Do Look Out, Noddy!
First edition: 1957
Publisher: Sampson Low
Illustrator: Robert Lee and Robert Tyndall
Publisher: Sampson Low
Illustrator: Robert Lee and Robert Tyndall
On This Page...
Cover from the 1st edition, illustrated by Robert Lee and Robert Tyndall
Frontis from the 1st edition, illustrated by Robert Lee and Robert Tyndall
Front and back flaps from the dustwrapper of the 1st edition
Title page from the 1st edition
It seems that Enid Blyton's greatest fictional creation was neither Noddy,It's such a lovely day that little Noddy must get up immediately. You can see him there sitting in bed and rubbing the sleep from his eyes as an enormous sun shines its rays through the window. Our Poet Laureate starts his day with a little musical verse the moment his feet touch the floor and the feeling is that even a blackbird couldn't make up a song as quickly as that. The milkman calls as usual and presents Noddy with his free bottle of the good stuff in return for permission to tap the little man's head and watch it nodding. He likes doing that. The conversation revolves around the fact that most of the Toy Village inhabitants are away on holiday because the weather's so fine and Noddy tells the milkman that's he's made quite a bit of money because lots of holiday-bound people have availed themselves of his taxi service. It's somewhat of a problem having so few villagers around though because the milkman is selling very few of his products. In Noddy's case, there're fewer customers for his taxi so he has an idea — perhaps he should go away too. Noddy tends to visit his mentor whenever he wants to make a decision because he's not all that mature so after the milkman has departed he sets off for Big-Ears' house to see if his friend would like to join him on a vacation but Big-Ears says that he can't afford to go away due to the fact that he's spent a lot of money on his brother who's been ill. Furthermore, he thinks that Noddy should save his because he'll have very little work for the next few weeks. That's quite a sensible way of looking at things but then Big-Ears is a bit of a sage. Noddy tells him that he doesn't like being sensible and then starts wailing. Big-Ears tells him he can take off by himself if he likes then goes into his house and slams the door.
nor Mr. Plod the policeman or Big-Ears — but Enid herself. The most intriguing
and one of the saddest facts I discovered in my research was that Enid Blyton
fictionalised her whole life.
(Biography comment in The Chronicle September 9th, 1974)
Noddy slams his door too ... the door of his car. He's in a very annoyed mood after that and he races along the road grumbling away to himself then he sets off to collect Sally Skittle and her family to take them to the station because they're going on holiday. Mr. Plod the policeman has to skip smartly out of the way as Noddy races along to Sally's place where he finds that, as he's a little late, a few of the skittles have already been sent on. Sally and three of her children with their buckets and spades get into the taxi and here you can see the differences between taking a taxi in our environment and taking one in Toy-Village. You or I might ask the driver very politely to hurry a little if we're running late. In Noddy's taxi it's a little different —
The little skittles were so excited that Noddy was sure they would fall out of the car before they got to the station. "I can hear the train whistling, I can hear the train whistling!" cried little Sue Skittle, and gave Noddy a bang on his head with her spade "Be quick, be quick!"
Noddy remonstrates a little as is his prerogative but little Sue whacks him again for good measure and her mother seems to think it's not untoward, "You shouldn't have been late." Yes, it's a rough and tumble world down Toy-Village way. Then there's a picture of Mr. Plod yelling at them with good reason because one of the skittles' buckets has fallen out and landed upside down on his head.
The little skittles screamed in delight.
Yes, it's action all the way with those mad-caps as the car races on followed by loud threats from Mr. Plod.
"I'll pay our fares when we get back again!" cried Sally Skittle as they all raced for the train. Easy-Come, Easy-Go, and that's the last we hear of them.
The town is practically empty. No fares. No nothing. Noddy heads home for dinner and finds a notice from Mr. Plod on the door which states in general terms —
"I WANT TO SEE YOU!"
As one would expect, Noddy becomes very upset and quickly loses his appetite for a meal. When trouble is imminent the standard practice is to visit Big-Ears and that's what Noddy does but on his way he's hailed by a potential fare. It's a smiling monkey with a furled umbrella and what looks like a carpet-bag. His name is Mr. Marvel Monkey and he's a purveyor of goods — he sells things around the towns and villages of Toyland. His bicycle has broken down and he wants transport for which he'll pay a generous amount ... so he says. As the prospective fare needs to call at several places Noddy feels that it'll be like a small vacation because they'll be gone for a few days and it would also be a good way of avoiding Mr. Plod's current wrath so he agrees to the proposition. First they call on Big-Ears to give him the key to Noddy's house and there's a bright picture of them arriving — Big-Ears is looking out of the window and there's even a couple of giant ladybirds clambering about on the vegetation.
Big-Ears, who is a very sensible brownie, still thinks that Noddy shouldn't go away and that it would be better for him to stay and find out why Mr. Plod wants to see him. Noddy introduces Mr. Monkey and there's a certain coolness in attitude on the part of Big-Ears. It becomes even cooler when Mr. Marvel Monkey demonstrates how marvellous he is and whisks Big-Ears' hat off with his long tail. Bad manners like that aren't very welcome here and Big-Ears feels the monkey wouldn't be good for Noddy to pal around with but the Little Nodding Man is adamant that he wants a holiday and, of course, there's the money angle so it's business as well. He ignores Big-Ears' advice, says goodbye to him, and sets off with his monkey passenger.
Rocking-Horse Town is first on the list and Mr. Monkey has some fine new tails to peddle so, to the accompaniment of a song by the Maestro, it's a happy journey for them both. Unfortunately, all the horses have tails so it's "No Sale" but tomorrow's another day and they settle down for the evening — Noddy in his car and Mr. Monkey in a small tent which he quickly assembles. In case Noddy gets nervous in the night, Mr. Monkey kindly offers to leave his tail sticking out of the tent flap so that if an owl hoots in a scary manner (one does) Noddy will feel comforted when he looks at the tail and knows that his friend is close by. Early next morning seven rocking-horses call because they need new tails. They lost them in the night so Noddy and Mr. Monkey are kept busy sorting out new ones and gluing them onto the various horses. Wasn't that a lucky break — just when they thought they'd need to move on without selling anything?
Another Noddy song brings the happy duo to Clockwork Clown Village and one of them is even more elated when he learns that Mr. Monkey feels like paying him double — half for the work he's doing and half for the wonderful songs! That's certainly O.K. by Noddy. It's shiny new keys this time — Mr. Monkey puts up a sign in the market place and extols the virtues of having a spare in case the original is lost but a clown tells him they never lose their keys — he's had his for fifteen years. So, once again it looks bleak for the salesman and his helper but still they can spend the day at the market and enjoy themselves. They do and Noddy spends lots of money buying gifts for his friends and then they bunk down again for the night. Things happen much as before — the tail sticking out of the tent to keep Noddy company and also the visit next morning by concerned citizens. A host of clowns have come to buy new keys because theirs were stolen last night and if this was a Find-Outer book it might be called "The Mystery of the Missing Property." Mr. Monkey has plenty of keys for sale at 2/- each. That's a lot to pay but what can one do when one needs a key to get around? Mr. Monkey makes plenty of money from his transactions and then it's on to Toy-Dog Town where you can buy enormous ice-creams (that piece of information is thrown in because it was mentioned in the last book). All the toy dogs sport fine whiskers so they aren't interested in buying those that Mr. Monkey has in stock. There seems to be an emerging pattern here and the next thing that happens is a discovery by little Noddy when he looks into Mr. Monkey's bag to find some whiskers for a distraught puppy who lost his in a scuffle. Noddy then makes some intelligent deductions which cause him to fall out with his friend and co-worker. He also shows great strength of spirit and demonstrates that he's able to "get rough" if he has to.
The tale comes to an end with Noddy and Mr. Monkey returning to Toy-Village and calling on Mr. Plod. Big-Ears also happens to be at the police station and they hear of Noddy's accusations which result in a certain person ending up being detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure. As usual there's a positive conclusion for Noddy because he comes into some money and manages to persuade Big-Ears, at last, to go on holiday with him. There's the usual song of course and the picture shows a bucket and spade in the back of the car so they must be off to the seaside again.
Big-Ears' brother is referred to once again in this book and his name is Little-Ears.
"Find-Outer" is mentioned. A "Find-Outer" is a person who helps to solves mysteries and Enid Blyton wrote several books about Find-Outers.
The story contains very bright and Noddyish pictures and, no wonder, because they are by Robert Lee whose drawings, I think, are among the nicest — but this time there's a co-illustrator (Robert Tyndall) so I don't really know who did what. Hard to pick the best but the picture with Noddy and Mr. Marvel Monkey arriving at Big Ears' house is good — the artist pays attention to detail and the ladybirds add a welcome touch. In another illustration you'll see a puppy-dog with a big bow around its neck standing next to a ladybird with a walking stick. A ladybird with a walking stick is something you don't often see and there should be more of them!
As good as he is, I don't really think Noddy has quite reached the height of a Poet Laureate but he's on his way. He's certainly better than Brer Bull-Frog who tried to be creative but ended up using practically all the same words for a cryptic verse which commenced with: "Ingle-go-jang, my joy, my joy ..."