The Enid Blyton Society
The Put-Em-Rights
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Book Details...

First edition: 1946
Publisher: Lutterworth Press
Illustrator: Elizabeth Wall
Category: Family Stories
Genre: Family
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations


Wraparound dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Elizabeth Wall

Frontis from the 1st edition, illustrated by Elizabeth Wall

Wraparound dustwrapper from the 2nd edition, illustrated by Barbara C. Freeman

Frontis from the 2nd edition, illustrated by Barbara C. Freeman
Brief Summary by Fiona Brough: When a tramping preacher comes to Under Ridge the minister's daughter Sally decides it is time to start a band of children to do good deeds. She, along with Micky, Yolande, Amanda, Podge and Bobby set out to help the local community and show them the error of their ways. It's not as easy as it seems, though, and they invariably find that they have rubbed up their neighbours the wrong way and have to assess their own means and motives before they can truly be effective 'Put-Em-Rights'.

Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Terry Gustafson's Review
"Hallo children. Well, last week we showed you how to be a gynaecologist and this week on "How-To- Do-It" we're going to learn how to play the flute, how to split the atom, how to construct box-girder bridges and how to irrigate the Sahara and make vast new areas cultivatable ... but first here is Jackie to tell you how to rid the world of all known diseases. "Hallo Jackie."

"Hallo Alan!" Well, first of all become a doctor and discover a marvellous cure for something and then when the medical world really starts to take notice you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there'll never be diseases any more."

"Thanks Jackie, that was GREAT! Now — how to play the flute. Well, you blow in one end and move your fingers up and down the outside."

"GREAT! Well next week we'll be showing you how black and white people can live together in peace and harmony and Alan will be over in Moscow showing you how to reconcile the Russians and the Chinese, 'till then ... Cheerio ... Bye-bye!" (Courtesy of the Monty Python team)
There are simple solutions to many dilemmas in the Enid Blyton world and this caters to the child's urgent need for them. If there's a problem with Bill Smugs not being a father yet acting like one yet not being around much of the time yet being close friends with Aunt Allie then why doesn't he marry her ... so he does! (The Ship of Adventure) The children are there during the proposal and everything's hunky-dory (and simple). When Rose Longfield turns over a completely new leaf in the space of about 24 hours it makes a very acceptable ending to one of the Enid Blyton Family/Farm books (Six Cousins Again). What a happy (and simple) solution to all the trials and tribulations.

In The Put-Em-Rights there is a similar need for quick solutions the supplying of which is delegated to six children who are inspired to Put Things Right after listening to a Tramping Preacher who brings the Good Word to the children of England. The religious man has a way with kids and his piercing blue eyes burn the message into the hearts and minds of his audience on the village green at Under-Ridge. He wants them to help others and make the world a better place. Yolande Paget is one of those who are affected by the preacher's stirring speech and she wonders aloud that perhaps she and her friends should carry out what they have been encouraged to do — help others. Sally Wilson whose mother runs the village school agrees but mind you, it must be done on a proper basis with rules. Micky and Amanda Gray who live at the Rectory are there and also Yolande's cousin — Claude or "Podge" as he is known to his mates. The sixth member of the band is Bobby Jones who lives with his poor but proud widowed mother. Sally automatically becomes the leader of the Put-Em-Rights because she's brisk, dominating, efficient, organized and used to running things. In that respect perhaps she's a bit like Moira of Malory Towers fame but hopefully more humane.

The members of the little band sally forth to right wrongs and they manage to find some that need addressing. There's a poor little dog belonging to a cruel master who needs to learn how to treat animals properly and there's a rather dirty woman whose husband is away serving in the Navy. She has a filthy baby and a filthy house with a garden full of weeds so this is a state of affairs that definitely needs to be put right. As the story develops we learn a little more about the individual characters of the Put-Em-Rights and we find there is a rather lazy member — Amanda, and then there's Podge who's rather careless and Sally's bossiness is worthy of remark. Although the children are helping others they could inadvertently end up finding out a little more about themselves and their shortcomings and the reader can sense this happening and feel good about it because in a way the members are indirectly and unknowingly reaping rewards for their efforts.

Like the Find-Outers in one of the Blyton series of books, the Put-Em-Rights have their various assignments to perform in different parts of the village over the ensuing days and they put their hearts into the allotted tasks. What would seem pretty impossible to do gradually dissolves into that which might be achievable providing there is a lot of dedication plus a little simplifying from the author. The woman who lives in squalor with her baby is Mrs Potts (Rene to her friends) and it's Amanda who's chosen to put things right for her. Unfortunately for Amanda Mrs Potts falls ill and is carted off to hospital temporarily so her mother, Mrs. Tomms, comes into the picture together with her rather slovenly daughter — Francie. Mrs. Tomms' way of making people do things in accordance with her wishes is to threaten to skin them and I'm not sure what she really means unless it's to take a knife and peel off Francie's flesh (in this case) but it's probably an olden-day threat which was used whenever a mother wanted action from her offspring. Amanda works on the house with Francie's help and after a few getting-to-know-each-other squabbles, they become quite friendly.

How do you prevent a family from being kicked out of their lodgings? Podge has to tackle this and he makes a rather bad start with a Mr. Tupp who is head of the evictee family and who seems a fairly nasty type on first appearance. Several Enid Blyton character-names are similar to those of others in her works or even to the titles of people with whom she associated. Her choice of "Mr. Tupp" may have been spawned through a subconscious recollection of the terrible Mr. Tupping who featured in the second Find-Outers book or even the disliked Old Tapping who worked in the garden at Green Hedges. Just a thought! Anyway, a little later Podge learns something about the Tupps' eviction which is very close to home!

Young Bobby from the wrong side of the tracks has to help a family whose father is apparently in prison and his introduction to Put-Em-Righting is fraught with nastiness in the form of stark truths so his battle is all uphill. Mickey works on his unenviable task of trying to make a better life for the ill-treated dog and its master. Sally goes to tackle a woman whom she believes is spreading malicious gossip around the village and she eventually learns that, when the chips are down, she is not as capable as she had always thought she was — there's Enid Blyton balance for you.

The end draws nigh and overall the Put-Em-Rights have been successful enough for a few pats on the back. One happy result can be revealed — carrying on with the idea about "becoming a doctor and discovering a marvellous cure for something," one of the families helped by a Put-Em-Right contains a boy with rather "queer ways." Yolande's father who is a doctor (not a psychiatrist) performs a small operation and the boy's queer ways are consigned to ancient history!

After Bobby has come to an understanding about his rightful position in society he corrects himself and this brings the story to an end in true Find-Outer fashion ... lemonade and ice-creams all round. What could be nicer?
The Put-Em-Rights came out in 1946 and contains 24 chapters.

The illustrations are by W. Spence an artist whose depictions of children's heads always remind me of hydrocephalics I encountered in a psychiatric institution ... but that's just an observation. They are quite adequate.

There is a little hint of other Blyton books in The Put-Em-Rights. The Six Bad Boys might be remembered and also the Find-Outers. Like Fatty of that series, Claude is called Podge because he's a little fat and, as mentioned, the children go to various locales in the village but to Help-Out rather than to Find-Out. The actual presentation of the edition I read is very similar to The Family at Red-Roofs but it's not that surprising seeing both books sprang from the Lutterworth Press and round the same period. Furthermore, surely the frontispiece of The Put-Em-Rights is by the same artist who drew the Red-Roofs one.

Mrs Potts' baby (Hilda) "crows" every now and again and it might appear a little odd to read about this occurrence however a definition of "crow" being "to utter shrill sounds" shows that Hilda's crowing is quite within context.

In Chapter #13 Amanda states that she took her dress off and just wore an old overall when she was tidying up Mrs. Potts' house but in actuality Mrs. Potts sister Francie, who was also helping, simply tied an overall around Amanda's print frock and this is backed up by the picture.

The PC Word-Jugglers will need to confer far into the night when they update this book — if it hasn't happened already. What did Sally's mother mean in the first chapter when she called up the stairs to Sally, "Whatever are you doing, mooning up there?" Was Sally near the window? Did it overlook the High Street? "I'm not mooning," called back Sally impatiently. Go for it PC Busybodies. It has been recorded numerous times on forums and the like that the modern meanings of words introduced into the Blyton works can often be confusing when they contrast with the original script. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.