Noddy and the Bunkey
First edition: 1959
Publisher: Sampson Low
Illustrator: Robert Tyndall
Publisher: Sampson Low
Illustrator: Robert Tyndall
On This Page...
Cover from the 1st edition, illustrated by Robert Tyndall
Frontis from the 1st edition, illustrated by Robert Tyndall
Front and back flaps from the dustwrapper of the 1st edition
Title page from the 1st edition
to feel the most threatened by her works. Her books are very easy to attack.
Their innocence of tone leads them straight into the delighted satire of critics.
(New Society — 1979)
"It's raining, it's raining,Now that should convince the people who look upon Noddy with a slight aloofness that we have here a poet of High Status — and those who have never read a Noddy book (there's rumour that one or two people haven't) can now discover the Little Nodding Man and learn that he is indeed worthy of a place on the nursery bookshelf!
I see all the raindrops
All down my window,
It's raining, it's raining
But what does it matter?"
It's usually a bright sunny day when Noddy books commence but this time it's bucketing down, however read the last line of his poem again — it's so much to Noddy's credit that he can adapt to any circumstance with a positive attitude. After a quick breakfast of eggs (or egg) he gets his car out and here we can see what an inconvenience it must be to own a vehicle that has no roof — it would be like having a bath when driving through a shower as heavy as this one. He's got a mackintosh on though, so that probably helps a bit and there's Mr. Plod the policeman with his coat on — directing the sparse traffic which includes a duck with her ducklings that are as Happy-as-Larry with the weather. Mr. Plod informs Noddy that a circus is passing through soon so he'd better watch out for it because it'll probably take up most of the road.
Noddy sets off to Big-Ears house. Big-Ears the brownie is his best friend and he lives close to where the circus will pass through Toadstool Wood so Noddy keeps an eye out and on the way he does indeed meet up with it. He watches the vans and cages trundle by and as the last one appears the door opens and a creature tumbles out and lands in a large puddle. It sits there howling, so Noddy jumps out of his car and approaches the curious-looking animal who states that he goes by the name — Bunkey! Well ... now Noddy's seen everything. What an extraordinary creature — basically a monkey with bunny ears! It appears that the Bunkey hates the circus because they ill-treat him so little Noddy offers to take him to Big-Ears' place and the Bunkey, who has a hurt leg, is happy to take up the offer. He limps to Noddy's car and away they go.
They arrive at Big-Ears' toadstool house and the brownie is astonished — he's never seen a Bunkey, and Whiskers the cat hasn't either so he disappears out of the door with a "YOWL!" That's the effect a Bunkey apparently has on some of the uninitiated. Buns and cocoa would be welcome right now and Big-Ears supplies them for his guests who enjoy their repast immensely and then Noddy asks his brownie friend if he could put the Bunkey up for a day or two until his leg repairs. Big-Ears can't of course because Whiskers wouldn't be comfortable at all with a creature like that around the place. This seems a familiar reaction to the Bunkey who gets up and says he'll leave despite having no where to sleep — no home ... no nothing ... Woe Is Me, and all that! Noddy won't let this happen and he runs out after him into the pouring rain and offers accommodation at his House-For-One — a proposition which the Bunkey is delighted to accept so they get into the car and of they go. The Bunkey is very grateful and he hugs and thanks his benefactor as they purr their way through the woods back to Toyland Village where Mr. Plod the policeman, upon sighting them, shouts at Noddy and tells him to slow down. He then eyes the strange Bunkey and stares after them as they move off —
"Well I never! Now where did little Noddy get hold of him?"
The Bunkey seems dazzled by Noddy's kindness. He's shown round the House-For-One and thinks his host is so LUCKY having a home and a car of his own but he tells Noddy that he deserves to be lucky because he's the nicest little fellow he's ever met — the nicest and the kindest and the cleverest too. The Bunkey's fiercely protective of his new friend and he thinks that the policeman shouldn't have shouted at him and offers to go and chase the man if he yells again at his friend but Noddy doesn't think Mr. Plod's all that bad really. He gets Bunkey to take his wet things off and he lends him a dressing gown whilst his clothes are drying — then, in the cosy little room with steam rising from the clothes which are set in front of the fire, the Bunkey tells him tales of circus life and times — so interesting that Noddy feels he could listen to them all day but at last it's time for him to think about bathing the Bunkey's hurt leg and offering him his very own bed to sleep in. What a friendly little chap Noddy is but the Bunkey won't hear of it and says he'll sleep in a chair Thank You Very Much.
"I've never met anyone so kind. When my leg's better I'll clean your house from top to bottom and cook your dinner and wash and polish your car. I'll weed your garden ..."
Noddy is surprised and tells him he needn't do all that but next day the Bunkey's leg seems almost better so he's able to begin as Noddy's personal slave. He starts with the car and shines it to such a sparkling state that it looks as if it was new. Tessie Bear is quite dazzled when she drops by and sees it. Noddy introduces her to the Bunkey who immediately loses his heart to her —
"You're one of Noddy's friends so if there's anything you want, just tell me, and I'll try to do it for you."
"There isn't really anything" indicates Tessie with a laugh although she says she wouldn't mind a lamp-post outside her Uncle's house because he's always bumping into the tree by the gate. Noddy drives off with her in his car and they talk about the Bunkey with Noddy, of course, making up a little song about the strange visitor. When he's finishes his work and arrives home at the end of the morning the house is clean, the garden weeded, dinner is ready, and his new friend is waiting to tell him once again how kind he is. Noddy wants to give him some money seeing he's earned quite a bit from his taxi-service that morning but Bunkey won't hear of it although he wouldn't mind a few driving lessons in Noddy's little car. Certainly! The Bunkey is given a little instruction and he learns very fast indeed in fact he would very much like to have a little drive by himself. No... that's not possible because Mr. Plod might see him explains Noddy but his permission is asked for a ride at night when no one's around. Noddy agrees but warns Bunkey to be careful — so later on in the evening the Bunkey takes Noddy's car for a half-hour ride all by himself then returns and settles happily into an armchair for the night.
The next morning an angry Mr. Plod knocks on the door and enquires of Noddy as to whether he knows anything about four missing lamp-posts. A car was heard outside where two of them were taken but Noddy assures the policeman that it was nothing to do with him and tells him to go away. The Bunkey's not too happy with Noddy being interrogated either. He stands up looking very fierce and is ready for a war of words but they're interrupted with the arrival of Tessie Bear who reports that four lamp-posts have appeared outside her uncle's house.
I think such an announcement would cause the reader to begin connecting dots.
Mr. Plod makes off for Tessie's uncle's place to enquire about this extraordinary occurrence and the Bunkey, in the meanwhile, expresses his outrage. How DARE that policeman be so cross with Noddy? Why shouldn't Tessie Bear have lamps to light her garden — and then he runs out to clean Noddy's car when he receives enquiring looks. Noddy and Tessie join the dots as well and come up with a pretty plausible picture — then Mr. Tubby Bear from next door looks over the garden wall and expresses interest in the odd-looking newcomer. The Bunkey is introduced and once again he shouts his praise of Noddy to the skies. A dog suddenly appears — it's none other than that lively, bouncy, mischievous little Bumpy-Dog and he flings himself on Noddy — knocking him down of course. The Bunkey surprises them all by throwing a clod of earth at the animal because his friend, Noddy, must be protected at all times but, unfortunately, this causes a bout of aggression between Bunkey and Bumpy at the expense of Noddy's hollyhocks and poppies. Bumpy-Dog is finally caught and given a slap. The garden is ruined, and the Bunkey is reprimanded as well which peeves him —
"Why didn't that big fat friend of yours over the wall call him off?
Well, Mr. Tubby Bear did try but he's one of those people of whom dogs take no notice. He expresses his sadness about that because he's fond of the animals and would like them to follow him around as Bumpy-Dog does with Noddy. The goings-on cause Tessie Bear to burst into tears and they rush to console her. Bunkey's in tears too but he can only defend himself by stating that he acted as he did because Noddy's his friend.
"I'll make it up ... don't think badly of me ... I'm really sorry."
Three things happen — Mr. Tubby Bear disappears indoors, Noddy goes off in his car to earn some ready cash seeing he needs more flowers and a garden-seat as well because Bumpy-Dog and Bunkey broke the old one when they were scuffling about. The third thing is that Bunkey wants to make up for his riotous behaviour by replacing everything that's been damaged and he does so. That sounds pretty simplistic but then the Bunkey is a simple kind of guy. He solves problems in any way he can ... and immediately! He rushes out of the gate and returns with that which is needed — namely tall hollyhocks, rose-bushes, poppy plants and goodness knows what. Then he's away again, returning with a garden seat. He's not quite content with that however so he rushes off again and comes back with a second seat. Now, isn't that good of him? What about Mr. Tubby-Bear? How could his life be brightened up? Over the wall he goes and into the garden shed where he spies a pair of rather dirty boots
"I'll clean those for him!"
He takes them back to Noddy's house and he's as good as his word, but that's not enough. He remembers Mr. Tubby telling them he'd like dogs to be attracted to him and to follow him around. O.K. The Bunkey will arrange that with another short-cut solution so he nips over and hunts in Noddy's larder for what he wants. There it is — a bowl of gravy. Good! He daubs some of the mixture onto the boots and then polishes both to a fine sheen and returns them to Mr. Tubby's shed. What a great morning's work. When Mr. Tubby-Bear goes into his shed to fetch his boots, the Bunkey yells out —
"Hey, Mr. Tubby — I cleaned your boots for you."
The grateful bear dons them and comes over to the wall to thank him then looks with surprise at Noddy's instant-garden and the two wooden seats. "Where did all that come from?" he wonders, then he sets off to visit the shops.
He experiences a very peculiar morning. A friend of the Bumpy-Dog happens by and, running to the surprised Mr. Tubby-Bear, it proceeds to fuss about him and even lick his boots. Two more dogs arrive and the same thing happens, then more ... they crowd around the poor bear causing him to fall over. He manages to get up and race away from the fawning creatures but they chase after him — there's a picture of it all happening. You can see someone who looks like Miss Fluffy-Cat, a gollywog on the corner, and a rabbit by the bay-window of a shop all watching the strange scene which has also been joined by the Bumpy-Dog. Goodness, there are at least nine dogs, with Bumpy up front of course, all racing after Mr. Tubby Bear who appears frightened out of his wits. Mr. Plod, who's standing in the street and pondering over disappearing lamp-posts, park benches and missing flowers is knocked over by the pack of animals and he's very angry —
"Go away! Take your horde of dogs with you AT ONCE! You're holding up the traffic."
What a hullabaloo! There's Mr. Tubby Bear trying to climb a lamp-post to get away from the hounds, and a bare-headed Mr. Plod on the ground (the Bumpy-Dog has pounced on his helmet and run away with it). This policeman is not the "Clear-Orf" type — his favourite action is to threaten "arrest" and he does so to poor Mr. Tubby — then into the melee rides Noddy with Tessie Bear. Noddy decides, very wisely, not to stop when he hears Mr. Plod roaring so loudly — he revs up his car and Clears Orf back home.
Noddy's astonished when he sees his lovely new garden but Tessie catches on at once as to where all the new flowers and seats came from and then they hear a noise and find the Bunkey chopping up Noddy's old broken seat for firewood. It now looks as if it's End-Of-Tether time regarding the incorrigible Bunkey and explanations are demanded. The local park has been plundered, Mr. Tubby Bear has been seriously inconvenienced, and here's the Bumpy-Dog arriving with Mr. Plod's helmet in his mouth. What has to be done, has to be done because Noddy's now quite angry with Bunkey. He stuffs him into the car and together with Tessie they speed off to the police station — passing Mr. Tubby Bear on the way who's still halfway up the lamp-post. On arrival the Bunkey leaps out with the policeman's headgear and disappears, which is annoying to say the least. Noddy and Tessie go inside and confront an uptight Mr. Plod who's looking for an old helmet to wear when suddenly the Bunkey joins them again and it's then that the policeman solves a mystery of which no one had an inkling. That has to wait however because there's more trouble — the fire in the grate is belching smoke and filling the room. It's now billowing out into the street but luckily a fire-engine arrives and water is gushed all over the place. Everyone's drenched and then Mr. Plod's missing helmet is found in a place which explains, considerably, the cause of the present mayhem. A fireman sorts it all out then Noddy and Tessie start cleaning up the room with cloths and a mop but there's still more bad news because now the Bunkey's made off in Noddy's car. The outlook is very depressing.
Tessie puts her arm around Noddy and they walk sadly back to the little House-For-One where they have a sudden surprise — Noddy's beloved car is back in the garage with a note on it, and the Bunkey's nowhere around. He's "borrowed" some clothes from Noddy and the Tubby-Bears' clothes-lines and has written that he'll send them back some day, so I guess he means well.
"I'm sorry you think I'm bad, I really did try to please everyone. Your loving Bunkey."
They have to have a bit of a giggle about the impulsive character and then it's time for a cosy tea together. Noddy's humming a tune ... yes ... yes, I believe there's a new one coming up and we've been a little short of them in this story because so much has happened. What a nice picture to end with ... Noddy and Tessie Bear preparing their tea with Noddy carrying what looks like one of those old party treats called blancmange which I always used to pronounce as "Blance Mange." There's a china teapot which is essential for a good cup of tea and a cake with a cherry on top —
Gravy-boots and lamp-posts.There's more but we don't want to give too much away, Goodbye Noddy and Tessie and don't worry about Bunkey. He'll find another circus and be happy and he'll never forget you little Noddy, never!
Fire engines and smoke,
A helmet on a chimney,
What a crazy joke!
Robert Tyndall's pictures grace the pages.
The Bunkey's principal faults were that he took things in an exceedingly literal sense and was remarkably over eager to please everyone. For instance when Noddy was berating him over his raid on the park facilities he (Noddy) mentioned in passing — "I suppose if I longed to see the fire-engine rushing down the road specially for me you'd be silly enough to get it somehow!" — and that was enough for the Bunkey to make arrangements.
Big-Ears has weathered well over his hundred or so years of existence and that longevity is fair-dinkum because it's mentioned in the book. As this is written Noddy is 59 which fits quite nicely because the Little Nodding Man is so like a child. The anomaly that raises its head doesn't really need to be dwelt upon.
The Bunkey had, of course, followed Mr. Twiddle's technique of endearing oneself to an animal — or animals. Mr. Twiddle is an Enid Blyton character who impressed his wife when he made friends with her cat in the twinkling of an eye by rubbing stale fish onto his shoes. Mrs. Twiddle became quite jealous when the cat ignored her and preferred to follow Twiddle around the house.
In the previous book of the series, Noddy went to sea and came back — which is a fairly straightforward adventure but this tale has a slight twist in it so — not quite everything is explained although it isn't too hard to puzzle things out, in fact there's a clue in one of the poems. A plot that's not fully explained may add a slight edge to the search for a copy and in Noddy's case I don't think it would need a very protracted hunt.
When Mr. Plod complained that the traffic was being held up I tried to recall if there are any other vehicles in Toytown apart from the red and yellow car belonging to Noddy, and also the one that he bumped into which featured in "Be Brave Little Noddy" — and, of course, there's Big-Ears'bicycle which he rides from his home in the outer woods. A quick glance revealed that others do exist but not many, so Mr. Plod's traffic duties would be minimal.
A very friendly and helpful person can sometimes be "suspect" in the Enid Blyton stories. In the "Wishing Chair" collection of tales an extremely polite and friendly goblin is encountered and although the children are a little taken aback by his manner they accept his hospitality but he turns out to be a very nasty person a little later on. The Bunkey was also over friendly and helpful to the extent that I began wondering about him. In the end, although his behaviour was pretty radical, he could probably be judged on the basis that his heart was in the right place. Or was it?
Stealing four lamp-posts and transplanting them outside Tessie Bear's house could seem to be quite a task but, in Toyland, I'm sure the posts would be similar to any toy houses, fences, barns and furniture — all very portable and easy to install with no worries about digging holes for wiring and connections.
Pure Trivia: In the daily paper's "Five-Minute Quiz" a few days ago there was a question:
Q: Which children's writer created the fantasy land known as Toytown?
A: Enid Blyton!
(Tony adds: If I had been asked this question, I would have said S.G. Hulme Beaman, who wrote about Larry the Lamb and Toytown. Further Trivia here as I was discussing this with Robert Tyndall today, as he also illustrated Larry the Lamb as well as Noddy!)
That was a surprise because I thought that someone would have invented the word "Toytown" much earlier seeing that millions of children's tales have been related and printed throughout the ages. "Toytown" leads fairly naturally to the Noddy books because the Little Nodding Man lives in Toyland but it's Toy Village" rather than "Toytown where he lives (in this book we even have "Toyland Village"). A bit of a hunt brought forth "Toy-Town" with a hyphen and finally "Toytown." Considering something such as a hyphen makes it even more trivial but I was interested. If you look up the list on this very complete Enid Blyton site you'll see there's a Birn Bros. book entitled Toytown Tales with a story inside it by EB but she's hardly likely to have invented the book title. Then there's "All the way to Toy-town" (with a hyphen) which is a story in Eight O'clock Tales where Roger is privileged to visit Toy-Town in his pedal-car. Twenty-Minute Tales has "Toy-Town Adventures" in which Alison and Morris visit Toy-Town (once again with a hyphen). However, it's "Toytown" that we really want — seeing it's the answer to the quiz-question so does Enid Blyton's "Toytown" predate the Birn Bros one which came out in 1939? Well, yes — because there's an old S.S. tale called "Rain in Toytown" and that's dated 1936. However, I think the prize goes to a booklet called Fun in Toy-Town (reprinted by The Enid Blyton Society) which, admittedly, has the hyphenated version on the cover but inside it changes to "Toytown" so maybe Enid Blyton did invent the word because Fun in Toy-Town is dated — 1927. I wonder if there are any earlier examples.
Even more trivia (something that can be checked up on when time weighs heavily on one's hands): My copy of the book has on page #50, second to third line down:
"Tessie squashed ni too, and away they went (in Noddy's car).
(Tony adds: The first edition is printed correctly, as it has 'Tessie squashed in too,)
I often wonder how many EB books keep repeating a small mistake. Hundreds? Thousands? It must be quite a few because we all know about Mrs. Barnard who briefly replaced Mrs. Kirrin in Five get into a Fix!