The Enid Blyton Society
The Red-Spotted Handkerchief and Other Stories
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Book Details...

First edition: 1948
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: Kathleen M. Gell
Category: Non-Series Books
Genre: Mixed
Type: Short Story Series Books

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List of Contents
Review by Terry Gustafson

  1. The Red-Spotted Handkerchief
    Story: Sunny Stories No.128 Jun 23, 1939
  2. A Very Good Idea
    Story: Sunny Stories No.123 May 19, 1939
  3. Ding-Dong Bell!
    Story: Sunny Stories No.137 Aug 25, 1939
  4. The Organ-Grinder's Monkey
    Story: Sunny Stories No.121 May 5, 1939
  5. Smack-Biff-Thud!
    Story: Sunny Stories No.118 Apr 14, 1939
  6. The Old Fishing Net
    Story: Sunny Stories No.112 Mar 3, 1939
  7. The Lost Tortoise
    Story: Sunny Stories No.93 Oct 21, 1938
  8. The Selfish Teddy-Bear
    Story: Sunny Stories No.120 Apr 28, 1939
  9. The House in the Tree
    Story: Sunny Stories No.90 Sep 30, 1938
  10. The Proud Little Pig
    Story: Sunny Stories No.122 May 12, 1939

Wraparound dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Kathleen M. Gell
Here's another compilation of short stories that saw the light of day in earlier years and the first offering is a tale about Raggy the pixie who mislays his handkerchief. Very unreasonably he accuses Gobbo, and Hoppy and Tag and Chuffle of keeping it because he'd lent it to all of them at one stage or another, but they insist that the hanky was returned to its owner. Where can it be?

The second story deals with Norman whose cousin Jeanie lives on the other side of the river. Norman's mother has offered to take him to the circus. She says that Jeanie can come as well but as she's on the other side of the river, Norman can tell her about the invitation in class and she can also stay the night at their place because the circus won't finish until late. He takes a note to school from his mother but Jeanie's absent so he can't inform her of the treat. Maybe her father wasn't able to bring her over in the boat for some reason or another, and now there's a problem - how can Norman tell her about the circus invitation? The boy puts on his thinking cap and comes up with a commendable solution.

"Ding-Dong Bell!" starts with a kitten near the schoolhouse. As it's mee-owing loudly, Miss Brown says Mary can run out and see what the matter is. Locating the kitten she finds that it's been injured so she takes the poor thing back to the schoolroom where Miss Brown bandages it's bleeding paw. She makes up a little bed for it as well and then enquires as to where the creature belongs but draws a blank. The kitten therefore stays at the school and grows fat and very healthy under the care of its foster parents. A couple of years pass and the time has come for a grand concert including a display of work for the parents. Everything's organized and now it's the day before the event. All the children 'are in their beds and fast asleep.' Miss Brown who lives at the school, has also retired and then it happens - a glowing coal falls out of the fireplace and sets fire to a rug and some paper and before long, there's a fine blaze. No doubt about it, Miss Brown and her school are going to be history if something isn't done immediately. The kitten, now a cat, has a chance of surviving though because, in addition to being awake, her name is "Lucky!"

Like other children, Winnie has her particular desire. A doll perhaps, or a beach ball? What about a painting set or a new cardigan? No, this girl wants a barrel-organ! There's a man who plays one in the street and he's let Winnie and her brother Jim turn the handle and work it themselves occasionally. What a thrill that is but it would take a lot of money to purchase such an instrument so Winnie's a frustrated little girl. She has ten shillings in her moneybox but although that sounds a lot, it would be nowhere near enough for a barrel-organ. The weather's very cold these days and the organ-grinder is not the only one who's suffering the chill because he owns a small monkey that collects pennies from the people who gather round to be entertained. Winnie and Jim feel very sorry for the man and his companion having to work outdoors in the freezing weather so they decide to do something about it by spending a little time and some of their own money to produce a scarf for the organ-grinder and a little woollen suit for his monkey. The gifts are bestowed and are immensely appreciated. The man, who hails originally from warmer climes, thinks the children are so "verra kind" and a close relationship is developed. A few weeks pass and then the man and his monkey are no more. No, they haven't died or anything ... and it's nice to know there's a very happy ending to this story.

Having decent neighbours is very important if you desire serenity in your life and this sentiment is displayed quite adequately by Dame Tantrum and Mister Flick who live next door to each other and tend to quarrel a lot. Currently there's a kind of pact between them because they're both into growing vegetables and are entering their products in the Fruit and Flower Show. The reason for the temporary calmness is that Dame Tantrum doesn't want Flick throwing rubbish over the wall because it might damage her beautiful tomato plants and the same goes for Mister Flick, only he's thinking of his cucumber frames. He doesn't want them smashed with garbage being pelted into his property by Dame Tantrum. The two of them are spending a lot of time over their gardens as the show draws near and one evening Mister Flick picks a cucumber for his supper and Dame Tantrum picks three tomatoes for hers. They happen to see each other and a polite conversation ensues but only for a few moments because they start arguing over the merits of their fruit. The words fly thick and fast and then, to express themselves a little more markedly, they begin hurling things at each other - the things being tomatoes and cucumbers! Poor Mister Flick and poor Dame Tantrum - is there any hope for them at all? There is, in the long run!

Tom, Marjory and Alice are off to fish for sticklebacks. Fred wants to come too but he hasn't a net. Correction - he's allowed to borrow Alice's old one but there's a flaw; the netting has some large pieces missing so any fish that enters could simply swim out of it. 'Perhaps the fish won't see the holes,' thinks Fred. Away they go and the three older kids are very successful in their efforts. They catch sticklebacks and minnows and even a fish with a queer blue chest that changes colour. Fred tries hard to catch a fish as well but every time he manages to net one, it just swims out of a hole thus causing considerable frustration to the boy. The others won't lend him one of their nets because they're rather selfish and when it's time to go, the three older children have twelve fish all told. They put a few into Fred's jar because you should never crowd fish up too much otherwise there won't be enough oxygen in the water - Enid Blyton explains the relevance of this in her books that deal with aquariums. All in all, it's been a horrid morning for Fred so he's rather depressed but when the children are on their way home something happens which enables the boy to use his holey old net in such a way that it reaps a reward.

"The Lost Tortoise" stars Harry and Joan whose pet leads quite a pampered life. Crawler's shell is polished every week and the children collect rose petals for him to eat and they even supply an occasional boiled egg. The garden is well fenced so Crawler can't get out although it's hardly likely he'd want to considering the five-star treatment he receives. All the same, one morning when winter is closing in, Harry and Joan run home from morning school and can't find their pet. Two very miserable children confront their father when he arrives home in the afternoon but they cheer up when he demonstrates that he has a little more knowledge than they as far as tortoises are concerned.

Growly the teddy-bear thinks he's so wonderful. He's not big and being big is often a kind of passport towards being respected in a nursery situation. However he acts big and orders all the other toys around. Unfortunately he becomes so swollen-headed that he takes to smacking the clockwork mouse and some of the dolls and also the pink pig who's very put out about it. When the sailor doll tells the others that Growly is well on the way to making himself king of the nursery, the bear thinks what a good idea that would be. He gets one of the dolls to make him a crown and then struts about the place as vain as a peacock. He's a tyrant as well and has the toys falling over themselves to bring him presents and anything else he so desires. One day Sambo appears. He's a merry-looking black doll with white teeth that you can always see because he smiles a lot. He's a breath of fresh air to the toys in that he won't kow-tow to the "Bear King." He just looks on him as a nuisance - and anyway, "Why should I call you Your Majesty?" The bear rushes at the newcomer and knocks him down but being a soft toy, Sambo isn't hurt at all and he even warns the "King" that something may happen to him. It does!

Lazy Eileen and industrious Marigold are neighbours. Eileen leaves everything to her mother - 'Why learn to read when you can be read to, and why learn how to tie your shoelaces with a fine bow when mummy can do it?' One day when the girls are playing in the woods a squeal rents the air and peeping around a tree they spy a plump little woman who's just slashed her thumb with a chopper she was using to cut firewood. One of the girls tears her hanky into strips and bandages the woman's thumb by wrapping the cloth round and tying the ends with a neat bow (Guess who?). The woman now has a problem - she has to dress her children up for a party this afternoon but how can she do that seeing she won't be able to tie the sashes on their party dresses? So, one of the girls (guess who?) is invited to the woman's house and it becomes obvious that the elderly lady is no ordinary mortal. Marigold has a wonderful time that culminates with a visit to Princess Silvertoes' palace! Better check now - Do you know how to tie a bow?

"The Proud Little Pig" has a very high opinion of himself. He thinks the rest of his family is stupid and after the mother pig has reprimanded him a few times concerning his attitude, he decides to pack his bag and head off to "Live with someone who's wiser and cleverer than any of you lot!" Having changed his name to Mr. Grunt, because that sounds more sophisticated than "Piglet," he reaches a wood and the first animal he meets is Reynard the Fox who invites him into his den. Reynard is hungry and whilst telling the pig how nice and plump he looks, a rabbit calls down with a warning whereby Mr. Grunt dashes out of the hole and runs away. Luckily the fox doesn't bother to pursue him because the sunlight hurts his eyes. Eventually Mr. Grunt huffs and puffs his way up a mountain and finds two eagles living with their young ones in a nest. The scenario is much the same and ends with the pig galloping off in fright and falling down the other side of the steep cliff. Things aren't going too well for Mr. Grunt and his final attempt to locate worldly, sophisticated, and knowledgeable companions is made when he reaches a house by a stream. A family with four children lives there and Mr. Grunt is delighted when they invite him in to share their meal but unfortunately there's a big shock in store for the errant piglet.

Inside the covers are pictures taken from all of the stories

Kathleen Gell is another Blyton artist quite easily recognized by the faces of the characters she drew - A Second Book of Naughty Children comes to mind as do the first three Happy House books.

Another of the pixies in the first tale (presuming they're all pixies) is Jiggy.

In the second story there's a picture of Norman looking at Jean who is on the other side of the river. It may have been too far for him to yell his message across to her but the perspective of the illustration hints otherwise. The vintage, which would be round the 1939 mark, doesn't preclude telephones but no doubt there were houses, especially in the country, that didn't have such modern inventions.
The circus the children attended that evening was none other than the Great Galliano's with some very familiar performers - namely Jimmy, Lotta, Lucky (Jimmy's dog) and Sammy the chimp whom of course belongs to Mr. Wally.

Some of Mary's school friends (Ding-Dong Bell) are Billy, Ann, Mollie and Tom. Miss Brown has been the teacher at more than one school in the Enid Blyton world.

The ten shillings that Winnie had in her bank account would have been sufficient to buy The Sea of Adventure with a couple of shillings over, The Mystery of the Hidden House (2 copies), three Sunny Stories calendars, and for that matter she could have bought herself sixty editions of Sunny Stories magazine.
You don't tend to see an organ grinder around these days but they stood on the street with a box-like musical instrument and entertained people who passed by just as buskers do these days. Many of them (in countries where it was possible) had a little monkey with them and in Winnie and Jim's case the animal went round accepting money from the spectators.

The fifth story has a fruit fight. Tomatoes are actually fruit and, strictly speaking, cucumbers are as well. I read somewhere that fruit can be identified by the fact that it has seeds inside.
There's a policeman that confronts Dame Tantrum and Mister Flick and his name is Mr. Plod. Younger readers can identify with that name because he became very well known in the books about Noddy, the little wooden toy with his head on a spring.

Sticklebacks are mentioned in The Old Fishing Net. These are fish with spines that have been described in many of the Blyton books but they're not actually shown in this one. In fact the children's jars look pretty empty although there's a hint of something in one of the coloured pictures.
Double take: Fred rushed off to get the old fishing net. It was fairly big, but dear me, it had rather a lot of holes in it! Would it be much good for catching fish? A net full of holes? Can't have that!

Enid Blyton's favourite character (Harry) certainly gets around. He's found his way into The Lost Tortoise.

Growly, the teddy-bear and his compatriots belong in George's nursery and, like many children we've met over the years, George has a nurse (in full uniform) to look after him and to do the cleaning it appears, because she's pictured operating a grand old vacuum cleaner.
Now at cockcrow, when the toys were supposed to go back to their cupboard and sleep, Sambo went over to the basket. That's from "The Selfish Teddy Bear" and contains one of those quaint references that are sprinkled through the EB collection. No doubt "cockcrow" means daybreak.

In the little pig's bag, which he packed up to take with him, were a toothbrush, sponge, and a winter scarf.

Never having known, until I purchased a computer, that there were scores of names for the various print styles in books it was interesting to note on the last page that the script was Set in Times New Roman. The only print variations I had been aware of in the early days were Bold, Italic, and Coloured!