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. 

Monday, 23 January 2017

Spread the love this coming Valentine's Day...

International Book Giving Day 2017

2017 International Book Giving Day poster created by Marianne Dubuc
2017 International Book Giving Day poster created by Marianne Dubuc

Let’s spread the love this Valentine’s Day by getting as many books into the hands of as many children as possible.

Here are three simple ways to join in. 

1. Give a Book to a Friend or Relative.
Celebrate International Book Giving Day by giving a child a new, used or borrowed book.

2. Leave a Book in a Waiting Room or Lobby.
Choose a waiting room where kids are stuck waiting and there are few to no good books available. Purchase a good book, and deposit your book covertly or overtly in your waiting room of choice. The goal here is to spread the love of reading to kids, so choose a fun book, nothing controversial.

3. Donate a Book.
Wrap up a box of children’s books that your kids have outgrown and get them in the hands of children who could really use a book or two. Donate your books to your local library, children’s hospital, or shelter. Alternatively, donate your books to an organisation working internationally to get books in the hands of kids, such as Books for Africa.

International Book Giving Day is a volunteer initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to, and enthusiasm for, books. Go on spread the love, you know you want to.  #bookgivingday


I’ve been giving a little thought to the books I might share and have come up with these four. Hopefully, there is something for everyone here.

Dave’s Cave by Frann Preston-Gannon

Dave’s Cave by Frann Preston-Gannon: A funny bedtime story about an upwardly mobile Neanderthal. Dave is a caveman who likes living in a cave but thinks perhaps there is a better cave somewhere. So, club in hand, he sets off to look for it. Only to discover one cave is too small, one cave too large, one cave has a scary sabre-tooth tiger and one a stroppy Neanderthal cave dweller who does not like sharing!

Beetle Boy by M G Leonard:

Beetle Boy by M G Leonard: A story set in London, which begins when Dr Bartholomew Cuttle, director of science disappears from his entomology room without trace. His thirteen-year-old son Darkus is sent to live with his uncle Max, an archaeologist who claims to have discovered the tomb of Nefertiti. While in Max’s flat Darkus discovers Baxter, a giant rhinoceros beetle that can bow its horn in answer to questions, and open its mouth to smile.

 Wild Lily by K M Peyton:

Wild Lily by K M Peyton: Set in the Twenties in Lockwood Hall a huge house and home to the gloriously rich Sylvester family and Lily, the 13-year-old daughter of the head gardener. While Lily cooks and cleans for her widowed father, Antony the 17-year-old son of the Sylvester family spends his holidays from Eton roaring about the countryside in his two-seater plane. Lily is in love with Antony but what will she do as the family’s reputation disintegrates amid a story of fraud and murder.   

A beginner’s guide to bear spotting by Michelle Robinson
A beginner’s guide to bear spotting by Michelle Robinson: An illustrated story which will delight the under-fives. Did you know if you meet a black bear and wish to avoid being eaten, you must back away slowly? If you do that you then have to hope you don't bump into a brown bear, because to avoid being eaten by a brown bear you must act dead, although to a black bear, that's like an invitation to dinner. Or it could be the other way around. 


Monday, 16 January 2017

Vintage Books from my Bookshelf - The Creepie-Man's Poke-Sack

the Creepie-Man’s Poke-Sack
The Creepie-Man’s Poke-Sack
When browsing through book dealers catalogues my attention is often drawn to books with odd sounding names. This is one such book.

It's a simple enough story about a gnome called Be-Wee and a strange little person by the name of The Creepie-Man. The two haven’t seen eye to eye since Be-Wee built his home under the Punker tree which is where the Creepie-Man has his shed. 


Be-Wee the Gnome and the Poke-sack
Be-Wee the Gnome and the Poke-sack

Once in a while the door to the shed is left open and Be-Wee watches as the Creepie-Man prepares his meals. At other times, the Creepie-Man simply sits on his creepie-stool with his poke-sack held tight between his knees. Be-Wee would dearly love to know what's in the poke-sack but the Creepie-Man won’t tell him.

 the Creepie-Man sits on his Creepie-stool
 The Creepie-Man sits on his Creepie-stool

Luckily, the Punker-tree can talk, and it is more than happy to tell Be-Wee about the ‘odd bits of weather’ the Creepie-Man hides in his sack.

Be-Wee longs for a nice bit of fair-weather-without-too-much-sun and wonders if he might find some inside the sack.

Just then the smallest twig on the Punker-tree starts singing, and this is what it sings;

"The Creepie-Man is ever so far, and he has left his door a-jar; 
Come and close it if you can: Heigh-ho, the Creepie-Man!"


Be-Wee and the poke-sack
Be-Wee and the poke-sack

This is my chance thinks Be-Wee as he tiptoes to the door of the shed.  Hurrying inside he seizes the poke-sack and running out tips all the odd pieces of weather onto the ground.

Picking up a piece of bright and pleasant looking weather Be-Wee makes a little hole in the ground and buries it. Alas! The smile has hardly crept across his face when there is a noise like breaking glass and hail stones start raining down, and with the hail comes a cold wind.  Next it begins to thunder, and then to snow! There has never been such a terrible storm.


The Creepie-Man is extremely angry with Be-Wee
The Creepie-Man is extremely angry with Be-Wee

In the middle of all the noise and confusion the Creepie-Man returns and realising what Be-Wee has done tells him “there was not one piece of fair-weather-without-too-much-sun in my poke-sack, for if there was I would have used it long ago!”

With that, there is a rumble-rumble-rumble from the Punker-Tree followed by a strange rustling movement as the branches turn into wings, and the tree now a bird flies away.

The Punker-Bird drew his claws out of the ground and flew away
The Punker-Bird drew his claws out of the ground and flew away

Eventually, the Creepie-Man forgives Be-Wee but only on condition that he fetches the topmost leaf from the Tousle-Bush. The Creepie-Man is going to use it to flavour his porridge, but he doesn’t tell Be-Wee that! 

The Creepie- Man sat on his creepie-stool and waited...
The Creepie- Man sat on his creepie-stool and waited...


Be-Wee sets off and the Creepie-Man finding a tiny piece of weather in a corner of the poke-sack buries it along with a pinch of pepper, thereby bringing an end to the terrible storm and the story.




The Creepie-Man's Poke-Sack
Tales of Happy Common ... No. 4
By Agnes Grozier Herbertson
Illustrated by Lilian A Govey
London: Dean & Son, Ltd.




Having read it, I still have no idea how or why the Creepie-Man got his name.  This is book four in the Tales of Happy Common, so I can only assume the answer is in one of the earlier stories.

I’m also confused by the term poke-sack. According to the Oxford dictionary, poke has a variety of definitions with prod being an obvious one. Did you know tea-pokies are tea bags, and stoorsooker pokes are vacuum cleaner bags?  No neither did I but apparently they are in Scotland.  I’ve also seen poke used to describe a purse or wallet so presumable a poke-sack is just a small bag or sack?




If you have read any of the Happy Common Stories, or you know how the Creepie-Man got his name, please leave a comment, and maybe you can also enlighten me about Punker-Trees and Tousle-Bushes.   I found a reference to a Punk tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia) which is a subtropical evergreen, native to Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia.  But I can't find any reference at all to a Tousle-Bush.  


This little gnome looks as perplexed as I feel right now. 

What are your thoughts on the story? I would love to hear from you. 

If you enjoy my blog, please follow with Bloglovin, thank you. 

Monday, 9 January 2017

Sharing Five of my Favourite Blogs from 2016

I love reading blogs and could spend hours telling you about my favourite ones. Realising your time is precious I've limited myself to five of (in my opinion) the best blogs from 2016.  I’ve included links to each and selected a few choice posts for you to enjoy.

Up first is a wonderful blog written by children’s author Marcia Strykowski.

In October, Marcia shared a series of posts about a trip to Monhegan Island. This is part one

Monhegan Island

In April, it was a post about Paper Dolls.

Paper dolls

Choosing my favourite posts from Marcia’s blog was really difficult because I loved them all. But don’t take my word for it just pop on over and take a look here.


Sharon Henning’s blog Gently Mad is always interesting. I like her honest, unbiased book reviews such as: Coming Up for Air a novel by GeorgeOrwell

George Orwell

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”  ― George Orwell


Down by the Sea run by Sarah (with help from a tabby cat called Twinkle, and a West Highland Terrier called Tavi) is a feast for the heart and the eye.  Don’t believe me?  Well go take a look.



Letters of note by blogger Shaun Usher is full of fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos.  It would be impossible for me to pick a favourite from the hundreds available, but I found this letter particularly moving. All for a good cause: Written by Private John Shaw of the Royal Fusiliers during World War 1. 



Another blog I love to visit is View from Harmony Hills run by Debbie. If you enjoy beautiful photographs and gentle words, this is the place to be.  

I’ve only scratched the surface of all the good things on offer at these blogs. Please pay them a visit; I know you won’t be disappointed. 

If you have a favourite blog, please let me know, and I will share it in a future post.

* I contacted each blog owner to ask permission to use their photographs.  All except one responded with a resounding yes – if the one who has not replied (you know who you are) objects to my using the photo, please let me know, and I will remove it immediately.  

Monday, 2 January 2017

Diamonds in the Hedgerow

I have a special treat for you today sharing as I am this post from my husband’s blog. Terry took the photographs when we were out walking one morning last week.  It was murky and cold when we left home, but as the sun rose it transformed an ordinary walk into something quite magical. The photographs were taken in and around Henstridge, Somerset, which is where we live. 



I wander in a valley full of mist today,
In cloud so low I feel its breath.


The scattered villages ghostly ride
Upon a sea of fine white silk,
Float silently among the fields.
Through muslin-curtained sky
I glimpse the sun's pale disc; 


He finds no welcome here
And hurries on to warm some other hillside.
Nothing in your web will you catch today, spider! 


It hangs in the hedgerow
A vision of bright diamonds.


Patient cattle in the yard


Breathe soundless clouds.
No flight of bird disturbs the grey-lit sky
Nor song delight the ear.


The muffled stream withholds its playful voice,
Glides softly on its way.
I turn aside
And through the enfolding air I trace again my homeward road.



Valley of mist by Les Derbyshire



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