Bom Goes to Magic Town
First edition: 1960
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
Suddenly a fat little man comes running across the field towards them. His name is Mr. Peep-About and he has news of the Skipper because he saw what happened when Heave-Ho disappeared. Apparently a wizard had come by and offered the Skipper a bag of gold for it his unusual home whereupon Heave-Ho had expressed his opposition to this by opening the bag and emptying the contents all over the wizard's head! O.K, the Skipper's a large and powerful man but unfortunately a wizard has magical capabilities which are superior to those of any mortal. A quick wave of his wand caused the boat-house to grow wings and fly up into the air where it flapped away into the distance. This act enraged Skipper Heave-Ho so much that all potential consequences were blotted out of his mind and he actually rushed at the wizard to give him "What For." Not a wise move because the wizard simply pointed his wand at him and shrunk the poor sailor-man to about the size of a cat before disappearing with a BANG! The Skipper had then spotted Mr. Peep-About and asked him to find Bom the little Drummer and tell him what had happened and now that Peep-About has put Bom into the picture he makes off and leaves behind him a very sad and puzzled young man.
After a little contemplation, Bom and Wuffy begin searching to track down their friend and Bom's so worked up about what's happened that he feels he'd like to shake the wizard into little pieces should he come across him. He interprets Wuffy's sudden growl as a threat to chase the culprit splash into the pond so it can be gathered that the wizard has gained two enemies in a very short space of time. Bom sings one of his songs as he marches along in the hope that the Skipper will hear him and when some children tell him that there are two skippers around the corner the surprised drummer-boy races to see and confronts a couple of girls with their skipping ropes. Darn! He and Wuffy-dog move off again and along the way they drop into a baker's shop for refreshments and are told by the girl behind the counter that her back garden is full of skippers. She takes them out to show them and Bom is confronted with hosts of grasshoppers skipping about the place. He's really worried now because Heave-Ho might at this very moment be in danger of his life from a cat or a dog or he might even lose himself down a rabbit-hole so after a quick lemonade, he and Wuffy are off again and munching at buns as they go.
They reach the next village and are greeted by some boys and girls who think Bom looks rather grand and in answer to his question about the Skipper he's told that they'd seen a dog chasing something and it definitely wasn't a cat because the object of the dog's attention was shouting. That sounds promising and when a girl tells him that the little creature had climbed up someone's bicycle and hid in the basket Bom asks where the bicycle went and the girl points out the direction. The little drummer and dog continue on their way until Wuffy barks and pulls at his master's sleeve because he's just seen a bike leaning against a cottage wall. A man wearing a yellow hat comes out and complains about the noise Wuffy is making and is taken aback when Bom asks if he can look into his bicycle basket. Without waiting for assent, the little drummer rushes to peer inside amongst some cabbages and tomatoes there and this makes the man very angry. He pushes Bom over and Wuffy rushes into the fray to attack the assailant's ankles. The man's mother comes to the door and when Bom tells them why he wanted to look in the basket, the man understands because he'd seen a tiny sailor jump out of the basket and scurry away into a ditch. The old woman invites Bom in to have a meat pie but Bom hasn't time to spare so he's given a couple to take with him plus a bone for Wuffy and then they set off once again on their search. You can see him silhouetted in the distance banging his drum with Wuffy-dog beside him and the old woman and her son staring after them and hoping that their mission will be successful.
Bom's a persistent and thorough little fellow so all rabbit holes along the way are examined and the ditch is scoured and then when he sits down to have some pie a tiny voice comes from somewhere. He and Wuffy-dog look up and what a surprise they receive - there's the good, but tiny, Skipper perched on the branch of a tree where he's taken refuge from such dangerous animals as dogs and cats. A tear runs down Bom's cheek and there's a joyful reunion with Skipper Heave-Ho resolving to get his boat-house back and regain his normal size ... you see if he doesn't! The consensus is that they need to visit Magic-Town where the wizard resides so with the Skipper settled down inside Bom's drum, the adventurers are away to beard the wizard in his den and who knows what will happen now? Banging his drum at the great shining gates of Magic Town and almost deafening poor Heave-Ho in the process, Bom is admitted when he announces himself in a very loud voice. Marching through the streets and hitting his drum again, he is approached by a small bent wizard who informs him that no one is allowed here unless they can perform magic. Bom is saved from embarrassment when a voice comes from the drum –
"Beware of the talking drum!"
That's enough to impress the wizard who's never seen or heard a drum with a voice before today and he's only too willing to aid Bom in his search. He knows of a boat-house that has recently appeared in the town and he takes Bom to see it. Magic Town is a very strange place but that's to be expected because magic abounds here and Bom sees all kinds of weird things like a flying pony and a tall tower turning unto smoke as the wizard takes Bom and Wuffy down the street and around a corner where, at last, they see the Skipper's boat-house. Bom runs to it and looks inside but the wizard who has guided him to the house suddenly sees the "owner" arriving and thinks he'd better make himself scarce. He vanishes in a puff of smoke and Bom is left to confront the powerful Yellow Wizard whose name is Mr. Bang-About. The little drummer doesn't pull any punches and he adopts a threatening manner –
"I've come to get back my friend's boat-house. How DARE you steal it?"
That's a very brave thing to say to such a powerful person but Bom's no chicken when it comes to asserting his rights. The wizard threatens to turn him into a ball and kick him along the street and I doubt that Bom would be able to do anything about it if it wasn't for the clever Skipper inside the drum who yells out very angrily -
"Hold your tongue, Bang-About. If you're not careful you'll be turned into a dog's dinner and eaten up!"
Bang-About stares at the drum in horror and the voice speaks again threatening to send him to sleep for a hundred years and to prove that's possible the voice orders Bom to go to sleep right now. Bom catches on and closes his eyes, sinks down to the pavement, and starts snoring. The drum-voice then makes a few more threats and Bang-About falls to his knees asking for mercy. He'll give Bom the boat-house and a sack of gold but he would really like to have the talking drum even though he's so scared of it.
Bom is "Noble" – there's no other word for it. Like Noddy, the little wooden doll, he'll give up anything for a friend so he agrees to the wizard's request even though his drum means so much to him. When the wizard goes to get his wand the Skipper emerges from the drum and with Bom's help he climbs into the boat-house and covers himself with a table-cloth. He needs a spell to regain his size though so Bom's going to part with his drum but not the drumsticks unless the wizard gives him a Get-Big Spell. Heave-Ho calls out to Bom –
"Be sure to put a pail of water into the boat before we leave."
Bom takes note though he can't figure out why the Skipper made that request. Bang-About returns and demands the drum before he works any magic so Bom hands it over. The wizard then asks for the drumsticks but Bom is firm and says that first he requires two things – a Get-Big Spell and a pail of water to put into the boat-house. Bang-About is rather curious about that but he produces the spell from a box which he takes out of his pocket and hands it to Bom and then waves his wand and a bucket of water appears. Bom takes it and runs to the boat saying he'll throw the drumsticks down when the boat is in the air. A wave of the wand and some queer chanting causes some wings to start growing on the boat and when it rises Bom throws the sticks out and the Skipper directs him to take the pail of water and pour it all over the wizard as they pass over him. He does so and Bang-About is FURIOUS –
"How DARE you? I'm wet all over! Come back!"
Not blooming likely. The boat sails away in the air leaving behind Bom's precious drum and there they are high in the sky and heading for the field where the Skipper's house will be placed once more. Bom sings a song of course and Wuffy licks him and the Skipper hugs Bom's knee because that's as far as he can reach. Seeing he's now drum-less, Bom entertains the thought that he could become a trumpeter although he doesn't like trumpets all that much ... but now they are landing and the wings become smaller and smaller and then disappear. They're back and the most important thing to be done now is for the Skipper to take his magic pill so he swallows it and they wait in apprehension. Five minutes passes and sure enough Heave-Ho shoots up to his right size again and he's thrilled about it. The boat is turned upside down again and everything inside is tidied up and made ship-shape then after a cup of tea and a hug every now and again from the grateful Skipper, Bom's ready to turn in so he settles down with the resolve that he won't worry about his drum anymore. Soon he and the Skipper are fast asleep but Wuffy is still awake and he hears a strange noise. What is it? He barks and wakes up Heave-Ho and Bom and you can but guess at what they see. The door bursts open and in rolls Bom's drum – Bom-diddy-bom-diddy-bom-bom-bom! How can this be? Why did the wizard send it back? It would be a shame if we never found out and the book ended with a mystery but luckily we learn the answer because there's some scribbling in black lettering on both sides of the drum and this is what it says –
"Take your drum back. It doesn't say a word. Keep your drum. It's dumb, dumb, dumb!"
The wizard may not know why the drum didn't speak to him but we certainly know. What a wonderful ending because everyone's happy. Wait – the drumsticks. What about them? It's all right, they're inside the drum but they aren't in there for long. Out they come and now everyone's prancing round the room in excitement with Bom banging his drum once again and the song he sings takes up the whole of the last page which I think is perfectly acceptable.
" ... you rolled all alone
Through the dark, dark night,
And now you are home,
And everything's RIGHT!
Bom seems to love meat pies and he's lucky because someone always seems to be offering him one.
Bom showed his loyalty for the Skipper when he gave up his drum and this gesture brought to mind the time when Noddy gave up his most treasured possession – namely his car, in order that his friend Big-Ears could reclaim Whiskers, his pet cat.
Can't see any lettering on the drum as it rolls through the door but maybe it's turning around too fast.
It's a little puzzling as to why the wizard didn't take revenge for being duped by Bom because I'm sure his magical powers could have zapped the boat-house back into his own territory once again.
Best picture composition? Possibly the one where the man in the yellow hat and his mother watch as Bom and Wuffy-dog make off to continue their search for Skipper Heave-Ho.
The cover picture shows Mr. Bang About dropping the Get Big Spell into Bom's hand.
I thought that the powerful wizard's home would be an enormous castle and that his magical status would ensure that he misses nothing but he hasn't noticed Skipper Heave-Ho who's boldly showing his face from where he's "hidden," and if that's the wizard's home behind them then I guess he lives in a teapot!
I've seen a ladybird with a walking-stick in an Enid Blyton story but until I looked at the cover of this book I'd never seen one in a dunce's hat.