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

First edition: 1947
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

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

Cover from the 1955 reprint, illustrated by Dorothy Brook
In this book we are re-united with Jack (9), Jane (7), and Benjy (5) who live at Happy House with their parents and Hannah the maid. The other person of substance is Miss Plum who lives next door. It's hot summer weather and the decision is that the family won't go away to the seaside this year because Daddy has had to spend quite a lot of money on the house which was purchased not all that long ago.

The first interest in this book springs from Miss Plum's revelation that her niece and nephew are coming to stay with her for a week and she's a little apprehensive about this because she's not all that used to having children around. After the Happy House kids invaded her space she got to liking them all right, but will she be able to relate to Tommy and Betty who are eight and seven respectively? Jack, Jane and Benjy volunteer to meet Tommy and Betty when they arrive on the bus and take them to their aunt's place. They do so and it appears that Tommy is a very capable chap indeed. He can ride his bike for miles and he can even drive a car; well ... he's watched how it's done heaps of times and feels utterly confident that he could and when his father leaves him in the car alone he's going to have a go at it. He can ride a horse too and when he came across one that was bolting it was no problem at all — he leapt up, grabbed the reins and forced it to a standstill! It's no wonder the Happy House children think he's quite remarkable but they are a little put-off by the way he treats his sister. Tommy thinks girls are silly and should wait on boys but Jack who is a gentleman (or gentleboy) doesn't like to see Betty having to carry her own case so he takes it along for her. He's been taught that boys should look after girls and carry things for them. Whether this would apply if the girl was bigger and stronger than him I don't know but as Betty isn't, Jack lugs her case all the way to Miss Plum's house. They leave Tommy & Betty to be welcomed by their aunt and the last thing they hear is Tommy banging on Miss Plum's door — BLIM-BLAM-BLAM!

Tommy proves to be arrogant, bossy, and selfish. He commandeers the Indian head-gear belonging to Jane and Benjy when they meet in Miss Plum's garden to play Red Indians and then he tells everyone what they have to do. Grabbing Betty for his squaw, he orders her to cook his dinner, and then with dreadful yells he pounces on Jane and Benjy. Jack is ordered to tie Benjy up and then it appears that the bigamous Tommy has claimed Jane for his squaw as well. The last straw comes when he decides to shoot the helpless Benjy with his bow and arrow! Poor Benjy squeals to be saved and pandemonium ensues — then Patter appears. He's a puppy that belongs to the Happy House children and has just been for a walk with Hannah the maid. He's back now and wants to join in the fun and he does so but to the horror of his owners Tommy shoots him! The Happy House children are shocked at this but then it's ginger-beer all round when Miss Plum suddenly appears. She has been out and is unaware of the fighting and quarrelling. "We're getting on fine, Auntie, says Tommy. The others made me their Red Indian chief, and we had some grand fun." Tell that to the Marines!

It can be gathered that Tommy and Betty are not liked very much. Betty breaks a wheel off Benjy's toy car and tells fibs about Jane, and Tommy is so belligerent and loud-mouthed that it's hard not to dislike them both — then an incident occurs. A glass pane in Miss Plum's cucumber frame is smashed by Tommy but he blames it on Jack! The Happy House children confront him over this cruel deception but receive threats in return. Then fate sides with Jack, Jane and Benjy and causes a storm to well up with much thunder and lightning — the result of which causes a marked turnabout in Tommy and Betty and leads to some truths being revealed about Tommy's general make-up. He and his sister come within a hair's-breadth of being banished from Miss Plum's house but Jane intervenes and they are allowed to stay.

Things are much, better now. Tommy and his sister learn certain points of good behaviour from their new pals and become much nicer children. Now they all get on very happily indeed with each other and a few days later there's the departure. Jack, Jane and Benjy see Tommy and Betty off and it's reported that Tommy carries his sister's heavy bag to the bus-stop for her. Yes, it's "Goodbye" but they hope to meet again some day.
That's the first half of the book finished and the next thing on the menu is a visit to a nearby farm and a confrontation for Jane when she observes the abuse of a little black kitten. She is very brave and this results in another pet being obtained for Happy House. The problem is: Will it get on with Patter who of course belongs to a breed of animal that has hounded felines for centuries?

Another incident involves Monkey. Monkey is a very old toy that has passed from Jack to Jane and down to little Benjy and he loves it very much. Jane means well when she takes Monkey outside for a spell to be company for Angela her doll because she thinks it would be nice if Angela and Monkey could enjoy being in the garden by the stream for a while. The trouble is that Monkey goes for an unexpected dip when Jane accidentally knocks him into the water. That's not a very nice thing to happen to a stuffed toy and when Benjy learns of this he is very angry indeed. He loses his temper completely and ends up in very miserable circumstances. Poor Benjy. In the first book he was confined to bed with a cold and now he's in bed again — this time in disgrace. He wants to run away. Is this Happy House? However, things have a way of changing for the better and they become so after a little soul-searching into his outburst of bad temper.

The end arrives when the Happy House family goes for a picnic on Breezy Hill but Jumpy their little kitten has disappeared. It's plain terrible when a pet goes missing and we will have to hope that the cat's disappearance won't spoil their wonderful day out?
Some artists like Eileen Soper or Norman Meredith, to name a couple, can be instantly recognised by their illustrations. Kathleen Gell is the artist for the original "Happy House" books which were introduced in 1947 and her drawing technique would be fairly recognizable as well although it might differ very slightly in A Second Book of Naughty Children despite that book also being published in 1947.

I mentioned this in Changing the Sacred (2000) but as that's seven years ago it bears repeating: There's a picture which should depict Benjy with Patter the dog running down to the stream where Monkey is apparently drowning — at least that's the notion which is conveyed. Patter isn't visible and perhaps it could be explained by saying he's further back but dogs are pretty fast runners and have a propensity for tearing ahead of everyone else. Not to worry though. Where's Monkey? Well, according to the script he's meant to be floating in the water at that particular moment but he's not. He's sitting behind Jane and Jack who are wading in the stream and cooling their hands.

Latimer House versions of the "Happy House" books were produced in 1955 and they have quite attractive covers.

The first book in the collection, of which there are just three, was originally called The Children at Happy House. In 1966 Collins printed two volumes together (The Children at Happy House and The Happy House Children Again) and entitled it collectively: The Happy House Children. This also had a colourful cover with a picture of Jack, Jane and Benjy cavorting with Patter the dog. Hilda McGavin who illustrated it got monkey's 'drowning' off to pat and sufficiently immersed the stuffed toy in the stream which flows through the garden of Happy House. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.