The Enid Blyton Society
The Children at Happy House
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Book Details...

First edition: 1946
Publisher: Shakespeare Head Press (Basil Blackwell)
Illustrator: Kathleen M. Gell
Category: Happy House
Genre: Family
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations


Wraparound dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Kathleen M. Gell

Cover from the 1955 reprint, illustrated by Dorothy Brook
Jack, Jane and Benjy are doing what many other children have done at the start of an Enid Blyton book — they are leaving the city to live in the country. They abandon the dark and built-up area where they have existed for the first few years of their lives and head off with their parents, plus Hannah the maid, to a nice little village with green fields everywhere and an abundance of hedges and trees. The first few pages are set around the children's introduction to their new territory and it reflects the author's penchant for idyllic settings where everything is perfect. There's village green with a pond where white ducks swim, yellow primroses on the banks and bluebells raring to go. The new house has a thatched roof, tall red chimneys, a blue door with a lovely knocker on it, and a cosy kitchen with a wide window ledge just right for Hannah's geraniums. Jane will be able to lean out of her bedroom window and pick cherries off a nearby tree and besides that luxury there's a flowery garden waiting to be explored and even a little stream. The settling-down could be a little un-interesting if another author reported on it but the Blyton touch caters to one and all — especially the smaller readers because like several other of the family-orientated stories, this book is geared towards children of a more tender age.

One of the first things that must be done is to obtain a pet and they waste no time over that — a nearby farm supplies them with a little puppy-dog. Like all Blyton children the kids have their jobs to do and the days go peacefully by. Something has to happen so an incident takes place and this helps us to learn a little more about Benjy's make-up. Benjy is the baby (or cry-baby) of the trio with a firm attachment to a very old toy monkey and he has a little learning to do before his life becomes stable. Then comes the day when Patter the puppy-dog goes missing as dogs generally do and there's a mad effort to find him. Will he be found or will he be run over by a ten-ton truck?

A next-door neighbour who doesn't like kids, owns a cuckoo-clock. The children yearn to get up close to that fascinating timepiece as we all would but the fly in the ointment is the anti-child owner. This is a classic case of two opposites which need to combine and there is an effort by the three kids to solve this in their own contrived way. More days pass and Patter the dog goes missing again. Then there is a sickness in the family and poor little Benjy is the unfortunate invalid. Life becomes very miserable when he's left in bed all by himself whilst Mummy takes Jack and Jane off to visit their Auntie Mary but things look up for him when a friend calls by. The next thing on the schedule is their mother's birthday which is imminent but Jane has lost her purse so she sets to work trying to earn a few pennies and sixpences and she manages to amass five shillings. Everyone buys a little something for Mummy and Jane through her industry is also able to present her with a vase, and a comb with its own case. The book ends on a high note.
Kathleen Gell is the resident artist and the issue date is 1946. Hilda McGavin illustrated a later edition entitled The Happy House Children and the reader can choose his or her preference.

The old money features in the original books and five shillings was made up of 60 Pennies which is quite a goodly sum for a seven year old to spend on a present in the Forties or Fifties. Looking at the old advertisements Jane could have bought her mother a pair of fully-fashioned nylon stockings for about 4/-(48 pennies), five packets of Chicken Noodle soup at 1/- (12 pennies) each, or even a flash Eversharp ball-point pen for 4/9 (57 pennies).

Unlike, one or two of the other family-life books there's no involved mystery or intense adventure but it's not needed in this case. The tale is simple but a child to whom reading is a fairly new experience should enjoy the content and there's nothing more to be said because the ten short chapters fill only fifty or so pages. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.