Bom and his Magic Drumstick
First edition: 1957
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: R. Paul-Höye
Category: Bom Series
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: R. Paul-Höye
Category: Bom Series
On This Page...
Cover from the 1st edition, illustrated by R. Paul-Höye
Endpapers from the 1st edition, illustrated by R. Paul-Höye
Title Page from the 1st edition, illustrated by R. Paul-Höye
Yes, it's Bom striding along hitting his big drum and making quite a din. He tells us why he's there,
"I'm Bom, the little drummer who escaped from Captain Bang's fort and went out into the world to seek adventures."
He's lost, he's hungry, he's thirsty, and he's tired so what's he going to do about it? A thrush points out a cottage but tells him to be careful when he gets there.
Neither the thrush or the robin or the nearby rabbits will tell him. You can picture the cottage because it's similar to many that are described in Enid Blyton stories ... made of bricks or stone and with a thatched roof — it has "roses growing all over it right up to the chimneys and tall hollyhocks by the wall." There's something odd about the place however because it has no door! Bom makes up a little song about this phenomenon and then he spots an old woman peering at him from the window. She's busy making spells but when Bom tells her who he is she welcomes the little drummer into her abode because it seems that she's heard of him. Bom must be garnering a little fame. The woman tells him how to get in so he follows her instructions by banging his drum three times and yelling out "ALLAMOOLI-ALLA-MAY !" A door appears and he's able to enter a very queer little cottage.
There's a clock walking up and down the mantelpiece on two fat little legs and an old rocking chair swaying all by itself and humming a tune. Under the table there's a stool turning itself round and round but there's an explanation for the rather bizarre behaviour of the house-owner's possessions. The old lady who is stirring some magic spells in a large black pot ... spells to make wishes come true, tells Bom that she accidentally splashed some magic on them one day so that's why they act as they do.
People who deal in magic usually have a black cat somewhere handy and sure enough there's a large one in the corner blinking at Bom with two large green eyes. Blinky-Cat takes a dislike to Bom and refuses point-blank to fetch him some refreshments from the larder preferring instead to exit the room with its tail in the air so the woman gets the little drummer to stir the pot whilst she fetches him something to eat. The pot contains a bubbling mixture with an odd smell and Bom is surprised to see a ship and a strange flower and even a castle being shaped in the rising steam. The woman fetches a meat pie and a jug of milk for her visitor and goes out to fetch a lettuce from the garden. The cat has returned and once again is watching Bom with its blinking green eyes and at this point I can foresee trouble — something's waiting to happen!
"MEOW!" The cat scratches Bom who drops the stirring-spoon into the pot then when he tries to retrieve it he scalds his fingers. Now, when the woman left the room she had instructed Bom to keep stirring the pot continuously or the spells would be damaged so the little man has a problem. He solves it when he looks round the room and grabs one of his drumsticks to use as a stirrer which means that the title of this book is now explained. The woman comes in with a lettuce and sees what's happened so she fishes the spoon from the pot and gives Bom back his drumstick which has gone quite black. She also learns how Blinky-Cat had misbehaved and I think Bom would be quite happy with the action that follows because he's become fed up with the way the cat keeps staring at him. The woman who is obviously some kind of enchantress punishes her pet —
"Akki-rooni, akki-rat, change into a china cat!"
That's what happens and now the cat will stay immovable for two hours. What a satisfactory solution. Bom finishes his meal, gives thanks, washes the dishes for the old woman, and once she's brought the door back he's able to depart and continue looking for adventures on a full stomach. On his way through the wood he comes across a signpost which has three directions on it — "This Way," "That Way," "The Other Way." He goes "This Way" and ends up on a dusty road which goes on for so many miles that he becomes very hot and wishes intently that he had an ice-cream to cool him down a little.
Boing! Incredibly, one appears on top of his drum. Bom seizes it and sits down to indulge. How sweet and cold and delicious it is — in fact, it's so lovely that when he finishes the treat he wishes for another. Boing! A second ice-cream appears and Bom realizes that his wishes are coming true so, as his feet are hurting, he asks for a new pair of boots. Boing! A bottle of lemonade, because he's thirsty. Boing! A glass. A bottle-opener. Boing! Boing! Bom is delighted and after he's finished the lemonade he dons his new boots and then makes a wish which is slightly misinterpreted. He asks for a bigger drum — a much bigger one and what happens is that his drum becomes so big he can't even see over it. That causes a bit of a fright so he quickly wishes it back to the original size and thankfully it shrinks to order.
"This is all VERY peculiar."
He continues on through the wood, beating his drum and singing a song that expresses the current situation and he also puzzles over how he acquired his new power. The reader can guess, but Bom who is just a toy would not have the level of intelligence needed to evolve a quick solution. He becomes very lonely walking along all by himself and it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that he might wish he had a companion. He does. He wishes for a dear little puppy-dog — " ... a frisky, friendly little fellow called Wuff!" Bom knows what he wants and he's expressed his desire right down to the pet's name and almost before he's finished speaking, his wish is fulfilled. The dearest little puppy appears gambolling around and wuffing like mad which of course means that from now on he'll be known as "Wuff!" Bom wishes up a nice big bone for his new friend but the puppy can't carry it so it's replaced with a smaller one and then Bom begins thinking about the groceries he'll need to obtain to survive the trials and tribulations of life. Eggs are a good starter and milk will be needed so he wishes for a cow and some hens and then they all set off down the road — Bom, Wuff, the four hens and the cow with Bom singing a fine song and beating his drum. He's accompanied in the chorus by his livestock — and Wuff of course.
A bright star high up in the evening sky heralds dusk and Bom naturally needs to find shelter for himself and his companions but that's not a tall order by any means —
"I wish for a cosy little cottage and a shed for Buttercup my cow and a kennel for my puppy and a hen-house for my hens."
They all appear to order and his friends disperse to their appropriate quarters although the kennel is left empty because Wuff wants to be with Bom who is quite happy with the arrangement —
"You want to sleep with me don't you? Well you shall little puppy, we'll cuddle up together."
He goes out to check the cow and wish up some corn for the hens and then he and Wuff go into the cottage for their meal. He tells the puppy about the horrible Captain Bang and then he has an idea — he'll wish for the Captain to appear and then send him to the moon. He's as good as his word and shortly after he's made his wish he hears the galloping sound of a horse approaching. Bom's nemesis, the irascible Captain Bang, appears racing round and round the cottage until he gets very tired and begins wondering why he's been called out in the middle of the night. Suddenly, he sees the door and pounds on it.
"Oh, DEAR — there's no key to lock it," cries poor frightened Bom but he suddenly remembers his powers and wishes for one. A bright, shining key appears and he quickly uses it but now Bang is looking in the window and you can imagine his surprise when he sees the very person he's been hunting for. Quick, Bom, use your magic — get rid of him before he breaks the door down or something. Bom begins his wish to send the Captain hurtling off to the moon but there's a problem! He likes Thunder, the Captain's horse. Why should Thunder have to go to the moon as well? He'll have to make up his mind quickly because the Captain is shouting and preparing to smash through the door so Bom decides on a course of action —
"Go away, Captain Bang. I wish you back at the toy fort again and Thunder too!"
There are powerful forces at work because immediately the sound of retreating hooves is heard and Captain Bang's voice is audible no more. What a narrow squeak that was. Bom and Wuff finish up a meat-pie between them and then it's time for bed with Bom thinking of the wonderful time he'll have tomorrow. He falls asleep with Wuff curled around on his feet and everything is quiet — not a wuff, not a cluck, not a moo. Sleep tightly, Bom.
On the next page is a picture of the little man sitting up in bed and rubbing the sleep from his eyes with a beautiful sun shining in the window and Wuff by the bed wagging his tail. A breakfast is wished up and what a breakfast — fried sausage, bacon, and egg with toast, butter and honey plus some lemonade. Wuff gets a whole string of sausages wished for him and afterwards Bom the farmer goes out to check on his livestock and then he puts on his drum and sings a wishing song. He notices the blackened drumstick again and resolves to clean it up. Poor Bom, if only he could foresee the likely outcome if he carries out that resolution but he can't so he wishes for a pool of water and a clean cloth which appear at once.
Oh, Bom, don't wash away the spell on your drumstick!
He doesn't know anything about that and we can't tell him. There he goes, rubbing away at the stick and making it clean and bright again and at the same time washing away the key to his good fortune. Now, a soft rumbling noise like far-away thunder can be heard and Bom receives a shock. His cottage disappears into thin air and so does the hen-house, the cow-shed, the kennel, and all his livestock. All? Yes, all! No puppy-dog left? It looks like Wuff has gone! It's then that Bom sadly realizes the truth about the drum-stick and now he has to face the fact that he's back to living by his wits again — but what about his drum? Has that disappeared as well? No, the drum is still there standing on its side and then he receives a very pleasant surprise — a little head peeps around from behind it looking rather scared. Well, well, well — it's little Wuffy-dog. Bom rushes to him in joy wondering why he didn't disappear with the rest and then he realizes that his puppy had licked the blackened drumstick when it still contained the wishing spell and a little bit of the blackness had stuck to its tongue. When all the other things disappeared the dog had obviously wished to stay with Bom and the wish had come true. Well, Bom may be without his wonderful power but at least Wuff is still with him so they're both very happy indeed.
There are plenty more adventures in the world and there go Bom and Wuff to find them and enjoy their lives together. Listen to Bom singing happily as he goes —
"Bom-diddy-bom,There's more to it but that's enough. We'll see you again, Bom and please bring Wuffy-dog with you!
My wishes came true,
But now it's all ended,
So what shall I do ...?"
I couldn't spot the roses growing all over the cottage right up to the chimneys and I couldn't see more than one chimney either.
Bom wears those odd leggings which children often used to wear in the old days. They look like giant spats which run from around the thighs down to the bottom of the feet and then each one joins underneath. I noticed that when Bom was putting on his new boots.
A walking clock has been used at least once before and that was when Peter and Mollie in Adventures of the Wishing-Chair visited Witch Snippit. Like the old dame in this book, Snippit had a similar clock on her mantelpiece as well.
How did the old woman fish the spoon out of the pot of boiling spells? Bom couldn't get it out so maybe the woman used another ladle or perhaps a little magic.
Captain Bang will return!