The Enid Blyton Society
What a Surprise (Little Book No. 15)
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Book Details...

First edition: 1954
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: Molly E. Brett
Category: Brockhampton Little Books
Genre: Mixed
Type: Short Story Series Books

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List of Contents
Review by Terry Gustafson

  1. What a Surprise!
    Story: Specially Written
  2. Funny-Face
    Story: Specially Written
  3. Who Was the Nibbler
    Story: Specially Written
Enid Blyton's favourite character seems to be a boy called Harry and in this booklet he owns a pedal car, which was quite a common plaything many years ago. It's bright red with yellow wheels and has two headlamps but there's a problem - the car has no hooter, and this immediately brings up a past Blyton tale dealing with the same kind of problem. A car needs a hooter does it not, otherwise how is one supposed to warn people when one's coming round a corner? One day Harry sets off for a ride and after entering a lane at the bottom of his garden he continues on to the nearby woods. Pedalling along the pathway he receives a surprise when a queer little man on a bicycle comes up from behind and passes his car, scraping it as he races by. Next moment Harry hears,

"Stop that thief!"

A figure with a brownie's long white beard and pointed cap suddenly appears on the pathway and asks Harry why he didn't intercept the fleeing figure because the man has stolen some sweets from his shop over in Foxglove Dell. Well, Harry couldn't be expected to know anything about that but he sympathizes with the fellow who says his name is Brownie Longbeard. That figures. The brownie then jumps into Harry's car (it's a two seater) and away they go in pursuit of the felon. Harry's driving skills aren't quite up to it however so the brownie takes over and literally burns rubber as they zoom along at an extremely frightening pace. As the car has no hooter the brownie almost runs over some rabbits who happen to be hopping along in front of them and Harry's sure the little man ran over a squirrel's tail. Becoming rather perturbed, he decides to exit and leave his new friend to get on with it so after dropping him off the brownie tears away again without even saying 'Goodbye.' Harry has a long trek back home to find only the cook present and as he's sure no one would believe his story he doesn't bother relating it, but this is not the tale's ending because a couple of surprises are in store for the lad.

Funny Face

The funny face in this story belongs to a commonplace balloon. The children have brought one back from a party and Jane decides to hang it from the overhead light fitting. The balloon's smiling features have been applied with whatever passed for a felt pen in those days and a few feathers stuck on top to act as hair. When the children have gone to bed, the first toy to confront this unusual visitor is the golliwog. He naturally asks the balloon for some kind of identification but there's no reply ... just that face grinning out at one and all. The bear joins the golliwog and a certain amount of annoyance arises when, despite their endeavours to start up a conversation, all they get back is the balloon's smiling countenance as it gently wafts about. They think the alien creature is laughing at them but before they can do anything about it, something happens; a breeze coming through the window loosens the balloon so that it drifts to the floor. The toys are a little scared to find this weird visitor standing so close to them and they run away but seeing it just sits there, the golliwog boldly approaches their unexpected guest once again.

He blurts out, "I smack people who don't answer me."

No answer.

The golly carries out his threat and then gets really mad when the balloon just bounces away. He hits it again and this time the balloon bounces further back knocking a toy soldier down as it does so. Of all toys existent, soldiers are definitely not the type to come up against, even by accident, because each of the infantrymen is armed with a sword.

After all, the balloon is just a balloon!

Who Was The Nibbler?

There it is online - a 'nibbler' is a cutting tool in which a rapidly reciprocating punch knocks out a line of overlapping small holes from a metal sheet, however I don't think that definition has anything at all to do with toys, even though a 'nibbler' is manifest in the nursery environment.

During the children's party one afternoon someone accidentally knocks two sugar biscuits onto the floor. They probably ended up under the table and weren't seen but toys notice things like that and sure enough that night when the kids are in bed, Rosebud the golden haired doll slips out of her cot and picks the biscuits up. The golliwog suggests she divide them amongst the toys but Rosebud says she'll put the biscuits on a chair so the children will see them in the morning. The toys go back to their cupboard and Rosebud, presumably, gets back into her cot.

Later in the night the teddy-bear wakes up with a rabid desire for a nibble and one can't blame him I suppose because sugar-biscuits can be quite mouth-watering. Whiskers, the little mouse who lives in a hole behind the wall emerges to watch the bear nibbling away, and like the doll, he thinks Teddy shouldn't touch the biscuits seeing they belong to the children. The bear ignores him. Morning arrives and the toys are angry when they see nibbles round the outside of a biscuit (that's seems to be all it took to fill the bear). To avoid retribution Teddy blames it on Whiskers and the toys immediately go to the mouse's hole and call down all kinds of horrible names
Whiskers is very upset but there's little he can do. The following night Teddy sneaks out once again for a nibble and Whiskers scampers out of his hole to see the bear having a go at the second biscuit. He threatens to tell the toys but Teddy has the answer - he places a box of bricks in front of the mouse's hole so that he can't get out and in the morning tells the toys what he's done. The toys congratulate the bear because the biscuits are looking a little worse for the wear by now and it certainly wouldn't be desirable for any more nibbling to take place.

The teddy-bear looks as if he's on to a good thing here BUT the scales of justice must be balanced.
This is 'Little Book#15.'

Once again Molly Brett has produced a good selection of pictures and it's hard to choose which is the best of the bunch - it would have to be a colour one of course. Pages #21 or #29 for a start, or perhaps the cover picture.

#1: Harry's number plate, just in case you spot his automobile, is OU 12. His car is very similar to Noddy's vehicle except that it's red all over with yellow wheels. The original Noddy car owned at one stage by Enid Blyton was numbered: NOD 513. Her personal car plate read something like: PXI 565.

The cook in Harry's household is Mrs. Kelly.

'Harry's Toy Motor Car' featured in the 'Blue Story Book' and now I'm wondering if that particular tale is about another Harry because I doubt the boy in 'What a Surprise' would've had two hooter-less cars in his childhood.

#2: There are a couple of other children besides Jane in this story.

#3: Biscuits must be kept in an airtight container or they'll go soft within half an hour of being out on a plate; however toys and animals probably wouldn't give a second's thought to that little rule.

It's traditional for nursery toys to come alive and play around at night but in this story they were sleeping in the toy cupboard. One of Enid Blyton's plays entitled The Magic Apple contains a pleasant song that begins - Wake up, wake up, for the night is here we've time for a play till day draws near, we've time for a play ... for the grown-ups sleep and the world is still and the nursery toys are safe until, the break of day.