A Book of Magic
First edition: 1950
Publisher: J. Coker
Cover Art: Mary Smith
Illustrator: J. Sharpe
Category: Coker Series
Type: Short Story Series Books
Publisher: J. Coker
Cover Art: Mary Smith
Illustrator: J. Sharpe
Category: Coker Series
Type: Short Story Series Books
On This Page...
- Pink Curtains for the Queen
Story: Teachers World No.1476 Sep 9, 1931
- The Ass, the Table and the Stick
Story: Teachers World No.1428 Oct 8, 1930
- Wizard Ho-Ho's Hen
Story: Teachers World No.1403 Apr 16, 1930
- The Story Without a Name
Story: Teachers World No.1447 Feb 18, 1931
- The Wicked Little Shepherds
Story: Teachers World No.1421 Aug 20, 1930
- The Paper Crown
Story: Teachers World No.1489 Dec 9, 1931
- The Boy Who Got His Sums Right
Story: Teachers World No.1454 Apr 8, 1931
- The Hoodle Bird
Story: Teachers World No.1471 Aug 5, 1931
- Twenty-Two Brownies
Story: Teachers World No.1450 Mar 11, 1931
Pink Curtains For The Queen
The Fairy Queen's curtains are faded so she decides to have them dyed pink but there's difficulty finding the exact shade required. When her Chamberlain suggests sending for the pixies who live outside she's happy to acquiesce because they possess a 'lovely pink paint' given to them by a fairy who once produced some fine sunset pictures. The Chamberlain's idea is an excellent one and all that week the pixies engage in dipping and dyeing the old curtains.
Unfortunately there's a downside.
After several days have passed, the mischievous pixies start dabbing paint on the Queen's pets ... in this case, some hens, the dog, and a pet canary. They also manage to catch the King's favourite white cat and give him a pink tail, pink paws and pink ears!
What a thing to do - in a palace of all places - and there just has to be a retribution of sorts. One can but use one's imagination as to what the King and the Queen and Enid Blyton have in store for the unfortunate pixies; however, as we are aware, there's often a little 'twist' factor introduced at the conclusion of stories.
The Ass, The Table, And The Stick
This story is described as an 'Old English Tale' and concerns a boy who sets out to seek his fortune. He ends up working for a carpenter and at the year's end his boss presents the lad with a table - but it's no ordinary one, and here's why:
If, "Be covered," is announced, the table will immediately be laden with a wonderful feast.
Such an object is definitely worth owning and when his employment terminates the youth takes himself off for other parts. One night he stops at an inn and the landlord asks if he'd like a meal ... but such an offer is superfluous of course because the lad immediately orders up a feast on his magic table. He then invites the innkeeper and his friends to sup with him and a hearty repast is enjoyed by one and all.
However, evil intent is in the offing.
That night the innkeeper creeps to where his guest is asleep and substitutes the magic table with an ordinary one so that when the boy resumes his travels and becomes peckish, not even a crumb of bread can be conjured up. Guessing he's been deceived the lad carries on and eventually finds work at a stable where for a year he works with horses. Upon concluding employment his master gifts him with a donkey.
Once again the presentation is no ordinary one because if the animal's ears are pulled, a pile of gold and silver will pour from its mouth.
The boy rides away in delight and as would happen, he takes accommodation at the same inn where he was earlier robbed. When cash is needed to pay for his food and bed, the lad nips out to where the donkey is housed and pulls its ears. Yes, it works, but he doesn't notice the roguish innkeeper spying on him through a crack in the door.
Once again a substitution is made and when the lad sets upon his way and is in need of money he's out of luck once again.
A third bout of employment is taken up ... this time cutting down trees for a woodsman, and at the end of a further year he's given yet another gift, which happens to come in useful.
Wizard Ho-Ho's Hen
Bobbo the pixie is fascinated when passing by Wizard Ho-ho's cottage one day he see's him stroking a chocolate-coloured hen and reciting a rhyme:
"Lay me an egg, my dear little hen,
An egg made of chocolate while I count ten."
When he finishes counting the hen lays an egg and yes, it's a chocolate one. The wizard then places the egg on a dish and says:
"My dear little egg, you're rather wee,
Please grow a bit larger while I count three."
Bobbo watches as the egg grows three times as big and when he runs off, his mind is full of what has just taken place. He wants to borrow the hen and perhaps no one could blame him because the advantages of possessing such a bird are immense.
... and then it happens. Unbelievably, he spots the hen wandering around all by itself.
In no time at all it's in Bobbo's kitchen being addressed by the delighted pixie. He recites the rhyme heard during his spying activity and sure enough a chocolate egg appears, this time with a blue ribbon round it. Bobbo carries on with the second part of Wizard Ho-Ho's incantation and the egg begins to grow ... and grow.
I think we know the rest.
The Story Without A Name
Could this be a first?
A tale entitled 'The Story Without A Name' ... has this ever happened in the history of authorship? Is Enid Blyton going where no man has gone before? I suppose being such a popular and innovative author she had to come up with something out of the ordinary every now and again, so here it is ... with a question in brackets below the title:
(Can you find one for it?)
This is now a challenge and many Blyton readers may have attempted to label this story which is all about Tick-Tock who lives next door to the King's palace. Princess Rosemary often plays around in the palace gardens and Tick-Tock would love to join her but his chances are not very high at all when personal status is considered.
One day the pixie sets out on a long journey that takes him to guess where?
He ends up in the land belonging to we humans, and because his arrival is at night, Tick-Tock curls up to sleep in a hollow tree. Whilst he slumbers, there's a snow fall and having never experienced this phenomenon before Tick-Tock is quite amazed when he peers out of the tree trunk next morning. He thinks the white stuff looks beautiful and he wants to take some home with him - but how? In the end he pulls out his packet of sandwiches, eats them, and then places a handful of snow into the wrapper, first adding a growing spell to help the white stuff stay alive (he thinks it's living).
On his return home Tick-Tock learns the sad news - Princess Rosemary is ill in bed. The pixie turns out his pockets looking for cash to buy her a toy but all he finds is the packet of snow. However it has changed because of the growing spell ... two tiny green leaves and a white snow-flower bud are found in the package. Tick-Tock is excited and his first thought is to plant this lovely new flower in a pot and take it to the Princess.
Aside from whatever happens after that, one now has to give the story a name and it looks like a clue might be placed somewhere in the ending:
"I'm sure you know the name of the little white flower and have you seen the white and brown paper it's wrapped in before it grows?"
I've drawn a blank.
The Wicked Little Shepherds
Wishing Hill is where the fairly folk kept their sheep long ago and their shepherds were little goblins who carried green purses shaped like hearts and tied to their belts. The goblins treasure these purses and want to fill them even more so one day, when they see the Prince of Cherry-Tree Land with his servants winding their way round the foot of the hill, they decide to rob him because he's sure to be carrying gold about his person.
They're successful with their evil plan and then run away to build themselves fine houses and wear fine clothes but unfortunately for them, the Prince has connections ... and in this case it's a King who has soldiers to call upon. The monarch of Fairyland sends out his men to track down the goblins who are finally located in a field. Before they're seized however there's just time for them to hide their stuffed purses.
Once again here is a Blyton inspired situation that describes an origin that neatly relates to the story.
The Paper Crown
Derek's on his way home from a great Christmas party. He received a trumpet and a book from off the tree and he found a yellow paper crown in one of the crackers he pulled so he's feeling pretty good. Walking home afterwards with the crown on his head he encounters a group of gnomes who're all talking at the tops of their voices. Derek's never seen fairy folk before so he stops and watches them. It seems the biggest gnome is a king and he's very angry because his crown has been sent to the cleaners.
"I must have my crown at the dance otherwise I won't look like a king. Go and fetch it," he commands, and when told this would not be possible he starts crying big tears. He suddenly spies Derek nearby wearing a crown.
"He's got my crown. Look at him!"
Derek feels quite nervous and he explains to the gnomes that he's wearing only a paper crown that came from a cracker. However, being a kind boy, he offers to lend it to the gnome who's delighted with such an offer. He squeezes Derek's hand and says he'll use a spell and make it into a real crown, and what would the boy like in return for his kindness? Derek unselfishly thinks of his sister who's due to have a party but the family can't afford to buy any crackers. Would the king gnome be able to oblige?
You bet he can and Derek's told they'll be on his doorstep in the morning.
With that, the gnome's make their departure and an excited little boy heads home. It's hardly likely that fairy folk with all their magic would let anyone down and sure enough, when Derek pokes his head out of the door next day, there on the step are the crackers. One box? No! Two or three boxes? No! There are in actuality ... six boxes of the most beautiful crackers Derek has ever seen.
The 'twist' at the end of this particular story has the potential to affect the boy and his family perhaps for the rest of their lives!
The Boy Who Got His Sums Right
Pip is the lad's name and he's pretty hopeless at sums so scoring ten out of ten in the arithmetic test is pie in the sky. That is until one day the Wise Woman drops a pencil when happens to be walking behind her on his way to school. Instead of picking the pencil up and returning it, he pockets the article instead and continues on his way.
In school he uses his newly acquired pencil and soon discovers something ... when he starts on a sum, the pencil automatically works on it and puts down the right answer! Pip's bucked about this, thinking how surprised his teacher will be ... and she is. Twenty three sums all correct! Teacher, who can hardly believe her eyes, gives him ten out of ten for his effort and then when it comes to the drawing lesson Pip's incredible pencil creates an excellent illustration of the subject - which is a broom.
It's story time next and the children have to sit with their hands under their desks and listen to the teacher. However, Pip's pencil wants to keep on being active so it jumps into the boy's hand and starts drawing brooms all over the desk. It simply won't stop even when the teacher comes over to scold Pip. No, this pencil has got the bug alright and then what happens is that it begins to draw a picture which causes Pip to suspect his original naughty act is about to be revealed.
The Hoodle Bird
We go from 'Pip' to 'Flip' in this story - the latter being a brownie who's not at all truthful and the folk of Tipup Village are worried about him. One day Flip does something that Enid Blyton has many times warned her readers against - he steals a rather exotic-looking egg from a nest jammed in the hedge.
Upon his return home the egg suddenly pops open as it's put on the mantelpiece and out steps a tiny bird that grows and grows until it's as big as Flip himself! Now the brownie happens to know that's it's a Hoodle Bird and just as he's wondering how to get rid of the creature, there's a knock on the door and Pitpat the gnome looks in to ask Flip if he might by any chance have borrowed his broom. The brownie tells him he hasn't.
Anyone who's reasonably versed in Blytonia will suspect as to what happens next.
Mother Waitabit calls in later asking Flip if he could spare a pat of butter, but she's told he doesn't have any at all. Suffice to say, Flip's kitchen ends up full of broken china, spilt milk, and cracked pictures as the brownie loses his temper and demonstrates a certain amount of violence towards the annoying Hoodle-Bird.
The uninitiated may wonder why.
This story begins with the time-honoured introduction to many hundreds of fairy tales and then informs us that of twenty-two lively brownies, eleven are boys and eleven are girls. Also, if they hadn't been dressed differently no one would be able to tell males from females. These youngsters are plain naughty due to the influence of several pixies and gnomes with whom they play and their mother, Dame Waitabit, is exasperated.
In fact, one day she's so cross that she gives them only a piece of bread each for tea rather than feeding them with more attractive sustenance, and it's then that Sparrow has an idea. 'Sparrow' is the name Enid Blyton had given to the biggest brownie and his suggestion is to visit Wizard Chuff's garden and purloin a few eggs from his henhouse. Sparrow knows where there's a hole in the garden wall and once some eggs are acquired, they can be boiled up and eaten with their bread.
Naughty? Yes, but the brownies don't care about that so off they go and when they reach the Wizard's garden, Sparrow creeps into the hen-house and extracts twenty-two new laid eggs which are handed out to the other waiting brownies. Then a saucepan is borrowed (we're not told from where) and they hard-boil the eggs over a bonfire to have with their bread.
This naughtiness is repeated next day, and the next but as could be expected, Wizard Chuff who's puzzled about the lack of eggs being produced, takes up a watching position. The unsuspecting ring-leader is nabbed of course and when he's dragged outside the wizard spots Sparrow's siblings waiting in anticipation for their free grub.
"Ho! So it's the naughty brownies is it not? Well, as you are so fond of eggs ... "
The result is yet another of the author's natural phenomenon elucidations that feature in many of her stories.
'Chamberlain' is defined as a person in charge of the sovereign's living quarters.
The 'twists' spoken of can touch on alternate explanations that emanate from natural phenomena occurring in many of Enid Blyton's stories. There are many examples in volumes such as 'Enid Blyton's Book of the Year' and the 'Pip' tales.
The boy (or youth) in this story is unnamed. Looks like he might be a gnome.
Presumably the table substituted by the innkeeper closely resembled the magic one.
In these simple tales one can more-or-less work out the endings.
The number of times Enid Blyton has used this plot are legendary. In 'Rubbalong Tales' a Goblin called Sniff endures a similarly framed situation - one that gets out of hand when someone's property is illicitly borrowed.
Enid Blyton used the word 'Ho' in many of her tales so it may have been a favourite.
"Mr. Goon was lying in wait for Fatty. He emerged from behind a tree as Fatty turned down the road to go to Larry's.
"Ho!" said Mr. Goon, his face purple. "Ho!" He seemed quite unable to say anything else for the moment.
"Ho to you," said Fatty politely. "Many Hoes!" (Strange Bundle)
The 'Ho-ho Wizard' featured in a Wishing Chair book.
Another Ho-Ho, the meanest gnome in Lemon Village, finds a silver penny in 'The Conjuring Wizard.'
There's a Ho-Ho in 'The Runaway Apples' (Mister Icy-Cold)
There are lots of 'Hoes' at the end of a Noddy story in 'EB Magazine Annual No. 2', which is not surprising because the actual title is 'Ho! Ho! Ho!'
'The Jolly Story Book' has some Ho-Ho Goblins. There are others as well, including an extra example in this very book.
Another familiar theme, more-or-less duplicated in 'A Nice New Purse' (Adventures of Pip).
Surely there are more exciting objects to draw in art class than a commonplace broom.
This tale is yet another that uses an old Blyton theme, and a good second example is 'The Enchanted Pencil' (Ninth Holiday Book).
The name 'Pip' has been used a few times such as in 'Adventures of Pip' although a more famous example would surely be contained in the 'Mystery' series of books.
The plot of this story resembles that of 'The Tell-Tale Bird' (A Book of Naughty Children).
Pitpat the gnome has a namesake - that of the village in 'Chinky Goes Adventuring' (Mister Icy-Cold).
The time-honoured introduction to many hundreds of fairy tales is of course, "Once Upon A Time."
Now, why did Enid Blyton feature two 'Waitabits' in the same book? There's a Dame and a Mother one after the other, although two different persons are indicated.
Anyone who does a disservice to a Wizard or Enchanter is usually the victim of retribution.
Enid Blyton Followers will have struck the 'black bibs' story theme before today.
This book's pictures aren't really of 'Soper' or 'Davie' quality, but the message is conveyed.