Monday, 20 February 2017

Vintage Books from my Bookshelf: The High Hills a Brambly Hedge Story

Brambly Hedge is on the other side of the stream, across the field. If you can find it, and if you look very hard amongst the tangled roots and stems, you may even see a wisp of smoke from a small chimney, or through an open door, a steep flight of stairs deep within the trunk of a tree. For this is the home of the mice of Brambly Hedge.

The High Hills Jill Barklem

It was the end of autumn, and the Voles in the High Hills were busy preparing for winter.  Gathering supplies in rocky terrain is no easy job and when they find their winter quilts eaten by moths, it’s the last straw. When Mr. Apple down in Brambly Hedge hears of their plight, he mounts a relief operation, and soon the weavers get busy making new blankets. Mr. Apple and a small party of mice plan to deliver the blankets before the really cold weather sets in, but when Wilfred Toadflax hears about it, he is eager to go along.  Wilfred is convinced there’s gold to be found in the High Hills, and he intends to be the one to discover it.

Lily and Flax were already hard at work

Lily and Flax were already hard at work when Wilfred arrived.
"Can I help Too?" asked Wilfred. 
"That's kind of you, Wilfred, but not just now," said Lily.
"Why don't you find yourself a book while I finish spinning this wool?"


Wilfred went over to the bookcase. 
On a shelf, tucked between volumes 
on dye stuffs and weaves, he found a
thick book called Daring Explores of Old Hedge Days. 

Wilfred sat entranced. The whirr of the spinning wheel
became the swish of eagles' wings, the clatter of the loom,
the sound of falling rock, and the drops of rain on window,
jewels from some forgotten cave. Could there be gold
in the hills beyond Brambly Hedge, he wondered.


The first part of the journey was easy.
Along the hedge, past Crabapple Cottage,
the Store Stump and Old Oak Palace. Around
the weavers’ cottages and to the bank of the
stream. Carefully they picked their way over
the stepping stones and clambered up into the
buttercup meadow. 


They walked through the  afternoon as the path
became steeper and steeper. By tea-time, it was getting
dark and cold. At last they saw a tiny light shining from
beneath an old hawthorn tree. 


"Here we are," said Mr. Apple. "Knock on the door,
Wilfred". An elderly vole opened the door looking
surprised to see her visitors. "We couldn't leave you
without blankets, now could we,"said Mr. Apple.


The following morning it was time to leave, but
Wilfred begged to explore. Flax and Lily had to
get back to work, but Mr. Apple agreed he and
Wilfred could stay a while. "Mrs. Apple loves
junipers" said Wilfred quickly, "let's get her some."
So saying Wilfred began to scramble up a steep rock face.


Mr. Apple watched as Wilfred pulled himself
up onto a narrow ledge. It wasn’t long before
Wilfred after scraping at the rocks cried “Gold!”
and began putting something in his pocket.  
"Don't be silly, Wilfred.  That's not gold. Come
down at once." But Wilfred was stuck. "Wait there"
shouted Mr. Apple and slowly began to climb the
steep rocks.  The ledge was narrow and now an 
ominous mist was rising from the valley.


Mr. Apple was worried; he had
no idea where they were, and it looked as though
they might have to spend the night on the
mountain. “It’s my fault," said Wilfred, "I didn't
mean us to  get lost. I just wanted to find gold."
"Never mind," said Mr. Apple. "We must look
for somewhere to  spend the night," "If I had my
pipe, we could make a fire."  With that, Wilfred
produced a tinderbox and fire sticks from his pack. 
"Wilfred," cried  Mr. Apple “You're a real explorer."


The next morning they were woken by the
sun shining. "It's a beautiful day," called
Wilfred, peering over the ledge, "and I can
see a path down the mountain." They packed
up and set of down the path. Mr. Apple did
the best he could but his his leg was very
painful. He managed to get as far as the stream
where he sat on a boulder and said "I can't go
any further." "Don't worry" said Wilfred "I will
make a raft with some large sticks and my rope."

Wilfred and Mr. Apple were beginning to enjoy their
trip on the river. The ground had levelled out and the
pace of the stream had become gentler. They
looked about them with interest."Wilfred," called
Mr. Apple "can you see what I can see?
I'm sure that's our willow ahead."


It was, and soon Wilfred and Mr. Apple were
back at home eating cake and drinking acorn
Coffee. As Wilfred was telling them all about
their adventures Primrose Woodmouse interrupted
"Did you find any gold?" she asked. "No, only
this silly old dust," said Wilfred, pulling the bag
our of his pocket. Flex and Lily gasped.
"Wilfred!" That's not dust. That's Grandpa
Blackthorn's lichen. It's very rare. You are clever!
Wherever did you find it?"

The High Hills a Brambly Hedge Story by Jill Barklem Published by Collins in 1986.

One of a series of books recounting the adventures of the mice of Brambly Hedge. Others are The Secret Staircase, Spring, Summer, Sea Story, Autumn, Winter and Poppy’s Babies.


I love the illustrations in these books.  Do you like them? Have you read any of the stories?

Monday, 13 February 2017

All You Need is Love


Image Pinterest


Image Pinterest


Don't forget you still have time to spread the love ...


Get the details here

We sent Valentine cards to our grandsons when they were small, now it’s the turn of our granddaughters, only this year we sent books as well. It’s very easy to spread the joy of reading. A book left in a waiting room, a surprise in the post. It doesn’t take much. My Godmother never failed to send a book on my birthday and at Christmas, some were way beyond my reading ability but if anything it encouraged me to try harder. My dad also loved books and he and I enjoyed nothing more than browsing second-hand bookshops. Now it’s my turn to spread the love.

Speaking of love and grandchildren it must be time for an update. Our granddaughter Zoe was six in January and is already into her second school year. Her little sister Lilly doesn't start school until January 2018, but in the meantime she is loving kindergarten. As most of you know our son, daughter-in-law, and two little granddaughters live in Australia, while our two grandsons are in England. I recently shared some photographs of our grandsons, and today I'm sharing a few of our granddaughters. I hope you enjoy them. 

Zoe Christmas Day 2016 


and on her 6th birthday in January 2017 – can you spot the difference?  


 Lilly at the beach January 2017


and at kindergarten a few days later. 


In case you are wondering this is how her painting turned out.

I’m sure you can guess what it is but to give you a hint the small purple spots are snow, and the larger one is a present. 

Always remember there is enough love in each of our hearts to heal the world. 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Birth Year Reading Challenge 2017 - Another Slice


This is the second of my Birth Year Reading Challenge posts. To read more about the challenge, please visit J. G. at the Hotchpot CafĂ©. I’ve changed the rules a little by concentrating on books by Enid Blyton. She was a prolific and successful writer, which is how she came to have forty books published in the year of my birth. Last week, I shared twenty books published in 1948, and today I’m sharing the rest.

The Boy with the Loaves and Fishes and The Little Girl at Capernaum were both published by the Lutterworth Press one in May and the other in November 1948. The illustrations are by Elsie Walker.


The Saucy Jane Family (Caravan Family No. 2) was also published by the Lutterworth Press in 1948, colour frontis by Ruth Gervis. This story was originally serialised in Playways Magazine in 1946.

The Saucy Jane Family Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton Readers No. 7 published in April 1948 with illustrations by Eileen Soper. 

Enid Blyton Readers No. 7

Just Time for a Story published my Macmillan in October 1948. I've shared the dust jacketed edition because I love the Eileen Soper artwork. This, however, may not be a 1st edition because according to a bibliography of Enid Blyton’s work, the original publication didn't have a dust jacket. Apparently, there were 23,000 copies printed in that first edition which just shows the popularity of Enid Blyton at the time. 

Enid Blyton Just time for a story

The Sea of Adventure published by Macmillan in May 1948. The dust jacket illustration is by Stuart Tresilian. This is one of the three books already in my collection, so I don't need to look for this one.  

The sea of adventure Enid Blyton

The Mystery of the Hidden House (Find-Outers Mystery No. 6).  Published by Methuen in November 1948. I sold dozens of copies of this during my years as a bookseller, now I'm kicking myself for not keeping one! 

the mystery of the hidden house Enid Blyton

The Third Year at Malory Towers published by Methuen in October 1948. Dust jacket illustration by Stanley Lloyd.

Third Year at Malory Towers Enid Blyton

Come to the Circus published by George Newnes, July 1948

Come to the circus Enid Blyton

I've seen copies of Josie, Click and Bun but not More About Josie, Click and Bun so this one might prove hard to find. Published by George Newnes in February 1948.  Story told in pictures with illustrations by Dorothy M. Wheeler. 

More about Josie, Click and Bun Enid Blyton

Let's Have a Story and We Want a Story both published by H. A. & W. L. Pitkin in 1948.

Enid Blyton Let’s have a story and We want a story

My Enid Blyton Brer Rabbit Book published by Purnell with illustrations by Grace Lodge.

Enid Blyton Brer Rabbit

The Third Holiday Book, published by Sampson Low, Marston in October 1948. I do love these books and will be happy to add this one to my collection. Many well-known illustrators contributed pictures, including Helen Jacobs, Mary Kendal Lee, Grace Lodge, Eileen Soper and Hilda Boswell.

The third holiday book Enid Blyton

The Adventures of Pip and More Adventures of Pip, both published by Sampson Low, Marston. These might also be tricky to find as I've only ever seen copies without the dust jackets. 

Enid Blyton The adventures of Pip and more adventures of Pip

Tales After Tea Published in November 1948 by T. Werner Laurie. The pretty dust jacket is by Eileen A Soper.

Tales after tea Enid Blyton

I could leave the next three out because they are activity books rather than story books. However, they were published in the ‘right’ year, and I rather like them, so I will try to find them. The publishers didn’t miss a trick when it came to exploiting the popularity of Enid Blyton, and it appears their ploy is still working. The titles are: Enid Blyton's Road Safety Colouring Book, Enid Blyton's Merry Christmas Cards for you to colour and Enid Blyton's Birthday Cards Colouring Book.        

Enid Blyton Activity books 1948


Sunny Stories Calendar 1948. I really should leave this one out. It's not a book and it must have been published in 1947 but I like it and this is my list – right? I will probably have the devils own job trying to find it but when was a challenge ever supposed to be easy. đŸ˜‰ I might have to resort to the Internet to find it but not until I’ve exhausted all other avenues. 

Sunny Stories Calendar 1948 Enid Blyton

I finished typing the above paragraph and then went to eBay with no real hope of one being available. Would you believe it, there is one for sale at £125.00 (US$156)? Um, I won’t be buying that then. It may be sold or no longer available when you read this, but if you want to take a look the item number is 192069080028.

View details here

Having assembled my list, I’m now hoping to find a first edition copy of each book. Some are readily available online, but as I’m on a limited budget, I hope to find them in second-hand book shops, charity shops, flea markets and the like. If I’m successful I will let you know in a future post or posts. If you don’t hear another word, you will know I’ve failed miserably. Wish me luck!



Monday, 30 January 2017

Birth Year Reading Challenge 2017 - Part One

Have you heard about The Birth Year Reading Challenge? The idea is to read and comment on books published in the year you were born. It's hosted by the Hotchpot Café if you would like more information, rules, etc., please click on the link at the end of this post.


It’s an interesting challenge but in an effort to stay true to my blog, I’m going to focus on children’s books. Then to make it a tad more difficult, I’m going to concentrate on children's books by a single author. When I started thinking about this, I realised I would need to find a prolific writer to make the challenge worthwhile. So who had a large number of books published in … gulp … 1948? As far as I’m concerned there is just one contender and that’s Enid Blyton.  

A quartet of Enid Blyton's? Well how else did she write so many stories?

I realised Enid Blyton had written a lot of books but had no idea just how many. So far, I’ve identified forty published in 1948 but there could be more. I have three of them already, which leaves thirty seven to find.  Remember the books are close to seventy years old so it could take some time, but it will be an interesting project. I could simplify things by buying later reprints, but I much prefer the original editions so those are the ones I'm going to look for.


The purpose of this post and the one to follow next week is to list all forty books and add images where possible. The majority of the images are from an illustrated bibliography by Tony Summerfield. Others are from The Enid Blyton Society Website, and three are from books in my collection.


Enid Blyton Nature Series Jinky and the birds
There are four books in this the Nature Series each in a uniform edition with tan, brown, green and black on cream covers.

Book 1 Jinky and the birds
Book 2 Jinky and the animals
Book 3 Jinky and the flowers
Book 4 Jinky and the insects  

These were all in 1948 by E. J. Arnold & Son. Phyllis Denton provided the illustrations. Each book contains four short stories. In Book one the stories are Jinky and the birds, Jinky makes a nest, all kinds of eggs and Jinky helps with the bird-babies.


Enid Blyton How do you do Mary Mouse

The original How do you do Mary Mouse published in August 1948 sported a yellow and red cover as pictured above, later reprints were more colourful so I might see if I can find both versions.  

Enid Blyton How do you do Mary Mouse

Secret of the Old Mill (Janet and Peter Book no. 2) published in September 1948 with illustrations by Eileen Soper. This was published by Brockhampton Press as were the above books and the three that follow. 

Enid Blyton Secret of the old mill


Enid Blyton The red-spotted handkerchief
The Red-Spotted Handkerchief and other stories, published in April 1948. The book contains ten stories, which previously appeared in Sunny Stories a children’s magazine published by George Newnes. Sunny Stories began life as Sunny Stories for Little Folk in 1926 and was both written and edited by Enid Blyton. I thought about excluding this as the stories were written in earlier years, but as the challenge is to find books published in my birth year it had to be included. Besides I would really like to read it, and it would look nice on my shelf!


The cover on this next book really appeals to me, and I very much hope I can find it. Tales of the Twins (The Nursery Series No. 1) illustrated with 12 colour plates by Eileen A Soper. Published October, 1948. 

Enid Blyton Tales of the twins

They Ran Away Together (Nursery Series No. 2) Once again published in October 1948 but this time the illustrations are by Jeanne Farrar. I realise this cover could be offensive to some people but please remember it was published in 1948, and no offence is intended.

Enid Blyton They ran away together

Three books from the Old Thatch Series, No. 5, No. 6 and No. 7 each of these are new editions published in June 1948 by J. Coker. The cover illustrations are by Mary Smith.  

Enid Blyton  Old Thatch Series,

A fourth book published by J. Coker in 1948 Tales of Old Thatch, with a pretty cover illustration by Mary Smith. 

Enid Blyton Tales of Old Thatch

I would love to add a dust jacketed copy of Six Cousins of Mistletoe Farm to my collection and would be willing to pay a little more for this one.  It was published by Evans Brothers in November 1948, and the jacket illustration is by Peter Beigel.



Now For a Story published by Harold Hill contains seventeen stories from Sunny Stories Magazine. Cover illustration by Frank Varty. 


Five Go Off to Camp published in October 1948 by Hodder & Stoughton. Eileen Soper provided the dust jacket illustrations and the eight two-colour illustrations inside.  This is one of the three books already in my collection. 


Nature Tales and Jolly Tales from the Old Thatch Series both published in April 1948 by W. & A. K. Johnston. 


My Enid Blyton Book No. 1 published by Latimer House with 14 stories originally published in The Red Pixie Book. Dust jacket illustration by  Grace Lodge.


Mister Icy Cold published by the Shakespeare Head Press (Basil Blackwell).  I didn’t find a single copy of this during my years as a book dealer I don't know if that is because it's scarce, or if I was just unlucky.



So there you have it. Quite a challenge I think you will agree. It’s possible I could buy many of these online but as funds are limited, I’m going to try to source them locally where prices might be lower. Besides it’s more of a challenge that way, and I do love a bargain.  If I have any luck in locating any/all of them, I will let you know in a future post or posts.

If you would like more details about The Birth Year Reading Challenge, please pay a visit to the Hotchpot Café.



In next weeks post I will share another twenty books written by Enid Blyton and published in 1948. 
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