You're a Good Friend, Noddy!
First edition: 1958
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
The odd little boy with a body like a toy and the neck that works likeThe postman is rather depressed because no one ever invites him to parties. He delivers plenty of invitations though and one comes Noddy's way this morning — Big-Ears is giving a party. Noddy enquires as to whether Tessie Bear has received an invite. She has, and there have also been deliveries to the Tubby Bears next door, and Miss Fluffy Cat and the Wobbly Man and, according to the postman, Big-Ears has ordered an enormous cake. Noddy chats with him and thinks it would be nice to do what he does because he learns so much about everyone but Noddy himself is envied by the postman because he gets around in his little taxi and doesn't get sore feet from having to walk all the time. The gloomy mailman moves on to the next house leaving Noddy a little sorry for him and feeling that he must invite him to his very next party (he's a kind soul). When he ventures outside, Mrs. Tubby Bear next door offers to wash his clothes for him and also tells him that he will need to brush his shoes before he goes to the party. Feeling very grateful to her, Noddy sets off to work in a happy mood and makes up a little song all about what he will eat at the get-together — if he has any choice in the matter.
a spring seemed forever in a jam; But at London's Stoll Theater last week
Noddy had plenty of friends. All he had to do when in trouble was to peer over
the footlights and cry: "You'll help me, won't you children?"
— and hundreds of squeaky voices would answer:
"Of course we will Noddy. Of course!" (Time Jan, 1955)
That night he hands his dirty clothes over the fence to Mrs. Tubby — he's in his pyjamas and dressing gown and she thinks he looks a dear little fellow. Next day he takes possession of his lovely clean gear, dons it, and then goes out in his taxi to seek some fares. A soldier wearing a bearskin hat hails him and gets into the car together with a gun that is a bit long and awkward to cart about and Noddy pushes it away because it's sticking into his shoes — BANG! He accidentally hits the trigger and the soldier almost falls out. Noddy's hat flies off into the road and has to be retrieved from the mud — then the Law approaches because you mustn't let off guns willy-nilly must you? Noddy shoots off at high speed and this time the soldier's hat falls off so things aren't going too well. Mr. Plod, the policeman, will probably pick up the missing head-gear and retain it much to the soldier's annoyance so he refuses to pay Noddy for the ride. Noddy accepts that with a philosophical air and moves off to take the clockwork clown to the station — and in line with his policy to supply additional services, he gives the clown a good winding-up which earns him in total — 6d. for the fare and 1d. for the winding. At 3pm he drives home to prepare for the big event. Little Tubby Bear next door is crying because he's not going to the party and his mother reckons that he probably wasn't invited because last time he went to Big-Ears' place he pulled the cat's whereupon the poor creature rushed out and didn't come back all night! That's no way to behave so young Tubby will be left to his own devices whilst his ma and pa wine and dine and there's a picture on Page #21 that illustrates it all. Noddy drives Mr. & Mrs. Tubby Bear to Big-Ears' toadstool house then goes back to fetch Tessie who's wearing a very attractive party frock. What's that barking noise coming from her house? Oh yes... it's the Bumpy Dog whom we met in the last book. He can't come of course because he might chase Big-Ears' cat around the place and that wouldn't be very nice. She and Noddy arrive and the little man gallantly helps her down from the car — I think he really likes Tessie Bear.
It's difficult to guess what the party's in aid of but after Big-Ears welcomes them they see that his cat, Whiskers, is wearing a big red ribbon round his neck so he's obviously a Birthday Boy. I don't think anyone's brought him a present but that doesn't really matter because the party will make up for that. This, of course, calls for a Birthday Song and guess who supplies it? Well, we all know, because Noddy is quite an expert when it comes to creating songs and poetical pieces —
"Oh, Birthday Cat,Everyone gathers round the laden table and they help themselves to the goodies. Whiskers is sitting in pride of place but he's not about to eat any of the food because he'll have his treat later which will consist of sardines with cream poured over them and I'll bet he can't wait. Well, he'll have to because there's an unexpected intrusion which gives him such a scare that he jumps right out of the window — and he's lucky that it's open. Something has jumped up onto the table and sent everything flying because that "Something" wants Whiskers! The Bumpy Dog has arrived. Obviously Tessie hadn't shut him up properly and, being a very friendly creature, Bumpy Dog must have felt that if he went along he'd be welcomed and, seeing the cat has disappeared, he jumps down from the table and runs around licking everyone. Big-Ears is nothing short of furious to see his cat's party spoilt and he hits the dog hard with his stick. In shock it rushes out of the house then comes back and looks mournfully through the window. Tessie, his mistress, begins to cry when Big-Ears starts telling her off and accusing her of being careless. Although Noddy is very close to Big-Ears his sympathies at that moment lie with Tessie Bear so he berates his friend and leaves with Tessie in tow. The other guests feel they should depart as well so, all-in-all, it's a terrible end to Whiskers' party.
I'll sing you a song
Your eyes are green, and your tail is long ..."
... and it ends —
"Oh Birthday Cat
This song's for you
So PLEASE be happy all day through!"
In the heat of the moment Noddy had vowed never to visit Big-Ears again but after a couple of days he begins wondering if Whiskers has returned home and thinks he'll nip around and see. He does so and finds the house empty with a notice on the door that states —
"Gone away to look for my poor old cat"
A nearby bunny-rabbit informs Noddy that Big-Ears was crying as he rode his bicycle away to search for Whiskers early that morning and that news is greeted with a degree of sadness. Noddy sets off to track his friend down and enquires of a golden-haired doll who tells him that a brownie in a red hat had asked her the way to Toy-Cat Town. Driving on a little further Noddy receives a surprise — ahead of him is Big-Ears sitting by the side of the road with his bike. Noddy asks him what happened and the brownie tells him that he fell off and damaged his bike when he rode over a big stone in the road. Noddy immediately stows the bike on the back of his car and then offers Big-Ears a ride to Toy-Cat Town which he gladly accepts —
"Noddy, you are very, very nice to me."
There are smiles all round and their differences are now history. Big-Ears tells Noddy he's sorry he spoke to Tessie Bear the way he did and Noddy advises him to give her a hug and a kiss next time he sees her then away they go at top speed with Big-Ears' bicycle jiggling around at the back. Their Mission: To track down Whiskers the Cat.
When they arrive at Toy-Cat Town Noddy tells Big-Ears that it shouldn't be hard to find Whiskers because all the cats here are dressed up but his pet is just wearing a red ribbon so they ask a very grand pussy-cat in check trousers, a green coat and a top-hat if he has seen an ordinary cat anywhere. Well, this posh dude doesn't know any "ordinary" cats but it turns out that he did see a common-looking black cat running around on four paws yesterday — "Four paws! Fancy that! He didn't even know how to walk properly!" Big-Ears is ready to explode when he hears this but Noddy doesn't want a fight to erupt so he drives away very smartly. A Kitten-Cat dressed in a bonnet and frock tells them that she saw a black cat on its way to Wizard Town. Oh, No! A Wizard means "magic" and we all know what kind of animal is used in conjunction with the Black Arts? Soon they arrive at Wizard Town which is a place where there are many tall-towered buildings some of which rise as high as the clouds and, although Noddy doesn't feel all that safe, Big-Ears assures him that he's not worried and can always get the better of any wizard. A shop window full of black cats attracts their attention and Big-Ears jumps out of the car so quickly that he knocks over a starry-cloaked wizard. The stranger is angry and raises his wand to retaliate but Big-Ears snatches it away and breaks it in half! Cor! What a thing to do to a wizard! Now I don't know whether he's bluffing or not but Big-Ears confidently shouts that he can teach the wizard more spells than he ever knew and Whoooosh — the wizard disappears in a puff of smoke!
They enter the shop but there's no Whiskers there ... well, there are whiskers but not Whiskers however the cat-vendor who's a small goblin tells them that he had a cat wearing a red bow in the shop yesterday and he sold it to the Wily Wizard for sixpence.
"Sixpence? He's worth a fortune!" shouts his angry owner, "I've never heard of such a thing."
Now it seems that Whiskers may be in danger because he's the nineteenth cat the wizard has bought. Life as a wizard's spell-helper is fraught with uncertainty because spells can go wrong. One cat turned into a mouse and disappeared down a mouse-hole and another shot off to the moon. You may not believe such a thing could happen but it's true because the goblin actually saw the cat flying through the air — whizzz!
A towered house on a nearby hill is their next port of call because this is where the Wily Wizard lives and when they arrive Noddy parps his horn a few times. Out runs a small and bent wizard who, upon seeing the car, falls madly in love with it. He wants to drive it and parp the horn and he's hoping they've come to sell the vehicle to him because he must have it. He pushes Noddy out then gets into the driver's seat and tells the frustrated Big-Ears to carry on talking whilst he examines everything. How can Big-Ears ask about Whiskers when the wizard is rabbiting on and on and tooting the horn?
"I'll buy it. I'll buy it this very minute. How much do you want for it?"
"I'll put a spell on you and turn you into a gramophone," shouts poor Big-Ears, "I WANT TO KNOW WHERE MY CAT IS!"
The wizard's too busy to worry about that so Big-Ears climbs the steps and enters the batty fellow's house to see if he can find his precious pet. He steps into one enormous room where he sees five black cats which are padding their way around some blue flames. They aren't dressed up as the other cats in the town seem to be but, although they're similar to Whiskers in looks, none of them is wearing a ribbon. All kinds of strange things are happening to the fire and the cats' eyes shine like small green lamps as they tend to the spell ... and "spell" it must be in an environment such as this. There's a steep, curving flight of stairs over yonder which leads to the tower and Big-Ears tears up them with one intent — to be reunited with his pet. He spots a door, opens it, and sees a fire with purple flames. Sitting beside it is an animal who has been his constant companion for years — yes, it's none other than Whiskers himself! What a reunion. The cat springs up onto Big-Ears' shoulder and purrs and rubs his head against the brownie who sheds tears of joy and happiness but now it's time to get back to Noddy who's still with that horrible wizard. Down the stairs they go past the five cats who are still working at the spell — stars are jumping out of the fire now and one cat is catching them in a small box. Very strange and very clever but Big-Ears wants none of that for his own cat — Whiskers is coming home with him, but what about the Wily Wizard? Well, he's still in Noddy's car and talking away nineteen to the dozen and enquiring about how much petrol it uses and commenting that it won't need much cleaning and that he can easily whip up a spell to create a garage for it and ... and ...
"Get out! I want to take my cat home"
That's Big-Ears being authoritative but the Wily Wizard counteracts —
"That's my cat — I bought him for sixpence. Put him down or I'll turn him into an elephant and then you can try carrying him home! Ha, Ha!"
This sounds like trouble but Big-Ears calls the wizard's bluff who, in turn, begins to look very impressive in the picture with arms outstretched and a gleam in his eye as he begins incanting a spell which initiates the process of elephant-turning-into.
"No, no! Stop!" That's Big-Ears again. "Here's sixpence. That's what you paid for him!" It turns out however that the sixpence is superfluous because it's the car the wizard wants in exchange for Whiskers and nothing else!
What's to be done? There's only one thing that seems possible: — Generous little Noddy. Kind, Unselfish little Noddy offers his precious automobile to the wizard in exchange for his friend's cat and what a sad moment that is. The deal is made and Big-Ears also hands the wizard sixpence and I wonder why he did that. The bike is hauled down from the back of the car and with Big-Ears pedalling and Noddy behind carrying Whiskers they ride away from the castle of the Wily Wizard. This seems a terrible outcome but at least Big-Ears and Whiskers are together again. Noddy is very upset about the loss of his car but what a wonderful sacrifice he has made for his pal.
No Noddy book, as far as I can remember, has ended on a sad note. It can be misery right up to the last one or two pages and then a reversal of fortune can take place. Without giving every single thing away, it can be said that Big-Ears knows a little magic himself and he demonstrates his talent. What now remains is for the brownie to befriend, once again, those with whom he was a little brusque! A new dress for Tessie sounds an excellent idea and a big bone for the other hard-done-by recipient of Big-Ears' displeasure should round things off nicely.
The final song takes up almost the entire last page so it can be seen that Noddy's still in fine form.
Robert Lee and Robert Tyndall are down as the artists and just as Carl Barks was considered by thousands of children to be the Good Artist where Disney comics were concerned, I like to think of both, or one, or the other of these Noddy artists as the Good Artist(s) of the Noddy world. It's not easy to choose the best illustrations but the one of Noddy helping Tessie down from his car can be noted — Big-Ears' toadstool house always makes a good backdrop. There's also a nice picture of Noddy handing his laundry to Mrs. Tubby Bear at dusk with a crescent moon and great big flowers near the hedge.
Hear Ye ... Hear Ye — 6d. & 1d. are units of British currency that existed in those ancient times of 1958. 1d. is one penny and 6d. is six pennies or sixpence. Noddy generally charges 6d. per ride in his taxi.
Big-Ears shows a fairly aggressive side of his character in this tale — he's usually so calm and dignified.
The bike must have cured itself from the damage it received, or else there wasn't much wrong with it, because Big-Ears and Noddy managed to ride away on it near the story's end.
The would-be poets are varied in the Enid Blyton books. Even that interfering character Mr. Meddle, has made an attempt but it's a pretty poor one when placed against Noddy's collection. Here's Meddle's pathetic rhyme:
The wind was soft and warmThat last line reflected his surprise because he actually saw one bounding along the field-path!
The sky was very blue
The birds were singing sweet
IS THAT A KANGAROO?"