The Enid Blyton Society
Noddy at the Seaside
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Book Details...

First edition: 1953
Publisher: Sampson Low
Illustrator: Harmsen Van der Beek
Category: Noddy
Genre: Fantasy
Type: Novels/Novelettes

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Reprint Covers
Review by Terry Gustafson


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
In the six years since author Enid Blyton first put him into a book, little Noddy has amassed a formidable following. Among Britain's moppet set he is as famous as Pooh or Piglet, sells faster than Alice, and is better known than Kenneth Grahame's Mole. He has appeared in eight 10,000 word books (10 million copies), five Noddy annuals, four strip books, twenty small books and has been translated into everything from Swahili to Tamil to Hebrew. Last week after he made his debut on the stage the London critics had to admit that Noddy in Toyland is a hit.

(Time: Jan. 10th, 1955)

Since he has been in Toyland, Noddy has experienced a side of life which he would never have encountered when living in the woods with Old Man Carver and now he's about to confront something which he will find quite awe-inspiring. Big-Ears has a plan and he calls on Noddy to expound his proposition but it must wait whilst his friend prepares breakfast for them both and attends to the milkman whose timely visit is welcomed. Big-Ears is surprised to see how two bottles of milk are paid for and wishes that he himself had a head on a spring because the milkman simply taps his little friend's bonce a couple of times to set it nodding and considers the privilege acts as sufficient payment. Cream is more expensive of course so it requires several more taps to balance the account.

They sit down to breakfast and Noddy asks, "Is your plan a BEE-OOOO-TI-FUL one?"

It is.

Big-Ears has decided they both need a holiday and it should be at the seaside. For a person who doesn't even know what "paddle" or "holiday" means (Noddy thinks a holly-day might be something prickly) it looks as if there's an exciting time ahead for the little chap. The anticipation builds up and Noddy wants to tear off at once without doing the dishes but Big-Ears is disciplined and he insists that everything is washed and put away and that Noddy's bed has been made and that the house is nice and tidy. A bag is packed, money is taken from the money-box and then they're ready to depart in Noddy's own little car with Big-Ears' bicycle strapped over the boot. Now they're off and singing a little song (composed by Noddy) as they ride along and bump over the ruts so hard that at one stage Big-Ears falls out, and then a little further along when the car becomes a little exuberant and is "Parp-Parping" its horn the bicycle slips off. Big-Ears is not too happy about all this and after a short and sharp reprimand to his companion re driving technique, he picks the bicycle up and hangs it round his shoulders and on they go until eventually Noddy spots something he's never seen before — a moving mass of bright blue.

"What's that?"

"It's the sea"

"It's too big. Much too big, let's go and find a dear little sea. This one's too big and it keeps moving ... " However, they get out and Noddy begins to wail when Big-Ears suggests they paddle.

"I don't know how to!"

He learns. With his friend's encouragement, Noddy gains confidence and bravely enters the water to find that he rather fancies it. He gets a shock when he falls over and becomes all wet but we've done that ourselves and gotten over it. So there they are really enjoying themselves and then Chapter Four comes along and they have to start thinking about accommodation. A tent is the answer according to the ever-resourceful Big-Ears so he makes off up the cliff to the nearby village where he purchases one — plus buckets and spades of course because a holiday by the sea is not complete without them. Meanwhile Noddy makes holes in the ground for him and Big-Ears to sleep in and when the brownie returns he’s got everything they need — a tent, shrimping-nets, a toy boat, bathing suits, sandwiches, biscuits, and lemonade, so they're all set to have a rollicking good time.

Something untoward happens as always and in this case the tide comes in. Now although Big-Ears is a fairly worldly chap there are the odd snippets of information that he lacks and one is to do with tidal-tendencies. He's as puzzled as Noddy when the sea begins creeping up the beach towards their tent. We are predisposed to ordering people or animals away when they get uncomfortably close so our two friends try doing this with the sea because it's lapping around the sand castles they've built.

"Go away. Go away I tell you! Do you hear me?" — that's Big-Ears.

"Go away sea! GO AWAY!" — that's Noddy.

La mer in Toyland seems to act like it does anywhere else so the direct orders are disobeyed and it is therefore necessary to seek advice from others who are more informed. A small doll who is playing nearby with friends tells Big-Ears that the tide will go out again in a matter of minutes which means there is a difference because in our land the sea takes several hours to recede. Big-Ears is certainly lacking knowledge in this area because he doesn't even know what the tide is — but so what! The fact is that the sea gradually withdraws and Noddy thinks his friend's commanding manner was the cause!

"You are very, very clever, Big-Ears, even the sea does what you tell it! I am so glad to have a clever friend like you!"

Just like the Famous Five and others of their ilk they settle down in their warm and comfortable tent with the flap tied back so they can see the stars peeping down and hear the sea singing its own song. A little tune about the waves springs forth from a very sleepy Noddy and then they are both wafted off into a deep slumber.

The next chapter is entitled: "What a lovely time!" and it is despite a few inconveniences such as when Noddy thinks he's drowning and there's also a slightly unpleasant encounter with Mr. Big Golly who's lying on the sand trying to get a sun-tan even though he's fully clothed. Then it's time to go shrimping which they do and they catch quite a lot which means it'll be shrimp sandwiches for tea today with the help of a kind sailor doll who arranges to have the catch cooked for the hungry lads. Next on the menu is a rather nasty moment for Noddy and this time it's with a crab who doesn't want to be on the menu and I think we all know what crabs can do. Because of the incident Big-Ears has to convince his friend once again that the seaside's a fine place to be and it turns out he's right especially when you can sail your own toy boat on the water.

Day after day of sea life is idyllic but there comes a time when the wind blows and clouds cover the sky. A storm is approaching and a boat is spotted in trouble. Five people are in danger of being shipwrecked and there are harrowing moments when Noddy's automobile very unexpectedly performs a heroic act. That car has hidden talents it seems. Then comes the night which instantly took me back to Puffin Island where four children had their tents whisked away in a gale. It's a frightening experience for anyone and especially for Noddy and Big-Ears who have to endure exactly the same catastrophe. The storm wells up and their tent is dragged from its moorings and disappears into the blackness of the sky so all they can do is to cuddle up together for warmth and last the night out. What a horrid thing to happen and to add to it, the next morning they find that Noddy's car has a cold. Could things get any worse?

A time comes in peoples' lives when they have to make great decisions and this is one of them. What's to be done? Well. .. the answer seems obvious to us and it’s also apparent to wise old Big-Ears. They have no tent and their money's all finished so:

"We're going home! That's what we are going to do little Noddy."

Yes, they’re off home to a wonderful welcome and a tea-party which even Mr. Plod attends and he says he will try to get their tent back for them although Noddy feels as if he never wants to go away again. Finally it's time for a song from our hero to end the story of their seaside adventures:
"How nice it is to go away
And have a lovely holiday;
And yet although it's fun to roam,
It's even better coming home,
Coming home -
Coming home -

It's really LOVELY coming home!"
Two characters are introduced as Miss Whiskers and Tiddles her boy cousin. They are toy kittens and it remains to be seen whether or not they feature in later books.

I doubt if Big Ears used his bicycle even once whilst they were at the seaside but perhaps it had been taken along just in case there was an emergency.

Mr. Plod is of course a policeman.

The Famous Five are four children and a dog — who star in another well-known series of Enid Blyton books.

Puffin Island is a speck in the ocean ... north-west of the Scottish coast and it was mentioned in one of the author's books called The Sea of Adventure — which is well worth a read.

Casting around for talented Enid Blyton characters I think that the final song composed by Noddy currently puts him just a little ahead of Mr. E. Goon — another very well known poet who graced the pages of the Find-Outer Mystery books. Mr. Goon, was a little unfortunate because his poems which began very earnestly and sometimes quite grandly, were never finished unless he received a little assistance from someone a tad more accomplished than his good self. A poet's prowess can be assessed only if there is a complete and original poem or song to place before a judge.

At a pinch, Noddy's song could be sung to the tune of "Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush" with a little improvisation on the last lines.