Elizabeth on her mother’s lap, begging her not to send her away, Elizabeth shouting she is not afraid at Miss Scott and Elizabeth banging on the door with a book. The new edition has just the ink and beetles above the chapter title.


First – one of the reasons I hate title case is knowing what words are important enough to capitalise. Not the, an, it, on, at, for, and so on. But words like goes and makes look odd in small. Probably because they are longer than the words that usually get missed, though still fall under whatever rule governs capitals in title case. Apparently propositions shouldn’t get capitals – which would include beneath, under, about etc. But some guides would say all words over four letters, even if they are propositions. Ack!

OK, grammar-talk aside, there are some actual changes in this chapter.

The seccotine Elizabeth puts in Miss Scott’s shoes becomes glue. I have to admit I didn’t know what seccotine was when reading but as it says in the next sentence about Miss Scott trying to remove her toes from her sticky shoes it’s quite clear.

Good-bye is modernised to goodbye, which makes sense.

Yellow badge is corrected to yellow badges as the narrative is describing the collective uniforms of a group of boys.

Italics (shown in bold in my example) are removed from the sentence She does at least say something when spoken to.

Interestingly Ruth is still a tubby little girl half a dozen times. Given the de-fatification of Fatty in The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage I thought that would have been changed for sure.

There are two illustrations in the original edition, one of Elizabeth in her school uniform and one of her on the train. There are none in the new edition apart from the pencil-sharpener.


See, how strange does that title look with a small M?

I have to admit I was starting to worry about a lack of alterations, in case this blog series turned out to be really short. But this chapter sees a lot of edits.

The first queer is in this chapter, and gets changed to strange.

As before to-day becomes today.

More italics go, this time from I had a new bicycle for my Easter present and
What did you have for Easter?

When the list of girls for Nora’s dormitory is given Joan Lesley becomes Joan Townsend. I think that’s correcting an error on Blyton’s behalf as I’m sure it’s Joan Townsend who becomes Elizabeth’s friend later in the book, and who is then in her dorm too.

As we’ve seen in other books Hie becomes Hi. And I’ll say what I’ve said before – they’re not the same word! Hi is simply hello. Hie is more like oi or hey, it’s a call to attention.

The next two changes are utterly daft.

She had only slept with Miss Scott before becomes She had only shared with Miss Scott before. And Now she was to sleep with five other girls is Now she was to share with five other girls. 

I mean, come on! Yes slept with can be a euphemism for had sex with but considering we are talking about a girl of around ten and her governess I think we can rule out that meaning. I also don’t think we need to make it clear that the six school girls are going to share a room and not have sex in it. I mean girls go for sleepovers, still, don’t they? Not shareovers.

Nora’s words of and I MEAN tidily become and I mean tidily(The bold indicates italics again). Considering this book has already started the removal of italics, and I suspect there will be plenty more, it seems odd to put more in. Modern publishers probably have clear house-styles but when you’re reprinting a seventy-something year old book surely you can ignore a few rules?

And lastly, the money is updated. They originally got two shillings a week, and it’s now two pounds a week. Two pounds is not very much for a ten year old, even in 2012. I can’t wait to see how much they can buy for that. I get a bit befuddled by trying to work out relative costs comparing then to now, but here goes. Two shillings in 1940, allowing for inflation, would be around £2.37 today, so at first look, £2 pocket money doesn’t seem that odd. But on purchasing power, you’d need £6.42 today and £5.36 in 2012 to get the same amount of goods (calculated here).

Two illustrations in the original again, Elizabeth at the dining table and facing off against Nora. Only a mouse in the new one.


There’s only one change to this chapter, another removal of italics from cut her cake into ten big pieces. It’s strange as plenty of italics for emphasis are left in and I can’t see a particular reason why some have gone and not others. It’s not like Blyton’s peppered every other sentence with italics!

Another two illustrations in the original, Elizabeth and Nora at her dressing-table and Elizabeth not sharing her cake. A very wonky pencil graces this chapter in the new edition.

The count

I usually explain what I’ve counted and what I haven’t and I’m not sure it has been very clear in the past so I’ll try it a new way this time.

The new introduction is not counted as I’m focussing on the main text. New editions often have additional introductions, adverts, sneak-peaks and so on.

Some things are changed more than once, but they are the same change and only get counted once:

Roman numerals to words
Case change for chapter titles
Removal of hyphens from good-bye, to-day, etc
Removal of italics for emphasis

Total: 4

Unique changes (some of which will move to the above list if I see more examples later)

Seccotine to glue
Correction of yellow badge
Joan Lesley to Joan Townsend
Queer to strange
Hie to hi
Slept to shared
Sleep to share
Removal of capitals for emphasis
Addition of italics for emphasis
Two shillings to two pounds

Total: 10

Overall total: 14

Posted in Updating Blyton's Books | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments