Monday #235

August round up

and

On my bookshelf part 5

The Mystery of the Vanished Prince is the ninth mystery for the Five-Find Outers. As the title suggests the mystery is that a young prince has gone missing. Having already dressed up as the prince’s family, the Five-Find Outers realise that they have significantly muddied the waters of Mr Goon’s investigation, and so it’s up to them to find him. Their clues take them to a baby show, looking for twins, and with a little help from Ern and his brothers, they of course solve the mystery.

Lucian is the unfortunate nephew of Mr and Mrs Eppy,  who are taking a cruise along with the Mannering/Trent children and Mrs Mannering. He latches onto the children straight away as they are the only ones of his age aboard. Although he irritates them at times by being a bit weedy and repeating oh I say a million times, he comes in very useful as a translator and haggler when Lucy-Ann wants to buy a present for Philip’s birthday. It is of course that present which starts the whole adventure. He also screws up his courage near the end of the book to help the children after they have fallen into his uncle’s clutches. I always hope that he is happier once his uncle is out of his life.

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Letters to Enid part 13

I have done all the letters page from the issues of volume 1, and now we have reached the start of volume 2. Previous letters pages can be found here.

There is actually not a letters page in this volume. There are, however, pieces written and sent in by children so I will include them, as part of the idea of this series is to create a digital record of the children’s names and letters so that they might find them again as adults.

Blyton says in her newsletter at the back:

OUR LETTER-PAGE. None this week, because I am giving it up to something MUCH MORE IMPORTANT.


Competition winners from Volume 2, issue 1. January 6th-19th 1954

OUR CHRISTMAS COMPETITION

I know you will all want to read the twelve messages which were chosen to be sent to the Queen, so here are some of them. I am afraid that I haven’t got room for them all this time, but I will give you the rest in our next number. I am starting with the youngest prize-winner!

Your Gracious Majesty,
Best wishes for a Happy Christmas and Speedy return to your Family and to us all in the New Year.

Jill Rawlinson, aged 6.
Barrow-in-Furness.

A very happy christmas to our most gracious and beloved Queen Elizabeth II, in your realms across the seas.
May their blue skies and sunshine bring you health and happiness, and may your visit to distant lands help to bring peace on earth and good will among men at all times.
May God protect you on your journey and bring you safely home again.

Suzanne Maiden, aged 7.
Heaton Moor, Stockport.

Our Very Dear Queen,
I am very happy to be able to write to you this Christmas and hope the visit to your people in other countries will be interesting and enjoyable.
I would like to say to you this Christmas Day, God bless and keep you safe always.

Patricia Salmon, aged 7.
Ipswich.

May this tour bring great pleasure and happiness to your Majesty and to H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh. May it also bring great joy to the people whose lands you are visiting. May the Infant Jesus bless your children this Christmas – and all children throughout the world.

Madeleine Exworthy, aged 8.
Southport.

Your Gracious Majesty,
Loving Christmas Greetings to you and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Best wishes for a happy and successful tour and a safe return to your dear children.

Jim McMaster, aged 9, Co. Down, N. Ireland.

 


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On my bookshelf part 4

I’ve already shown you most of my Blyton collection, as well as my Harry Potter books and some other stuff. So here are the last of my Blytons and then some other vintage children’s book.


The last of the Blytons

These fall into two main categories: school series, and stand-alone titles. Most of the stand-alones are family titles though some are young family and others are for older children. Then at the end are some random non-Blytons.

From the left;

Shadow the Sheep Dog (because it is tall…) then three Naughtiest Girl books, the six Malory Towers titles and the six St Clare’s books, plus Mischief at St Rollos which although a Mary Pollock title is also set in a school.

Younger family type stand alones are Snowball the Pony, Four in a Family, Run About’s Holiday (which should probably be shelved with the fantasy books), Four in a Family, The Very Big Secret and The Boy Who Wanted a Dog.

Then stand alone family books for older children, Holiday House (arguably a bit more of an adventure title than a family one), The Put-Em-Rights, The Six Bad Boys, The Family at Red Roofs, House-at-the-Corner, Hollow Tree House, Those Dreadful Children, The Happy House Children (probably for younger children.)

I have a spreadsheet to track my Blytons, organised by general genre (adventure, family, farm, school etc). There are lots of series, so those books are easy to categorise but with the stand-alones I use the categories in the Cave of Books. I’ve noticed, though, that my shelves don’t match the spreadsheet, as book shelving has more factors than just categories. Book depth and height are important as they affect the way the shelves look, too tall or too deep and a book can hide its neighbour. Thickness is less important but I think books look better when they’re roughly the same size.

Space on a shelf is also a factor, as you don’t want a series split across two shelves. Then there’s colour, spine style, dustjackets… it’s a bookish minefield!

Anyway, the non-Blytons on this shelf are;

The Prince and the Goblin by George MacDonald (one of Blyton’s favourite childhood books), The Nursery Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne, Kristie at College and Dangerous Deadline by Mildred Benson (one of the first writers of the Nancy Drew books).

On the front of the shelf are;

A cassette tape of The Sound of Music soundtrack. I’ve never listened to this, actually, as I don’t have a tape player! I got this when my great uncle died and I helped to clear out his house. I just thought it was a nice cover, I love the film, and when I see it on my shelf I remember him.

A copy of Hello Mary Mouse, my first picture strip book which my mum bought in a local antiques shop for me.

A canvas of a stag’s head made by my mother in law. It rather obscures the books behind it, but it’s one of those items that gets moved around regularly as Brodie is forever knocking it down.

On top of the books ar four slim volumes;

Santa Claus Gets Busy (A Wheaton musical play for juniors), The Enchanted Village (about Bekonscot), and two Adventures in Reading by the Oxford University Press. These are on top as they are such slim paperbacks they would get lost otherwise.


A mostly Malcolm Saville shelf

At least two thirds of this shelf are Malcolm Saville books, followed by some random titles by various authors from a similar time period.

Here is the full Lone Pine series by Malcolm Saville. Most of them are original harbacks, but two of the later ones are Girls Gone By reprints, and the last one is an Armada paperback as that was the first edition. Then there are the radio play scripts of the first three books (in the wrong order, I now notice.) Next to those is a stand alone title The Master of Maryknoll.

Then there are two of the Cherry Ames nursing series by Helen Wells, and The Hidden Valley Mystery by the same author.

Next is Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne (another of Blyton’s favourite childhood books).

Lastly a few school books by two famous authors in the genre – The School on the Moor and An Exciting Term by Angela Brazil, and Song of the Abbey by Elsie J. Oxenham.

In front of the books are;

A postcard showing Ingles Farm, and a lone pine cone picked up by Brodie somewhere.


Next time I will show you the rest of my children’s books.

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Monday #234

On my bookshelf part 4

and

Letters to Enid part 13

Fancy – you never would clean Daddy’s bicycle for him when he asked you to. I suppose it’s because you’ll get a shilling from Mr. Fraser – and Mummy said you ought to do it for Daddy’s love.

Linda is rather cutting to her older brother Roddy in Four in a Family.

Five on a Secret Trail is the Famous Five’s fifteenth adventure. Because Timmy has hurt himself and people keep laughing at his special protective collar, George takes him camping on Kirrin Common where Anne joins her later. Forced to take shelter in a half-ruined cottage because of terrible weather, they experience a frightening night of lights, noises and a face at the window. Thankfully the boys arrive soon after and together they start to look into what’s going on, aided, or perhaps hindered by twins Guy and Harry who aren’t talking or even acknowledging each other at the time.

 

 

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Letters to Enid part 12

Previous letters pages can be found here.


Letters page from Volume 1, issue 21. December 23 1963 – January 5 1954

OUR

LETTER PAGE

 1. A letter from Ann Coutts, St. Bride’s Nr. Onick, by Fort William, Scotland.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I have a cat called Ginger. We both earn sixpence every week. Ginger earns his sixpence by catching mice, and I earn mine doing odd jobs about the house. I enclose a shilling for the Sunbeam Society from us both. Isn’t it nice to think that animals as well a human beings can help Blind Children?
Love from
Ann Coutts

(It’s nice to think that the two of you are so generous, Ann!)

2. A letter from Barbara Anthony, R.A.S.C., H.Q. M.E.L.F.6, Benghazi.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I have a tortoise called Timmy. The other day he was invited to a party at my friend Norma’s house. She has three tortoises and their names are Jigs, Spot and Joey. It was Joey’s birthday, so it was his party. Norma made a cake out of a cucumber, and they had lots of other things they like. I must close now.
Yours sincerely,
Barbara Anthony.

(I would have loved to see the tortoise party, Barbara!)

3. A letter from Wendy Pickett, 3 Canon Square, Melksham, Wilts.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I am a member of the Sunbeams, and as it is near Christmas I want to make a blind girl happy by giving her my doll which I was lucky enough to win a little while ago. I would like a little girls with either the name of Wendy of Elizabeth to have it as those are my names. Wishing you a happy Christmas from
Wendy Pickett.

(A very kind thought, Wendy. Thank you very much!)

 


More letters from girls this issue, but it’s good to see a letter from Scotland, possibly the first one? Though I wonder what Ginger normally spends his sixpence on!

Barbara’s address almost looks as if it’s written in code but I have deduced that it stands for Royal Army Service Corps Head Quarters, Middle East Land Forces. Can’t say I would like a cucumber for a cake, but it sounds perfect for tortoises. I must admit I had a laugh at the abrupt “I must close now.”

I wonder who got Wendy’s doll in the end, if there was a Wendy or Elizabeth there to receive it.

(Unfortunately my copy of this magazine is missing its front cover, and that is the only image I could find online).

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Eleven things I’ve learned about camping from Enid Blyton

I’m on holiday this week, so I’ve managed to prewrite a few things to keep the blog going while I’m away. I’m not actually camping, though. In fact, here’s a secret: I’ve never gone camping. Ever. I like electricity and running water too much. Even my Brownie camps were held in an old school with bunk rooms.

Yet Blyton manages to make camping sound so wonderful and exciting. Everything about it seems fun, from start to finish.


Eleven things I’ve learned about camping from Enid Blyton

1. No matter where you go there will be drinkable water. Either in the form of a crystal clear spring, underground stream, or a rock-pool of rain-water. Or there might be a waterfall, a well or an old sink with a water-pump. Either way it’s a relief that you won’t go thirsty.

2. Also, there will almost always (exceptions apply when you accidentally go off in the wrong plane or deliberately go somewhere as to not be found) be a farm-house ready to supply you with eggs, bacon, fresh bread, honey and anything else you can possibly eat. So you won’t go hungry either. If the farmer’s wife takes a shine to you you’ll probably come away with freebies. Oh – and of course any food you eat will taste much better out of doors.

3. Toilet facilities are not necessary on camping  trips, you’re fine as long as there’s a stream to wash yourself (and the dishes) in. See point #1.

4. Heather and bracken make entirely suitable and hugely comfortable bedding, and you will sleep soundly all night on them as if you were on an expensive mattress in a luxury hotel.

5. Storms can and will steal tents.

6. If there isn’t space to pitch a tent you can usually squeeze into a handy gorse bush. Even if there’s four of you and a large dog, wearing a protective collar.

7. Failing that, caves with sandy or mossy floors, rooms in ruined castles or cottages, cellars and enlarged puffin burrows will all make adequate places to stay with varying levels of odour.

8. If you think your camp-mates are going to sneak off in the night without you, the best course of action is to tie a string from their tent entrance to your big toe.

9. If someone warns you about ‘things in the night’ or you witness strange noises, weird lights or strange happenings it is almost always a ruse to keep you away from smuggling, kidnappings or other nefarious doings.

10. If you hear howling you shouldn’t worry too much as it’s far more likely to be a pack of trained Alsatians than a pack of wolves.

11. Wherever you camp you will run into some sort of mystery or adventure. And that’s a fact.


These ‘facts’ come from Five on a Treasure Island, Five Run Away Together, Five Go Off to Camp, Five Get Into Trouble, Five on a Hike Together, Five on a Secret Trail, Five Go to Billycock Hill, The Castle of Adventure, The Valley of Adventure, The Sea of Adventure, The Mountain of Adventure and The Secret Island. Can you work out which facts came from which book(s)? (The illustrations might help.)

 

 

 

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Monday #233

11 Things I’ve learned about camping from Enid Blyton

and

Letters to Enid volume 12

Heyho for a starry night and a heathery bed.

Jack doesn’t ask for much on their Secret Island, just a comfortable bed and no rain!

Fun For the Secret Seven is the fifteenth and last Secret Seven book. The story starts out with the Seven looking to help a local man pay a large vet bill, but becomes the more typical mystery when horse thieves strike.

 

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On my bookshelf part 3

As I showed in my first post I’ve got a lot of bookshelves. In that first post I showed you some of my favourite Blytons and various nicknacks, then I showed off a couple of shelves of more random collections.

This time I have two shelves of mostly short story collections from the very bottom of my first bookcase, and also a shelf of non-Blyton children’s books.

Remember you can click on any photo to see it bigger (if you’re anything like me you might struggle to read all the titles on the spines).


Small short story collections

The short story books are more or less organised by height, regular book sized ones on the upper shelf and the bigger annual-sized books on the bottom.

I’ll do a before and after here, because after I had photographed this shelf and written about it, Brodie decided to climb the bookcase, tipped this shelf up and all the books fell on the floor. As it was a bit disorganised and untidy (and some of the series books were in the wrong order) I decided to do some reorganising as I put things away.

Here’s the before (it was taken in poor lighting so it looks even worse!)

As you can see it has a mixture of different heights and there are stand alone titles in between series.

Taking this in daylight with the flash on helps, but I think it looks much better reorganised.

Starting from the left;

The taller books are the eight Hodder story books (now in the right order), four Enid Blyton’s Magazine Annuals, and two Parties at Green Hedges books.

Then the shorter books start with four Methuen colour story books.

After that three incomplete series; I’ll Tell You a Story and the next six make up 7/8ths of the Macmillan Story Readers, then The Brownie’s Magic and the next two books are 3/5ths of the Macmillan Nature Readers, and In Storyland and Happy Stories are two of the five Treasure Trove Readers from the 1940s.

Then there’s three two book series; A Book of Naughty Children and A Second Book of Naughty Children, Rainy Day Stories and Happy Day Stories, Tales after Supper and Tales after Tea.

The last four books are the stand-alone titles, Tales at Bedtime looks like it should be part of the last series especially in the Collins dust jackets with the oval picture windows. Also there is Chimney Corner Stories, Rubbalong Tales and The Book of Fairies, which was previously on the shelf above.

I moved Enid Blyton’s Omnibus up beside my Secret Sevens, and The Fourth Brer Rabbit Book now sits beside my other fantasy titles which I rearranged into proper series order.


Annuals, big books and bits and pieces

While I had the sofa out and was down on the floor I thought I might as well rearrange this shelf too!

Before:

It doesn’t look too bad, but mostly because without titles on the spine you can’t tell that there’s a random selection of stand-alone titles on the left.

Somehow I got them standing a bit straighter after reorganising them. I didn’t move an awful lot, mostly just the random stuff on the left.

From the left;

The Enid Blyton Dossier, the 90s Famous Five Annual and the three recent Famous Five Annuals. These are all modern so go together fine.

Split into small categories the random books are now;

Story collections, starting with Blyton contributions to mixed books – Every Girl’s Annual, Collin’s Children’s Annual, a 70s Purnell Story Book, a Marks and Spencer’s book (one of three), and a Big Noddy Book.

Then two miscellaneous books about animals – The Zoo Book, Down at the Farm, and two Collin’s Colour Camera books about Belinda.

After that are some series which stayed the same.

First the Foyle flower story books, I’ve got four of the eight but one is an abridged reprint, then the holiday books of which I’m missing the first and third.

After taking the initial photo I had thought these should go to the left as stand-alone titles, and actually I was right, I don’t know why I didn’t move them. Anyway these are The Book of the Year, Animal Lovers’ Book and Enid Blyton’s Treasury.

It goes a bit random again at the right with two Alec Rowley plays books (the first edition comes in a single volume), Before I Go to Sleep (an unusual buy for me as I don’t tend to go for the religious books, I have perhaps two or three others and they’re in the bottom of my wardrobe [I think!]), two versions of Eva Rice’s Who’s Who in Enid Blyton, and Noddy’s Farmyard Muddle. But when you shelf books because of their height the randomness can’t be helped.

Crammed on top;

A copy of Tales of Toyland with no spine, a Bedside Book, The Magic Snow Bird and Others Stories (1/8 Pitkin Pleasure series), The Christmas Book, Round the Year with Enid Blyton and the Famous Five Survival Guide.


There are children’s books not by Enid Blyton?

This is mostly my Harry Potter shelf, to be honest! When I first moved in I had Harry Potter, Malory Towers and St Clare’s together, as they are all, technically, boarding school stories. But then my Harry Potter collection expanded and I didn’t like having my remaining Blytons spread over three part shelves, so I did some rearranging. I would have liked to have the Blytons on the top shelf but then I’d have to move the shelf heights around.

Anyway, we have;

The Cursed Child play (I didn’t hate it as much as many fans seem to), the two Fantastic Beast screen plays, a pop-up book about the wizarding world, a special Hufflepuff edition of the first Harry Potter book, and then the whole series in an as-yet unread set of paperbacks (my previous read throughs were done with my mum/sister’s collection and on audible).

There are also a lot of Harry Potter related objects;

On top – an Aragog made of lego and two tiny lego spiders.

A snow-globe of Harry flying his broom, and Funko Pops of Harry and of Snape.

And the lego scene with Harry and Ron that goes with Aragog, and a Ron (and Scabbers) that came out of a surprise bag.

There should be a golden snitch on the shelf but yet again Brodie climbed on the back of the sofa and had stolen it before I took this. One wing was on top of the bookcase and the rest had gotten lost down the back.

Here’s a slightly off centre and less-well lit picture I took before with the snitch in place.

The non Harry Potter stuff has, accidentally, become a sort of If-You-Like-Blyton area. I haven’t yet recommended the Magician’s House quartet by William Corlett, but I should. Stef reviewed The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, I reviewed more than the two I own of the Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens (I now notice these are in the wrong order!), I should recommend The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien, seven of the Adventure Island books by Helen Moss, The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann, and a collection of Sherlock Holmes puzzles which Fatty would like but I have no hope of ever solving.


There are probably two more posts to go, as I have four more shelves of children’s books. One is mostly Blytons, two are vintage childrens and the last is mostly modern children’s with some Blyton biographies on the end.

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Letters to Enid part 11

Previous letters pages can be found here.


Letters page from Volume 1, issue 20. December 9th-22nd

OUR

LETTER PAGE

 1. A letter from Elke Siekmann, 48 Wellington Avenue, Sidcup.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I am writing to thank you for so much pleasure you have given me through your magazine. I am always waiting for my Mummy or Daddy to read it to me. I am a blind girl, nine years old, so I cannot read it myself.
I am at a nice school, and like all children there, I am very happy, although blind, but many blind children are not happy as there are not enough schools for all.
On behalf of all blind children I wish to give thanks to all members of the Sunbeam Society for their goodwill to help us. I have a sister, Regine, aged 4, she can see, and helps me about. She is my own Sunbeam, and I am glad she is going to join your Society.

Much love from,
Elke.

(What a wonderful letter! Thank you, Elke – and please give our love to your own little Sunbeam! You win my letter-prize this week.)

2. A letter from Margaret Hill, Trenorwyn, St Minver, Cornwall.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I thought I simply must write and tell you what happened when I made the curious woodland creature in No. 17 of our magazine. Well, I made it, and to my surprise next morning it had grown a tail, because in the warmth of my room the acorn had put out a shoot. I have made one for my friend, but nothing has happened yet. I do hope it will grow a tail soon!
Yours Sincerely,
Margaret Hill.

(I wonder if anyone else’s “woodland creature” grew a tail, too!)

3. A letter from Brenda Tooke, 8 Smiths Cottages, South Wooton, Norfolk.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I am really writing this letter to dear Mr. Twiddle. My mother belongs to the Women’s Institute, and last week they had a competition, drawing a face on an egg, so Mummy drew Mr. Twiddle, and she came in second, which was very good because the first prizewinner was an artist. So you can tell Mrs. Twiddle how popular Mr. Twiddle’s good looks are!
Yours Truly,

Brenda.

(Mr. Twiddle is very glad his face won a prize for your mother, Brenda!)

 


Elke’s letter is quite heart-breaking isn’t it? Imagine loving Enid Blyton but not being able to read her books or magazines without help. I wonder if her works were ever translated into braille?

That’s another three letters from girls, though. Where are all the boys?

 

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Monday #232

Letters to Enid volume 11

and

On my bookshelf, part 3

 They go so nice and slowly at first. Then they start to gallop.

Anne Kirrin on holidays in Five Go Off in a Caravan.

In the Fifth at Malory towers is, unsurprisingly, the fifth book set in the Malory Towers boarding school. The fifth formers who have just moved up find that a couple of old fifth formers have been left down, and they of course take charge of the form. The main story however is that they are to put on a pantomime, from scratch. That means writing a script, making the scenery and costumes, writing the song lyrics and music, and then a whole lot of rehearsing! They choose Cinderella, and although the end product is wonderful there are a lot of stumbling blocks along the way.

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Blyton on birthdays

As it would have been Enid Blyton’s one hundred and twenty-second birthday on Sunday, I thought I’d do a post looking at birthdays in her books.


Birthday books

The Exciting Birthday

Published in 1927, The Exciting Birthday is all about Mollie’s seventh birthday. Chock full of presents, fun, parties, meals and magic, Mollie has a truly wonderful birthday. Yes, she even gets a donkey!

The Teddy Bear’s Party

I almost missed this one as the title doesn’t have ‘birthday’ in it! This one is set in a nursery much like the Amelia Jane books. Instead of a naughty doll, there is a rather vain and rude bear called Bruiny. The Old Monkey, wisest of the toys, advises him to throw a birthday party for himself and invite all the other toys as a gesture of good will. In order to do this he is silly enough to start trying to steal sweets and cakes from those very toys! He meant well, I suppose, and he is very lucky that Old Monkey persuades the other toys to throw the party themselves, and by the end of the book they have all made friends with Bruiny.

Birthday Time Books

There are seven of these little books and each could be found in a birthday card, though the cards weren’t Blyton-related, and they were put in at random. I wonder if children begged their parents to buy greetings cards that weren’t needed, in order to get an Enid Blyton book – but perhaps they weren’t well advertised.

The whole list is here, and three of the stories are even available to read in full.

The Birthday Kitten

This isn’t a rare book – published by Lutterworth Press – but it’s one I don’t have. It’s not something I’ve really looked for as I’m probably least fond of the animal books genre (I own Snowball the Pony, and The Boy Who Wanted a Dog but have never read them!) It was originally serialised in Enid Blyton’s Magazine, and I have five of the twelve issues it was in, not really enough!) Anyway, The Birthday Kitten isn’t just about kittens, it’s about a birthday. Technically two birthdays, on the same day, as the main characters are twins called Terry and Tessie.

As this is a ‘young adventures’ title, it’s not as simple as them being given a kitten, like Mollie above is given a donkey. Rather, they find one, half drowned, and as they aren’t allowed a pet at home they must try to look after it without anyone finding out.


Birthdays in the novels

I can’t fall back on my trusty Famous Five knowledge here, as there are no birthdays celebrated over twenty one books! There are probably references to birthdays in many more books, but I’ve stuck to ones where they feature as a reasonable plot point and not just a passing mention or two.

The Land of Birthdays in The Enchanted Wood

The last chapter of The Enchanted Wood has not just Bessie’s birthday, but also the Land of Birthdays appearing at the top of the tree. You can only enter the land of birthdays if one of your group is having their birthday, so everyone is very lucky that is is Bessie’s birthday. You can wish for anything you want when in the Land of Birthdays, but everyone only gets one wish.

Joan’s birthday in The Naughtiest Girl in the School

Joan’s birthday is not a particularly happy birthday tale, even if it all works out well. Joan never gets any letters from her family, even though she writes regularly. Elizabeth, her friend, sees this and decides to make a big fuss of Joan. She buys an enormous cake and lots of cards and presents, but her mistake is pretending they all came from Joan’s parents. She even signs cards from mummy and daddy. Of course Joan writes to thank her parents, and when they actually write back, but to say they have no idea what she’s talking about… well, Joan doesn’t take it well. Being a Blyton story, it does have a happy ending at least.

The great midnight feast in the Twins at St Clare’s

Miss Theobald has a birthday, and most of the girls put half a crown into a collection for her. They don’t say what gets bought but it must have been quite extravagant with that amount of money!

Not long after Janet has her birthday, and her friends all go into town to buy her some small gifts. From home she gets an enormous hamper, containing a big chocolate cake, shortbread biscuits, sardines in tomato sauce, Nestle’s milk and peppermint creams. A slightly strange combination, but a feast nonetheless. The girls all buy an extra item each to supplement this, a jam sponge sandwich, a bar of chocolate, candles (not for eating!), and a cake with almond icing and pink and yellow sugar roses. There are also pork pies, tinned pineapple, ginger-beer and bread and butter to make sandwiches with the sardines.

A jolly time is had by all, even if there are several stomach-aches the next day. And no wonder!

Tessie’s birthday in the O’Sullivan Twins

Tessie is one of Janet’s friends, and generous as she is she know she can’t stretch her birthday money to provide food for all of the first and second formers. She decides to just share it with a few of her best friends instead. She plans a midnight feast along in the music room, down to the detail including frying sausages on an oil stove. There is to be birthday cake, fruit cake, sweets, biscuits, home-made toffee, Nestle’s milk again, ginger-beer and four tins of peaches.

The frying sausages rather prove to be their undoing; those and an unkind girl called Erica who sets Mam’zelle onto the midnight feast, bringing it to an abrupt end.

Philip’s birthday in The Ship of Adventure 

This is the only birthday I can recall being mentioned in the Adventure Series. It’s Lucy-Ann who mentions it first; asking Lucian to help her buy Philip a present while they are on Amulis. He makes a couple of suggestions but Lucy-Ann remembers that Philip has always wanted a ship in a bottle. With Lucian’s help she finds one in a fisherman’s cottage.

I’ll get a bit of paper and wrap it up. I do, do hope Philip will like it. It’s an exciting present, isn’t it?”

Well of course the ship in a bottle sparks off the whole adventure when they discover a treasure map inside it. But before then Philip has a low-key birthday. The only present Blyton mentions is Lucy-Ann’s, but Kiki wishes him a Happy Christmas, several times.

Annette’s sixth birthday from Those Dreadful Children

Although Annette has become less vain by living next door to the Taggerties, on her birthday she still dons her blue silk party dress and prances around asking if everyone likes her dress and doesn’t she look nice.

Twenty children come to her party, all bringing presents. There are balloons, games and crackers, but Annette is so excited she can hardly eat. She has six candles on her cake; each a different colour. Her favourite present is a kitten from the Taggertys, though she got three dolls, a pram, and books and games and toys too!


Short Stories

There are too many short stories to list (though many of them will be repeats I imagine). I will only include the ones I have copies of so that I can tell you more than just their title and publishing details.

The Three Golliwogs’ Birthday from The Three Golliwogs

Thankfully I have a Dean edition which apart from being much cheaper than the original, also features less offensive names for the three main characters.

The three Golliwogs are obviously triplets as they share a birthday. They send out invitations, order cakes and then wait impatiently for the day of the party to arrive.

The postman arrives but only brings a bill, no cards and no presents. What’s worse is that nobody turns up to their party! Not even the cakes come. They are most disappointed, and although they at first think how unkind their friends are, they soon start to think that they must have to be nicer and kinder themselves.

However, the next day, the postman arrives with twenty-one cards, fifteen letters and twelve presents. After that the cakes arrive, and all their friends.

Are they all a day late? No! The silly gollies tore too many pages off their calendar and thought that it was Saturday on Friday!

The Grand Birthday Cake from The Red Story Book

This story is more about a kind deed being rewarded but is set during a birthday. It is Micky’s fifth birthday and Eileen next door admires Micky and his siblings but is too shy to approach them. She just longs to see the birthday cake she has heard about – a great big birthday cake with five fairies on it, each holding a candle for you. 

She goes to peep in the window and sees Micky’s new puppy about to take a bite out of the cake. She warns the family and as a reward gets invited to the party, and finally makes friends with her neighbours.

Peter’s Birthday from A Story Party at Green Hedges

On Peter’s ninth birthday he gets a new bicycle, just what he wanted. Before he rides it his mother and father warn him about reading the highway code and being careful as he is hasty and careless.

Of course he doesn’t listen and goes out, at first being sensible, but then decides to hitch a ride on the back of a lorry going up a hill. He ends up in hospital with a broken leg, no bike, no party, and learns a hard lesson.

Not a very happy birthday tale!

On Jimmy’s Birthday from The Eleventh Holiday Book

There is a party planned for Jimmy but his baby brother (known only as Baby throughout) falls ill and the doctor says there is to be no noise so he can sleep. Jimmy is very disappointed there can be no party, but puts on a brave face.

He has just been around all his friends to tell them not to come, when he bumps into Mr Benny and helps him carry his shopping home. Mr Benny says he can’t bear to see a birthday wasted and organises for Jimmy and his friends to have a party at the zoo with his birthday cake, and crackers, lemonade, sandwiches and buns.

Dan’s Magic Gold from The Teachers World 

This is a story about a fairy queen’s birthday and the efforts of Dan, to make her a lovely present. You can read it in full here.


Birthday letters

I like to think that Enid liked birthdays, there are so many grown ups who think that they don’t matter as soon as you’re an adult, and any adult who makes a fuss about their birthday is a fool. She wrote about her birthday a few times in Teacher’s World, and Bobs (her fox terrier) wrote many times about his birthdays, his parties and his presents.

In 1930 Enid wrote about getting field-glasses for her birthday, twenty-five goldfish, twenty-four big pond snails and a tortoise!

In 1931 Bobs wrote that he had fifty-three cards on his fifth birthday, and many many presents. The next year he had another load of presents including a flag to put on his kennel.

Those are just a couple of examples, Bobs wrote about his birthday several more times.


This isn’t the most exhaustive list – I’ve probably forgotten several birthdays that feature in novels. Maybe I will have rediscovered them in time for Enid’s next birthday!

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July 2019 round up

I had intended to do this last week, but got confused and did another post about my bookshelves instead. Whoops!


What I have read

I feel like I haven’t read so much the past month, but I’m still six books ahead of schedule so it’s all good. Instead I’ve been re-reading bits of fanfic that I’ve written and trying to finish off some stories and that’s taken up a lot of my reading time. What I have read is:

  • Seven Stones to Stand or Fall (Outlander short stories) – Diana Gabaldon
  • Absolutely Smashing It! – Kathryn Wallace
  • The Mystery of the Missing Masterpiece (Adventure Island #4) – Helen Moss
  • Sustainable Home – Christine Liu
  • St Andrews in the 20s, 30s and 40s – Hugh Oram
  • Russian Roulette (Mirabelle Bevan Mystery #6) – Sara Sheridan
  • Victory in My Hands – Harold Russell
  • Miss Carter’s War – Sheila Hancock

And I made progress on:

  • Outlander (Outlander #1) – Diana Gabaldon (audiobook)
  • The Mummy Lessons – Helen Wallen
  • Baby. Boom! – Helen Wallen

I’m almost finished the Outlander audiobook. At time of writing there’s just 1 hour 29 minutes to go!

I’m not reading both the Helen Wallens’ books at the same time, I bought the second one for my Kindle and got a chapter or so in before I realised it was the second in a series. So Naturally I bought the first book and started on that!


What I have watched

  • Hollyoaks
  • Murder She Wrote season 4
  • Series three of Stranger Things, which was probably the best one yet
  • ER season 12

What I have done

  • Gone Oor Wullie hunting, as there’s a new trail.
  • Replaced our kitchen sink and work surface – it’s amazing how much difference a little thing like that makes – and we managed to put up a blind in our bathroom with minimal help!
  • Been to the beach again
  • Made a few trips to play parks, but less than previous months as of course they are full of school kids now!
  • Visited the Botanic Gardens
  • Went to the Emergency Vehicles Day at our Transport Museum
  • Set up the paddling pool (only once, as carrying buckets of water down the stairs is a pain!)
  • Organised crisp packet recycling points at my work
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Monday #231

This Sunday is the 11th of August, and that’s the day I’m holding Brodie’s birthday party as he turns 2 this week! It is also Enid Blyton’s birthday so we will celebrate for her too.

July round up

and

Blyton on birthdays

Jack Trent is red-haired and freckled, earning him the nickname of Freckles from Philip. Jack is an orphan, who before the story starts in The Island of Adventure was living with his sister Lucy-Ann, a crusty old uncle and his uncle’s housekeeper.

Lucy-Ann simply adores Jack and although a few years younger, follows him around all the time. Jack hardly notices her, though he is very fond of her. His major passion in life is birds. He’s absolutely batty about birds. He wants to be an ornithologist when he grows up, and spends a great deal of time peering through field-glasses at anything with wings and feathers. He even has a pet bird, a parrot called Kiki.

She heard me yelling ‘Kiki! Kiki!’, broke her chain in her excitement and flew over – and by  a lucky chance she chose your very porthole!

You’d better tell Aunt Allie all that, it makes a very fine story – better than mine!

Jack more or less admits that he has arranged for Kiki to ‘accidentally’ end up on the cruise ship which she is banned from, in The Ship of Adventure.

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On my bookshelf part 2

I recently wrote a whole lot about what could be found on my top two Blyton bookshelves, both books, ornaments and random objects. Now I’m going to talk about the next two shelves, which are mostly just books because Brodie can reach these shelves and nothing on them is safe!


Shelf number three

This shelf has the last of what I consider the ‘adventurous’ books, plus some farm and circus titles.From left to right there are:

The three Willow/Cherry Tree Farm books. (These are at the left side mostly because they’re so big they’d look silly in the middle.)

My circus section, containing Three Galliano’s Circus books, The Circus Book, Three Boys and a Circus and Come to the Circus. Three Boys and a Circus is a Mary Pollock book, and sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t unite the five I have of those, but they are all reprints with Blyton’s name and so I haven’t yet.

The two Six Cousins books and the six books of the Caravan Family series. (And yes it does annoy me that The Saucy Jane Family doesn’t match the rest!)

A few stand alone titles, namely The Adventures of the Secret Necklace, The Hidey-Hole, Adventures of the Secret Ruby, The Boy Next Door, The Mystery that Never Was, The Treasure Hunters, and The Fourth Brer Rabbit Book. Some of these are young adventure stories and some are young family so they sort of go together. The Brer Rabbit book is neither but there just happened to be enough room on that shelf when I bought it a few years ago.

The fifteen Secret Seven books, three with dustjackets.

Also, on top are a few of the Secret Seven books that came free with McDonald’s meals several years ago, and my pack of postcards I got for my Christmas last year.


The fourth shelf

This shelf is probably just as random. It is mostly short story collections featuring one character, but there are also some novels. These are on lower shelves as few of these fall into my favourites, either of genre or books.

Starting at the left again;

The Troublesome Three. This is one of the more recent additions to my collections, though I got it in 2017!

The Red Spotted Handkerchief and Other Stories. I bought this at an Enid Blyton day – the very last one in 2012 – and the seller told me it had once been part of Gillian Baverstock’s collection but I have no evidence that is true. The spine had been in decent condition but this is one part of my shelves that Brodie likes to attack and he’s damaged it.

Five of the twelve Brockhampton Picture Books with Eileen Soper covers and illustrations. Brodie also likes to yank at these.

All 24 Noddy books, some with dustjackets. A couple are reprints with the shinier cover and rainbow text and one is still in the smaller format paperback.

The Queer Adventure, The Three Golliwogs (a very scribbled on Dean edition as the original is just too expensive), Bimbo and Topsy (also Dean but it was a hand-me-down and not a purchase) and The Book of Fairies.

Then there are several short sets of books – Mr Meddle, Amelia Jane, Josie Click and Bun – Dame Slap and Her School, as far as I know is part of the same universe if not the actual series. Plus it has the same illustrator and spine style so that’s why I shelved it here – The Wishing Chair series, Mr Twiddle, Mr Pink-Whistle and then the Faraway Tree series.

Some of these are in the wrong order, probably. I can never remember the order even if most of them only have three books! Once upon a time they were all organised more neatly (really, the Meddle, Amelia Jane, Twiddle and Pink-Whistle books should all be together) but when I did my series on inscriptions in books literally every book got taken off and these ones got a hastily shoved back on. This shelf is not quite hidden by my sofa, but I don’t have any visitors who would be able to correct me on the series order, so I get away with it!

The only things on top here are my two notebooks. On top is a book journal for logging books you’ve lent to others and your reviews of books. I tend to use it to keep track of my to-read lists. Under that is my literary listography which has lots of pages with headings like ‘books that made me cry’ and ‘my favourite authors’. I haven’t filled much of it in as I felt I was repeating myself a lot – the books I’ve read probably fall into a couple of narrow genres. Having picked it up today to get examples of the headings I’ve found myself scribbling more things in it though!

 

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Letters to Enid part 10

Previous letters pages can be found here.


Letters page from Volume 1, issue 19. November 25th – December 8th 1953

OUR

LETTER PAGE

 1. A letter from Patricia Offen, 78 Sheridan Terrace, Hove, 3.
Dear Enid Blyton,
I am sending you 7/6 for the Sunbeam Society. When our friends come to watch our Television, see a box there labelled “Sunbeam Society for the Blind Babies. Viewers please spare a penny. Thank you.” Television makes me feel grateful that I have eyes to see with.
Love from,
Patricia Offen.

(What a WONDERFUL idea, Patricia! Let’s all do the same, children.)

2. A letter from Mary and Sarah Targett, Eley’s, Porton, Salisbury.
Dear Enid Blyton,
A little while ago we decided to pick mushrooms on our farm and sell them in the town to earn some money for the blind children. So we all picked mushrooms after school, and we worked hard for a week. Mummy and Daddy helped us and we earned the enclosed Ten Pounds for the Blind Children.
Yours truly,
Mary and Sarah Targett.

(Well! Another marvellous idea. Thank you for your very hard work, my dears.)

3. A letter from Mary String, The Ferns, Great Hale, Lincs.
Dear Enid Blyton,
My Mummy gave me an apple tree in the garden and said I could sell apples for your Sunbeam Society. So on two Saturday afternoons I had a stall on the front lawn. I borrowed Mummy’s scales and wrote a notice saying I was selling apples at 3d. per pound for your Blind Children’s Home. I am pleased to enclose £2/2/0 for the Blind Children and I hope it will help to make them happy.
All my love,

Mary String

(Television money, mushroom money – and now apple money! Whatever next? Well done, Mary – I am proud of you and your tree.)

 


Interesting this week that all three letters were enclosing money, and money for the same charity. Almost looks as if they bought their inclusion on the letters page, though I am sure that’s just me being terribly cynical!

I also found it a bit tactless for Blyton to suggest that all children do the same and charge their friends to watch their TVs. TV ownership increased dramatically in 1953 when lots of people rented or bought a television to watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, but a huge number of people – clearly including Patricia’s friends – didn’t have a TV to charge for!

Anyway, I really do hope that they money raised did help the poor children who, purely because of some illness or disability, have missed out on a loving family life and instead have been brought up in a home. It hardly bears thinking about.

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Monday #230

Letters to Enid volume 10

and

On my bookcase part 2

The Isle of Gloom is an island off the coast near Craggy Tops – the home of Aunt Polly and Uncle Jocelyn. It is a mysterious and deserted place, almost constantly shrouded in mist so that it can barely be seen from the mainland. Of course it is teaming with bird-life so the children end up visiting it, and find tumbledown huts and old mine shafts. The most interesting things about the Isle of Gloom are found underground, however. A network of mine tunnels that contain some dodgy characters, and lead to an undersea tunnel.

island of adventure. jack looks at the isle of gloom

The Treasure Hunters is a shortish but satisfying story about three children who go to stay with Granny and Grandpa during the hols. They are close to losing Greyling’s Manor, the family’s ancestral home, and wish they could find the mythical Greyling’s Treasure to pay off their debts. The house has at least one secret passage, and huge grounds to explore. The children discover an old summer-house and inside, a hidden box containing a map. All that’s left for them to do is decipher the map, find the treasure and save the day. But Mr Potts who wants to buy the manor keeps popping up, jovial on the outside but sinister underneath.

 

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On my bookshelf

I love looking at other people’s bookcases, both in person and in photographs. I love seeing what books they’ve got, how they’ve organised them and what else they put on the shelves. I’ve been known to zoom in to read book titles, even when the bookcase is only an accidental background to something else…

So I thought I would give you a tour of what’s on my bookcases.

I have three bookcases (plus a load of books on the shelves in my wardrobe, and some more books on the bookcase in Brodie’s room but who’s counting??), and two of them are almost all children’s books.

If you pull my sofa away from the bookcases this is what they look like. My grown up books are on the left (apart from the bottom shelf which is Ewan’s), there are childrens’ books including Blytons in the middle (again apart from the bottom shelf which is Ewan’s) and the right is all Blytons, and all mine!

I actually took this photo a few weeks ago and I’ve moved a few bits and pieces around since then but it’s a reasonable representation still! Click on any of the photographs to see them bigger. (If you’re still wondering what that is on the top right, it’s a wooden bus with a broken wheel axle on top. Of course.)

Here is how they look today – after I’d cleared off the inevitable rubbish that builds up as I try to keep things like TV remotes out of Brodie’s reach.


Top shelf material

I will start with my all-Blyton bookcase, as that’s what you’re probably most interested in. It’s more or less organised in order of favourites, my most favourites at the top.

The top shelf has 21 Famous Fives and eight Adventure Series books. This is the same layout as I had on my old bookshelves at my parents’ house as the 29 books fit a standard bookshelf perfectly. There are just over half the Famous Fives in dust jackets, though I think one or two are facsimiles, and my Adventure series are not only tatty but entirely dust-jacket-less.

But as you can see there are a few more things on the shelf too! On top of the Famous Fives is my Famous Five party game and and my old copy of Five Run Away Together, as I replaced it with a better one this year, and haven’t got around to selling/giving it away/putting it away yet.

In front left to right are:

Some interesting rocks I’ve picked up (most end up in the bathroom, but these two got put on the bookshelf for some reason).

My 70s Famous Five card game. I did have my 50s one there too, but it went missing ages ago and I have a horrible feeling it might have fallen off and landed in the bin.

A Sindy plastic dog (passed down to me by my older cousins) which I always think of as Timmy. He has stood faithful guard over my Famous Fives for years now. The only problem is that Brodie has taken a serious liking to him and keeps standing on the back of the sofa to grab him!

A tiny clock (that doesn’t work) that I chose as a memento from Ewan’s Gran’s house after she died.

A small box from the Literary Gift Company that used to contain a book badge but now holds some collectible coins.

I am trying to collect the 26 letters of the alphabet on 10ps, and so far have C, D, U and Y, and a long way to go! There’s also a random Commonwealth Games 50p and a Charles Darwin two pound coin. I did have two or three Florence Nightingale two pound coins once upon a time but I’ve no idea where they went. I am in no way a serious coin collector, but I do check the tills at work to see what I can find!


And the next shelf

This one has a bit more variety, but not a single dust jacket to be seen.

Bookwise we have:

The two Adventurous Fours.

Three ‘Enid Blyton’ branded reprints of her Mary Pollock books – The Children of Kidillin, Smuggler Ben and The Secret of Cliff Castle, as this is an adventurous shelf. The other two I have are Mischief at St Rollo’s which is on my school shelf and Three Boys and a Circus which sits beside other circus books.

The six Barney Mysteries, with its one yellow book that doesn’t match the rest.

The fifteen Five-Find Outers books including my hard-won copy of Banshee Towers.

And lastly a rather motley and mis-matched set of the five Secret Series books.

I did say earlier that my shelves were organised by favourite but I suppose it would be more accurate to say by favourite genres and then by favourite series within that. The Mary Pollocks are not amongst my top-rated series but belong in that genre. I imagine a lot of people might put all six Mary Pollocks together as a little series, though?

Anyway, also on this shelf are:

A little vintage calendar where you rotate the tall bit to flip the days (yes I know it’s not Monday today but I generally only remember to change it on Mondays as that’s my day to dust the living room as dictated by The Organised Mum Method.) This was another little memento from Ewan’s Gran’s house.

A little box containing more collectible 50 pence pieces, mostly Beatrix Potter ones – Jeremy Fisher, Benjamin Bunny, Tom Kitten, Mrs Tittlemouse, Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter and a random Sherlock Holmes one. There are still quite a few Beatrix Potter ones I don’t have – yet I keep finding more Benjamin Bunnies and Jeremy Fishers!

My ‘quiet please I’m reading’ sign that my mum made me one Christmas.

A piece of bismuth I bought at Treasures of the Earth.


There aren’t many more adventure books left, and those that are, are on the next shelf along with hodgepodge of other stuff which I will leave for another week. I hope you’ve enjoyed nosying at these two shelves, and I apologise for the quality of the photography! I had fully intended to do this in daylight but the week entirely got away from me and I ended up doing it at 8pm lit by my reading lamp.

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The St Clare’s covers through the years, 1990s – now

Continuing on from my previous post which looked at covers from the 1940s originals through to those in the 1980s.


Familiar and unfamiliar Deans

The first set of Deans, from 1990, are much like several other sets for other series. They use Hilda Offen illustrations from the Methuen hardbacks, but cropped into a square with ‘bits’ escaping around the edges. Strangely some of the girls’ heads and feet are awkwardly cropped off! The Cave of Books doesn’t have the Methuen covers [link] for the last three books of the series but we can get a good idea of what they looked like from this set. So some of them are a bit garish but I suspect the originals were a little less so.

All Dean 1990

The second set of Deans, from 1997, are also an illustration in a box, cropped from the previous Mammoth editions (see below) with a rather garish orange border. The original illustrations are by Button Design Co who did some titles for the Malory Towers series too.

All Dean 1997

And the final Deans, published in 2013, also use the Mammoth image cropped into an oval this time.

All Dean 2013

Going back and forward a bit

Going back in time again, here are the original 1996 Mammoths by Button Design Co that Dean nicked. Some of these are not that bad. The first and third books are fairly timeless, though the drawing style reminds me of other 90s paperbacks of the time. And then Fifth Formers at St Clare’s looks like there’s a strange supernatural ritual going on in the dormitory!

All Mammoth 1996

And jumping forward, Mammoth also published a set in 2000. These covers, by Paul Catherall have brightly coloured backgrounds and a object, or objects, important to the storyline but no people.

The other featured objects are a lacrosse net and ball, a key (I assume signifying the tale of Mam’zelle locking up all the ‘burglars’ one night) and a violin. I don’t think these are too awful. They are bright without being garish and at least look reasonably skilful.


The worst

As is often the case the more modern we go the worse the covers get. Starting with an Egmont set in 2005, the same illustrations – by David Roberts – were then also used by Hodder in 2016, and in the case of The Twins at St Clare’s, again in 2018.

All Egmont 2005

These look like covers for a some sort of supernatural boarding school. Evil twins, a vampire mistress (with the strangest bosom ever!) and headless horsemen by night.

All Hodder 2016

Shrinking and reframing doesn’t help – the girls still look demonic and evil. I know some of them aren’t very nice but these do not reflect the contents of the books AT ALL.

And then here’s the one off. Like the first Malory Towers book it got childish multicoloured writing, but the rest is just lifted straight from other books. It’s the first book of the series yet the characters above the title come from covers of the other books in the series.


Saving the best until last

Well, these are not the best of all the covers but I think they are the best since the originals. Ruth Palmer’s covers for this 2018 Hodder set are fabulously forties in style. She has done a similar set for Malory Towers (including those by Pamela Cox) and also apes Eileen Soper’s style quite well for the Famous Five for Grown Ups books.

All Hodder 2018

As far as I know these are only available as a box set that includes the Pamela Cox books as well (though they have nice covers too, at least) but they have individual ISBNs and could well come out as single books at some point. I think they’re lovely and if I was in the market for any paperbacks I would probably get these.


Which covers are your favourites?

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Monday #279

St Clare’s covers through the years part 2

and

On my bookshelf

I’m afraid of living alone, with my thoughts and memories, Lizzie. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my like, and I remember them when I’m alone. I’m a lonely old woman, and I want life and friends around me – yes, even if people don’t want me, I still want to be with them!

Aunt Grace pours her heart out a bit to Lizzie at the start of House-at-the-Corner.

house at the corner

The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage is where the Five Find-Outers begin, when Fatty (and Buster) meets Larry, Daisy, Pip and Bets and they form their find-outing group. Their first mystery is trying to work out who set fire to Mr Hick’s workroom, not an easy task seeing as he has several people who are quite angry with him. And of course they are up against the magnificent Mr Goon, the local policeman. Unfortunately for him, he is magnificently rude and foolish and absolutely useless at mysteries for the most part, and is royally shown up by the children when they point the finger at the right culprit.

the-mystery-of-the-burnt-cottage

 

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The St Clare’s covers through the years, 1940s – 1980s

Having already done The Famous Five, Adventure Series, Barney Mysteries, Malory Towers, the Secret Series and Mr Galliano’s Circus, I’m now going to tackle St Clare’s.

There are six books in the St Clare’s Series (if you don’t include the filler books by Pamela Cox – and I don’t!).


A 1940s boarding school by W. Lindsay Cable

I’ll admit one thing first – I get Stanley Lloyd and W. Lindsay Cable a bit muddled up sometimes. Lloyd did the covers and illustrations for the original Malory Towers editions, while Cable did the original St Clare’s. Most of their covers are quite unalike, but I think their internal illustrations are similar.

Anyway, It’s Cable we’re going to be looking at just now, and I will try not to accidentally write Lloyd.

The six original St Clare’s books were published by Methuen between 1941 and 1945, one a year except for 1944 when there were two (Second Form at St Clare’s and Claudine at St Clare’s).

What’s interesting is how different the first four books are to the last two. The first four are by no means identical, but all are pencil sketches with only a few parts picked out in colour. Then the final two look more like the covers we’ve seen for Malory Towers – full colour, full cover illustrations.

Methuen 1941 / Methuen 1942 / Methuen 1943 / Methuen 1944
Methuen 1944 / Methuen 1945

I wonder what prompted the change?

W. Lindsay Cable then re-did the first four books in the style of the last two, two coming out in 1945 and two in 1947.

Methuen 1945 / Methuen 1945 / Methuen 1947 / Methuen 1947

If you were to put the first editions of the last two books alongside the second editions of the first four they look like a complete series, despite three having dark yellow/green colour palettes and the others being more beige with blue/red/green.


Armada

Armada must have published hundreds of Enid Blyton titles in the sixties! Yet again they are the first paperback edition for a series.

This time they are a mix of Dorothy Brooks and Mary Gernat. They all have the typical Armada look, though, with bright colours and a real sense of movement and action.

Mary Gernat did books 1, 5 and 6, while Dorothy Brooks did 2, 3 and 4. They are not too dissimilar though Brooks’ characters look a little more modern and slender!

Armada 1963 / Armada 1964 / Armada 1964 / Armada 1963 / Armada 1963 / Armada / 1963

Armada also did a second set in 1988, in a style I don’t recall seeing on any other of Blyton’s books. Each has the illustration contained in a box, but with some of the girls’ belongings arranged outside as if they are bursting out from the world within.

Armada 1988 / Armada 1988 / Armada 1988

The O’Sullivan Twins at St Clare’s is the only one of the six to have the first part of the title in the larger font and St Clare’s at the bottom.


Dragons and Polaroids

In another familiar move, there was a 1960s full set of Dragons with their recognizable ‘upside down’ Polaroid style. These were all done by Mary Gernat, with new illustrations.

All Dragon 1967

Dragon then reused some of these for their next set. They skipped the first and fourth books, but reissued the second, third, fifth and sixth books with the same Gernat illustration as a full cover in the early 70s.

Dragon 1967 / Dragon 1970 / Dragon 1967 / Dragon 1973

Then in 1972 they did a new upside down polaroid cover with a Paul Wright illustration for the second, fourth and sixth books. How very, very confusing! I can only assume that they were selling out of some titles faster than others, and rights to covers/artwork had run out in the meantime.

All Dragon 1972

The final set of Dragons came in 1982, with covers by Michael Johnson. I had a couple of these and they did absolutely nothing to encourage me to read the St Clare’s series. The girls all look about 18, and look a bit like air-hostesses at times. That or they’re all French? as the blue, red and white banner at the top has been repeated in their clothing on all but one cover. I had Claudine at St Clare’s which looked so serious, and grown-up that I never read it. The Twins at St Clare’s is a bit better but I was still never moved to open it.

All Dragon 1982

Modern Methuen

The first Methuen appears to be a one-off, an edition of The Second Form at St Clare’s from 1973, reusing the same Paul Wright cover from the previous year’s Dragon edition. Something about it makes it look like it could be a hardback, that doesn’t make it any less random in my eyes.

Now, I rarely like covers past the 1950s, though I have a soft spot for the early 60s Armada’s, I suppose. I do like these 1981 Methuen hardbacks by Hilda Offen, though. She did a matching set for Malory Towers the same year. They are all brightly-coloured but retain a nice 1940s look. Saying that, the third book here has edged over to twee. Still, they are amongst some of the better covers for later books. These may be quite rare as the Cave of books only has these three – but the artwork is reused for other editions and you can see that in my next post.

All Methuen 1981.

I will stop there for now, and resume with the 90s editions next time. Modern Blytons can have some atrocious covers but there are some modern gems too.

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