Well Done, Noddy!
First edition: 1952
Publisher: Sampson Low
Illustrator: Harmsen Van der Beek
Publisher: Sampson Low
Illustrator: Harmsen Van der Beek
On This Page...
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
Blishen speaks in relative terms — surely all children and their associated toys and reading matter can be classed as feeble when adults compare them with their own interests. By the same token, children, if they had the sophistication, could describe grown-ups' play-things and reading matter as complicated and boring. It seems that some adults can't help criticizing children for their propensity to be childish so I must remember to include a little Proust when the kids require a bedtime story.
If it wasn't for Enid Blyton, Noddy would lead an extremely blissful life. From his humble beginnings as a Waif in the Woods he has risen to the status of model citizen in Toy Village. He has a very good friend (Big Ears), his own little house, a garage, and of course a car and he's working as a taxi-driver. Yes, it's life without a care until Enid Blyton comes along and spoils it for him — but only temporarily. If untoward happenings didn't occur in Noddy's life then the stories could be classed as Feeble and that mustn't be allowed.
In this book, Noddy begins the day with one of his poetic compositions which he sings lustily and a very good effort it is. He's washing his car and his rambling renditions sound very merry and bright to the milkman who calls by with a bottle or two for which he is paid by being allowed to nod Noddy's head for him. How that little interlude can be considered 'Feeble' I really don't know.
Yes ... Noddy's a lucky fellow all right and with the milkman gone, he's off to the shops to buy some food and when he returns the preparations begin because Big-Ears is coming to dinner. It's not to be though because EB waves her wand and causes poor Big-Ears to experience a road accident by running his bike right into Jumbo. Everybody knows, not only what a 'Jumbo' is, but it's common knowledge that when you crash into something big you come off second best and that's exactly what's happened to Big-Ears. Noddy learns the news from the grapevine in the form of Mrs. Tubby who's his next door neighbour and he immediately jumps into his car and speeds off to help his good friend. He finds him sitting on a bench and nursing a very sore head with a handful of rubber-neckers and Jumbo nearby who's too big and too strong to be all that much affected however he's pretty angry about the accident. He's pulling bits of bicycle off himself and carrying on about the eggs he'd just bought — presumably they're all smashed. Noddy's only concern is for Big-Ears who's very sore and, horror of horrors, his bicycle is no more. Sally Skittle remarks "What a pity. Whatever will Big-Ears do now — what a good thing he has Noddy for a friend." — and that's a comment with lots of truth in it.
This is an excellent opportunity for Noddy to return a few of the favours that Big-Ears has done for him in the past and no time is wasted. He takes the brownie home with him and bundles him into his own bed because he's going to look after him until he's better. Big-Ears is a little plump to fit comfortably into a pair of Noddy's pyjamas but he manages after a fashion and then the doctor is called and his advice is for Big-Ears to stay in bed and NOT TO WORRY! That's all very well but how can he not worry when his precious bicycle is ruined?
The preliminaries are taken care of — Sally Skittle will live in Big-Ears' house to make sure no one comes in and takes anything (her own place is being painted). Whiskers who is Big-Ears' cat, is brought in to keep her master company and she purrs so much that Noddy creates another of his little songs to act as a rough interpretation and I think it could be his best effort yet —
"Stroke me please... and so on for a further six lines of lilting lyrics.
Because I'm furry,
Pet me please
Because I'm purry"
Noddy now realizes he must Do What Must Be Done and that's to, not only care for his friend, but he also wants to replace the ruined bicycle. Big-Ears with his bike is as much of a Toy-Village icon as Noddy is with his car so money has to be earned and lots of it. Noddy has a brilliant idea. He plants a peppermint drop, a bull's-eye and a toffee so that when they grow into bushes they will yield hundreds of sweets in kind and then they can be harvested which means that Noddy can bag the confectionary and then he can sell all of the stock and this will bring in lots of money which will enable the purchase of a new bicycle (that lived in the House that Jack Built). Unfortunately, Noddy has quite a bit to learn as far as horticulture is concerned. Whilst waiting for his bushes to grow, he casts around in his mind for another way to make some quick money — we're all waiting for the penny to drop, and sure enough it does. His Talent, his Calling, his Poetic Leaning rises to the surface — he'll write songs about his friends and see if they'll buy them so he sets to work and sure enough the sixpences are soon rolling into his money-box. He becomes quite famous for his little ditties and he even creates one for Jumbo which takes him quite a long time because Jumbo, being what he is, requires a Large song. Big-Ears is getting to be much better and a new bicycle is just on the horizon when suddenly, along comes Enid Blyton again to deliver some ointment with a large fly in it! Noddy receives a request for some delivery work and off he goes to collect some sacks and take them to Red Goblin Corner. The word 'Goblin' bodes a little 'umpty' but Noddy is delighted with the pleasant thought that he'll receive seven sixpences for his work. Seven sixpences totals three shillings and sixpence which will boost him on his way to earning enough for Big-Ears' new bicycle which might cost anything from £20 upwards. He trundles off to Ahoy Cottage and finds no one there — perhaps Mr. Sailor Doll, the owner, has gone to sea but anyway the industrious little Noddy hunts around and discovers half a dozen sacks of something or other in an outhouse. He hauls them out and transports them to Red Goblin Corner where he stuffs them all under a bush to await collection.
That night whilst Noddy and Big-Ears are in bed together, Mr. Plod the policeman calls. Noddy is in trouble because some sacks have been stolen from the Sailor Doll's cottage. Well, we all know who took them but now there's a little bit of explaining called for. Big-Ears sticks up valiantly for his friend of course but it looks rather grim because it turns out that the person who told Noddy to collect the sacks was Mrs. Tubby from next door and she was simply passing the message on from a red goblin whom she had met in the village. Uh-Oh! Noddy is innocent as we know but Mr. Plod in this particular case acts a little Goonish by not wanting to consider the intricacies of the situation. Noddy took the sacks and that's all that matters — he'll have to pay for them!
Poor old Noddy. After all his efforts to save for a bicycle in order that he can surprise his dear friend, he has to part with every penny in his money-box and that's 15/- (fifteen shillings). This is a terrible blow and Noddy cries bitterly but when he is urged by Big-Ears to see if he can hunt out the real offender he adopts a 'Fierce' attitude and when Noddy gets 'Fierce' you'd better look out! He gets dressed and departs in his car to where he had left the sacks — have they been collected yet? No, they haven't. Good! He hides and waits ... and the result of this story is similar to the conclusion of all the Noddy tales so far — everything turns out fine. By that, do I mean Big-Ears receives a brand new bicycle? Well, of course but one could quibble about whether it's brand new or whether it's his old bicycle reincarnated but with a bigger lamp in front. Regardless of that, the fact is that Big-Ears and Noddy witness a very strange ritual the result of which is that Noddy's pal is once again mobile. Big-Ears is so pleased and feels so much better that he throws his head-bandage into the fire. Yaaaay ... we're all happy again and naturally there's a little rhyme to round off the celebrations but this time it appears that Noddy has a rival to his Poetic Propensities because it's Big-Ears himself who makes up a little poem that reflects the sheer exhilaration of the moment. It starts —
"Who is the best of us all?— etc, etc..
Someone very shy and small?
Why, it's little Noddy!"
Funny little Noddy. See you again sometime.
A little bit of history has its inception on the night the constable calls at Noddy's house. Before today there has been evidence that Toy Village can call on at least seven policemen in an emergency but there's one in particular who features more prominently in the Noddy books and that's Mr. Plod. Originally he was 'The Policeman' or 'Mr. Policeman' but now he's been christened and his name will be forever associated with the Enid Blyton books in general ... Carry on 'Mr. Plod.'