Noddy Goes to Sea
First edition: 1959
Publisher: Sampson Low
Illustrator: Peter Wienk
Publisher: Sampson Low
Illustrator: Peter Wienk
On This Page...
Cover from the 1st edition, illustrated by Peter Wienk
Frontis from the 1st edition, illustrated by Peter Wienk
Front and back flaps from the dustwrapper of the 1st edition
Title page from the 1st edition
Passages in the Blyton books describing vicious attacks on Toy Land at the hands of the black skinned, curly haired golliwogs were cut from the text. Big Ears, the cheery bumbling gnome was renamed "Whitebeard" to highlight one of his features that might cause him less offence and Tessie Bear was given a lesson in feminism. After too long being submissive to the every whim of Noddy and the other male characters, Tessie Bear's character was rewritten to stand up for herself and take credit for her good ideas.Noddy's been there before but only to the sea-side and observing him now in the first picture surrounded by little mermaids I think he's about to end up in some really exotic location.
It's Monday morning which, I think, is wash day if you're English and Noddy follows tradition by preparing the wash-tub and fetching his dirty laundry. I wonder what other clothes he wears because I don't think I've seen him in anything else except the all-too familiar blue shorts and red shirt but maybe, like Rupert Bear, his sartorial tastes are not all that exploratory. It's just the right day for washing because it's sunny with plenty of wind and the little fellow takes to his task very industriously. This was in about 1959 and I'm sure they had washing machines then but Noddy's old fashioned which may be refreshing for those who relish the comfortable and more predictable atmosphere of older times. Many of the Blyton settings embrace the more ancient periods which even stretch back to the medieval when you consider some of the characters who roam the streets in the short-story settings. So, Noddy's got the big tub and plenty of soap-suds and he even uses a washing board whilst singing as he rubs and scrubs because he loves making up little tunes (and he's very good at it). Then he rushes out to hang the clothes on the line and there's Mrs. Tubby Bear next door who's also pegging up her freshly washed linen. She loves hearing Noddy sing and the contented woman smiles at her happy neighbour as she finishes and goes indoors. Noddy thinks it's time for a cup of cocoa and then the ever-busy fellow decides he'd better clean his car seeing he's in the washing-mood. Mrs. Tubby Bear goes off to the shops and as Noddy works on his vehicle he hears a splashing sound in the next garden.
There are plenty of bad children in the Enid Blyton books and they're usually sprinkled through the shorter stories but her Landmark books contain a few that could be considered as potential candidates for future incarceration and you have only to look at the book entitled The Six Bad Boys to see a few examples. There's one represented in the "Noddy" series whose name is "Tubby Bear" (junior) — son of Mr. & Mrs. Tubby Bear. He showed his hand in the book — Noddy and Tessie Bear and he doesn't seem able to learn from his mistakes so it looks as if he's going from bad to worse. Right now he's got the hose out and he's spraying his mother's washing!
"Stop that at once!" yells Noddy to the naughty little bear but Tubby simply turns and starts watering Noddy's own washing — and then Noddy himself! Tubby thinks it's great fun but Noddy doesn't and he retaliates by turning his own hose on the little bear and, at that moment, then Mr. Plod the policeman arrives and sees what's happening. Mr. Plod seems to have his eye on Noddy because he's never very far away from wherever the little man might be. Does he follow him around?
"WHAT IS ALL THIS?" comes his stentorian voice.
Tubby immediately blames Noddy and says it was he who started the water-fight and then poor Noddy accidentally sprays the policeman and, realising that things are getting a little out of hand, he does what he often does in similar circumstances — he jumps into his car and speeds off. He didn't really need to because Miss Fluffy Cat has seen what happened as she passed by and she explains to Mr. Plod that it was young Tubby who started the incident. Maybe they need a juvenile detention centre in Toytown because it was only yesterday that the young bear rode his scooter into poor Miss Fluffy Cat! Tubby becomes agitated when the policeman says he'll complain to his father and he runs indoors wailing that he'll run away ... yes, he'll run away to sea.
When Noddy finishes his work of driving people around in his little taxi he goes home and learns the dreadful news from a sobbing Mrs. Tubby about how Mr. Plod had visited and how his complaint had resulted in Tubby being smacked hard. This has caused her little son to rebel to the extent that he refused to say he was sorry and he has even threatened to run away! Noddy tries to console Mrs. Tubby Bear by saying that her son wouldn't do anything so drastic but he's wrong because in the middle of the night a small figure creeps away with a bag and disappears into the night. Noddy is visited in the morning by the Tubby Bears who show him a note they found:
"Nobody loves me so I've run away to sea. TUBBY."
What a terrible thing to happen. Mrs. Tubby Bear is distraught and Mr. Tubby Bear tells Noddy that he thinks his son has gone down somewhere near the river where ships tie up before they sail away to the sea. Could Noddy possibly nip down there in his car and see if he can spot young Tubby? Well, you know Noddy — he's always ready to do a good turn for anyone so he dresses quickly and tears off, stopping only to fill his car up with petrol and pick up the Bumpy Dog. It's not what you think — the dog and his owner, Tessie Bear, happened to walk by and as Noddy sped away after a brief greeting to Tessie, the Bumpy Dog raced after him and jumped into the car because he loves Noddy so much. There's no time to worry about getting rid of him so Noddy continues on to the jetty by the river and after an enquiry he learns that a little bear was seen boarding a sailing ship that's just about to cast off. Noddy spots Tubby Bear on the deck looking a little lost and lonely so he calls out then dashes onto the boat as it moves away. It's bedlam now because the Bumpy Dog doesn't want to stay in the car by himself so he jumps into the water endeavouring to join Noddy and the car doesn't want to be left by itself either so it moves forward and falls of the jetty. Noddy shrieks and dances about on deck
"Stop the ship. Pick up my car. It will drown!"
Bumpy Dog climbs into the automobile which is parping loudly and goodness knows what would have happened if a couple of sailors hadn't taken stock of the situation and waded in to assist. They don't wade into the water of course because they're pretty capable fellows and after hauling up the Bumpy Dog by means of a rope and a piece of wood (the cover-picture shows how), they lasso the car and tow it behind the ship. Meanwhile the Captain has arrived to see what all the commotion is about and when a sailor-doll informs him that Noddy has joined up as a deck-hand (thus elevating Noddy's position somewhat from that of a stowaway) the Captain, who's a rather loud and dictatorial person, orders that he be employed as a cabin-boy which means he'll be cleaning the Captain's quarters and bringing meals and taking messages.
"STOP NODDING YOUR HEAD AT ME!"
The Captain doesn't quite understand the position regarding Noddy's idiosyncrasy — his head's on a spring so it's a little difficult for it NOT to nod. Poor little Noddy, things aren't going very well for him at present but at least he's got the Bumpy-Dog to keep him company. A cabin-boy's uniform which is basically a sailor-suit is issued to him and there's Noddy looking very smart in his new duds (he's allowed to keep his trade-mark hat on) and now he's ready to give his all because that's his way — he likes to do his best in any circumstance. Tubby drops by just long enough for Noddy to see that he's been given a sailor-suit as well and then the little bear is called away to scrub the deck.
The Captain is very pleased with Noddy's work — the cabin is kept spick and span and Noddy's quick at taking messages. He even sings a song for his boss which begins like this —
I'm off on a trip... and that night up on the deck Noddy chants his new song to the sailors and what a merry group they are. One has a concertina, another has a guitar and there's a sailor playing a mouth-organ. The Bumpy-Dog is with them of course because he's always where the action is. Bedtime arrives and the new recruits find that hammocks are rather awkward to sleep in let alone having a Bumpy Dog jumping in to join you — despite protestations. Young Tubby is homesick and he cries for his mother — Why had he run away? Why had he been so silly and unkind? Yes, he's learning what will hopefully be a valuable lesson.
In a big, big ship
Yo-ho for a life at sea ...
An overnight storm makes the ship roll and in the morning the waves are still high but brave little Noddy bursts forth in song as he watches his car which is skimming over the water behind the ship. The sailors join in singing lustily — all except Tubby. He's terribly seasick but there's work to be done and he has to stagger off to help with the sails. He becomes a little healthier after a few days and, like Noddy, he's working hard but what about Bumpy? How's he taking this sudden change of scene? Believe me — he's thriving even after falling overboard a couple of times.
One day Noddy is checking on his car and he sees something sitting in it! To him it looks like a fairy doll from the top of a Christmas tree but it's not. He doesn't know what a mermaid is so a nearby sailor informs him and Noddy decides to introduce himself. The Captain, who's quite a friendly guy underneath his gruffness, gives his blessing and Noddy dives in with a splash and swims to his car. The mermaid takes off naturally because mermaids are rather timid creatures but as Noddy is sitting in his car feeling pleased to be united once again with the apple of his eye, little heads appear and soon there are several mermaids and mermen bobbing around. They see that Noddy s an all right sort of fellow so they join him in the car and get to experience a little of what it's like to ride in one.
Now the wind's getting up and the ship begins to move faster so the Captain's orders blare out and Noddy has to rejoin the crew. As he makes his way back to the ship a grateful little mermaid hangs a lovely pearl necklace round his neck and Noddy immediately ear-marks it for someone whom we all know. Waving to the little merfolk, Noddy is taken away with billowing sails across the ocean wide and then, next morning, a familiar cry is heard —
They've reached Shell Island and what a relief it is to be able to drag Noddy's car ashore and let it dry in the hot sun before hitching it to the Bumpy-Dog who pulls it to the nearest gas station for a well-earned drink. There's a lot of shell-gathering and the repentant young Tubby Bear is collecting some to give to his mother so that she can make a nice border around her garden, and Noddy gathers some for Big-Ears and even a few for Mr. Plod the policeman. The car is cleaned up and a very proud Noddy takes the Captain for a ride around the island and on request he sings another of his excellent songs so it's a very happy time indeed and just look at that picture — Strictly Tropical. There are more shells to be gathered because the Captain knows where the finest ones are and the Bumpy-Dog, who is with them, stays and guards the car due to the fact that he's the kind of critter who's best endured in small doses with his habit of getting under peoples' feet and being so "bumpy." The Captain hears all about Noddy's friends and feels that he'd like to meet them — an idea which delights the little chap.
The cargo has been delivered and now the ship turns around and begins the voyage home on a calm sea with seagulls following and an interested monkey gazing after it from the shore. Eventually the trip ends and the ship docks once again at the little stone-jetty in Toyland where Noddy's car, which has been onboard for the return trip, is unloaded. Noddy can't wait to get back to his village and see everyone. The Captain pays him with a bag of money and Tubby-Bear's been paid too although not quite so much and that can be understood because Noddy is Noddy and Tubby is young Tubby. Noddy's back in his familiar clothes and with Tubby and Bumpy-Dog in his car they wave "Goodbye" to their sailor buddies and set off for home — how wonderful it is to be driving back to Toy-Village with their shells and their money and, of course, the beautiful pearl necklace. The excitement is mounting as they reach familiar territory which has been so distant for the last week or two and down the street they ride to meet a very surprised Mr. Plod who tells them that everyone has been sad and afraid that Noddy and Tubby-Bear had gone forever. Questions are answered and then Noddy drives home where a very relieved Mr. & Mrs. Tubby Bear greet them with hugs like ... well ... "bear-hugs." Noddy enters his little House-For-One and rejoices when his good friend Big-Ears arrives with Tessie Bear at the gate to the tune of Bumpy-Dog's welcoming barks. More hugs of course and Noddy's bell jingles loudly with all the excitement. Tessie Bear is almost crying with joy and Big-Ears claps Noddy on the back —
"What will you do next? Welcome home, Noddy."
Tessie slips her little paw into Noddy's hand and tells him that she has kept his house clean for him and now we know (if we hadn't already) where the pearl necklace is going. It goes —
"OH! A pearl necklace! Oh, Noddy, NODDY!"
What a charged moment. A surprised and very pleased Big-Ears gets his present of shells and then it's time to plan a party — a home-coming celebration worthy of such an occasion but now it's time to leave Noddy and his friends because it's the day of the party and we aren't really invited. Just a peep — that's all we're allowed. We can glimpse flags and balloons and a long table piled with food because it's a street party and everyone's listening to a special guest — yes, it's Noddy's former boss the ship's captain, who's able to attend because they're in port for a week. He's telling everyone what a fine cabin-boy Noddy was and this is followed by cheers for the three adventurers — Noddy, Tubby, and Bumpy-Dog.
What's this? Noddy has refused to make a speech! He's been called upon to make one ... Oh, I see —
"I can't make speeches, but I've just thought of a new song ... I'll sing it for you."
Of course. This is Noddy at his best and the curtain goes down with a picture of him which we will remember because he's standing on a chair and singing his heart out to all the villagers who have given him such a lovely welcome home.
Peter Wienk is the artist this time.
The picture of Noddy singing to the sailors reminded me of a scene up on the deck in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea where Ned Land (Kirk Douglas) sings to the crew of the naval ship during their search for a "sea-monster."
Toy Village and Toytown sometimes intermingle so whether the ship moored at Toytown or Toy-Village isn't of great import.
Let's hope that young Tubby Bear has altered his delinquent ways and now treads a straight and narrow path.
Noddy hasn't only followed Rupert's example of wearing the same clothes — he actually appeared in a "Rupert" magazine for a while. Apparently Rupert Weekly featured the Little Nodding Man in over twenty issues with stories that had already appeared in South Africa's TV Wonderland magazine. EB hadn't authored them however — they were just based on her characters and drawn by one — Doris White. (GHM #13)