The Enid Blyton Society
Noddy Goes to School
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Book Details...

First edition: 1952
Publisher: Sampson Low
Illustrator: Harmsen Van der Beek
Category: Noddy
Genre: Fantasy
Type: Novels/Novelettes

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Reprint Covers
Artwork
Review by Terry Gustafson

Reprints


Cover from the 1st edition, illustrated by Harmsen Van der Beek



Frontis from the 1st edition, illustrated by Harmsen Van der Beek



Front and back flaps from the dustwrapper of the 1st edition



Title page from the 1st edition
It was pleasing to read Colin Welch's article on that prize ass Noddy. Of course, while admiring the comprehensive research Mr. Welch has done to put his article together, I fancy he knows as well as the rest of your parental readers that it is not necessary to tolerate Noddy in one's life. One simply makes it clear to all present-givers that he is taboo ...

M. C. (Birmingham), Encounter 1958

Noddy doesn't really have to go to school as he's not a child but the general context of the Noddy stories places him in a fairly subservient position due to his 'Little-Boy' personality and the reason he attends classes originates from a suggestion made by his pal Big-Ears the brownie who gets a little fed up with his friend's bigheadedness!
The story begins with Noddy washing his precious car once again and after turning his hose on a very cheeky golliwog who fancies himself as a stand-up comic, he finishes his chore and then gives the car a polish whilst singing one of his original songs. His next door neighbour, Mrs. Tubby Bear, thinks he's so clever and with her encouragement Noddy sings his creative piece to Mr. Tubby and the milkman and Miss Fluffy Cat who happen to be nearby. Noddy then goes off in his car which substitutes as a taxi and his passengers think hes such a good driver that another song pours forth:-
"Oh, anyone can see
I'm clever as can be
My brains are very fine ..."
— I think the Little Nodding Man is about to get a swollen head.

In the Land of Enid Blyton, getting a swollen head means exactly that — your head grows to pumpkin-size. Noddy sets off to visit his friend Big-Ears and on the way he wonders why his hat keeps falling off. We can guess but, despite the praise he gets for his cleverness and for being such a good taxi-driver, Noddy can't figure out the reason. Big-Ears is rather clever though and he's able to supply a few answers whilst berating Noddy for his conceit after hearing the latest song. He points out a few home truths to his friend and Noddy realizes that vanity has caused his head to swell considerably and despite everyone saying he's clever he's not really all that clued up. Did you know — he can't count past about twenty or read big words? Noddy needs a little formal education and, taking Big-Ears' advice, he decides to enroll in Miss Rap's school.

Toy Village is a little different from our own environment so it's permissible for grown-up Noddy to join the school class in order to increase his small amount of knowledge. He is given a seat next to a golliwog — the same one that had had been giving him cheek the day before. Enid Blyton uses the term 'boy golliwog' because I guess 'golliwog' caters to males or females of the species but maybe a reasonable case could be made for 'golliwogess' when referring to the females but that might take a little getting used to. Right from the start Noddy doesn't make a very good impression with Miss Rap because he's unaware of some of the most basic items of everyday knowledge. The only word he can write is his name and he's never even heard of the song which carries the title — 'Jack and Jill' so he's fair game for a bit of ribbing from his desk-mate whose name turns out to be Gilbert. Gilbert's a bit of a trouble-maker and Miss Rap threatens to slap him with a slipper which is hanging on the wall. Now I've had a peek at the cover of a later version of this book and I could not see a slipper — there's just something that looks like a handkerchief hanging next to a map so I guess that if any pupil is naughty Miss Rap hits him or her with the handkerchief.

Noddy doesn't know how to dance so he can't join in when everyone gets up to tread the Light Fantastic and then he gets into trouble for a misplaced kick and ends up in the corner where he broods on the idea that he might have no brains at all! What a miserable start to his scholastic career. After school he visits Big-Ears who, when he sets eyes on him, has a little bit of good news — Noddy's head is slightly smaller due to his shrinking opinion of himself. The brownie attempts to give his friend a little instruction by writing some words down for him to copy when he gets home and he also performs a little dance which Noddy watches and tries committing to memory. Big-Ears asks Noddy some questions and although he receives some feasible answers, they aren't the right ones. An example:- "Suppose there were three cats in my garden and a dog came along to join them, how many animals would there be?" I think even a six year old would know the answer to that but Noddy's understanding of the matter is more related to an old joke — "There would be 'One' because all the cats would run away!" He goes home and practises his writing on the floor boards of his house and when Little Tubby Bear from next door calls by, Noddy ropes him in to supply further dancing instruction. Little Tubby Bear also tells Noddy to sit with him in school next morning so that he can help him with his work. He departs and Noddy does some more writing practice — this time all over the walls.

After a few days Noddy begins enjoying school life because he's working hard and he's also sitting next to young Tubby Bear who's assisting him. He has passed the Clockwork Mouse and Gilbert Golly marks-wise and he's painted a wonderful picture which has been hung up on the wall for all to admire — but he doesn't boast about it. Things seem to be righting themselves but then fate calls by and this results in Noddy having an accident in his car which proves that he's not the wonderful driver he thought he was and after that he catches a dreadful cold due to the fact that he's been trundling around with no hat on. There's an interlude where he tries on a few other head-pieces but Gilbert the golliwog and little Tubby Bear play silly tricks on him so, once again, Noddy's not having a very nice time. The school concert is drawing near and all the pupils are going to be doing little acts on the stage — all except Noddy. He can't really do anything well enough. We all know he has at least one talent and that's his knack of creating original poems and songs but in this book his tendency has been to sing about himself a little too much so his true calling has been put aside for the moment. Noddy is being very brave about not displaying any ability of his own for the expected audience and he also assures everyone that he's going to clap all the acts very loudly.

The day arrives at last and the parents of the various pupils fill the little school room. There's a picture of the performers on the stage and they're a colourful lot. Noddy is with them because they're all singing the opening song. Dear old Big-Ears is there and he waves to Noddy who is trilling lustily away with the rest whilst entertaining the thought that he will probably be the only pupil not to receive a prize because he's not performing anything by himself.

What a wonderful show — Dilly Duck quacks a lovely song and Little Tubby Bear sings a growly tune which is so good that he has to come on and do it again. Even Gilbert Golly is a great success with his poem and chimney-sweeping routine. NOW ... Here's how circumstances can change so rapidly in Noddy's life. At the conclusion of the grand concert the clockwork mouse is supposed to present some flowers to Miss Rap and recite a little speech but it turns out that he's too shy so it's up to someone else to be very brave and volunteer. Who will it be? Without revealing every single detail regarding special songs and prize-receiving and a few other bits and pieces, I will say that at the very end Noddy's head resumes its normal size and we have to thank Goodness for that!
Can you have a naughty face? Near the beginning, Gilbert Golly, after being doused with water from Noddy's hose, runs off down the street with water dripping from his 'naughty black face'.

There are colour pictures on every page and because the children are of diverse parentage, seeing them all together makes the illustrations extra bright. The characters in the concert and in the audience include a giraffe and an elephant, bears, a cat, a clown, a rabbit, ducks, golliwogs, skittles, plenty of dolls and even a brownie.

The book is Number #6 in the series and I can't say my copy is a first edition so I have to put my plans for a Big Spend on hold.