Friday, 10 July 2015

Ivy Wallace and Pookie The Little White Rabbit with Wings

Pookie is no ordinary rabbit. Pookie is a little white rabbit with wings! These are not beautiful wings just two crumpled wispy wings and because of them, Pookie is scolded and laughed at. At length, he becomes so lonely and miserable he decides to leave his home and seek his fortune in the big wide world. After packing his belongings in his best handkerchief, he sets off in search of a better life. After many adventures, the little rabbit finds Belinda, the woodcutter's daughter and discovers the love of a true friend. Pookie is now the happiest, most beautiful rabbit-with-wings in the whole world.



Ivy Lillian Wallace was born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, on the 7th October 1915. Her father was a keen amateur botanist who taught his daughter the need for accuracy in her drawings of plants, and these drawings later became a central part of her Pookie books. It was assumed by Ivy’s friends and family that she would become a full-time artist. But, to the surprise of everyone who knew her, she applied for work at Felixstowe Rep and later appeared on stage with Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson.  

At the outbreak of the Second World War, she was chosen by The British Film Company to appear in Government training films. She went on to do war work in a police station, and it was while manning a police switchboard that she doodled a picture of a fairy sitting on a toadstool with a little rabbit in front. She then decided that fairies were "two a penny" and so rubbed out the fairy and gave the rabbit wings. After naming the rabbit Pookie, she wrote a story about him: This is the story of Pookie, a little white furry rabbit, with soft, floppity ears, big blue eyes and the most lovable rabbit smile in the world. So confident was she that in 1946 Ivy took a train from Grimsby to London and arrived at the offices of the publishers Collins without a prior appointment. However, the response was less than encouraging, and she returned home crestfallen, leaving her manuscript and illustrations behind.

A few weeks later she was contacted by William Hope Collins and asked to attend the Glasgow office where the Children's book section was based. Not only did William accept the book he also fell in love with its author. Their relationship met with strong disapproval because William was married with children. However, in 1950, Ivy and William were married and went to live near Biggar in the Scottish borders. During the 1950s and 1960s, Ivy's books became a publishing phenomenon. The stories were translated into several languages, and Pookie clubs were formed in places as far afield as Australia, Canada and South Africa. The stories were broadcast on Australian radio in Pookie's Half-Hour and the 'little rabbit with wings' became so popular that thousands of children attended Pookie rallies.  

Altogether, Ivy Wallace wrote nine Pookie books and seven Animal Shelf books but after her husband's death in 1967, she lost interest in writing, and her books went out of print. She continued to receive letters from fans asking her to revive the Pookie series and in 1994, she and her two daughters founded their own small publishing company and reissued the books. 80,000 copies were sold within three years, and the Animal Shelf series was made into a thirteen part animated series and screened on television.  In 1997, Ivy Wallace was the subject of a documentary on BBC Scotland, and an exhibition of her drawings was held in Glasgow during that same year. Ivy Wallace died at the age of 90 on the 13th March 2006.



BIBLIOGRAPHY
Pookie Series
(1946) Pookie
(1947) Pookie and the gypsies
(1949) Pookie puts the world right
(1951) Pookie in search of a home
(1953) Pookie believes in Santa Claus
(1956) Pookie at the seaside
(1958) Pookie's big day
(1961) Pookie and the swallows
(1963) Pookie in Wonderland
(1966) Pookie and his shop

ANIMAL SHELF SERIES
(1948) The animal shelf
(1948) Kinker visits the animal shelf
(1948) Woeful and the waspberries
(1948) Getup Crusoe
(1949) The huge adventure of Little Mut
(1949) Gumpa and the paint box
(1951) The treasure hunt

2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much Barbara, I really enjoyed reading about Ivy Wallace. I was fortunate enough to be given a couple of Pookie books by a neighbour and they were my childhood favourites and the joy of them is still with me today.

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    1. Hello Sue, thank you so much for telling me about that. I love the Pookie books, although sadly I don’t have any. I was a book dealer for many years so my aim was to sell books. I retired in 2015 and now regret selling any books at all. I’m sure I will spend the rest of my life buying them all back. :-)

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Barbara xx

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