Jolly Tales (Little Book No. 3)
First edition: 1942
Publisher: Evans Brothers
Illustrator: Alfred Kerr
Category: Evans Little Books
Type: Short Story Series Books
Publisher: Evans Brothers
Illustrator: Alfred Kerr
Category: Evans Little Books
Type: Short Story Series Books
On This Page...
- The Smartest Boy in the Class
Story: Teachers World Nos.1641 ... 1642 Nov 7 ... 14, 1934
- Dick's Robin
Story: Teachers World No.1800 Nov 24 1937
- The Potato Boy!
Story: Teachers World No.1740 Sep 30, 1936
- The Whisper That Went Wrong
Story: Teachers World No.1620 Jun 13, 1934
- Simon Tries to Help
Story: Teachers World No.1745 Nov 4, 1936
- The Wind's Game
Story: Teachers World No.1725 Jun 17, 1936
At least a couple of Tom Jones's have their places in history but whether or not this particular boy from a 1942 booklet has any claim to fame other than being the subject of an Enid Blyton story, is up to the historians.
As the title suggests, and according to his teacher, Tom's a pretty smart cookie although to be honest, he's not always top of the class. It's just that he's reliable and is well clued-up so if the teacher wants someone to send on a message or to help out with something, Tom's usually chosen.
We now learn that in a black castle high up on the rocky hill there lives a powerful magician whom all people fear. He can whip up thunderstorms with streaks of lightning that flash all over the place and it's said he can even cause earthquakes. Every year he visits different schools and takes away the smartest girl or boy in order to teach them things to which nobody should be introduced.
Tom's teacher is aware that if the magician arrives his pet will have to depart, but the spirited lad announces he can outsmart any magician.
"He won't catch me!" Tom says, but teacher tells him the magician is cleverer that a thousand smart boys put together.
That's how it stands until one fateful day when there's a BANG! CRASH outside, and the door flies open with a clatter. The magician enters and confronts a class of terrified children and one pale teacher.
Yes, Tom's moment of abduction has apparently arrived.
Enid Blyton asks her readers,
"Did I say all the children trembled?"
She did, but that's not 100% right because our Tom is sitting at his desk looking cool as a cucumber! So this is the magician! Well, Tom will show him he's smarter than a thousand of his ilk, but how could this be? The only time I can think of a person being able to outwit a sorcerer is when Rubbalong got one to become the flame on a candle whereby he blew it out. There may have been one or two other such incidents in the Blyton repertoire, but this particular confrontation is in the 'Here and Now.'
"Where's your smartest boy?"
Tom stands up at a nod from his teacher and the magician looks at him wondering if this lad would be smart enough to serve him. Tom actually has the cheek to tell him that he (Tom) is much too smart and that he'd rather serve the Enchanter Munnylippakoodlet who lives in a cave ten miles underground.
The magician frowns at this and asks him what the Enchanter can do that he cannot. Tom tells him that Munny ... etc, etc, can turn himself into a cat and jump up the chimney. Almost before he's finished a ferocious looking feline appears and shoots up the flue despite a blazing fire burning in the grate. Next moment the man of magic appears outside and jumps into the classroom. Truly a great feat but Tom, the unabashed, mentions another stunt that Munny ... is capable of - he can turn himself into a thunderstorm and rattle the windows calling out "Whoo-hoo-hoo!"
That's no problem either, for the magician, and in two shakes of a dog's tail he's duplicated the trick - performing it with so many dramatic effects that all the children (not Tom) shiver in their shoes. It appears that unless he's very clever, Tom might end up being whisked away for a life of drudgery, but before that happens he decides to set one more task for the magician.
... and everyone hopes and prays!
Dick's very fond of birds and would like to see them hopping around in his garden but there's a problem. Next door there lives a big black cat and as birds are rather flighty creatures, Dick has little familiarity with any potential feathered friends. He'd really like one to build a nest in the garden but his mother reminds her boy that apart from a few straggling nasturtiums, their 'garden' is little more than a back yard.
One wintry day Dick looks out of his window and spots a red-breasted robin perching on the clothes line with his chest puffed out in order to keep warm. The lad's very pleased to see it and he does what most people do when encountering a wild creature - throws out some food for it. The robin, putting its head on one side, flies down to peck at the feast before trilling a little song, which Dick's mother says, is his way of saying 'Thank you.'
Dick puts crumbs out for his new-found friend all winter and the robin gets to know him well; he becomes so familiar that one day when Dick's in bed with a cold the robin actually taps on his bedroom window to remind him about the commitment. When spring arrives the robin disappears and Dick's mother tells him the bird can now find plenty of worms and grubs in the warmer weather and doesn't have to rely on handouts. Dick's upset because he'd thought the relationship went a little further than a simple requirement for food.
In the garden there resides a shed full of various articles including a pair of Dick's old boots and as these tales are quite simple ones, an Enid Blyton fan can put two and two together - especially when something else is learned:
The shed door is shut, because it says so in the story, but there's a crack in the window!
The Potato Boy
It's inspection time at Tom's school. The children stand in a line and hold out their hands for teacher to determine whether or not they're clean - and that includes fingernails. Tom's draw comment:
"Tom! There's enough dirt in your nails to grow potatoes!"
The lad's subjected to ridicule from his peers when they overhear this remark and Tom turns red. After school he races away over the fields and sits under a hedge to fan himself with a big leaf whilst grumbling about having to keep on cleaning his teeth and his ears and his nails.
"Bother everything that has to be washed!"
A little man peeps out from the hedge and asks Tom what the matter might be. Tom reports to him how the teacher had said there was enough dirt in his nails to grow potatoes whereupon the man seizes hold of Tom's right hand and presses some tiny seeds into the fingernails. What happens next is quite incredible because almost instantly, green shoots spring up and after a purple flower has appeared in each plant some tiny potatoes can be seen. The little man immediately fetches a basket and starts picking them as fast as they appear.
Tom yells out in anger and the man says that he's sorry but he's going to get all his potatoes from Tom's hands in the future; it would appear that an occurrence such as this has to be nipped in the bud.
'Nipped in the bud?'
Tom might agree!
The Whisper That Went Wrong
When commercial activity is considered there's a lot of secrecy involved and little Chiff-Chuff who sews the Queen's dresses knows this. It would not be nice if someone stole her plans and then came to some party in a dress exactly the same as the queen's.
Now one day Chiff-Chuff is making such a beautiful gown for the queen that she can't help telling someone about it, so upon meeting Tip-Tap in the street she whispers in his ear saying that she's making a greeny-blue gown. Tip-Tap the gnome is rather hard of hearing and he thinks Chiff-Chuff said,
"I'm making a greeny-blue crown."
Later, upon meeting Twinkle the goblin, Tip-Tap whispers the news to him saying that Chiff-Chuff is making a greeny-blue crown for the Queen. This is misinterpreted by Twinkle and when he happens to meet up with Pop-Off, the 'secret' is passed on to her - "Chiff-Chuff is making the Queen a blue crown." Pop-Off in turn, upon meeting Hop-Along the dwarf, tells him that, "Chiff-Chuff is making the Queen a new crown."
Hop-Along is surprised at this news and it isn't long before he confronts the Queen's serving maid who learns that "Chiff-Chuff has taken the Queen's new crown." Land sakes, the culmination of this news is that six soldiers are immediately charged with dispensing justice, and a prison sentence now looms over Chiff-Chuff's head.
Can she dismantle this terrible chain of events?
Simon Tries To Help
Simon appears quite regularly in the Blyton stories because he adds interest to the plots by displaying a certain amount of stupidity, and we like reading about characters who are less bright than ourselves. The foolish things that Simon has done would make quite a long list but this morning he's been very tiresome indeed, and when the facts are laid out anyone should be able to visualise what the boy did. His mother asked him to butter some bread for elevenses and he was also instructed to polish his father's boots.
There you are - two little tasks. What could possibly go wrong?
Something does, and Mother is very upset because now she has to rectify the situation, and notice this - she doesn't ask Simon to undo what he's done. Probably because she thinks her son might make things even worse.
After all this Simon thinks he'd better make himself scarce. Wandering outside and into the gardener's shed, he wonders what he could do to make up for his silliness. An idea comes to him. Only yesterday his mum had said she wanted to pickle some onions but where could she find the time for it? Well, Simon's found some brown scaly things in the shed so he decides to make himself useful and, at the same time redeem himself in Mother's eyes.
He fetches a knife from the kitchen and settles down with a bowl to do a bit of peeling. Fortunately his eyes don't stream with tears as his mother's do so Simon, thinking that his eyes must be stronger, feels it might be a good idea if he always peels the onions for his mum from now on.
He gets through about a hundred and then carries them indoors just before dinner is about to be served. Simon proudly tells Mother what he's done for her.
The Wind's Game
I'm sure we've all played Hide and Seek, Snap, Draughts, Ludo and the rest but have we conducted them properly with no cheating or grumbling if we ever lost?
Mary and John are bad players ... John loses his temper and Mary cheats, but as there's no one else around they usually have to play with each other. One day when the kids take their draughts out into the garden for a session it's not long before Mary notices John could take one of her counters in his very next move - so what can she do? Her solution is to quickly move it into a different square, but John shouts out,
"Cheat! Move it back!'
Mary grumbles, but she has to what her brother says seeing she's been tumbled and John whips away the counter. A few moves later Mary takes two of John's counters ... legitimately it seems, but John's quite angry about it and then, when Mary actually wins, his temper knows no bounds. He grabs the whole game and throws everything at his sister making her scream loudly.
The children suddenly hear a great sighing voice,
"Let me play draughts, too! It's a fine game for me."
Next moment John and Mary feel themselves being blown down the garden and into a field beyond. Their hats are whipped off and they're buffeted along helplessly towards a rather enveloping experience.
Have they learnt a lesson or are they going to carry on as they always do?
The Rubbalong incident was mentioned before this tale had been read, so it was left in; reinforcing the fact that many story plots were reused by EB, but her ability to change the scenarios tended to make them enjoyable as ever.
Miss Blyton tended to go quite wild when making up weird names, hence Munnylippakoodlet, and in her 'Faraway Tree' books, Mister Watzisname's real handle is unbelievably 'Mr. Kollamoolitoomarellipawkyrollo.' She simply strung letters together in a vague but pronounceable fashion.
In the booklet 'Tales Of Old Thatch,' a chapter is entitled 'Gillian's Robin.' As with most Blyton stories involving these birds, there's a similarity of plot.
I doubt this particular Tom features in the first tale.
The remark about a child's nails containing enough dirt to grow potatoes was a reasonably common one in past times; perhaps it still is.
The game labelled 'Chinese Whispers' is similar to the actions illustrated in this story.
It can surely be guessed as to what Simon did with his bread buttering and boot polishing.
Simon's mother onions'him at the story's end. Can't think what that means.
The three reprints, viewable in the 'Fabulous Cave Of Books' have tales that are different from those listed in the 1942 edition.
Enid Blyton used a wide range of illustrators ... a fact easily understood when output is considered and some of the pictures don't seem all that marvellous - depending on one's opinion of course. In this booklet the first illustration is pretty good although it doesn't seem to fit in with any of the tales. I wonder if Alfred Kerr (the artist) drew that particular scene.
At the top of several pages is a one-sentence summary of what's happening as the story proceeds.
Our author's books often have spelling or placement of words that differ slightly from current terminology. An example is 'clothes line' which nowadays seems to be written as one word.
Looks like 'Teachers World' has supplied all the stories for this edition.
"From Mum when in hospital." That's what a child has inked inside the cover. Such remarks can be interesting in a historic sense.