The Enid Blyton Society
Adventures of the Wishing-Chair
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Book Details...

First edition: 1937
Publisher: George Newnes
Illustrator: Hilda McGavin
Category: Wishing-Chair
Genre: Fantasy
Type: Novels/Novelettes

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Reprint Covers
Artwork
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations

Reprints

1st edition, November 1937 @ 3/6, illustrated by Hilda McGavin


Frontis from the 1st edition (also in 2nd, 3rd and 4th), illustrated by Hilda McGavin


2nd edition, November 1939 @ 2/-, with a picture onlay and a glassine wrapper


5th edition, September 1942 @ 5/-, illustrated by Hilda McGavin


8th edition, June 1953 @ 7/-, first to have a pictorial spine
Book History: Adventures of the Wishing-Chair (Wishing-Chair 1) (November 1937) 3/6 (8 X 6) (248 pages) Blue cloth boards and title on spine in black with a dustwrapper (ill. Hilda McGavin) (colour frontis)
(1 story 36 chapters originally serialised in Sunny Stories January-September 1937 (SS 1-36)
(notes: The first dustwrapper had a plain white spine with just the price in blue on it. A new edition in November 1939 @ 2/- had a picture onlay on red cloth boards and came in a glassine wrapper, 8 X 5 and 216 pages. This and all editions up to the 10th in 1960 were abridged to 31 chapters and the last four editions (11th-14th, 1963-1968) were further abridged to 27 chapters. It was reprinted in February 1940 @ 3/- with the dustwrapper changed so that the area outside the onlay was in white with blue writing and with a blue line drawing on the spine. It was reprinted with a newly designed wrapper in September 1942 @ 5/- in a slightly larger edition, 8 X 5 with a plain white spine. This was replaced by a pictorial coloured spine in January 1953 @ 7/-)


Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Terry Gustafson's Review
Adventures of the Wishing-Chair is the first "Enid Blyton" I ever read and what's more it was the first book I ever read. The little nursery booklets that are given to babies usually feature colourful pictures of farm animals and everyday objects perhaps accompanied by a simple ABC but baby doesn't understand the word printed on each page so he doesn't "read" the book. The first tutorial books are used at school when we're learning to read and in my own case it was Tiny Tots' Primer and then First Progressive Primer. Having gained enough knowledge in the art of reading I was ready to tackle my first book as in "Reading a Book" rather than stumbling through a school text-book. This is a great moment in anyone's life because a new world is opened up and you have the means of experiencing adventures which you could only try to imagine previously. The text creates reality in the mind and this is especially so for children because of their impressionability.

Using my newly acquired skill I began Adventures of the Wishing-Chair and read the words out loud rather haltingly — "The adventure really began on the day that Mollie and Peter went out to spend three shillings on a present for their mother's birthday." Three shilling was quite a lot of money in 1937 and for that amount you could buy about three dozen bars of toffee. I followed Peter and Mollie when they went to count the coins which they had saved up in their money-box and I pressed on until I reached the word "Antiques." Fortunately Peter explained to me what that meant and I was able to continue. The children run into town and came across an antique shop and a very strange one at that because a pixyish little man comes to the counter. He isn't all that good-tempered and he grumbles when Peter asks if he could have a piece of paper wrapped round the lovely little vase they have bought for their mother. He searches for some in a pile of boxes at the back of the shop which contain anything but paper — a black cat for starters, then some green smoke followed by a crowd of blue butterflies and after a fox has been released, another figure enters — that of a man not unlike a wizard because of his tall pointed hat. The children who have curled themselves up on an old chair to keep clear of the fox feel they just want to get away. Unfortunately the little pixie-man has locked the door because he didn't want the butterflies to escape (don't know why he locked it). The reader could well be wondering what on earth is happening in the little shop? It appears there is magic about and a lot of it. They are trapped in a hostile environment and, like anyone would, they wish they were back at their home again. It is here that Enid Blyton introduces one of her most interesting and beloved creations - the Wishing-Chair. "And then the most extraordinary thing of all happened! The chair they were in began to creak and groan, and suddenly it rose up in the air, with the two children in it!" As it can't go through the locked door it manages to fly upstairs and exit the shop through an open window followed by cries of rage from the pixie and the wizard-man who are chasing after it. The chair is magic all right but not quite magic enough to fly all by itself so there are red wings growing out of its legs to enable propulsion and if you wish to see a lovely picture which sums up what the Wishing-Chair is all about you can feast your eyes on Hilda McGavin's illustration showing Peter and Mollie in the air above the rooftops. Other artists have depicted the Wishing-Chair in flight but the clear and nicely balanced McGavin efforts have the authentic touch to them. Peter and Mollie are flown home to their little play-room at the bottom of the garden where they fly through the door and land. The children jump off and look at each other and Mollie speaks a sentence that has remained with me ever since I was about six — "The first real adventure we've ever had in our lives!"

Hilda McGavin is quick to produce another impressive picture — that of the children confronting a giant who is holding a small pixie. How Peter and Mollie come into this state of affairs is understood when you read of the children's desire to experience another trip on the chair after their discovery that the little red wings which disappear after a while will sprout again. The second adventure takes them to an enormous castle on top of a mountain and this episode is an integral part of the book because it deals with the rescue of the little pixie from the giant's clutches and he becomes their faithful friend. Chinky is his name and the giant had been keeping him as a virtual slave to help with the book-keeping and to clean his enormous boots amongst other things. The children use their chair to full advantage and with Chinky sitting on the back they engineer an extremely narrow escape from the castle after some very tense moments. The pixie is welcomed into Peter and Mollie's play-room and told that he can live there and go on more adventures with them if he likes. He's very grateful and is more than happy to take up lodgings in his new surroundings. It needs to be pointed out that Chinky has got a mother but fairyland folk are a little different from humans and it's not a problem if Chinky lives away from home for a while. He can always visit his mother (which he does) especially when the children are away at their boarding schools.

Like the Faraway Tree series, the theme of the Wishing-Chair tales revolves mainly around the various places the children visit but Mollie and Peter have an advantage because they can fly off to any exotic location they like rather than having to wait for a suitable land to appear on their doorstep. Over the ensuing days and weeks they visit many places and besides coming across some extraordinary characters and situations, they also court much danger. To clue you up a little here are some of the chapters — The Grabbit Gnomes, The Adventure Of The Green Enchanter, The Witch Kirri-Kirri, The Magician's Party, Witch Snippit, The Windy Wizard, Mr Twisty, Two Bad Children, The Horrid Quarrel, The Enchanter Clip-Clap, Big-Ears The Goblin, The Snoogle and there are many more. It can be gathered that the children together with Chinky meet up with plenty of Witches and Wizards which is what all good fairy-tales require. There are also magicians and many dubious and crafty people which is obvious when Mr Twisty appears on the scene. The chapter about the horrid quarrel concerns a morning when they are all a little bored with the rainy weather and become a little crotchety with each other resulting in Chinky getting up and leaving in a huff! The children expect him to return but he doesn't so as they have a wonderful way of getting to any place on earth (or in Fairyland), they get into the Wishing Chair and whiz off to find him. It turns out that their little friend has been captured by a great big bird belonging to an enchanter so the plot takes off into the stratosphere with four chapters devoted to a thrilling account of a dangerous quest. Moving on it can be pointed out that in this book the familiar name of "Big Ears" does not refer to Noddy's friend but to a furtive goblin whom they come up against although he is very small fry indeed when compared with the Snoogle — and what can a Snoogle be? This is another of the creative names that Enid Blyton thought up every now and again and I can tell you that a Snoogle is a very frightening and rather spooky entity and poses a severe threat to the children's and Chinky's safety!

There is a chapter that invites comment and it's entitled "The Land of Dreams." To a child who has been alive only a handful of years and who may have been waiting around in a type of dream-world whilst waiting to be born, this story could be very impressionable. Little people often experience nightmares in an unreal environment which seems very existent when a dream is taking place so Mollie, Peter and Chinky's foray into the confusing atmosphere of the Land of Dreams can be identified with in many respects. From the very first moments when the Wishing-Chair lands in this ethereal place the visitors experience confusion. Nothing is what it seems to be and their situation goes from bad to worse until there appears to be no hope at all of escaping their unpleasant surroundings or even seeing each other again and you'll wonder how in God's name they are going to get back to the safety of Reality.

Another chapter can be noted because it was personally remembered as one which had a very satisfactory outcome because a nagging-mystery was solved. Soaring away over Fairyland the chair is hit by an aeroplane and when one thinks about it that's a completely understandable hazard to be borne by those who file no flight-plan and have no experience at all of charting routes let alone not even being in possession of a licence for what could be seen as a dangerous occupation. Imagine being up there with no safety belts and suddenly slipping (just a little) and falling headlong from the great heights to which the chair can ascend. As it happens this is exactly what takes place and the unlucky faller is none other than Chinky! Looking at the McGavin picture of that terrible moment I can compare the fairy-tale surroundings of open fields and little dwellings with any of the green and pleasant pastures that lie outside the English villages of old and it's down into this rural setting that poor Chinky drops. Mollie and Peter order the chair to descend of course to see if they can find him and they become involved in a very difficult assignment. None of the villagers have noticed the falling pixie but as the children make it known there will be a reward for information (I wonder what they were able to offer) the inhabitants of the village all present their observations aligned with the moment of Chinky's disappearance. One by one they report sighting a large snowflake which fell into nearby Buttercup Field but as this is not the required information Peter and Mollie cannot pay out the reward to anyone but the jostling people around them think they have supplied enough information and they become very aggressive. The children jump onto the Wishing-Chair and make a narrow escape. I think that the mystery of Chinky's disappearance can be supplied in this review and if it might spoil a little of the plot for a potential reader then the rest of this paragraph can be skipped. The children return home in a very sad state and are amazed to find that Chinky's back in the play-room! The solution to the mystery is revealed ... when Chinky fell out of the chair he turned himself into a large snowflake which means that he landed with no broken bones or anything then he simply caught a bus home! That adequately covers the villagers' ravings on about seeing a snowflake falling into Buttercup Field and therefore they may or may not have been entitled to the reward depending on whether or not the sighting of a snowflake could have led them to the little pixie. We have also been introduced to the fact that Chinky is a practitioner of magic although his powers are not comparable to those possessed by Wizards, Witches and Enchanters because he can't enter a locked room without a key!
I think that Adventures of the Wishing-Chair is an exceptionally good item to produce when a child wishes to read his or her very first book however if the young person is of a very nervous disposition and prone to nightmares then it might be wise to think about chapters such as those where the children enter a witch's garden at the dead of night or when they are captured in a castle belonging to an outlandish creature.

Later copies of Adventures of the Wishing-Chair were abridged then in further editions some chapters were restored and some left out so if you want to read them all try searching for The Wishing Chair Collection or More Wishing-Chair Tales and add them to your reprints — although you may not end up with all the Hilda McGavin illustrations.

In her foreword, Enid Blyton comments on the hundreds of letters she received when the Wishing-Chair tales came to an end in the original Sunny Stories magazine which she edited and wrote. The children wanted more and they wished that all the tales could be put into one book and that's not surprising because magazines are often missed which means that serial-stories can become quite disjointed.

There are so many possibilities for adventure and conflict in the Wishing-Chair setting that the children and Chinky do not really need a mischievous or silly outsider to accompany them on their travels although at least one makes an appearance — Thomas, but he doesn't get to go with Peter and Chinky when they whisk away in the chair to get help for his unpleasant-looking face!

To keep the morality of the Enid Blyton tales on firm ground, Mollie and Peter did try to return the chair to its rightful owner by ordering it back to the shop from whence it came but it refused to go.

Mollie's name can be interchanged with "Molly."

The idea of a Wishing Chair is attractive for the freedom and romance it could involve. On a "windy Friday evening" you're off into the air to soar above the nearby hills. The township can be seen in the distance where the locals are making their way home from work to prepare their evening meals. It is dusk and with a further command the chair turns and wings its way back over the fields. The streams reflect the azure evening sky and there are a few twinkling stars on the horizon as you head for the village centre. Now the Wishing-Chair is hovering just above the rooftops of the high street where a person you admire is stepping off the bus. Floating down in the twilight you could put the question — "Like a lift to your doorstep?" These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.