Continuing with Enid Blyton’s compilation of short stories from her Holiday Books.
Little Queenie is Anytime Tale number 3, from the 4th Holiday Book. I wondered why I didn’t remember this tale, and when I read it t’other day I realised it made as little impression on me first time round as it did on this occasion.
In a nutshell, this really is a morality tale. Everyone thinks Queenie is odd. She’s not naughty, but on the other hand she never does nice things. The reason for this, a wise old crone discovers, is because her heart is actually a stone which comes flying out of her in a most peculiar way when she’s whacked on the back.
Doing good deeds physically hurts her when she tries (being rather alarmed of having a stone for a heart). This is because her heart is warming up and melting. And that’s it! A rather obvious metaphor turned into physicality. If this story was to feature in a modern reprint, the frequently appearing adjective ‘queer’ would probably be replaced with something a smidge more appropriate!
The House In The Fog
In total contrast, is the next tale, which was my favourite years back, so I couldn’t wait to read it again. William is a sensible lad, and a cub scout who mysteriously ends up lost in fog on an otherwise familiar suburban route.
I think the moral here is to encourage children to open their minds to all possibilities and suspend disbelief now and then. I never had any difficulty doing that (a certain visitor was eagerly expected for a record eleven Christmases, before the job was finally handed over to my dad!) Our hapless hero William has a little more trouble. He refuses to believe in pixies, elves, gnomes or any form of fairy-folk.
Maybe because of this, the fog works some elusive magic and leads William, thoroughly disoriented, to Munti House to ask directions. The peculiar person within is Mr Munti, a character of mixed parentage between a brownie and a pixie. He has a dancing clock, a very clever cat and a self-pouring jug. To add to this, he does not believe in little boys despite poor William standing bewildered in Mr Munti’s room.
Unsurprisingly, William has some difficulty separating fact from fiction, but by the time he leaves Munti House a short while later, he cannot deny the mysteriously sprutted whiskers, tail and hairy paws he now has.
Luckily for him, his bearings have returned and he makes it home safe, and bereft of aforementioned appendages. While no-one believes his odd tale, William has discovered that there is more to be seen than what may appear on the surface, which I’d like to think is true enough. I was drawn to this tale because of the mystery, and the weird discovery of a cottage in the fog. I like both fog, and weird discoveries.
Next time…Interfering Ina and Cross Aunt Tabitha.