The Enid Blyton Society
Bed-time Stories (Little Book No. 2)
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Book Details...

First edition: 1942
Publisher: Evans Brothers
Illustrator: Vernon Soper
Category: Evans Little Books
Genre: Mixed
Type: Short Story Series Books

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List of Contents
Review by Terry Gustafson

  1. He Forgot His Tail!
    Story: Teachers World No.1741 Oct 7, 1936
  2. Peter's Doves
    Story: Teachers World No.1671 Jun 5, 1935
  3. Sally's Umbrella
    Story: Teachers World No.1729 Jul 15, 1936
  4. When the Wind Changed
    Story: Teachers World No.1716 Apr 15, 1936
  5. Mr. Twiddle's Clock
    Story: Teachers World No.1883 Jun 28, 1939
  6. The Magic Chalks
    Story: Teachers World No.1742 Oct 14, 1936
  7. John's Badge
    Story: Teachers World No.1825 May 18, 1938
'Enid Blyton's Little Books' are definitely small, and they contain a handful of short stories each with an allocation of one or two pictures. The first in the series contains mainly 'Brer Rabbit' tales. Bed-time Stories is No.#2.

Tuppy the guinea-pig escapes from his hutch and sets out to have adventures in the big world. He bumps into Sally the cat who remarks on the fact that Tuppy has forgotten his tail and you're not really dressed properly when you go out on the town without a tail swishing behind you. Tuppy looks around and speculates that it must have dropped off somewhere so Sally asks Prickles the hedgehog if he's seen a tail lying around. When asked what it looks like, Tuppy says he doesn't really know so they ask Jinks the brownie if he knows where it might be. Jinks has an idea and he disappears briefly before returning with a length of string. As Tuppy can't describe his tail with any adequacy, Sally thinks the string would be just the thing but the guinea-pig's not having any of that especially as they want to sew it on with one of the hedgehog's prickles. He flees home to live with an enduring mystery and I don't think he'll ever learn the solution unless someone a little more educated solves it for him.

The second story in this booklet is about Peter who has two pet doves that cause Father much annoyance. Like Enid Blyton, he's a writer and as you know, men (and women) of Letters need peace and quiet when they're at work. In fact, the pets may have to go because they won't shut up - it's all that cooing you see. Peter approaches his friend John who agrees to take the birds into care if necessary and that's where the matter stands ... until something occurs. A person familiar with Enid Blyton's work would probably be aware of what sometimes happens when a troublesome pet is threatened with dismissal.

'Sally's Umbrella' is about an impatient old dame who flies into a rage when anything goes wrong. One day the West Wind catches hold of her umbrella and whisks it away over the trees making Sally turn purple with fury. Deciding to manifest her wrath, she climbs to the top of a hill where the West Wind's house is located, but he doesn't have it. Sally's now on a mission because the West Wind has dropped the umbrella in Wizard Twisty's garden and when she trots off to confront him, it turns out that he hasn't got it either. The old dame must be someone to reckon with when she loses her cool because not only does she manage to frighten the West Wind and Wizard Twisty with her abrupt manner, but she also scares the poor bee-woman who borrowed the umbrella from Twisty. No luck there however because she's lent it to the Sandy Rabbit who's lent it to the Button-Pixie. The umbrella is being well used it appears and Dame Sally's finding it a bit of a trudge as she calls into each place on the list. Her next port of call is Jicky's place. What the Sally hopefully learns in this story is to keep cool, calm, and collected.

Enid Blyton has written more than one tale about children pulling faces and having them left with permanently contorted features when the wind suddenly changes. This time it's Ronnie's turn because, despite Mother's warnings, he practises his art incessantly. Incidentally he's really good at it and can screw his face up into some revolting caricatures - Enid Blyton uses words like 'hideous' and 'terrible' so the theme is set. One day he produces another disgusting face by screwing up his nose, putting out his tongue, and frowning hard - all for the benefit of his Sunday school teacher (Mr. Brown) who smiles at the boy as he passes him by. Ronnie points his grimace at the teacher's departing figure and then it happens - the wind changes and now he can't switch back to normal! When he presents himself to his family he gets a slap from his father, and no cake for lunch from his mother, and at afternoon school the head teacher who is not at all happy with Ronnie's looks sends him to the corner. When Ronnie returns home, his mother takes pity on him after learning what had actually happened and to solve the problem she thinks of what could only be called - a Very Good Idea.

The next tale is about someone we all know - Mr. Twiddle, and lately, he's been causing his wife much concern by being late for meals. Mrs. Twiddle's anxiety is justified of course because after labouring away to produce a piping-hot dinner it's a bit of a letdown having to serve it cold. The clock gets blamed. Twiddle says he never seems to look at it when the time indicates that he should be at the table, so his wife comes up with an idea and when Twiddle sets off to visit his friend Mr. Winks she gives him a small parcel done up in brown paper and string. This time she's fairly confident he won't be late for his repast. The plan works - old Twiddle's at the table in plenty of time that day and it shouldn't be too hard to guess what Mrs. Twiddle put in the little parcel she gave to her husband.

On their way to school one morning, Mollie and Jack find some chalks that are magically endowed because it says so on the box. In class they're so excited about their find that they pay no attention to the lesson and have to stay in at playtime. All alone in the schoolroom they decide to use the newly acquired chalks and opening their drawing books they proceed to draw some figures - a dragon, a witch, some goblins ... and as they complete the pictures a rather horrible thing happens. The figures they've drawn appear right behind the duo and they only become aware of what's happening when the witch makes a black shadow over their books. Yikes! That's a scare and a half for the kids who scream loudly and make for the door - but the bear gets there first. Their yells alert the teacher and she bravely rushes in to the rescue but how does one combat a witch and a dragon, let alone a bear and a snake helped by a couple of goblins? Easy!

'John's Badge.' If you work hard at John's school, a badge is awarded and our lad really wants to win the prized object - a red and blue button with a big 'E' on it for 'Excellent.' He's never achieved such status before so his mother wants him to prevail as well but there's a catch, as there usually is in an EB tale. John's a careless boy. He loses things all the time, and he's also absent-minded so it's going to be a hard slog if he wants his recognition. Here's a one for the books: - he actually does win the prized item, but only after a considerable effort on his part and at last the coveted badge is pinned to his jersey. He's allowed it for a week so he rushes home to show his mother and bask in the glory. Saturday and Sunday pass, and it's back to school (with badge of course) to lord it over the others because the award makes him 'Chief' boy in the class. The following morning John jumps out of bed late, so he has to gobble his breakfast and get ready for school in a great hurry. Clothes on, mackintosh also (because it's raining). "Just check the badge. Oh My God - it's not there!" Pandemonium reigns and Mother is roped in to help find the precious item although she's not very happy today because her boy has put his stockings on inside out and his shoes are undone, which is typical of course. No luck at all - the badge is gone. A woeful John makes his way to school and admonishment follows because he's late. When the reason for his tardiness is relayed, Miss Brown is further displeased and tells John that he will have to give up being head boy if he can't find the badge before tomorrow. He still has it, but can you work out where it is?
The stories are simple but a few of them have 'surprise' endings that might elude the reader.

The guinea-pig's tail has been commented on before today in other stories. One example that appears in the (non-Enid Blyton) Fourth Progressive Primer, goes back to the 1930's.

Pets that earn the displeasure of their owner's parents but are later redeemed, appear in several Blyton tales. Two examples would be 'Good Old Shelly-Back,' (Merry Story Book) and 'The Dog who would go Digging' (Sunny Story Book). Enid Blyton's dislike of noise may have been reflected in 'Peter's Doves.' Repetitive sounds filtering into an author's workplace can be very annoying and an employee's comment from the distant past confirms this. Eventually I found it in the Enid Blyton Literary Society Journal (as the EBSJ was called in past times). Issue No.2 contains 'Memories of Green Hedges' where Doris Cox(a parlour maid) remarked on Enid Blyton's strict rules regarding noise - "She couldn't bear dogs barking and was very angry when the little girl next door had a birthday party. Once when Peterson (a gardener) began to sing 'The Garden of Eden' she went straight down the garden to tell him off!"

Sally (of umbrella fame) goes 'purple with fury,' just like another of Enid Blyton's characters who turns purple on a regular basis. 'Jicky,' whom Sally visited on her mission, is a gnome.

The first person an Enid Blyton Fan might recall when reading the title of the fifth story is 'Thomas' (Adventures of the Wishing Chair) who was also pulling a face when the wind changed, requiring Peter, Mollie and Chinky to set off in their flying chair for a cure. Another boy who got his face stuck and suffered the consequences, was Willie (Water Lily Story Book).

The supplied picture of Mr. Twiddle is far from the roly-poly man who features in the Hilda McGavin illustrations. Incidentally, the artist is Vernon Soper whose surname rings a loud bell. I doubt there's a connection though.

Children drawing in their book with chalks! I can remember 'pastels' that were like chalks and the book one used for drawing with those contained black pages.

Miss Brown tutors a host of Enid Blyton children and there are several similarly named teachers in stories such as The School Snowman (Enid Blyton's Book of the Year), The Enchanted Mirror, and The Little Beggars from the same book. Also Bottom of the Class (EB's Third Bedside Book), not to mention Donald's Trees (Teachers World).

Like the Rupert Annuals, and unusually for a Blyton publication, the 'EB Little Books' feature 'progressive sentences' at the top of each page. For instance, in 'The Magic Chalks' it's 'The drawings come to life,' 'What can they do?' and the final page has - 'Saved by the teacher.' Presumably, the Rupert style is supposed to cater to a range of readers from the early learner to the fully competent. Taking an example from 'Rupert and the Music Man,' the 'toddler' can simply look at the pictures and the not-so-proficient can read the sentences at the top of each page such as 'Rupert starts the radio,' 'Rupert hears a tune,' Rupert meets Lily Duckling.' The slightly advanced can take in the two line poems that contain the gist of each illustration, and finally the fully capable can read the paragraphs at the bottom of each page.