The Enid Blyton Society
Enid Blyton's Animal Lover's Book
Back Book 17 of 20 in this category Next

Book Details...

First edition: 1952
Publisher: Evans Brothers
Cover Art: Eileen A. Soper
Illustrator: James Lucas, E.C. Mansell and Norman R. Satchel
Category: One-off Novels
Genre: Family/Nature
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
List of Contents
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations

  1. The Animal's Prayer
    Poem: Enid Blyton's Book of the Year
  2. The Happy Hedgehog
    Poem: Enid Blyton's Book of the Year
  3. Who-Who-Who?
    Poem: Enid Blyton's Book of the Year
  4. The Song of Timothy Toad
    Poem: The Enid Blyton Poetry Book
  5. The Field-Mouse
    Poem: The Enid Blyton Poetry Book

Wraparound dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Endpapers from the 1st edition, illustrated by James Lucas
First — get rid of the husband. An Enid Blyton husband doesn't do all that much save for getting up, having breakfast, and disappearing off to work in the city. He may arrive home when the kids are already in bed so why have him at all — unless he's of such calibre as a scientist or a lawman or someone who can contribute to whatever adventure or mystery that comes the children's way.

Second — take the family away from their grim city surroundings and place them in an idyllic rural setting.

Thirdly — introduce the Other Man. He needs to be kind and friendly and wise and he has to get on well with the wife and act as locum babysitter to the children. At least, I think that's the idea — after all their mother has the cleaning, laundry, cooking and shopping to do so there's very little time left for her to spend with the kids. All three of the requirements are catered to and with a stroke of genius, the author hasn't needed to kill the husband off or have him "not there" — she's made him a seaman! Sailors of course spend considerable amounts of time away so he's well taken care of. Mrs. Rennie has been ill and I think her husband is probably quite well paid seeing he's able to foot the bill for his recuperating loved one and her children to take a cottage in Brockhame until he returns.
The scene is set, they've been there three days and it's springtime. Susan and Richard Rennie are two of the main characters in this book and right from the start they express a great interest in animals and birds which is exactly what we want because through them and the "Other Man" we will learn a considerable amount about the creatures that haunt the fields and woodlands of Great Britain. Susan gives us some of the flavour of their current environment —

"Oh, Mother — isn't it heavenly to be here, with crowds of polyanthus flowers in those beds down there and daffodils waving their yellow heads at us, and ducks quacking somewhere, and there goes the chaffinch again, singing like mad."

Her brother expresses just a little concern that Susan won't quite join in with all his plans for befriending fish and fowl —

"I bet Susan won't be good at making friends with wild animals. She'll hate the hedgehogs, and scream at the bats, and run miles when she sees a lizard, and faint if she comes across a fox, and shiver at a toad ..."

They're having breakfast which is ideal because what happens in this Blyton scene is the "kick under the table." Richard takes it in good measure and then they're ready for whatever Brockhame has to offer them. First there's the line of brightly coloured caravans they spy from the garden door. The gipsies have arrived but, according to Mrs. Dumple the village woman who comes each day to help, they won't be around long because the farmer won't have them on his land. No one has much time for gipsies in the Blyton books because, as she is quick to point out, things go missing when they choose to camp nearby. Farmers lose hens and ducks and eggs, and treasured items disappear from the household. They're a rather convenient form of "baddie" to fall back on when you need more than a single example to cause a bit of excitement or mystery. There are exceptions though and, as if to balance the prejudice, those exceptions can be truly magnificent examples of human-beings with high morals and honest ways. Mrs. Dumple shoos off one elderly woman who wants to sell them some pegs and she can be excused for her abruptness because her four pet rabbits disappeared last time the gipsies came her way.

The children find them intriguing ... as they would.

Richard and Susan skip off to the farm with its sheep and lambs and old Barlow the shepherd who looks like a nice wrinkled old scarecrow. He confirms to them that Barney, the farmer, has gone to send the gipsies away — except for one. Could this be the Good One? It appears that it might because Barlow advises them to visit the man who goes by the old gipsy name of Boswell. The children love the farm and it's the type that Enid Blyton has described so many times — the old fashioned one where the farmer's wife churns the cream in the dairy and is forever baking cakes and currant buns. The children consume a few and then go to look for the free-range eggs — yes, none of that "battery farming" in this locale because the creatures who look after the wants of humans are, in turn, looked after.
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all.

Richard and Susan have a busy time gathering eggs and feeding a little lamb out of a baby's bottle. They visit the calves, and also the kittens belonging to Straws — the farm cat. Mr. Barney, the farmer, tells them he sent the gipsies away — all except Boswell and he adds that if he hasn't gone with the others the children should go and see him. Boswell sounds as if he's an all-right fellow because that's two recommendations so far and in the afternoon, when their mother is having her rest, Richard and Susan set off to find the man. They follow the way the gipsy caravans have gone — along the lane and up a winding hill to an open piece of common but there are no signs of the gipsies except for campfire remains and some litter. Shortly though, Richard makes a discovery — they've wandered into a wood of hazel trees and the boy sees a clearing. Walking into it he discovers a caravan sitting there all by itself. He stares at the beautifully carved animal figures all round the outside and picks several out that he can recognise — a fox and a rabbit ... perhaps that one's a frog or a toad ... a snake-like creature ... possibly a weasel. Susan joins him and they admire the intricate carvings and pick out other animals they know — a stag, a squirrel, some dogs ... Who has fashioned them? Then there is an interruption with the arrival of a black spaniel with a silky coat and suddenly a man emerges from the shrubbery and Zachary Boswell enters the children's lives. He has eyes as large and brown as the spaniel's. His hair is as black as the dog's coat, and he has thick black eyebrows on a face burnt by the sun and as wind-beaten as old Barlow's. Is he young? Is he old? His face has a thousand wrinkles but his eyes are bright yet he stoops a little as he approaches them. Somehow the children fall easily into conversation and they question him about the carvings which he explains as memories of creatures he has known in the past. They formally introduce themselves and that includes the spaniel whose name is Silky and so it is that the two children and Zacky the gipsy came to know each other, and to be close friends. How lucky for the children — luckier than either of them guess on that first sunny afternoon in the glade.

Zacky shows them round his lovely old caravan which is as clean and as bright as their mother's kitchen at home and when he offers the kids a biscuit each they learn something — their new friend has a wonderful affinity with the creatures of the wild. A robin flies down, trills in his ear, and accepts some crumbs from the gipsy's fingers. The children are delighted at this and they learn that their new friend knows the blackbird on the branch just over there and the chaffinch they can see often pays a flying visit. Richard, who has read a lot about nature, tells the gipsy that he wants to make friends with animals. He and Susan both want to learn more about the flora and fauna that surround them but would this man of the woods oblige?

Zacky pulls at his pipe sending wreaths of blue smoke into the air: "There's not many folk as are worth teaching. Noisy, chattering creatures we are, not fit to pry into the secrets of the wild ones. I never yet met children I wanted to show my friends to."

Richard's heart sinks. Zacky is nearer to the wild creatures than the ordinary person. He lives among them, loves them — they are his friends ... if only — but he doesn't dare to say any more.

"Zacky! You just try us and see. Give us a chance — well at least give Richard a chance. He's always longed to be friends with wild animals. Do give him a chance," pleads Susan.

Zacky puffs at his pipe. Silky whines and puts his head on his master's knee.

"There!" says Susan, "Even Silky is asking you to."

Zacky laughs: "Well, seeing that you can already understand dog-talk, perhaps I'll give you both a peep into my secrets." Richard hastily assures him that they aren't trippers who leave gates open. They're not the stone-throwing kind and they don't take eggs from nests or use catapults on squirrels ..." As they are both Enid Blyton children of the "Good" kind we already know they can be trusted.

"Ask your ma if you can come and talk to me. I know gipsies can lie and steal and do worse things than that sometimes — but Zachary Boswell doesn't. You ask your ma."
Two very excited and grateful children make their way home to ask permission from their mother.


Grown-ups can be utter nuisances at times although I guess we shouldn't be too hard on Mrs. Rennie because she hasn't met Zacky and her attitude is simply reflecting prejudices of the times held by many for what they see are good reasons.

"What are you thinking of? Everyone knows what gypsies are. I absolutely forbid it."

A philosopher might state: "There's no such thing as an Absolute!"

After their excitement and happy anticipation the children can only stare at their mother in alarm and dismay. Susan is almost in tears and she begs her to at least ring Mr. Barney the farmer and check with him. Reluctantly, she does so "just to please them" but the farmer is out and his wife answers. Mrs. Rennie listens in astonishment to what she has to say. The report is glowing — Mrs. Barney can't speak too highly of Boswell the gipsy and she heaps praise upon his head.

The "Absolute" dissolves. The children may go to visit Zacky in the glade with their mother's blessing. The scene is now set for many months of education into the lives and times of living creatures — education which the children will cherish forever.
The very next morning the they set off to visit the glade where Zacky is camped but they find out from old Barlow the shepherd that the gipsy won't be there today because he's busy doing something with "Mester Barney" — one of the cows is poorly. This is one of the ways that the author puts a little reality into her stories by not having everything "off to pat" as it were so, during this little hitch in their plans, they spend the morning at the farm. They help Barlow and they hunt for eggs and watch Mrs. Barney preparing to make the butter and head for home with some for their mother. Just as they are leaving Barlow passes on a message he has received — they can visit Zacky round tea-time because he'll be back at his caravan then.


They make their first Official Visit round 4 o'clock and are welcomed exuberantly by Silky the spaniel. There's Zacky by his caravan with a fire going and an old black kettle on the boil. He shares thick slices of bread, butter and honey with the children and they gulp strong sweet tea out of enamel mugs. Birds fly down to join in the meal despite Silky sitting nearby because they know he's soft hearted and as "gentle as a dove" according to Zacky. He then imparts the first of many nature lessons the children will learn over the succeeding months and on this particular afternoon Zacky dips into his chest of specialised gipsy paraphernalia and comes up with a hare-pipe — it's like a little whistle with intricate carving on the outside. Leaving Silky behind, the children and Zacky depart from the glade and when they reach a suitable thicket of gorse and briar the gipsy man puts the little carved pipe to his lips and blows a strange "Oont, oont," which causes a hare to materialise from some bramble not far off. Mawkins the hare is visiting. He comes right up to Zacky who speaks in a "special" voice to the little animal and the children freeze — hardly daring to breathe. Shortly, Mawkins bounds away and Zacky tells his companions all about hares and their habits. I remember being fascinated by the little tricks that animals use in their fight to survive when I first read the book and the information is told so that it's easily understandable such as how the hare performs great leaps to one side when tearing away from a dog — causing the scent trail to break. They also double up — running back on their trail then bounding to one side and there's a very clear picture of the technique it uses which includes a diagram. They spy some more hares who are acting "as mad as March hares" and their crazy antics cause much laughter as they box each other and play "leap frog" in the meadow. Rabbits are observed as well and once again Zacky's tuition comes to the fore so that many very interesting facets of the Leporidae family are explained (I got the hard word from the back of the book). The sky darkens and the moon comes up. Zacky and the children turn back and as Richard and Susan walk down the lane by themselves to their home they are followed by the friendly little robin flitting along in the hedge to keep them company.
The children adopt the ritual of dashing off to visit Zacky whenever they can and he's never short of something to show them. They discover a hedgehog in the gipsy's caravan one day and Zacky tells them that it's there to clean up an invasion of ants. Richard and Susan actually borrow it to take home so that the ants they have in their own house can be eliminated as well and there's a picture that shows how Richard picks the hedgehog up. I used that method many times when I came across one of these prickly creatures. The illustrations are very detailed and well-drawn and they add much to the general interest aroused when the ways of animals are revealed. A chapter may deal with one or maybe two creatures and sometimes if there's more to be said, the following chapter will continue on with the same subject such as the two devoted to the common mole. There's a mole-catcher involved and he's an odd looking character who wears several moleskin weskits at once and then takes them off as the day warms up. I presume that a "weskit" is some English term for "waist-coat." The children see and learn about mole-hills and the mole-catcher even catches one for them to look at. Mowdie the mole, that's what Gart the mole-catcher calls the creatures and there's a diagram of a molehill so that we can see how it's made up.

The children love their new lives so much because all they ever saw when they lived in the town were a few cats and dogs and the odd horse or two. Susan makes plans —

"I shall marry a farmer when I grow up and I shall let Zacky keep his caravan on my farm."

Well said, and now they're off once again to search out the gipsy man to view the "Beautiful Madcaps" that have bushy tails and give little barks as they almost "fly" through the trees. One even lands on Richard's shoulder which thrills the boy — but it's there only a moment and then it bounds off again. More lovely pictures accompany this lesson all about squirrels and the chapter ends with a related poem to round everything off.

Richard and Susan are taking lessons with five other children at the Rectory so their further education is being taken care of. On the nature side of things, the ensuing chapters deal with most of the common animals that you might see around the fields and fens of England — lizards, slow-worms and even snakes which might have caused initial concern for Susan, at least her mother thinks that would be the case because of a natural dislike amongst females for such creatures. However, the little girl has had a think about it and she happens upon the philosophical stance that Enid Blyton has espoused once or twice in other narratives. There's an old Sunny Stories tale called "Because My Mother Does" and it deals with a few children who are terrified of a storm that suddenly descends upon them. John hides under his desk, Anne flies to the darkest corner of the room and Jill tries to get into the handwork cupboard. When their teacher asks why they are acting thus she's told by the scared kids that they're simply doing what their mother does. Their actions are dictated by their parents' responses to such natural occurrences. Susan reasoned that her fear of snakes was caused because she'd heard other people say they were scared of them. When Mrs. Dumple had screamed at a mouse and Auntie Nora had rushed away from a bat, Susan had taken on their terror and acted accordingly so she has concluded that she must not fall prey to others' fears — She's Not Scared.

" Zacky isn't, and we don't mean to be either," says Richard, ...not even Susan, and she's a girl, and girls are usually silly about things like that. It's such a chance to get to know all the animals and birds with Zacky."

Their mother laughs and agrees to let them go on a snake hunt provided they don't bring one home. The children join their friend once again and he shows his snake-charming abilities down at Snake Hollow and he even plays a little flute to complete the picture. There are two chapters about snakes and the children learn all they need to know about adders or vipers and grass snakes. These together with smooth snakes are the only Colubridae or Viperidae to be found in Britain. (more words gleaned from the comprehensive notes at the back of the book).

Summer arrives and the buttercups make the fields shine with gold. Trotty the lamb has grown big, Straws the cat has her lively, and somewhat mischievous, kittens. Biddy, the farm dog has pups and Clover the cow attends to her twin calves. Zacky has been away for a couple of weeks and the children await his return to the glade with the ever-faithful Silky who accompanies him and the children on many of their nature trips. Then Richard and Susan discover some "patrins" outside the farm gate and old Barlow the shepherd explains to the children the ins-and-outs of the little sticks, stones, and leaves that are left on the wayside after gipsy caravans have passed by. Good news — Zacky is back so Richard and Susan go once more to see their friend and this time there's an introduction to Squat the toad with his bright, jewel-like eyes and his clever way of defending himself. EB always mentioned certain characteristics of animals when she wrote about them in the various books and the one I remembered about the toad was that when he was scratched with a twig on his back he would shiver — then solemnly put up a hind-foot and scratch himself. In the next chapter, frogs and newts are talked about and then one Saturday it's time to meet another red-brown bushy-tailed animal.

"A squirrel!" says Susan.

"He's very clever. You should see him with his pricked-up ears and his bright, intelligent eyes ..."

"Yes, it must be a squirrel," says Richard.

Tod's been coming every day after tea apparently and the children are curious. "Tod" isn't a name that Zacky has called any squirrels so they have to wait until the creature shows itself. There's a nice picture of Tod — bushy tail, sharp nose, pointed ears and all. He's a very cunning creature and Zacky tells the children how, as the hare does, Tod has a repertoire of tricks which usually enable him to elude hunters. The children are thrilled when Tod comes right up to the little group and sits by them for a short spell then dashes off when a dog's bark is heard somewhere.
Mrs. Rennie meets Zacky when the children are away at school and she likes their queer gipsy friend. She buys some pegs from him when he calls around with some news and she thinks he has the kindest wisest eyes she ever saw. The birds in the garden had flown round his head when he arrived and Mrs. Rennie had thought they would land on him at any moment! The news? There are badgers in the district and would the children like to spend a night with him and go on a hunt for some? Would they? Could they?


Those grown-ups! Oooh ... I'd like to ...! But, hold on, it's not all that bad — mother will go with the children and they can all have a dekko. Good. The village of Brockhame would seem an ideal setting for badgers because Enid Blyton, or in this case, Mrs. Rennie, explains that "Brock" means "badger" and Richard adds that "ham" or "hame" means "village." Their excursion begins round 10pm that night and Mrs. Rennie is almost as excited as the children. They join Zacky and set off under a bright, silvery moon and end up in a forest where they find a suitable bush in which to hide and wait. The atmosphere is enhanced when a beautiful voice begins to sing from behind them. It is joined by others. Everyone except Zacky is startled by the liquid notes echoing all round the wood and filling it with unearthly music. What a joy. What a delight, and then — badgers appear at the entrance to the sett that Zacky has pointed out to them ("sett" is the name given to the badgers' underground home). The children and their mother observe a wonderful display of antics by these wary animals and their three cubs and they learn so much because Zacky keeps up a whispered commentary describing exactly what they are doing and the way they always tread on their prey when it is caught and he describes how badgers are able to take bait from traps without being caught. What an entertaining evening. They get up and stretch themselves before wending their weary way home —

"Good night Zacky. That was a lovely sight, one I shall never forget."

"Good night, ma'm — it was an honour to have you. Goodnight children — come and see me again soon."
The summer days slip by The children are roped in for the hay-making in Chapter #19 and there are rides on the hay-wagon in the evening. The farm stock changes unceasingly and in the barn there are rats and mice with an excellent picture by the artist of the bigger chasing the smaller. There's an owl up in the rafters and out in the corn field there are harvest mice with their tangled nests. Walter De La Mare has the honour of supplying the verse at the end of this chapter and it's entitled "Five Eyes" — all about cats and rats. From the farm, the kids go to see Zacky again who introduces them to some of the smaller creatures that are usually hidden from our eyes such as the dormouse, the shrew, and the field-mouse. Zacky has some pet dormice and Richard takes a look at one and falls in love with the tiny thing. He dreams of having such an animal for a pet and the good-hearted gipsy fulfills the dream and presents him with Dozy to keep for himself. Filled with delight, Richard accepts the dormouse from him and then Zacky takes them to see some water-voles before they go home.

Another outing has the three friends plus Silky sitting in a field and watching the sudden attack of a stoat upon a hare and the hare's counter-attack. A weasel appears as if on cue and astounds the children with its performance in front of some lapwings and they learn the reason for it. At the end of the chapter there is an easily remembered "Old Rhyme" called "Stoat and Weasel." which explains how to tell one from t'other. One night the children are actually given permission to sleep out by the river with Zacky to observe the playful otters that live in their holts near the water ( "Holt" is the name given to this water animal's burrow). A tent is set up and the children put the groundsheet and plenty of heather on the floor then settle down and poke their heads out of the flap to wait with their friend for the otters to show themselves. With the stars and the trees in the background Zacky talks to them about gipsy lore, secrets of the poachers, tales about animals, tales of his childhood and the children listen — drinking it all in. Then the otters arrive and show their wonderful swimming prowess with the moon shining down and reflecting on the water. One which Zacky calls Tek comes right up and lies down beside him. The children and Silky sit as quiet and as still as anything. What a wonderful sight to see such an animal so close up. The mother otter calls and Tek's away — back to the river to join her and his three young ones. What playful creatures they are and the children watch in awe until they've gone and the time comes to turn in. Zacky prefers to sleep outside on the grass with a bit of heather for comfort. Bright moonlight lies on the ground in patches, and the shadows of the trees around are very black.

Richard wakes with a start some hours later. The eastern sky is silvering. Zacky's already awake. He sees the boy and calls out something —

"Dislio! Day comes — see, dislio — day comes!"

Richard watches. The eastern sky grows bright. It turns to a magnificent gold. He wakes Susan —

"Dislio! Wake up Susan. Wake up and see the sunrise."
End of term comes with good school reports from the Rector. The corn is high in the fields and beginning to turn gold and the calves and lambs at the farm have grown considerably. It's been a week since Richard and Susan have visited Zacky so they intend to call in on him after running a message for their mother and on their way they see an amazing thing when an unexpected thunder shower occurs. It's the same phenomenon that Pat, Janet and John witnessed in another book about the natural world by the same author and it consists of tiny frogs by the hundred leaving their ponds and hopping about the place searching for new areas in which to breed. Coming straight after a shower, this mass migration causes many villagers to believe that it has been raining frogs!

Bats must be mentioned and the children see lots of them hanging up in the rafters of the barn but it isn't until they visit Zacky that they can get all the answers to their questions about these flying mammals. The gipsy has another of his gadgets which is made of brass and fine wire and it even has a tiny bow which Zacky uses to "play" it. The sound it makes can be heard only by the bats and it disorientates them so that one drops down and Zacky is able to grab it for a close-up study. This chapter reminds me of the time I spotted some bats winging their way through the air one evening in Somerset but I had little hope of snaring one because, unlike the kids' gipsy friend, I possessed no bat-fiddle.
Little bat, little bat,
Pray, when you speak,
Speak a bit louder
You've such a high squeak,
That only those people
With quite a good ear,
Who know all about you,
Can possibly hear.
There are deer to be observed after a bus-trip to a forest where some friends of Zacky's reside. A gipsy girl called Hannah who is as timid as a deer herself, leads them to the venue and sure enough a doe and her fawns can be seen in a leafy glade, freckled with sunny patches. Zacky conveys to the children all kinds of tit-bits about deer and their ways and after a picnic with Hannah included, the timid gypsy girl darts away like a hare. Back home on the bus they go and we mustn't forget that Dozy is with Richard. He and Sleepy (another of Zacky's dormice) are sleeping away in their masters' pockets but they had their fair share of the picnic don't you worry about that.

For a while this will be the end of the children's visits to their gipsy pal because he must go away to Teddingborough where the gipsy clans are having a bit of a pow-wow. They want to choose a new head and attend to whatever business has come their way. Zacky will probably be missing until next spring but he'll keep in touch with the children via his friends who will pass by now and again. When they get back to Brockhame, Richard and Susan say a last "Goodbye" to the caravan with all its lovely carvings and Zacky disappears inside to bring out a little gift for each of them. Made by his own hands, the children will cherish them for a long time indeed and then it's really "Farewell" as Richard and Susan wave and make their way down the hill feeling rather sad. "Goodbyes" are always horrid but, never mind, Zacky will return with the spring. The children are so grateful for all the wonderful outings they have had with their friend and they cherish many pleasant memories of adventures into the natural world — memories that will never leave them.
In the middle of the night when the children are fast asleep there is the sound of wheels along the road and a clippety-clop of horse's hooves. The sound stops just outside their front gate. A figure climbs down from a wagon in the starlight. The children sleep on.

In the morning Richard and his sister discover a patrin which tells the story — a wagon has gone by. A big leaf and a little one weighted down by a stone reveal that a man and a dog were with it. He'll pass by again one day.

"Good old Zacky! We'll look for him in the spring!"

"Goodbye, Zacky!" calls Susan. "Goodbye, Silky! We won't forget you. Come back again as soon as ever you can."
There are several brightly drawn colour plates by E. Mansell as well as the dozens of black and white illustrations which show all the different animals, birds and other wildlife that Zacky and the children observed. I remember well my first impressions of the kids and other people pictured and thought they looked a little odd as they had dark, almost Asian features which made them distinctive in the way that I viewed Grace Lodge's or Norman Meredith's pictures — a little "different." in style. The artist puts plenty of detail in his pictures with a balanced perspective and his name is James Lucas. The one who did the pictures at the end for the more detailed notes is Norman Satchel and his are just as good as the others — in fact I thought they were by the same person. I think that most Enid Blyton fans will recognise the artist who drew the cover pictures.

The various poems at the end of some chapters are by Enid Blyton, and one or two others. At the back of the book there are several more poems by various people and one excerpt is remembered well —
The Snare
I hear a sudden cry of pain!
There is a rabbit in a snare;
Now I hear the cry again'
But I cannot tell from where.
There are four verses and a picture of a little girl sitting up in bed and looking out of the window where the moon shines over the fields ... her snug and secure surroundings contrast greatly with the rabbit's existence in its natural environment.

Brockham is a picturesque village near Dorking in Surrey.

The snippet or rhyme near the start which begins: "He prayeth best, who loveth best ... " is from Sam Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

Mrs. Dumple doesn't appear all that much but she's obviously the typical village woman who comes to "Do" for the family.

Enid Blyton used the surname "Rennie" in another of her more popular books. Which one? Answer below but don't peek until you are absolutely sure you can't place it.

Zacky really has got talent. I thought that Philip Mannering (Blyton's "Bill Smugs" series) was the only person who could charm slow-worms but there's another.

In some places the odd gipsy word is thrown in for good measure. .

"Wagon" is spelt "waggon" in one or two Blyton books but apparently "waggon" is a British version so perhaps I should have spelt it like that.

"Because My Mother Does" is a tale that can be found reprinted in Enid Blyton's Bright Story Book.

The beautiful music the children and Zacky heard on their badger-hunt came from nightingales — those songsters of the dusk.

I attempted to spy on badgers in a forest near Llanglydwen in Wales one evening just as Zacky and his companions did but I hadn't the gipsy's knowledge of exactly where to look which meant I saw nary a sign of one.

In case one simply doesn't know — "Lapwings" are birds.

Pat, Janet and John, — the children mentioned in connection with the raining of frogs, appeared in Enid Blyton's Nature Lover's Book.

Joan Rennie was a friend of Molly's in The Family at Red-Roofs.

There's a comprehensive "Contents" which, besides the chapters, lists all the poems, illustrations, colour plates, and the more detailed notes about British animals. At the rear of the book are more poems, more excellent pictures of the various animals with the added information about them, and at the very end is a list of all the 145 or so creatures mentioned and the page numbers are given for their various appearances. It's a good reference book which would be a companion to the above-mentioned Enid Blyton's Nature Lover's Book.

It's very easy to confuse the "Nature Lover's" and "Animal Lover's" books and it's not helped by bringing out a second edition of this one entitled Enid Blyton's Nature Lover's Book — Rambles with Zacky the Gipsy!
Life is sweet, brother . . . There's day and night, brother, both sweet things; sun, moon, and stars, brother, all sweet things; there's likewise a wind on the heath.
(George Borrow — from Romany Rye) These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.