The Enid Blyton Society
The Big Enid Blyton Book
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Book Details...

First edition: 1961
Publisher: Paul Hamlyn
Illustrator: various
Category: Non-series Mixed Contents Books
Genre: Mixed
Type: Books with Mixed Contents

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Reprint Covers
List of Contents
Artwork
Review by Terry Gustafson

Reprints
  1. Hurry Secret Seven, Hurry!
    Story: Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual No.4
  2. When Mother Looks Out of the Window
    Poem: Enid Blyton's Fifth Bedside Book
  3. Mr. Pink-Whistle Has Some Fun!
    Story: Mr. Pink-Whistle Big Book
  4. The Spider's Web
    Poem: The Enid Blyton Poetry Book
  5. Jesus and the Children
    Story: The Children's Life of Christ
  6. Let's Have a Club of Our Own
    Story: Happy Day Stories
  7. Wolves in the Night!
    Story: The Mountain of Adventure
  8. Lambs and Lambs' Tails
    Story: Rambles With Uncle Nat
  9. Just a Spot of Bother! {Find-Outers}
    Story: Chucklers' Annual
  10. The Little Gooseberry Man
    Poem: The Enid Blyton Poetry Book
  11. Pond Dwellers
    Story: Rambles With Uncle Nat
  12. Flash the Pony
    Story: The Children at Green Meadows
  13. A Day With Little Noddy
    Story: Big Noddy Book No.1
  14. The Land of Nursery Rhyme
    Story: The Wishing Bean and Other Plays
  15. The Rubadub Mystery
    Story: The Rubadub Mystery
  16. The Little Miner
    Story: Rambles With Uncle Nat
  17. The Animal's Prayer
    Poem: Enid Blyton's Book of the Year
  18. Zerelda's Unfortunate Rehearsal {Malory Towers}
    Story: Third Year at Malory Towers
  19. Mawkins the Hare
    Story: Enid Blyton's Animal Lover's Book
  20. The Little Daughter of Jairus
    Story: A Story Book of Jesus
  21. Brer Rabbit's Clever Trick!
    Story: Specially Written
  22. Five—and a Half-Term Adventure! {Famous Five}
    Story: Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual No.3
  23. The Brilliant Leaves
    Story: Rambles With Uncle Nat
  24. A Puzzle Poem
    Poem: The Enid Blyton Poetry Book
  25. Please Help Me Mr. Pink-Whistle!
    Story: Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual No.2
  26. Walnut Shells
    Poem: Enid Blyton's Eighth Bedside Book
  27. Beware the Bears! {Adventure Series}
    Story: The Circus of Adventure
  28. Lullaby
    Poem: Sunday Dispatch Feb 21, 1960
  29. The Land of Far-Beyond
    Story: The Land of Far-Beyond
  30. Noddy and the Wooden Horse
    Story: Big Noddy Book No.5
  31. The Gang
    Story: The Six Bad Boys
  32. Magic!
    Poem: Enid Blyton's Third Bedside Book
  33. He Couldn't Do It!
    Story: Specially Written
  34. The Whistler
    Story: Hedgerow Tales
  35. Tracks in the Snow
    Story: Rambles With Uncle Nat
  36. The Story of the Christmas Tree
    Story: The Christmas Book
  37. Mr. Twiddle and the Dog
    Story: Hallo, Mr. Twiddle
  38. Fire-Eating and Other Things! {Famous Five}
    Story: Five Have a Wonderful Time
  39. The Lucky Ducks
    Poem: Teacher's Treasury Vol.2
  40. The Four Wise Men and the Servant
    Story: Enid Blyton's Twelfth Bedside Book
  41. The Secret Island
    Story: The Secret Island
  42. Loony the Spaniel
    Story: The Rubadub Mystery
  43. Five Go Off in a Caravan {Famous Five}
    Story: Five Go Off in a Caravan
  44. The First Wild Rose
    Poem: Teacher's Treasury Vol.2
  45. Goofy Isn't Very Clever
    Story: Enid Blyton's Sixth Bedside Book
  46. A Little Twigging
    Story: Rambles With Uncle Nat
  47. "Mam'zelle's Treek" {Malory Towers}
    Story: In the Fifth at Malory Towers
  48. Mr. Goon is Astounded {Find-Outers}
    Story: The Mystery of the Strange Bundle
  49. Birds and Flowers in April
    Story: Enid Blyton's Nature Lover's Book
  50. A Little Aquarium
    Story: Enid Blyton's Nature Lover's Book
  51. Bom
    Story: Bom Goes to Ho-Ho Village
  52. The Humbug Adventure {Secret Seven}
    Story: Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual No.1
  53. Miss Nan Nockabout
    Poem: Teacher's Treasury Vol.2
  54. You're Too Smart, Brer Rabbit!
    Story: Specially Written
  55. The Bonfire at Night
    Poem: The Enid Blyton Poetry Book
  56. On Dorset Hills
    Poem: Sunday Times Mar 26, 1950
  57. A Night on Thunder Rock
    Story: Enid Blyton's Treasury
  58. The Mystery of the Vanished Prince {Find-Outers}
    Story: The Mystery of the Vanished Prince
  59. Next-Door James
    Story: Enid Blyton's Ninth Bedside Book
{ } indicates popular characters where not mentioned in the title



The letter from Harmsen van Beek to Mrs. Blyton showing the first illustrations of Noddy and co.
This book deserves a mention because of the sheer variety it contains. With over 240 pages it's a large-format volume that in Enid Blyton's own words "... is an Anthology, which means a collection of writing – verses, stories, anything that is written to be read."

I made it my Readers' Millennium Choice when suggestions were called for because I felt that it would be an ideal book to accompany the desert island castaway. I looked on it in exactly the same way that a twelve year-old girl did who wrote to Enid Blyton and suggested it be called "A dip-into book – a book with all the characters we know Miss Blyton, so that we can open the book anywhere and dip into it, and meet the Famous Five again, and Kiki the parrot, and Fatty and all the rest." A teenage boy suggested a Reminder Book – "I'd like a book – a big one please – that will remind me of so many of the books I loved."

Most of the above is taken from the first entry which is one of those personal letters that the author often wrote at the beginning of a book and in this one she tells us how she thinks of stories and sees them in her mind's eye - something she had mentioned to us in her autobiography almost a decade earlier. The Big Enid Blyton Book therefore, contains representative samples of Blytonia taken from dozens of her presentations. It even includes some photographs of spellbound children listening to Enid Blyton at a story session and there's also a picture of the garden at Green Hedges, which was the family home in Penn Road.

The second item in this volume is a large reproduction of the very famous and (now very expensive) letter that Van Beek sent to the author with the little Noddy sketches on it. I don't know why one needs to bother spending thousands of pounds to buy the original when the copy in this book seems to be a life-size repro – in colour as well.
Enid Blyton relates: " ... and at the top he painted Noddy and Big-Ears and the rest, for the very first time – exactly as I myself had imagined them to be. I was so pleased that I kept the letter and treasured it, and I thought you might like to see it too."

There's a short story but with a difference because it stars the Secret Seven. Yes, the original cast is there in an exciting tale called 'Hurry Secret Seven, Hurry'. This band of school kid crime solvers became very popular indeed with the younger fans and they had many exciting adventures around their little village which I believe was called Peterswood but that may be just a one-off reference and not strictly accurate. There's Peter the leader and his sister Janet and there's also George, Jack, Colin, Pam and Barbara not forgetting the golden-spaniel Scamper. Susie, Jack's sister, features in some of the original stories and supplies the nuisance value that is so essential for added interest although she's not in this particular item because there's not enough space for her brand of continual interference. Not content with giving the reader just one short story of the SS, Enid Blyton repeats the procedure near the end of the book and comes up with 'The Humbug Adventure' that deals with a telescope, a firebug, a haystack and the police. It looks like the pictures in both Secret Seven stories are by two different artists - the second tale has the George Brook look about the pictures although it's hard to be sure. Mr. Pink-Whistle is represented and he deals with two naughty boys at one stage and in another story about this gentleman, who's half-brownie, he helps a boy with a terrible stammer. The eccentric Mr. Twiddle's somewhere inside getting into trouble with a dog, and there's a one-pager about Jesus who was a very famous man way back in olden times. It's called 'Jesus and the Children' and there's also another story about this character who, like others with charisma, has influenced a considerable amount of people.

There's so much material within the pages. For example, those kids who want to start their own club can read all about setting it up and the advice given is modelled very much on the way the Secret Seven handle things. The children who guide us through it call themselves 'The Sturdy Six' and they make their own badges inscribed with S.S. on it, create a password, and have a very enjoyable time. EB was very nature-inclined so there are a few pages about bird watching with two colour plates depicting various pictures of our feathered friends. There are also several excerpts from the book entitled Rambles with Uncle Nat where Peter and Mary learn all about the countryside when they take part in a series of walks with their very clued-up relative. There are poems as well and one is an entreaty from the animals to man, woman and child for consideration and kindness in their attitudes. Have you made a bird-cake yet? If you have, you're certainly being considerate and kind to your fathered friends and I remember reading one of the Blyton books that described how to go about it and it made me quite hungry. I checked and it's exactly the same one that Aunt Jane helped Tony and Mollie to make in Birds of Our Gardens. Another interesting entry is Mawkins the Hare which is all about the clever tricks those animals get up to and it comes from Enid Blyton's Animal Lover's Book where Richard and Susan learn so much about the natural world from a gypsy named Zachary. The Whistler, which deals with otters, comes from Hedgerow Tales and is yet another interesting insight into the life forms that exist in the world around us. A nature quiz is featured and there's a piece taken from Enid Blyton's Nature Lover's Book all about the birds and flowers in April about which John, Pat and Janet learn when rambling with their Uncle Merry. He isn't their real Uncle – just a friend of the family, who likes to spend his time educating the kids in all aspects of natural lore. He even shows them how to make an aquarium in a big pickle jar and you can learn how to do it as well and then afterwards you can sit down and read one of the poems such as 'On Dorset Hills' –
A dozen larks sweep upward from my feet
As I come by
And in the hazy sky
They soar on wings that with their quivering beat
Keep tremulous time to sibilant sweet song
That downward spills
Like rainfall on the hills ...

So ... we've had The Secret Seven and Mr. Pink-Whistle and Jesus, and some of the wonderful nature books but what else is there? Piles! I'm betting that 99% of Enid Blytonites have heard of the Smugs series and think they're worthy of being filmed again and again. I've always looked on the eight books as being the major works of Enid Blyton although there are other series more numerous and with plots and characters just as good but the Bill Smugs collection always seemed to stand out just that little bit more. This is possibly because they border on adult reading or maybe it's just a personal thing. Philip, Dinah, Jack and, Lucy Anne, are the courageous and resourceful children who battle forgers and spies, and track gunrunners amongst far-flung islands somewhere around the Outer Hebrides. They take on the ruthless guardians of a mountain King who's quite mad and not content with that they become involved with a Prince in some Ruritanian country, cruise the Mediterranean, and finally round off their adventures with a frightening river voyage somewhere in the near East. Now that's what adventure books are all about! The children manage to survive (only "just" in some cases) by their resourcefulness and with the help of a Secret Serviceman or Top-Cop named Bill Cunningham or Bill Smugs, which is the name he used when he was on undercover duties in the first book. An excerpt from one of these volumes is included and it will whet your appetite to plough through the rest of them. There are about ten pages from The Mountain of Adventure in this anthology that tell of a thrill-packed episode when the intrepid adventurers are camping out in the Welsh mountains and are visited by what seems to be a wolf pack. There's a picture of Philip with one a great big canine standing up against him with its forepaws on the boy's shoulders! I can't take any more of this terror on a Sunday night so I'll move on.

Almost immediately we come across a short story that involves some children who call themselves the Find-Outers. That means detectives in kid-talk and their mystery solving was recorded in a series of fifteen books, which is good because they were (and still are) extremely popular stories. These children are probably subject to more discussion than any others in the Enid Blyton book collection excepting perhaps for the Kirrins who are featured further down. The stories record how the Find-Outers plus a dog search out unexplained happenings in their hometown and try to solve them. It's not all smooth-sailing because the village policeman wants to be a Find-Outer as well and he's entitled to be so even more than the kids. They clash constantly and become estranged so one might think that the policeman, Mr. Theophilus Goon, is not a very nice person. However, if you begin reading the original books you might suspect that one of the kids who possesses rather a high opinion of himself plays more than his part in baiting the unfortunate lawman. The other Find-Outers also supply their share of disrespect but the leader is a Master at it - known as Fatty, he is one of Enid Blyton's most endearing characters. The Find-Outers are referred to by their nicknames - Bets, Daisy, Pip, Larry, and Fatty. Enid Blyton had a slight penchant for bestowing rather toffee-nosed names on characters who thought highly of themselves so the policeman is Theophilus and Fatty's, real name is Frederick Algernon Trotteville. It was Pip who supplied the nickname in the very early stages when he and the others first met Frederick and didn't take to him all that much. F.A.T became Fatty and it wasn't all that unexpected to poor Frederick. The dog that accompanies the troupe is a friendly little Scottie belonging to Fatty and is adored by one and all. The short tale with the Find-Outers that appears in this book is called 'Just a Spot of Bother' and it's a treat because it's complete. The illustrations are not by any of the three artists that drew the pictures in the original books and although I've always preferred the Treyer Evans pictures by a long shot, that's neither here nor there. This band of investigators feature in two more stories and that's as it should be because of their status. We have an excerpt from The Mystery of the Strange Bundle and the selector or selectors have picked a classic example because it reports on an extremely humorous occasion when Frederick, the leader of the Find-Outers and his arch-enemy Mr. Goon, both examine an empty house. Read this and you'll want immediate access to the whole book, which you should be able to pick up quite easily. The other sample is from The Mystery of the Vanished Prince, which is about a kidnapped Royal with the Blytonian name of Bongawah. I think the author had a small stock of well-remembered words that slipped out quite easily when she was creating names and "Bong" was one. The incident recorded involves a trip by the Find-Outers to a place called Raylingham Marshes and it illustrates quite plainly why Fatty is so revered not only amongst his schoolmates but also by the other Find-Outers. Mr. Goon, who's been mentioned already, has a nephew called Ern and he accompanies the Find-Outers on their quest to track down the Prince.

Another of the Landmark books is represented and by that I mean the ones that stand out from the bunch. This time it's an excerpt from The Rubadub Mystery. Diana, and Roger and Snubby appeared in this series of six books with their great friend Barnabas, or Barney, and Miranda his pet monkey. They are typical Blyton kids who weather the strange things that happen to them and win out in the end after confronting mystery and adventure. One of the marvellous school stories that Blyton wrote is touched upon because I'm sure there'd be complaints if they had no representation at all. 'Zerelda's Unfortunate Rehearsal' is an episode from one of the Malory Towers books and it illustrates an episode when a very glamorous schoolgirl called Zerelda has an amusing encounter with the school's Matron. Zerelda is trying to show her classmates what a wonderful actress she is and, coming from the land of entertainment - namely America, she thinks she'll wow them all. Unfortunately for her it takes more than what she has to offer to be a successful entertainer and this snippet shows how the girl is "taken down a peg or two." Further on in the book there's another piece from the same series and it's called Mam'zelle's Treek although some readers may not understand what that means initially. Others will know exactly what it signifies because it's from In the Fifth at Malory Towers where the French teacher plays a trick on her students in return for the many they've played on her. It's a very humorous incident and the girls certainly enjoy the occasion because it involves the teacher wearing some Dracula-like false teeth and displaying them not only to her students, but also (inadvertently) to some adults! There's a picture of her wearing the teeth although it isn't by the original artist but it conveys the message adequately.

Yes - The Famous Five are definitely included. Well, they had to be didn't they because they are arguably the most widely known of the characters that Enid Blyton invented. 'Five and a Half-Term Adventure' is the title of the story and it's a cozy little tale that reveals to the uninitiated (if any exist) how these children work together and solve a small problem involving a dog. They aren't specialist mystery solvers ah-la the Find-Outers but they win through with sheer courage and persistence. In case you have been living at the top of an unexplored mountain for the last sixty or so years, the names of the Famous Five are George, Anne, Julian, Dick and Timmy – the last named being George's dog. George is not a boy - she just likes them so much that she wants to be one and the best way she can do it (she thinks) is by dressing in boys' clothes and acting tough. It may be curious when she marries because there will be two men at the altar it would seem, but maybe she will marry someone who wants to be a woman! She's an all right kid though and very popular with everyone as all the Five are. The pictures that go with the short story are in colour and so is the rest of the book's artwork be it sometimes in single or two-tone. I had to puzzle over the artist of the Famous Five story but I'm pretty sure they are by the renowned Eileen Soper although the eighth picture looks as if it's by someone else. Perhaps they needed an extra illustration which didn't exist but on closer look, the dog in that picture does look a little like a Soper dog so I'm guessing a little here. The Famous Five, whose surnames are Kirrin, make a second appearance, which is only right because of their popularity and this time it's an excerpt from Five Have a Wonderful Time where they meet a fire-eater and a python. That doesn't often happen in real life but in this case the original book deals with a circus that the Five encounter. Further on, there's yet another item about these icons and it's from Five Go Off in a Caravan where, once again, they become involved with a circus and meet a new friend called Nobby.

Brer Rabbit shows his face of course because EB wrote several books about this universally appreciated character and interpreted the tales according to her unique talent. The Land of Far Beyond is another Enid Blyton presentation that interprets The Pilgrim's Progress for her readers. I couldn't understand that book much and found it somewhat contrived but it seems to be a fairly popular story. The pictures in the excerpt are by Horace Knowles who did the originals and they're pretty good in that they are a shade different from the run-of-the-mill illustrations that grace the books in general. There's so much stuffed into the compendium that you'll sometimes see an extra item on the page you are reading and in this case it's a RiddleMeRee which the author liked to include as small diversions – 'My first is in lamb but not in sheep', and so on. There's something from The Six Bad Boys – a book that came out in about 1951 and it was a kind of social commentary or insight into juvenile delinquency. A few young lads form their own gang and derive a certain kinship and recognition from simply belonging to the little group. Unfortunately, they get into trouble and the Law steps in. The Children at Green Meadows is also represented just at the spot where Francis helps to rescue a pony called Flash. The Christmas Book was one of my favourites when I was little and there are a couple of lovely Treyer Evans pictures supporting a short piece about Christmas tree origins. Susan, Ann, Benny and Peter listen to a story from their mother and then help to decorate the tree beautifully. Full-page colour picture included.

One of EB's most popular books is also one of her oldest in the Landmark series. It's called The Secret Island and it's about Mike, Peggy and Nora who chum up with another boy called Jack and run away from their unsettled homes to fend for themselves on a little island in a lake. The extract tells us how they make themselves a little house and rustle up food and there are some colourful pictures by the original artist - E. H. Davie. In order to cover as much as possible the book also contains samples of Blyton younger-reader characters. Bom the little drummer boy is one and there's a report on the time that he visits his aunt in Ho-Ho village and his great friend, Skipper Heave-Ho, also makes an appearance. The other character is almost as revered as the Famous Five because he enjoyed immense success especially with smaller children when he came onto the scene in 1949. His name is Noddy and he's a little wooden spring-headed doll who is a colourful dresser although he doesn't seem to change his clothes very often – only when he goes swimming or gets into bed. There's a two-page picture story about his altercation with a wooden horse because you can't fit much more into a book that is already bursting at the seams with wholesome reading matter. Despite that, there's yet another two-pager and this one shows Noddy experiencing a typical day and it gives us a good insight into his routine.

Enid Blyton's four clubs for children are touched on, there are several short stories, a two-act play, more poems, more nature, more puzzles, more "What to do on a rainy afternoon. " It's all crammed in somehow and helps justify the description of a "Dip In Book" - crowned at the end by a categorized list of the books. She wrote many more of course but you can get a very good indication of what exists when you scan the titles. To buy a copy of The Big Enid Blyton Book, you could search the second hand stores or, in this day and age, employ the book-finding services on the Internet and this can include the auctions that often yield exactly what one is after.
There are several full-page colour illustrations.

The picture inside the cover is a montage of various characters sailing on the river. Included are the Famous Five, Barnabas Martin with his friendly little monkey, Mr. Pink-Whistle, Noddy and his pal Big-Ears of course. The featured policeman looks too friendly to be Mr. Goon so maybe it's Mr. Plod from the Noddy books and the plump youth getting into a boat with his dog has to be Fatty. I guess that's Kiki flying around by the tree, and the two extra youths on the island could be anyone.

Penn Road where Green Hedges (Enid Blyton's home) was is in Buckinghamshire. In March of 1968 I visited the place but I thought it would be rather cheeky of me to walk up to the door and ring the bell because you should always give famous people a little notice when you desire to call. Enid Blyton was such a big name and for all I knew, she could have been having tea and biscuits with her publisher at that very moment or she could have been in the bath or even taking a nap. Furthermore, she may have not been inside because this was the year when she sadly left us after being in care. I looked at the rambling edifice and surveyed the gardens and then ten or so years later when I visited again I found it had disappeared. Nearby, there was a cul-de-sac named Blyton Close.

Speaking of handy words like Bong as in "Bongawah" – there was also Bong the Brownie and Bong the dragon and Bong Castle in other Blyton tales.

Kiki is a parrot that belongs to Jack Trent who is one of the children in The Mountain of Adventure. The bird is blessed with almost human qualities and is probably one of the most well remembered characters because of her expressive personality. I think parrots look more "parroty" when sporting a crest and maybe Stuart Tresilian, the artist, thought that as well so this female bird has one. Then again it might be a female who wants to be a male.

The Mr. Pink-Whistle stories have original Dorothy Wheeler pictures and there's also an extra tale illustrated by that well-known Blyton artist. It's about James Jonathan Brown who meets up with a wizard. The Mr. Twiddle pictures are by the original artist as well – Hilda McGavin.

The Enid Blyton Bedside Books of which there are about a dozen are a series with an excellent selection of short stories plus poems and puzzles that are well illustrated and with added colour that brightens everything up. There are one or two items taken from these books including a whole story from the Twelfth Bedside Book entitled 'The Four Wise Men and the Servant'.

"In the summer time I write mostly in my garden, my typewriter on my knee. I watch the goldfish jumping in the ponds – they are so tame they will feed out of my fingers. My two cats come with me and dab at the water, shaking their paws in disgust when they feel the wetness. They are with me at this moment, solemnly lying beside me, watching my busy fingers ... ah, one has leapt down to chase a butterfly. Now they have both gone indoors and the garden birds will soon come flying down again. The birds nest everywhere in my garden in spite of the cats. Blackbirds, thrushes, chaffinches, hedge sparrows, wrens, starlings - what an array I see when I feed them in the mornings! I could write a whole book about the small visitors, feathered and furred (or prickled like the hedgehog) who live secretly and happily in the garden of Green Hedges."