Noddy and the Tootles
First edition: 1962
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, signed by Robert Tyndall
TUT, TUT! There's trouble in Toyland. Noddy's been a naughty boy. The little fellow has been letting down children who follow his adventures in a comic called Noddy and his Friends. He promised readers that if they collected a set of tokens from the 6p colour weekly they would get a super, exciting Noddy storybook. Four-year-old Tracey of Westdown Gardens in Cheltenham sent the tokens off but received nothing.
(Sunday People — Oct 6th,1974)
As usual, Noddy opens up his garage to get the car out at the beginning of a lovely, sunny day. A quick polish with a duster and —
" ... out they both went into the sunshine. How nice and warm it was. Noddy bounced up and down in the driving seat and began to sing."
Noddy almost always starts the day with a song and he's so intent on declaring to the world the fun of being out in the sun that he doesn't hear someone shouting. It's Mr. Plod yelling at him because he's going too fast (according to Mr. Plod). Whilst having a few words with the policeman a caravan pulled by a horse and driven by a cheeky-looking man, rumbles down the street. It comes to a halt and a crowd of small, raggedy children emerge and surround Noddy's car. The man introduces himself as Mr. Tootle and says that the children are his little "Toots!" When Mr. Plod enquires as to his occupation the man pulls out a tootle which looks like a bulbous flute and begins playing it. The whistling noise is so merry and cheeky and loud that it causes everyone to feel like dancing and that's how the man makes his money so maybe he's a kind of busker. Everyone's twirling around now — Noddy and the children and the Wobbly-Man who's nearby, Miss Fluffy-Cat, and even Noddy's car is jigging about to the mesmerizing sound so Mr. Plod tells everyone to move on. It appears that Mr. Tootle is going to stay in Toy-Village for a while and when he sees Noddy's car he expresses interest and tells him he wouldn't mind having one to haul his caravan around instead of the horse. He then says that he needs a nice field to camp in so Noddy tells him there's one at the bottom of his garden but Mr. Plod says that caravans are forbidden in the village and he looks quite fierce when Mr. Tootle starts to argue about it. Finally the children are marched back into the caravan and it moves away.
Noddy's not too happy with Mr. Plod's attitude but he's told by the policeman that people like the Tootles are up to all kinds of tricks and if Mr. Tootle isn't a rogue he'll eat his helmet. He cuts short Noddy's interest in helmet-eating and the Little Nodding Man drives off thinking pleasant thoughts of tootling merry songs to make people dance and having children laughing and playing together. He starts feeling a little lonely but cheers up when he thinks how lucky he is to have Tessie Bear for a friend. He picks up Mrs. Tubby Bear and takes her home then has a surprise — the Tootles' caravan is parked in the field by his house. Young Bruiny Bear from next door joins him and is clearly excited at having the gay little caravan nearby and lots of children to play with but Noddy thinks they should wait and see what happens because if Mr. Plod hears about the Tootles being there he might come visiting.
He goes in to have his dinner and is joined by that rascally canine — the Bumpy-Dog. Bumpy loves Noddy and Noddy who is a very kind-hearted soul can't bear the thought of the dog having to sit outside whilst dinner is on, so he invites Bumpy in to share his meal. Then they hear the Tootle music playing and they just have to get up and dance. I don't think the picture likens them to Fred and Ginger because the Foxtrot and the Samba are strictly out. Chico and Roberta maybe? Well, their ages are closer but Noddy's surely over ten and that's no Lambada they're performing. I think we could settle for "Noddy and Bumpy-Dog performing the Swing-Jive" albeit rather crudely but then Noddy's talent is more in the poetry and song arena. He's doing his best though because Noddy always does his best at everything.
Mr. Tootle's music is certainly of the Come-Hither type and in the afternoon, together with Bruiny Bear from next door and Bumpy-Dog, Noddy visits the field where the Tootles' caravan is parked with Mr. Tootle tootling his flute nearby. Mrs. Tootle gives them a chocolate biscuit each and all the little Toots come up and ask for a ride in Noddy's car. They're rather insistent so Noddy fetches it and drives around to the field-gate, bumping over the clumps of grass as he goes. It's rather a bad move because the Toots clamber all over the car, hoot the horn and end up tumbling Noddy out and driving all round the field. They end up in a ditch and there it is — stuck deep in the mud with Bumpy-Dog barking and scattering the little Toots. Mr. Tootle comes up and waves away the problem — he'll get the garage man to tow it out and in the meantime Noddy, Bruiny and Bumpy can have tea in the caravan. Dear me, what a feast there is. The picture could make you hungry because there are delicious looking cup-cakes and what looks like marshmallow shortcake and also some biscuits. They tuck in and the Bumpy-Dog eats so much he can hardly squeeze out of the door. Mr. Tootle tells them —
"Er ... the garage man will be round first thing tomorrow morning."
That "Er" is a suspicious one. Now it's dancing time in the field to the toots of the flute. Noddy, Bruiny, Bumpy and the children cavort until their feet won't take any more and then the sleepy visitors make for their homes but Noddy's little car can't go with them — it's left all alone in the ditch for the night.
One of the author's Horrid Shocks is waiting for Noddy in the morning because when he climbs the wall into the field there's nothing there save the old horse that pulled the Tootles' caravan. It was to be expected. Car and caravan have definitely disappeared and a policeman needs to be consulted — namely Mr. Plod who had warned Noddy about the Tootles. He adopts an "I told you so!" and a "Let this be a lesson to you!" attitude and is not inclined to pursue the case because he doesn't know where the Tootles could be and he's certainly not going to gallivant all over the country in an endeavour to find the culprits. Mr. Plod can be very hard-hearted at times. Noddy leaves and goes to find his other great friend, the wise old brownie Big-Ears. Big-Ears' advice is to wait and hope the car will escape from the Tootles and return to Noddy under its own steam (it could do that). Meanwhile, Noddy will have to use the Tootles' horse to deliver things for the villagers so that he can earn enough to keep himself going. Big-Ears always seems to have an answer to any problem and Noddy cheers up enough to create a little song as he sets off for home.
As is usually the case, the villagers are very sorry for poor Noddy, and the Bumpy-Dog even trots all the way from Tessie-Bear's house to deliver a big bone to him. Noddy doesn't want a bone though and Bumpy has to take it away but I'm sure he'll know what to do with it. Noddy fetches the horse but it's rather a troublesome animal as it keeps stopping to nibble leaves on the trees and it sneezes so hard it knocks Mr. Plod's helmet off when passing by. Then it runs into Big-Ears who's riding along on his bike — CRASH! The brownie shakes his fist furiously at the horse who thinks he's playing a game so it runs and knocks him down once more. Then it becomes frightened and gallops away when Big-Ears yells to Mr. Plod,
"He's dangerous! Put him in prison!"
The bicycle has minor damage so, with Noddy sitting on the back, Big-Ears rides away after the runaway horse and demonstrates that he too can make up little songs. Better put it in so that a judgment can be made as to whether his skill rivals Noddy's —
Has anyone seen a galloping horse,Not bad, but as far as I can see it's the only one he ever sang so it must have exhausted his repertoire. Enquiring of people along the way helps them to follow the horse's trail quite easily up and down dale and eventually they become very lucky because sitting on a hillside they spot the Tootles' caravan. They approach and when they get up near to it the Tootle children swarm around them. Mrs. Tootle beams at the visitors and says that her husband has gone shopping in the car and she hopes that Noddy didn't mind them borrowing it. The Tootles' ethics are a bit puzzling. When Noddy informs her that Mr. Plod will be notified, she tells him and Big-Ears that it was a fair exchange — after all Noddy said that they could have his car if he got the horse in return! Noddy's quite shocked and I'm sure that anyone in their right mind would understand why. Mr. Tootle arrives with all his shopping and he drives the laden car into the field. Noddy runs over to it delightedly and yells out a welcome which the car answers by parping loudly while Mr. Tootle smiles blandly and tells Noddy how nice it was of him to exchange his car for the horse.
A horse with a terrible sneeze,
And four strong legs and a tail, of course,
Has anyone seen him PLEASE!"
"How's the horse?" he asks.
It's not hard to visualise Noddy's rage and, backed up by Big-Ears, he expresses himself amply regarding his ownership of the car so Mr. Tootle has to acquiesce. He'll need his horse back though, won't he, because he has to have something to pull his caravan.
A Horse! My Kingdom for a Horse!
The horse has run away.
No horse — No car!
Mr. Tootle picks up his flute and starts tootling which means that everyone has to click their heels and dance and indeed they do with Mrs. Tootle standing there laughing (I wonder why she isn't affected by the hypnotic tunes). Someone else hears the music from afar and gallops up the hill, pushes through the gate, and races across the field to nuzzle everyone. Who is it — as if we didn't know? Much to Mr. Tootle's dismay the horse has returned, and then it gives a Mam'zelle sneeze —
No, Mr. Tootle is not too happy that it's back in the fold because now he will be car-less. He's not all that worried when retribution in the form of Mr. Plod is threatened because by the time Noddy and Big-Ears have reported on his current whereabouts he and his family will be miles away so, undaunted, the quirky little character starts unloading the car. He offers Noddy a sugar bun and the little fellow helps him with his task while Big-Ears stands there frowning and suggesting that Mr. Tootle should have paid for the use of the vehicle.
"You're a rogue, Mr. Tootle, and I don't like you."
"Well, I don't like you very much either," returns Mr. Tootle.
Noddy runs to hug the old horse one last time because he never forgets a friend and always believes in expressing gratitude even if the recipient hasn't performed all that much in the scheme of things. With Big-Ears' bicycle on the back the two visitors get into the car and make off with a parting song from Noddy who sings out a tune that contains a message to the Tootles — a plea that implores them to look after the old horse and "don't work him too hard."
Big-Ears is still grumpy at the Tootles for not recompensing Noddy but as the car trundles along the road they hear a rattling noise in the back.
What could it be? What do they see?
The story ends very happily.
As usual the book is full of bright pictures and they are drawn by Robert Tyndall.
Surprisingly, Bruiny Bear is not a darned nuisance when he accompanies Noddy in this book although there has been trouble at home — he'd put glue into his father's slippers. He meant well but it wasn't seen in that light.
In a way I suppose the Tootles could be classed as gypsies.
A "Mam'zelle sneeze" would be familiar to members of the Enid Blyton Society and other Fans who are avid readers of the books. Mam'zelle is a French mistress in a series about a girls' college (St. Clare's) and she has the most enormous sneezes which are depicted similarly to that of the Tootles' horse.
On Page #28 there's a bird with wings like two small pancakes and on Page #47 there's another one with a beak similarly drawn — maybe it's a duck. Creatures like these add character to the books but, unfortunately, there haven't been any more ladybirds with walking sticks.
The Saucepan Man of the "Faraway Tree" books by Enid Blyton is another character who makes up little verses to while away the hours when he's on the road but almost all of his sentences begin with the word "Two!" and they often don't make much sense. Example:
"Two books for a bookworm,I can't see him ousting Noddy as the most talented creator of little rhymes that are sprinkled through many of the Blyton books.
Two butts for a goat.
To winks for a winkle
Who can't sing a note!"
Four-year-old Tracey eventually received her "super, exciting Noddy storybook" and so did everyone else. Hudvale Ltd had simply run out of them because they had received so many requests.