The Enid Blyton Society
The Adventures of Scamp
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Book Details...

First edition: 1943
Publisher: George Newnes
Illustrator: Uncredited
Category: Mary Pollock Books
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

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Reprint Covers
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations


Tower House edition from 1947, illustrations uncredited
Joan and Kenneth Hill are thrilled when Flossie, the Hill family's wire-haired terrier, gives birth to four beautiful puppies. The children will be allowed to keep one of them and this adds a definite edge to the excitement. Which should they choose? They look them over carefully and finally, going slightly against their mother's wishes, they decide on the puppy with a black patch over one eye because he's the naughtiest and they think that a mischievous puppy would be more exciting to have around the place. Joan, with a little help from Kenneth, names him Scamp and that's just about what he is. Scamp makes his presence felt right from the start. He nibbles at everything, tries to pull laces out of shoes and the buttons off Joan's frock, and he even upsets a stack of firewood in the shed so one task that needs to be put on the children's list will have to be a dog-training session.

In a very short time the other puppies have been sent to good homes and now the only animals in the Hill family's residence are Scamp, his mother, and Fluffy. Scamp develops a kind of love-hate relationship with Fluffy the cat and he's not averse to chasing her around the place. He has lessons to learn right from the start though and one of them is that when Fluffy wags her tail, she is not expressing friendship and so his schooling begins with a scratched nose. This comes as a bit of a shock and Scamp seeks solace from Flossie who comforts him and explains a little about the differences between dogs and cats. Scamp needs to wait until he's a bit older before he chases the cat again.

Enid Blyton has a nice way of conveying animals' conversations to the reader. Dogs might "wuff" something or simply "say" what they're trying to express and the children or their mother will answer although in our own minds we are really filling in the gaps because we know of course that animals and humans can't communicate verbally. After a while it seems quite natural and the story progresses very smoothly.

Scamp continues on his merry way — getting into scrapes left, right and centre and he comes up against cold reality every now and again. There are punishments for his obsessive chewing of things but there's also self-inflicted misery which is another good way of learning what to do and what not to do — I mean to say if a puppy chews on a lump of coal or a cake of soap, it's not hard to predict the result! Kenneth and Joan commence Scamp's formal training and find that he's a fast learner because he's a very intelligent little dog (he's growing up fast). He puts one of his newly learnt tricks to good use and obtains the odd tit-bit from the cook and the butcher boy by sitting up and begging — but it doesn't work with everyone so he's got to temper his abilities somewhat.

Scamp proves to be a very brave animal and he won't hesitate to defend himself — even against an adversary who's a good deal bigger. He'll give as good as he gets and at the same time he'll learn a few lessons of life which involve the treatment of other creatures. Some species are pretty helpless whilst others can look after themselves so it's a matter of distinguishing the two categories. However ... some of the more helpless animals have protectors and it can be very dangerous indeed to indulge in hanky-panky due to the possibility of serious consequences. Did you know that dogs can be shot if they chase sheep? Is Scamp shot? Yes!

It's 1943. EB is working on all cylinders and the chapter entitled 'Scamp Does His Best' is a typically heart-warming and humorous interlude in the varied life of Kenneth, Joan and their little rascal. More chapters unfold and they relate to Scamps adventures and adventures they are. He's not a pet that lies idly around eating, drinking, and sleeping as Fluffy might well do. Scamp wants action and he demands to be where it's all happening. Could he catch a burglar all by himself? Now that seems a rather tall order because he's not exactly a Borzoi or a German Shepherd — however, he's strong, full of beans, and extremely courageous. If you look at the cover pictures above you can easily gauge Scamp's approximate size.

Like one or two other beloved pets in Enid Blyton's world, Scamp has to disappear and this is mainly because of his intelligence. There is considerable anguish at the Hill household and this harrowing episode takes up a good four chapters. It's a very marked period in the little dog's life but things come right due to a favourable circumstance and there's joy all round.

Can Scamp top his current achievements in this short book? He can and he does in the last chapter? Read The Adventures of Scamp and enjoy yet another of the excellent Mary Pollock series.
Mary Pollock was a pen-name adopted briefly by the author.

The original artist for the book seems not to have been recognized however the vote I'd throw into the hat would be for Lucy Gee whose pictures in Shadow the Sheep-Dog left a lasting impression on me. One reprint gives credit to Olive Openshaw who might be remembered for her efforts with the little Mary Mouse booklets and whether or not the original illustrations have an edge on the Openshaw images would be purely a matter of opinion. In the Newnes edition all but one of the pictures are full-page and there are about 25 of them. In contrast, the 1951 edition has about 17 illustrations most of which are half-page.

In the original edition there is a picture of Joan at the time she and her brother were choosing their puppy. Joan is not wearing a frock but a skirt so I guess the buttons Scamp tried to chew off could be at the rear but how the tiny puppy managed to climb up and reach them is anyone's guess! As stated in the book — Scamp has a patch over one eye, but you can see in the cover illustrations kindly supplied by The Enid Blyton Society that the pictures aren't quite true to life.

Another little snippet which you might have read if you subscribe to The Enid Blyton Society Journal concerns the book that I referred to for this review. It's a 1951 copy which I acquired in1974 but eventually I got rid of it. In 1999 I was looking through a pile of books in a Salvation Army shop and came across it again — 25 years after it had left my possession! Naturally I had to buy it for old time's sake. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.