First edition: 1948
Publisher: Shakespeare Head Press
Illustrator: Will Nickless
Category: Non-Series Books
Type: Short Story Series Books
Publisher: Shakespeare Head Press
Illustrator: Will Nickless
Category: Non-Series Books
Type: Short Story Series Books
On This Page...
- Mister Icy-Cold
Story: Sunny Stories No.52 Jan 7. 1938
- Chinky Goes Adventuring
Story: Sunny Stories No.47 Dec 3, 1937
- The Noah's Ark Lion
Story: Sunny Stories No.60 Mar 4, 1938
- The Funny Little Hedgehog
Story: Sunny Stories No.77 Jul 1, 1938
- The Little Green Imp
Story: Sunny Stories No.62 Mar 18, 1938
- Wisky, Wasky and Weedle
Story: Sunny Stories No.79 Jul 15, 1938
- The Runaway Apples
Story: Sunny Stories No.58 Feb 18, 1938
- The Magic Rubber
Story: Sunny Stories No.55 Jan 28, 1938
- Oh, Simple Simon!
Story: Sunny Stories for Little Folks No.248 Oct 1936
- The Tale of the Goldfish
Story: Sunny Stories for Little Folks No.214 May 1935
- Winkle Makes a Mistake
Story: Sunny Stories for Little Folks No.224 Oct 1935
- In the Middle of the Night
Story: Sunny Stories for Little Folks No.245 Sep 1936
- What a Surprise!
Story: Sunny Stories for Little Folks No.237 May 1936
- The Cow That Lost Her Moo
Story: Sunny Stories for Little Folks No.237 May 1936
- The Left-behind Cat
Story: Sunny Stories No.81 Jul 29, 1938
- Miss Mary Ann Mouse
Story: Sunny Stories No.66 Apr 15, 1938
Cover and Colour plates from the 1st edition illustrated by Will Nickless
Originally, the title "Mister Icy-Cold' brought up the image of a story featuring perhaps some villain who causes havoc. This was partly due to the rather esoteric cover illustration, however upon opening the book up we find it simply describes a snowman that was built one day by Mary and Alan and Eileen and John and Ian and another girl who often featured in the author's stories because of an assumed connection - 'Gillian.'
Alan tells the others that it will be the biggest snowman ever seen and the children take on their task with determination. At John's suggestion they even give him two 'feet' with shoes. Evening arrives and it's time to go inside for tea. Gillian, who has endowed the snowman with his name, invites the chap inside but Mother advises her against it because he'd probably melt after taking a drink of hot milk.
"When the moon rose up in the sky at bedtime they looked out of the window and saw Mister Icy-Cold standing out there in the garden."
Round the Witching Hour, a crowd of snow-elves fly down in a sleigh drawn by winter moths and that's where the cover picture comes in. The elves ask Mister Icy-Cold his name and he actually speaks so there must be a little magic in the air.
"I am Mister Icy-Cold, come and talk with me."
The elves do so and the snowman warms to the little creatures with their frosty dresses and snowy white wings who tell him they come from a land faraway to the north full of ice, frost, and snow. Mister Icy-Cold wants them to visit again and they do indeed - the following night, but in a very unhappy state of mind. The reason for this is that two pixies have chased them and broken the sleigh they use which means they can't fly back to their own country when the weather starts becoming warmer. The kind-hearted snowman is very sorry indeed to hear this and straightaway makes up his mind to confront the naughty pixies and tell them to repair the pixie's sleigh.
That's all very well but snowmen can't walk ... or can they? Yes! Remember, this one has 'feet.' Mister Icy-Cold demonstrates his perambulating abilities to the snow-elves' delight and now it's time for the show-down. His friends lead him out of the garden gate and through a field, dragging their broken sleigh behind them. Eventually they come across a little door set into the side of the nearby hill upon which Mister Icy-Cold knocks ... a little apprehensively.
Well, there's a confrontation, but this tale has a potentially sad ending because, as everyone knows, snow people eventually melt when the warmer weather beckons.
Chinky Goes Adventuring
In this tale, Chinky is a big strong brownie who lives in a fine cottage and his address is in Pitpat Village. He also has a kind of 'fan' in Dimity the gnome, who waits on him all day long.
Chinky holds some rather grand ideas about himself and he tells Dimity that if someone's house got on fire he'd be the first to brave any flames so that he could rescue the people in it, and if a horse happened to bolt he, Chinky, would be the first to bring it under control. This impresses Dimity, although when Chinky says he'd jump into the pond and rescue someone, he reminds his hero that he can't swim.
"Oh, that doesn't matter," Chinky replies. "I'd jump in all the same."
Well, it's no wonder small, meek Dimity is so admiring of his master despite a lack of any actual evidence. Pitpat Village is a quiet place with few emergencies; in fact it's so boring that Chinky tells Dimity to pack up their possessions because he wants to seek out some adventures. They depart the very next day, walking through the village and down various lanes until they reach the country where their first adventure materialises.
There's smoke rising from behind a shed which obviously requires instant action because fires are dangerous. Chinky orders Dimity to find a bucket and then he fills it from a stream and flings water all over the flames. One extremely irritated farmer then appears and threatens to assault Chinky for putting his bonfire out whereupon the brownie wastes no time at all heading for the hills, followed by a panting Dimity.
Chinky's not so wonderful it appears but adventure number two is in the offing and this arrives in the form of a 'forgotten' shopping basket full of purchases. Chinky imagines the sheer gratitude of the owner when he or she has their goods returned, so he picks the basket up and walks away with it.
"Stop thief! Stop thief!"
Yes, that's right. Chinky has been tumbled by a big fat brownie woman who'd just happened to step through the hedge in order to talk with Mrs. Flip. The two of them set off after Chinky and he develops quite a few bruises after the resulting encounter because one of the women has a rolling pin. Might he have learnt a lesson at this stage? Not so it appears because the brownie and gnome continue on until they strike what might be classed as 'pay-dirt.' Approaching a river, they see an extraordinary sight.
A magician in a boat with four pixie-like creatures. The man of magic stops rowing and then throws each pixie into the drink, which is so obviously a wrong just waiting to be righted that, without thinking, Chinky dives bravely into the water and tries to strike out towards the pixies.
'Flounder' is the name of the game because that word reflects Chink's swimming abilities, and when he yells out for help the pixies turn round and make their way over to grab him and drag the brownie towards the boat where he's pulled in by the angry enchanter. His pixies were simply having a race and now it's been spoilt ... so guess what?
Chinky is going to be retained as a servant.
A dismayed Dimity watches as his master is taken to the magician's house and thrown inside. He ponders ... dare he beard the Man of Magic in his den seeing it's unlikely he'd be able to find a policeman in this out-of-the-way place?
It really looks as if he has no other choice.
The Noah's Ark Lion
A 'Noah's Ark' is of course, a kind of boat that contains lots and lots of animals - theoretically a male and female of every species. Insects? Land-based molluscs and the like? Don't know about that, but Doreen has a lovely Noah's Ark and she plays with it every day. Mr. and Mrs. Noah (and their family) are in charge of course and Doreen likes to make them and all the animals walk into the ark two by two behind them.
The real action however takes place at night when Doreen is in her bed. Noah opens the ark door and lets all the animals out to play. What a mix of fun and laughter there is as the ducks, hens, giraffes, elephants and the rest all spill out to play various games whilst Noah, his wife, Shem, Ham and Japheth watch and laugh at their antics. Now, ever since he heard Doreen calling him 'King of Beasts,' the lion has cultivated a rather grand self-image and doesn't join in with the other animals because he considers himself above them in status. He even refuses to march into the ark with the other animals when Noah's calls them and this means the old man has to send one of his progeny to drag the lion in. This happens night after night so one can imagine the elderly man becoming rather cross.
What to do?
A decision is made. If the lion doesn't march into the ark with his fellow animals, Noah will lock up and leave him outside. Not believing such an action would be taken the lion curls up by the fire and refuses to heed any calls from Noah and his family. Meanwhile, the other animals are lined up in twos headed by the kangaroos, and followed by the bears and ducks and giraffes and, all by herself, the lioness! The lion still doesn't appear so with Mrs. Noah leading, the animals all troupe into the ark and settle down.
The lion is surprised but not worried. He watches as the golliwog and dolls and teddy-bear all make their way into the toy cupboard with the golliwog asking him if he'll be frightened staying out by himself all night. The lion turns up his nose at this comment - after all, isn't he the King of Beasts?
Now it's about time for him to be taken down a peg or two and so a mouse appears from its hole in the wall, runs to where the lion is sitting, and bumps into him knocking the animal over. This might sound strange but no doubt it marks the dividing life between toys and living animals. In the picture our lion looks as if he's made of fairly light wood.
The King of Beasts is apparently sitting on a crumb the mouse wants for himself - hence the altercation. The mouse asks the lion if he's good to eat and then dives for his tail causing him to race away but when he tries to enter the ark Noah yells out that the door is locked. The lion runs to another haven of safety but it's no good - he can't get into the toy cupboard either and the Golly tells him to get lost.
Suffice to say, the King of the Beasts meets up with some other terrifying creatures during his period away from the ark and one could imagine there might be a slight change in his attitude from here on.
The Funny Little Hedgehog
One morning Dick looks out of the window and spots something in the net that runs round their tennis court. At his mother's bidding he runs out to see what it is and discovers that a frightened hedgehog is caught in the folds so, being a kind individual, he carefully cuts the net from around the visitor. Dick is quite excited to have a pet dropped into his lap so to speak and not only does he name the visitor 'Spiky,' but he also fetches a saucer of bread and milk which the hedgehog makes short work of, after Dick moves away some distance.
The boy makes plans. He'll keep the hedgehog and teach it to come when called but, unfortunately, the creature just curls up tightly whenever it's approached. Not only that, but it also disappears somewhere although the bread and milk put out for the fellow each evening continues to be consumed.
However, we are privy to all that needs to be known. She mightn't let on to Dick, but Enid Blyton tells her reading public that the hedgehog actually disappears into his abode each day, which is a hole in the bank outside the family garden. It's a comfortable home that Spiky likes very much indeed. As for Dick ... well his mind switches to other things although he very kindly continues to put food out for the hedgehog each evening.
Then a terrible thing happens.
One night a burglar enters Dick's home and steals some of his mother's valuable rings! He manages to swipe only three because Dick's father hears him and shouts out before playing the hero by chasing and actually capturing the intruder. Now that's all to the good excepting for the fact that when the burglar is searched at the police station, no rings are found.
There just has to be an explanation for this because Daddy had caught the man, and three of Mummy's rings are definitely missing so in the absence of Enid Blyton's 'Trotteville Character,' how can the mystery be solved?
Furthermore ... how it relates to Spiky the hedgehog is anyone's guess.
The Little Green Imp
There are lots of imps in Enid Blyton's stable and this this particular example makes an appearance after Twinkle, kitchen-boy to the Prince of Ho-Ho, runs to his grandmother one day with a complaint. Mrs. Pudding the cook makes him get up at five o'clock in the morning and she works him until midnight. He asks the old lady if she could help him at all with the problem and Twinkle's grandma, who's half a witch, has an answer. She scatters green powder over some water, peels a potato into the mix and stirs it with a peacock's feather whilst muttering words so magic that Twinkle shivers in his boots.
An imp with a potato body and grinning face springs from the concoction whereupon granny seizes it and hands the little creature to her grandson. She instructs him to put it on a shelf when he returns to his place of work and wait to see what happens. Thanking her, Twinkle goes back to the palace kitchen and places his imp behind a saucepan just before Mrs. Pudding turns round and starts scolding him,
"What have you been so long for, you good-for-nothing boy?"
"Now, Cookie, you be good!"
This remark is heard from the shelf where Twinkle placed the imp. The bad tempered lady turns and, spotting the visitor, addresses him in a rage,
"And what are you doing in my kitchen, I'd like to know."
Well, what a to-do! The imp refuses to let the cook touch him but just raps out a tune on the saucepan and tells her what a naughty temper she has. The other servants stare in delight at this altercation. Mrs. Pudding rushes over to grab the intruder but he raps her fingers hard with a fork then pushes six saucepans on to the floor one after the other. The cook then brings a folded newspaper down on the shelf with force thinking she's finished the imp, but her attempt fails.
More pandemonium as the cranky old dame tries to catch her elusive quarry but he pours some milk over her head and then an expertly thrown egg makes contact and spills down the cook's neck. Everyone else in the kitchen is giggling helplessly at the spectacle and Mrs. pudding is furious.
"How dare you all stand there grinning? Get on with your work."
She orders them to catch the imp but no one is inclined to oblige (of course) and the imp starts playing up again with more bright and critical remarks directed at the enemy. The chase resumes with hilarity to be enjoyed by Twinkle and his fellow workers. Sausages and butter are hurled at the unfortunate Mrs. Pudding and it goes on all evening, reducing the lady to tears in the end.
After all this, one can only hope there's a change of sorts in the cook's attitude towards her staff.
Wisky, Wasky and Weedle
Three lazy rascals live in a cottage called 'Chimneys' and one day Wisky wants sausages for dinner but an examination of the communal purse reveals no money whatsoever so a conference is called for. Wisky says they'll have to get some work in order to gain funds and after a little thought, he comes up with an idea that involves the borrowing of Mr. Sooty's chimney-brushes and going to the next town where they'll become chimney sweeps - with a difference.
Here's the idea. Wisky will make an absolute mess of the carpets and that will be Wasky's cue to knock on the door and tell the house owner he's a cleaner. When Wasky finishes his cleaning and departs, he'll leave the taps running and then a handyman in the form of Weedle will turn up at the door to declare he's a plumber and can fix the problem.
This sounds a really good way of making a little fast cash so the three gnomes initiate their project and it's not long before they're armed with chimney brushes, dusters, cloths and tools. They set off for Fiddle-dee-dee and after looking round the town it doesn't take long to spot a chimney with dirty smoke puffing its way into the air, and so their plan is put into action. A little brownie woman answer's Wisky's knock and avails herself of his services.
Wisky isn't prepared for the preponderance of filth that greets him when a brush is pushed up the bedroom chimney. A sheer ton of soot falls down and saves Wisky the work of messing up the room. The soot not only covers the floor but also makes the gnome look like a golliwog. This is so unexpected that Wisky, becoming a little frightened, decides to pack up, ask for his money, and make off. The brownie woman hardly recognises him and when Wisky tells her who he is, she seizes the gnome, drops him into a tub of hot soapy water, and then pegs him out on her clothesline.
The other two gnomes begin suspecting that Wisky must have gone out the back door and skedaddled, so Wasky decides to play his part, by knocking on the door and offering to clean the place up. The woman is relieved because the chimney sweep has left an absolute mess. Wasky ascends to the bedroom and grins at the sooty surroundings confronting him but then he turns pale because he's not an experienced cleaner by any means. He makes an attempt however at sweeping up the soot but it just flies into the air making more mess than ever and after a bout of frantic activity the mounds of soot have extended to the bathroom as well. The only thing to do according to Wasky's assessment of things is to play his part in the plan and turn on all the taps which he does and then, after closing the bathroom door, he goes back downstairs only to be confronted with a shriek,
"What! Another golliwog to wash!"
Wasky is then pushed into the tub of soapy water and soon he's pegged out on the line next to Wisky! Meanwhile, Weedle has been waiting outside and when Wasky fails to appear, he knocks on the door because the brownie-woman is calling for help. She lets him in after he announces his credentials, namely that of a plumber, and he races upstairs with his bag of tools to turn off the flowing taps.
One can only take a guess at what happens next after all this folderol but for certain ... a lot of pain is going to be experienced.
The Runaway Apples
Chuckle and Ho-Ho have experienced an excellent harvest of apples this season and as they've got plenty stored up for themselves, the only sensible thing to do is - sell the excess. However, because it's been such a good apple season, everyone seem to have their required amount, except for Dame Cinders up on the hill. In a century that no doubt precedes the mail system we embrace, their method of contacting the old dame is by dog mail. They place a note in Trotter's mouth and off he goes with speed to return with another note stating that Dame Cinders would like to buy a large basketful of their fruit.
This would be all very well but unfortunately tempers start fraying. Chuckle doesn't want to help deliver the apples as he's got a lot of work to do but when Ho-Ho says he'll take all the money for the delivery, Chuckle rushes out to help with the task. Off they go up the hill where there's another argument - Ho-Ho decides that his partner's making him take most of the weight and to illustrate this he gives the basket of apples a jerk but Chuckle immediately jerks it back to show he's got a firm hold.
Plop, plop, plop, plop!
That's the sound of falling apples and there they are - rolling merrily down the hill, followed by the two gnomes or pixies or whatever they are. Collecting them up (without a word to each other) they haul the basket up once again to Dame Cinder's cottage but when she sees the bruised fruit, she turns up her nose and tells them to bring a better batch.
Chuckle and Ho-Ho have no alternative but to return home, pick more apples, and ascend once again to the heights of Dame Cinders' cottage, but there's more to come. Trotter scampers up after them and they quarrel as to whether he should stay or go back to the cottage. Ho-Ho orders him home but Chuckle says he can stay so an impasse exists. Ho-Ho throws an apple down the hill for Trotter to race after and then, hopefully, disappear but this makes Chuckle angry so he picks out an apple and chucks it at his friend. What follows is satisfactory in parts, but the ending is quite sad for Chuckle and Ho-Ho.
The Magic Rubber
Snooty the gnome finds a rubber lying on the woodland path so he picks it up and gets the shock of his life when he happens to rub the article against a birch tree. Something very magical happens ... the tree vanishes! Snooty is amazed, as one would expect him to be, so he tries out his newly discovered gizmo on a bush and a few toadstools making them vanish as well.
Snooty is delighted with his find. He can think of quite a few things he'd like to rub out of his life, so he dances home to make a few plans. He tries the rubber again by eliminating a nail that's sticking into his best pair of shoes and he also gets rid of the door leading into his kitchen because it's always banging.
He literally rubs it out.
Now things become a little more personal because, seeing Dame Topknot's cat Whiskers, outside in his garden Snooty decides to get rid of the animal seeing it has a habit of sitting in his flower-beds. Out he goes and in next to no time Whiskers has been rubbed out - meaning the cat simply doesn't appear to exist anymore. Yes, Snooty's rubber is definitely an asset because it also enables the gnome to rub a hole in the wall so that he can slip though and get a few pocketfuls of plums out of Dame Topknot's garden. Later he rubs out a dog that enters his property, and also some wasps which fly into his kitchen; in fact there seems no end to the benefits a magic rubber can bring. Snooty even rubs out a mess of dirty water that he accidentally spilt onto the floor.
As usually happens with EB characters, a comeuppance is due when silly acts are performed and in this case, Mister Biscuit calls into Snooty's home for payment of an outstanding bill. Snooty's not about to pay it and Mister Biscuit becomes so angry that he accidentally smashes Snooty's teapot, although he offers to pay for it once the account is settled.
Snooty orders him out and says,
"Take yourself off, and take that dreadful beard with you!"
What an insult! Not content with that, Snooty also rubs out the baker's hair causing Mister Biscuit to run off in horror. It now looks as if a real menace has appeared in the village and the inhabitants are alarmed. Action has to be taken and it looks as if the problem might be solvable because the rubber belongs to a person who is none other than ... the powerful Wizard Hurry-up!
Say no more!
Oh, Simple Simon
The friends of Simple Simon's mother must retain a degree of sympathy for the woman because hardly a day seems to pass without her son causing much exasperation and in this episode his mother simply asks him if he'd water the seedlings in their garden. Now, how could anything untoward spring from a request such as this?
Simon needs something with which to water the plants of course and as we don't know whether or not they have a watering can in the shed, perhaps it sounds reasonable for him to use the teapot. He fills it up and empties the water over some plants then comes back for a refill because the vessel doesn't hold all that much liquid. Five minutes or so has passed without any mess-ups, so it's about time something happened ... and it does. Simon breaks the teapot spout when he accidentally bangs it against a tap.
Now we know there's a watering can somewhere because his mother who's quite furious about her best teapot being broken, berates her son and tells him,
"In future - use the WATERING CAN!"
Nest day Simon's aunt calls in to see his mother but she's out. Auntie is hot so Simon very obligingly offers to get her some lemonade but he discovers there's none in the larder.
"I'll make some," the boy says to himself so he gathers up lemons and sugar then starts boiling the water. It's about here when a reader might start surmising as to what Simon will put the lemonade in and there's no doubt about it - Simon is a very simple lad.
What was it his mother had said? Feeling very clever, Simon finds the watering can, empties out a residue of soot-water residing at the bottom, and makes the lemonade up in it.
Now to be that stupid you'd really have to work at it.
His aunt thinks he must be growing the lemons but Simon eventually returns with his lemonade and proceeds to pour it into a glass for his aunt. One has to remember what's at the end of a watering can's spout. I think it's known as a 'rose,' which means the lemonade sprays all over his aunt's best dress. She cuffs him, and when Simon tries again to fill the glass with his lovely lemonade, it spills all over the table earning him another swipe.
Simon is berated by his aunt and told in no uncertain terms that next time he must use a "JUG, JUG, JUG!"
Carrying on in much the same way as usual, Simon's befuddled mind interprets various instructions in his unique way so that a couple of days later when his mother asks him to pick some plums, he ends up with a sore tummy and an early bed. When his father asks for help with cleaning out the dove cage, the lad once again blindly follows whatever last instruction was imparted and this particular episode ends up costing him a pet puppy, as well as earning him a very uncomfortable time after he completely destroys an umbrella.
In his mother's words: "What a potato-head!
The Tale Of The Goldfish
We now travel back thousands of years into an ancient Chinese period for this story. A merchant owns four large ponds, each containing different kinds of fish but the merchant dreams of owning one that's completely gold from head to tail. He tries to rear such a fish but with no success at all and then at about this time, 'evil days' begin descending. The merchant loses a great deal of money and ends up living in just a corner of his closed up house with no servants, and inevitably becoming old. He still feeds the fish however, and when his grandchildren visit he can wish for nothing better.
One night he's visited by a cloaked man on a horse who asks if he is by any chance the great merchant Wong-Fu. The inhabitant is indeed that man and the stranger is invited to break bread. Wong-Fu sees to the man's horse and then picks out a few dainties stored away to prepare a meal for the visitor whom he finds outside in the moonlight looking at his fish ponds.
"You are fond of fish, I see."
The merchant tells him he is and then reveals his dream of owning a fish made entirely of gold. They go inside for some supper and the stranger then tells Wong-Fu whom he actually is. The name is 'Sing Fu' and he's Wong Fu's old washerwoman's son (read it carefully). He tells Wong Fu that his mother put him in the service of Lai Tu, and when this famous magician passed on, he ended up inheriting the man's wealth and much of his learning. From this information the merchant deduces that Sing Fu must be an enchanter so he immediately gets up and bows down to the ground because he's always been in awe of such people. Sing Fu tells him not to worry about all that and when Wong Fu asks if his mother is still alive and well, he's told that this unexpected visit is at her actual request. Sing Fu reminds Wong Fu that he had employed his mother and when she had fallen ill and was unable to work for five weeks, how had she been treated?
Verbatim: "The merchant felt uncomfortable. Had he treated the old washerwoman kindly? He could not remember. It would be dreadful if she had sent her son to punish him for an unkindness done to her years ago."
Indeed it would and one now has to think Enid Blyton. How would she handle this one?
Winkle Makes A Mistake
Gnomes don't seem to be all that far up the ladder of respect in general, and Winkle is another that's slipped a few rungs because he's described as a mean and dishonest old gnome. For example, if he found a bad sixpence he'd pass it off as a good one to the shopkeeper and his house is full of stuff borrowed but never returned to the owners. Despite various comments about his bad behaviour from people who know him, Winkle's not worried. He owns a long stocking full of money and he has chicken every Saturday for dinner, plus warm clothes to wear in the winter.
I'm all right Jack!
One day he goes out on a spending spree and in each case he asks the shopkeepers to send all purchases to his home address. He takes just one parcel with him in the bus - his mended shoes. He sits next to a very grand looking gnome who takes no notice of him at all even though Winkle greets him. Reaching his stop, Winkle grabs hold of his parcel and sets off home where he takes a look at his mended shoes. What a surprise he receives. Inside the parcel is a pair of shoes all right but fit for a king to wear - made of excellent leather sewn with gold thread and sporting gold laces. The cobbler must have put the wrong shoes into his box and Winkle, being 'Winkle,' decides to keep the beautiful footwear for himself ... and why not? They're ten times better than his own shoes.
Winkle's assessment of the situation is not accurate. When he exited the bus he'd simply taking the wrong parcel; obviously the grand looking fellow sitting next to him must have had a package of his own. Furthermore, the fine shoes have actually been bought for His Majesty the King no less and when the grand gnome eventually arrives home and finds what has happened, he assumes the person sitting next to him must have taken his parcel and will no doubt return it. Faint hope there because Winkle's already put the king's shoes into his cupboard and is now waiting impatiently for a party so that he can wear them to impress everyone.
Now, when the grand gnome doesn't receive the shoes back he decides to post notices up everywhere explaining about the loss and telling the person who's mistakenly taken his parcel whereabouts to return it. Winkle eventually sees the notice but only reads the large words at the top:
"GOLD LACED SHOES."
He doesn't read down any further because if he does he'll know where to return them and Winkle wants to keep the shoes for himself. If he doesn't know what else the notice says, how could he possibly return the footwear? That's his logical approach to the problem but unfortunately, there are hard times ahead for Winkle and 'austerity' is also involved because the grand gnome, who's obviously connected to His Royal Personage, employs a special way of getting his property returned.
Yet another example of 'Blyton Balance' ensues.
In The Middle If The Night
There's a boy who turns up all over the place in Enid Blyton tales and his name is 'Harry.' Harry's led quite a chequered life and on this particular occasion he's off to stay with his Uncle Peter and Aunt Mary. Uncle's a lot of fun because he's a sportsman and has a whole cupboard-full of silver cups won in his heyday for sports proficiency and, according to Harry, it takes his Auntie two days to clean them all! One of his pals mentions that he should be careful a burglar doesn't come in and steal the silverware but Harry tells him it's locked up in a cupboard and his uncle also has a big dog.
One afternoon Harry goes for a walk with Auntie and Uncle and Sandy (that's the dog). The maid also just happens to be out visiting her mother so when someone comes along, opens the dining-room window, and climbs in there's no one to witness it. Unfortunately for Uncle Peter his tightly shut cupboard of prizes has a pane of glass in it, which the burglar neatly cuts out.
All the cups are stolen and the local policeman thinks there may have been two of them, but no one else seems to have noticed any untoward activity. The gardener and his young helper had been working outside all afternoon but hadn't seen anyone apparently so we have to wonder what the author's answer to all this might be. Sometimes she introduces a twist that may have been overlooked by her readers.
Uncle Peter mourns his missing trove and entertains the vision of his precious cups being melted down and never seen again. Harry does his bit and prowls around asking everyone he meets if they had seen anything, but no answers are forthcoming. It may be locking the door after the horse has bolted, but he begs his uncle to lock everything up well each night because now he's a little scared of losing his new aeroplane or perhaps his pocket knife might disappear. Uncle tells him not to worry because the house is very well secured.
An exciting experience for Harry follows and it all starts one night when he's woken by a dreadful wail that sounds like a baby crying in the dark. The lad acts very bravely for a young chap and a couple of weeks later there's a very exciting, and profitable time to be had by all.
What A Surprise
Barry's quite obsessed with birds. He puts water out for them and has even made a bird table upon which he places all kinds of goodies for his feathered friends. When the boy's birthday anniversary arrives, a couple of nesting boxes appear so perhaps Barry had requested them from his relations. The boxes contain slanting roofs that can be lifted up if one wants to peep inside and Barry decides to install one on the chestnut tree and the other in some ramblers. He hangs a few peanuts and a bit of suet (begged from the cook) beside each box just to add a bit of attraction and in about ten minutes time some birds have already found their potential homes. They think that Barry must be the nicest and kindest boy in the world.
Two sets of tits build nests inside the boxes using moss, hairs that have adhered to a post from where the horses in a nearby field have rubbed themselves, and more hairs from the dog next door. They also commandeer feathers for lining the nests and there's a rare squabble over these when they swoop down to steal some from the sparrows who also like using them. One day, when he knows the tits in one of his nesting boxes are away, Barry lifts up the lid to take a look and discovers it contains five little eggs. He runs to tell his mother and she advises him to lay off peeping at them for a while just in case the birds spot him and desert their nest.
A few days later there's an accident. One of the tits accidentally flies into a branch when the farmer fires his gun at some rabbits. The tit falls to the ground and is seen by a wandering weasel who scampers over to grab itself a feast only to be stymied when an elf appears and grabs the hurt bird. The weasel is mad with rage and threatens the elf who is now safe back in her home amongst the roots of the oak tree. In time the tit recovers and is very grateful.
"Let me know if you want help any time," he says to the elf, and then takes his leave
The tits are mad with delight when their eggs hatch into five little nestlings. The bundles of blue and yellow fluff are sung about in the gardens until everyone knows about them but now things become serious because the two birds learn their elf friend has experienced a recent misfortune which means she's had to vacate her house underneath the oak tree. Yes, it is of course the weasel who's still furious about his loss of a meal. What he's done is to send an army of ants into the elf's dwelling where they have eaten all her clothes and bitten her hard and now they've decided to build a nest there which means the elf is now homeless and living in a ditch. The conclusion to this story is not necessarily what a casual reader might think obvious. It's different and delightful.
As for Barry?
Well, he's in on the secret!
The Cow That Lost Her Moo
Enid Blyton has named this cow - 'Buttercup,' and why not? Lot's of Blyton cows have been christened thus and a very nice name it is for a bovine.
Buttercup is gentle, rather stupid, and she's the best looker in a field of twelve cows.
One day, she's develops a cold and loses her voice. This is no good at all because a cow has to have some way of expressing itself one would think, so when night falls and the Little Folk come running out, Buttercup asks Pinkity if he could get her another voice. It's no good at all sounding like dry leaves rustling together (that's the only noise she can produce).
Pinkity's a friendly chap but, possessing a mischievous frame of mind, he tells Buttercup that he couldn't get her another moo but might be able to summon up a 'quack!' When Buttercup nods her head to this suggestion, Pinkity runs off to where the ducks are (presumably he woke them up) and shortly returns with something wrapped in a dock leaf. Buttercup is instructed to swallow the package, which she does, and Hey-Presto the cow finds it can quack like a duck.
That's all very well but her friends gather round and say she's a little foolish because the farmer may put her with the ducks and expect her to lay eggs. Buttercup is alarmed and calls to Pinkity, telling him that she wants the quack taken away and another voice supplied. Pinkity obliges by approaching a mouse who also obliges, which eventually results in Buttercup lifting her head and squeaking.
This is one of those stories where an alleged cure is worse than the affliction because Buttercup is warned by the other cows that an owl may pounce on her or a weasel may nip at her thinking she's a rodent. Once again there's a change of voice and Pinkity's really enjoying himself by the time he approaches a sheep for the next stage in this whimsical game. When yet another animal obliges, an unmanageable situation develops with one creature suffering violence.
There can be either a sad ending or a happy one.
The Left-Behind Cat
Just as 'Buttercup' fits a cow, 'Tabby' is a reasonable name for Mr. & Mrs. Jones' cat. There're also Mollie and John in the family and they enjoy playing with Tabby who lives a very happy and contented life although disruption threatens when August arrives because it's seaside time. There's a lot of packing up and general activity and it's all quite exciting even for Tabby, but a problem arises.
They aren't taking her with them so a temporary home is needed for the cat but fortune doesn't smile down on them because Mrs. Brown, a handy neighbour, can't take her seeing she's also off on holiday. Mrs. Thomas can't look after Tabby either because she keeps canaries, and Mrs. Jones thinks it'd be too expensive having Tabby cared for at some kennels; so when the day comes, no plans have been made and ten minutes before the family move off, Mollie asks her mother,
"What about Tabby?"
Mrs. Jones is hot and bothered and cross.
"Tabby will have to look after herself," she says. "She can catch mice and birds and Mrs. Terry next door can put down milk each day."
Such an attitude from an Enid Blyton mother is a little puzzling but that's what happens, and when the taxi arrives, they're off and away - watched by Tabby who's lying on top of the wall. Not being able to converse with any of the family she assumes all is normal and they'll be back by tea-time but that's not so and when some rain starts pattering down and it begins to get dark, she jumps off the wall and runs to the back door which is shut and locked.
Tabby's hungry and thirsty. No mice can be seen and the birds are too quick, so what is there to do? The puzzled cat hides under a bush until the rain stops and then it jumps onto the wall again thinking that perhaps Mrs. Terry will feed her, but that woman doesn't like Tabby. The cat had once sat on her recently planted seeds so when she spots Tabby prowling round the garden she rushes out to shoo her away. A damp bush is Tabby's only roof for the night and all next day she waits patiently for the Joneses to appear. She meows outside the door, wanting to curl up in her nice basket by the kitchen fire and partake of some dinner and fresh milk. She also wants a bit of petting.
Tabby's fare that day is a crust of bread she happens to find ... oh yes and an old bone. While the Joneses at their seaside haven are drinking beer perhaps, and selected soft drinks followed by a slap-up meal, Tabby quenches her thirst with water from the goldfish pond in a neighbour's property until their dog chases her away. The black cat from two doors down visits and listens to Tabby's woes before telling her that creatures such as they aren't generally taken away on holidays as dogs often are, but Tabby still can't understand why she's been left to her own devices. Her friend says she can spare a drink of milk now and again but she'll have to look out for their pooch.
The days go by and Tabby becomes thin and loses the shine on her coat. She's now feeling ill and all she can do is to lie by the front door mewing faintly. The next few days could be very bleak indeed for the feline and it looks as if the only thing that can save her from certain doom is - a miracle.
But what chances are there of such an occurrence?
Miss Mary Ann Mouse
Everyone has heard of Mary Mouse, who resides in the Enid Blyton collection but this particular rodent is known as 'Mary Ann' and she lives with her mother and father and brothers and sisters in a hole behind the attic wall. Mary Ann's a tidy mouse and as the others aren't, she takes on the cleaning shores - much to the chagrin of everyone else.
"Where's my bit of cheese gone? Mary Ann have you swept it up?" That's Whiskers complaining.
"Where's my bed? I want to have a nap!" That's Mrs. Mouse.
Little Tailer-Mouse complains that he can't find his piece of bacon-rind and Mary Ann tells him she's sorry but she slipped on it this morning, so the morsel was swept up and do you know what her brothers and sisters do?
They throw her out of the house, or in Mary Ann's case - out of the mouse hole!
Poor Mary Ann. She can't go back because they'll only eject her again, so what can she do? She runs into the boxroom, keeping an eye out for the cat of course, and in it she discovers a dolls' house that had belonged to the little girl who'd grown out of her toys. Mary Ann is delighted when she ventures inside and views the dear little chairs and tables, carpets, fireplace, and well-stocked kitchen. There are four furnished bedrooms upstairs and Mary Ann decides to take the tiniest room for herself. Admittedly, the place is quite filthy as it's been neglected for so long but Mary Ann Mouse's cleaning abilities have already been recognised.
To put everyone in the picture, the house's current occupants, Mr. & Mrs. Tiny together with their children named Alice, Bertie, Connie, Derek and Elsie, have all gone to Mr. Tiny's brother's place for a holiday. Mrs. Tiny has been taken ill seeing she's had quite a lot on her plate what with looking after the place and doing all the cooking as well as controlling her five children.
After having a sleep in her newly acquired bedroom, Mary Ann rolls up both sleeves and sets to. In her practised way she washes the curtains, polishes the floor, rubs all the furniture down and folds away the clothes that have been left lying round. Upon finishing the task, she makes herself a pot of tea and sits down for a well-earned rest. She's very happy indeed and has already decided to wash the blankets tomorrow, clean the stairs, and beat all the carpets.
A few days pass and the house now looks new with the door-knocker winking in the sunshine, the windows sparkling clean, and the curtains snowy white. Mary Ann definitely knows how to go about cleaning things, and in a few more days there's nothing else to be done so the she decides to make some currant buns in the kitchen stove, and when they're cooked she leaves them on the table to cool whilst she runs upstairs to tidy herself and have a little rest.
... and now it's about time for something to happen as is the norm in all Blyton stories. Sure enough, a circumstance develops that can be likened to the ending of 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears.'
If you know what I mean!
The EB compilations are not often defined with the title of one story. More usually they have names such as 'The Bright Story Book' of Brockhampton Press fame, or there are the 'colour' volumes - Red, Yellow, Green and Blue. The Bedside books (twelve in total) have some excellent short stories as do larger format publications such as the 'Holiday' books (twelve also) and the 'Gifford Flower' series. 'Rainy Day Stories' is another good collection and there're also the 'Tales After' books, amongst others. Ones with the same title as that of a story inside do exist however, and the tale in question is usually first in line. One example of this is the Pitkin "Pleasure" series, and then we have a kind of one-off in 'Mister Icy-Cold,' which, like most tales, was originally published in 'Sunny Stories.' If the comprehensive lists residing in the fabulous 'Cave' are consulted, there are others to be found such as 'The Red Spotted Handkerchief' and 'Jinky's Joke.'
The illustrations by Will Nickless in Mister Icy-Cold have a rather 'old-fashioned' look about them which might bring to mind those of Horace Knowles that enhance 'The Land of Far-Beyond.'
'Mister Icy-Cold' doesn't seem to have a very high profile in book discussions.
#1: I could never figure out how a snowman can have feet - imagining there'd have to be a bit of leg above them, but it's actually explained in the book. John simply fills some old shoes with snow and pushes them well under.
#2: Any fan of Enid Blyton should know about at least one 'Chinky' because the name has been used a few times and was probably quite liked by the author. The Wishing Chair books have what would be the most famous example, and there's also one in a 'Tell-A-Story' book who's a chatterbox. There's a Chinky in Tales After Supper who's an elf so small that he can ride a butterfly, and a pixie who lives in Primrose Cottage also has the name - this one appears in Fifteen-Minute Tales and is the victim of a many-times-used Blyton situation.
Rolling pins as weapons have a fabled existence in history, although why Mrs. Flip would happen to have one in her possession just when Chinky took hold of her basket is anyone's guess.
There's a colourful and well-balanced full-page picture of Chinky's capture.
#3: The names Shem, Ham, and Japheth appear to be of ancient Hebrew origin which fits in with the Noah's Ark period. Would there be any 'Hams' in England these days?
One assumes that when Noah's lion curled up in front of the fire, it consisted merely of embers fronted with a guard.
A golliwog is mentioned in this story. Oddly, the word 'golliwog' seems not to be included in the word-speller vocabulary ... it substitutes 'polliwog' instead! So, what are 'polliwogs?' Apparently they're tadpoles.
#4: For the very few people who can't understand what 'Trotteville Character' means, it merely relates to one of Enid Blyton's personalities who happens to be a brilliant detective.
#5: A full-page illustration shows the cook, staff members, and the imp in a rather messy kitchen.
#6: The heading picture depicts that one of the gnomes is tall, one is fat, and one is small.
#7: 'Trotter' is, of course, Chuckle and Ho-Ho's dog.
#8: There's another 'Magic Rubber Tale' in 'The Third Holiday Book' and it stars a boy called Kenneth. Noddy, one of the most famous of Enid Blyton's characters, also became involved with a magic rubber.
Mister Biscuit looks a bit like a woman on first impression.
#9: Simon (or Simple Simon as he's often known) has cut quite a swathe in the Enid Blyton stories. He's also reaped many punishments because of his unfortunate birth that decreed he must be of a fairly limited intellectual ability. A boy like that however is excellent fodder for tales spun from the Blyton mind so he's been used many times. In the first Bedside Book he had an unfortunate experience with a goat and in 'A Book of Naughty Children' it was a dog. In 'The Sixth Holiday Book' he makes an idiot of himself at the school camp and in the 'Seventh' he can't even be trusted to do the shopping for his mother. In 'Happy Day Stories' the lad is actually diddled out of his brand new mackintosh, Wellingtons (rubber boots) sou'wester (hat to keep off the rain) by none other than a tinker's little girl. Simon is forgetful and very often, he misinterprets instructions.
I think the 'Simon' in 'EB's Jolly Story Book' would not be related.
The 'soot water' mentioned in this tale, appears to be used as an insecticidal spray although there's information around that nitrogen in the stuff helps plants to grow.
#10: Whenever a character is brought up in a story connected with China, the chap always seems to be a 'merchant.'
Would an EB magician or enchanter (as opposed to a conjuror) die? If he was magic, could not his life be prolonged?
#11: A 'Bad Penny' is a term for someone who has a habit of turning up every so often. 'Bad Sixpence' may be an invention by Enid Blyton just for this particular story; can't figure out how a sixpence can be 'bad' - unless the coin was so blackened and worn down that a shopkeeper wouldn't accept it.
A gnome called 'Winkle-Pip' features in the book of tales entitled Chimney Corner Stories.
#12: Auntie Mary knew her place in Enid Blyton's era and demonstrated it by attending to all of Uncle Peter's silver cups when they needed cleaning.
Curiously, the ending of this story is, in a way, quite similar to that of another one some pages back. Probably a coincidence.
#13. Names can be intriguing in their own right. There's 'Barry' and there's 'Larry' and there's 'Harry.' Now, how did they originate? Why did 'arry' have different capital letters added to it?
Enid Blyton says that "few humans" can observe the Little Folk, so who are those that can?
There's a colour picture of the scene where an elf rescues the downed tit.
Maybe the title 'What a Surprise' is reserved for tales that feature birds and a person's interest in them, because the same title features in 'Let's Have A Story' where a boy called Ronnie sets off to buy a nesting box. 'What a Surprise' is used yet again when another Ronnie also discovers the joys of associating with nesting birds - this story featuring in one of the Enid Blyton Magazines (March, 1954).
#14: Dock leaves play their part in Enid Blyton stories and many have been used - usually for easing the pain caused by an encounter with nettles.
When the creatures let Pinkity lend their voices to Buttercup they were voiceless until the ability was returned.
#15: Unless Mrs. Thomas lets her canaries fly freely about the place, she could have taken Tabby surely.
#16: Perhaps Mr. Tiny and his sons might not be expected to help with the housework, but there are three girls in the doll family so surely they could have shared in the cooking and cleaning and bed-making.
This tale is in a 'Sunny Stories' magazine (of course) from way back in 1938; Enid Blyton's publishers made full use of her Sunny Stories legacy by reprinting the tales over and over again.
Books can travel and the Enid Blyton ones are good examples. They've made their way throughout the entire world it seems although we can't be too sure about the Arctic and Sahara areas. This particular issue of 'Mister Icy-Cold' originated in Britain of course seeing 'Shakespeare Head Press: Oxford' is printed inside. Can't get more English than that. As it was originally stocked at Grimsby Public Library Boys and Girls Department it may have passed through many grubby hands before being withdrawn. Now why did that happen? Was Enid Blyton going out of fashion? Anyway, it left Grimsby and maybe 'grubby hands' played no part in its existence because this example of EB's work is in a practically new condition with all the colour pictures intact ... a mystery in itself taking into account the popularity of EB books. It eventually voyaged thousands of miles across the planet to end up in a second hand bookshop where it was one day discovered. Upon purchasing it, the counter assistant exclaimed that she would have taken the book for herself had she known it was there. Fortunately (for me) she hadn't discovered it, and since November in 2002 it has resided in the one spot.