Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Books from my Bookshelf - Black Bramble Wood by Mollie Kaye

Black Bramble Wood by Mollie Kaye

This is the second in a series of books written by Mollie Kaye The first book in the series Potter Pinner Meadow featured in an earlier post which you can read here should you wish.

Black Bramble Wood by Mollie Kaye

Black Bramble Wood is a gloomy sort of place, inhabited by all kinds of creatures but none as scary as Mr. Gingertail the fox.  He lives in a house with an extremely large lock on the front door and bars on all the windows. Not that anyone would want to get in! 

Black Bramble Wood by Mollie Kaye

Farmer Wraggs (you may recall him from Potter Pinner Meadow) lives very close to the wood, and in a corner of his farmyard lives Mrs. Prudence Pumelow and her nine little piglets. Eight of the piglets are very good, but Perkin the ninth little piglet is very naughty.

Black Bramble Wood by Mollie Kaye

One sunny autumn day, when the leaves are turning red and yellow Mrs. Prudence Pumelow sends her children out blackberrying. She gives each of them a small basket, an acid drop to suck, and a warning not go anywhere near Black Bramble Wood... “People who go into the wood don’t always come back!” 


The sun is shining, and the hedges covered with ripe blackberries and soon all the baskets are full. All that is except for the basket belonging to Perkin’s, he picked a great many blackberries but the only thing that was full was his tummy. “Ooooh, Perkin,” said his brothers and sisters, “no blackberry pie for you.” Perkin looked at the hedges, but the remaining blackberries were all out of reach. “I shall go to Black Bramble Wood,” said Perkin Pumeloe “and I shall get more than any of you!” The eight good little pigs were horrified! “You will never come back” they said “pooh," said Perkin before tilting his little black snout in the air, picking up his basket and heading off towards the wood.


Black Bramble Wood by Mollie Kaye

By the time Perkin reached the wood the sun was low in the sky and the trees were casting long spiky shadows. The bramble bushes, however, were covered with hundreds of big, ripe, juicy blackberries, and he picked and picked. Going from one bush to another, he failed to notice he was getting deeper and deeper into the wood. When the sun was almost gone Perkin decided it was time to go home, but he had wandered so far into the wood, he had quite lost his way.  Frightened and alone Perkin sat down on a tree root and squealed.

Black Bramble Wood by Mollie Kaye


Just then a fox with a large ginger tail came into view. “Dear, dear, have you met with an accident?” he asked. “I've lost my way,” sniffed Perkin “How unfortunate," said the fox.  “My name is Mr. Gingertail.  Perhaps you will allow me to show you the way?”   

Black Bramble Wood by Mollie Kaye


Presently, they came to a dwelling under a bank.  “My humble home,” said Mr. Gingertail.  “Come inside for a few moments while I find my muffler, the evening air is rather chilly and we still have a long way to go.” Now it just so happened that a little red squirrel busy gathering acorns for his supper heard Mr. Gingertail and called “Don’t go in there... run!”   Perkin replied, “Shan't” rather rudely and followed Mr. Gingertail into his house.



A little while later Mr. Gingertail came out of the house, locked the door and walked away.  The little red squirrel waited until he was out of sight and then hurried to the house and tapped on one of the heavily barred windows. “Are you all right?” he called.  “Help!” squealed Perkin.  “He says he’s going to f-f-fatten me up to make a p-p-pork pie for his birthday p-p-p-party!” 

The little red squirrel promised to help before hurrying away to look for Professor Fluster-Whuffle. He was sure the professor would be the very person to devise a plan of escape for a captured pig. Professor Fluster-Whuffle declared the matter to be a very simple one. Firstly, remove fox, secondly rescue pig. “It may sound simple," said the squirrel looking rather doubtful. “But how does one remove a fox?” “Ah," said Professor Fluster-Whuffle taking an egg out of his pocket. “This is an old Starling’s egg I found lying about and kept it in case it should come in useful." “The egg if broken would be sure to have a most unpleasant smell, we will drop it down Mr. Gingertail’s chimney, and then we will be quite certain he will leave the house."


The Professors plan may well have worked had the egg not met with an accident before the pair arrived at Mr. Gingertail’s house.  “Now what can we do” asked the squirrel. But then he had an idea “I know” he said, “on the other side of the wood beyond Gold Gorse Common there is a kennel,  we could ask the hounds to chase Mr. Gingertail out of the wood.” “Capital idea" said the Professor. “Now we just need some woodpeckers to peck open the lock.”

Black Bramble Wood by Mollie Kaye


News of the rescue plan soon spread, and the trees around Mr. Gingertail’s house became crowded with birds eager to watch.  


Presently, the front door opened and Mr. Gingertail came out carrying a pail. Snarling at the birds he proceeded to the pool to fetch some water. Suddenly, from far away, came the sound of a hunting horn.  Mr. Gingertail dropped the pail and ran as fast as ever he could.

 

 As soon as Mr. Gingertail disappeared Professor Fluster-Whuffle called “Attention! One! Two! Three! GO!” How those woodpeckers worked!  Chips of wood flew in all directions as they pecked away at the lock, and it wasn't long before it fell to the ground with a loud bang. The door flew open and out rushed Perkin Pumeloe.  Guided by the birds, he dashed through the wood and across the fields, and he didn't stop running until he reached the farmyard.


Mrs. Prudence Pumelow being so pleased to have him safely home quite forgot to scold Perkin for his disobedience.  Nevertheless, from that day on he was the best little piglet in the entire farmyard.


Two things strike me about this story.  Firstly, the mention of a pack of hounds chasing a fox and secondly the good pigs portrayed as pink while the naughty pig is very definitely black.  I have a feeling this might be considered politically incorrect by today’s standards. What do you think?



Black Bramble Wood by Mollie Kaye


M.M. Kaye, (born Aug. 21, 1908, Simla, India—died Jan. 29, 2004, Lavenham, Suffolk, Eng.), British writer and illustrator who captured life in India and Afghanistan during the Raj in her immensely popular novel The Far Pavilions (1978). The daughter of a British civil servant working in India, Kaye spent her early childhood there. She was sent to boarding school in England at age 10. After graduating from art school in England, she found work as an illustrator and soon began to write. She married a British army officer in 1945. Before achieving worldwide success with The Far Pavilions she wrote a number of children’s books (as Mollie Kaye), several detective and historical novels and three volumes of autobiography. [Encyclopaedia Britannica.]  The illustrations in Black Bramble Wood are all by Margaret Tempest.

Thanks for your visit...

42 comments:

  1. I LOVE the illustrations by Margaret Tempest. No ,I don't think they are politically incorrect. I have 3 cats. 2 silver blue beauties-fairly well behaved- and their little brother who is all black, very mischievous and my favourite from the moment I laid eyes on him!

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    1. I love that two of your cats are fairly well behaved, but your favourite is the one who is less well behaved. That tells me a lot about you Colleen, and all of it good! x

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  2. Some people can rad anything into the most innocuous of stories but it's not one I'd have read my daughter. Definitely a product of its age.

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    1. Hi Roger, I understand why you wouldn't have read it to your daughter but having said that I'm pretty sure I would have read it to my son. He was born in 1973. I worried about all kinds of things when he was a boy, but nothing in this book would have concerned me. It does now but only because I've been conditioned by ‘political correctness’.

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  3. This is a cute story with adorable illustrations. Yes, it is dated and I wondered if the black piggy in the family would not be considered inappropriate today.

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    1. Perhaps not Darlene and you are absolutely right about it being cute.

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  4. I love Margaret Tempest's illustrations, and a lot of these characters are very similar to those from 'Little Grey Rabbit.' I expect the naughty piggy Perkin was shown as black in a reference to 'the black sheep of the family' (or maybe pig in this case) - although maybe that expression isn't considered right these days. I don't know - you could also argue that it's sexist having Peter Rabbit as the boy being the only naughty one in the family, but by-and-large I think it's all harmless if you read a mix of old stories and those from our (possibly) more enlightened times to children.

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    1. Hi Sue, absolutely! You have just taken my thoughts and sorted them out for me, how I wish I could write like you.

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    2. Barbara, I can assure you you write beautifully. Why else would so many enjoy your blogs?

      I notice that there is a spate of modern parody versions of children's books where any political incorrectness is ironed out. I'm thinking about the Ladybird parody books, and books like 'The Teenager who came to tea':
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Teenager-Who-Came-Tea/dp/1472121767?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

      But I think these are tongue-in-cheek and mainly for the amusement of the middle-aged!

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    3. Sue, you’ve just made my day. Thank you so much for those kind words.

      I was only looking at the Ladybird books in W. H. Smith’s a couple of days ago, they certainly made me laugh. I’ve not seen The teenager who came to tea but having just been over to Amazon (thank you for the link) it looks like a lot of fun.

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  5. Hi Barbara,
    Golly! such exciting stuff but it would definitely be 'blue pencilled' these days.

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    1. You are not wrong ... John! Lovely to see you back at my blog, I've missed your comments.

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  6. Oh, POOR PERKIN!!!!!! That look on his face while drying the dishes....LOOKS LIKE ME!!!!!!!!!

    Adorable. Charming. Totally precious are these characters, and preserved in the safety of a real book, these thoughts and ideas, drawings and characters pop out of the pages to remind us to use our imaginations and smile. I LOVE YOUR CHOICES, Barbara! And dear friend, thank you for visiting my Instagram!

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    1. So funny to think of you doing the dishes with that look on your face Anita. You do make me smile!
      Your Instagram photographs are so beautiful I always love looking at them.
      Thank you for visiting me today. xx

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  7. I hadn't caught that until you mentioned it about the color of the pigs. I too wonder these days if it would be politically incorrect and if someone would have taken the author to task about it. It does sound like a delightful story though!

    thanks for visiting :)

    betty

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    1. Hello Betty, I have a feeling the images would change if the book were ever to be republished. That happened with a lot of books written by Enid Blyton, although in her case, many of the words/names have also been changed. Quite honestly I prefer the original versions. They were the ones I grew up with and the ones I still love, but I understand times and attitudes change.
      Thank you for your return visit, Barbara

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  8. These illustrations are adorable. Fun to compare M. M. Kaye's writing style in her children's works to her adult novels. My first thought was only 8 pigs and are they all girls? And then, ah, even the boys wear dresses and the 9th pig is the black sheep. Looks like the boys can get their dresses dirty, but the girls must wear aprons. Unless the author described the other 8 as being pink, maybe it was the illustrator's way to make Perkin stand out. If it was anything like today's picture books, usually the author doesn't see the illustrator's choices until they're completed. Interesting to analyze!

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    1. Hello Marcia, I’ve looked and looked at these pictures, and didn’t register the fact that the little boy pig is wearing a dress. It’s not so surprising I suppose when you consider boy children also wore them back then. I have a lovely photo of my dad wearing long socks, lace-up shoes and a dress. He was born in 1912, and I would guess the photograph was taken in 1918.
      I always assumed authors and illustrators collaborated on the pictures. It must be heartbreaking if the author doesn’t like what the illustrator produces.
      Thanks for your visit x

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  9. I think the illustrations are so well done. I hadn't heard of this book before, but enjoyed looking through it here on your blog. :) Styles change so much over time- I just had students guess the Noah Webster was a girl because of his outfit in an illustration of him from the late 1700s.

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    1. Hello Stephanie, you are right about styles changing over time. I’ve just been looking at photographs of Noah Webster and can completely understand why some of your students were confused. I have a photo of my dad when he was a young boy, and he too looks just like a girl.

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  10. How lovely. Books of this age have a certain innocence about them that I find so endearing. And what wonderful illustrations.

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    1. Thanks Tracy, it really is a sweet little book.

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  11. Ooh, perhaps politically incorrect, I reckon. But I like how Perkin was such a rebel. The way he said 'Shan't!' to the kind squirrel ... you almost want to leave him as a potential pork pie. Thank goodness the squirrel was a good sort!

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    1. Oh Claudine, how could you - poor Perkin ending up as a Pork Pie?! Thanks for making me laugh. :-)

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  12. Lovely, lovely book (politically correct or not!) beautiful calligraphy and illustrations and an exciting story. The story, just what we loved and had us on the edge of our seats as children and we did not come to any harm from hearing it! Really enjoyed this blog sister; one of my favourites. Sue xxxx

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    1. Thank you Sue, I found this one quite difficult. I tried to précis the story, but somehow it got longer and longer. You are absolutely right we didn't come to any harm, and I don’t think children would now it’s just that attitudes have changed. xx

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  13. Love the illustrations and story! Hard to know what she (the author was thinking) when coming up with a way to differentiate between the good and bad pigs... Guess she could have used spotted pigs! Interesting to read her bio though, last year watched "Indian Summers" drama on PBS station, it was quite interesting to learn a bit about how things were during that time period. They usually do a fair portrayal of events. Have a wonderful weekend, hope you are enjoying some sun and warm days!

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment Diane. I have to admit I didn't think how difficult it might be to distinguish the boy pig from the girls. I suppose he could have been dressed in blue and the girls in pink but even that might be considered offensive by some.
      Indian Summers sounds interesting I must look out for it. Lovely spring sunshine again today so I will have to leave my desk and go for a walk soon, I can’t resist it! Have a great weekend. x

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  14. Cute little Perkie is like me and I'm the blacksheep of the family. Just naturally politically incorrect all the time. Heck, my mother named me Eve! LOL

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    1. I might have known it was all down to you Eve! Once a blacksheep always a blacksheep. :-)

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  15. Wonderful illustrations :) I wish more kids books these days would have similar illustrations.

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    1. I couldn't agree more Nikki-ann. Hope you are keeping well, Barbara

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  16. I loved these illustrations and your shelves sound like holding some gems for sure!

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    1. I'm so pleased you enjoyed them. Yes, my shelves are very lucky. :)

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  17. Oh dear friend, thank you for coming to visit my blog! Sweet dreams and dream of flowers, kindness, pretty shoes....things that DO exist among us, just embrace them.

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    1. I wouldn't miss your blog for the world Anita, it is one of my favourite places on the web.

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  18. Love all the wonderful illustrations.

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    1. Thank you Kelly, I'm glad you enjoyed them. x

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  19. Hi Barbara,

    Beautifully crafted and illustrated stories. Black Bramble Wood by Mollie Kaye, it brings back the magic of my quintessentially English childhood. Thank you for highlighting this.

    A pleasant day to you, Barbara.

    Gary

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    1. Gary

      Hi Gary,
      Lovely to hear from you, and it’s about time I came to visit you. I will be over directly!
      I’m so pleased you enjoyed reading about Black Bramble Wood. I remember these stories from when I was young too, and I’ve always loved them.
      Enjoy the rest of the week, Barbara.

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  20. Hello Barbara, what a lovely story and illustrations. Yes the illustration of a black pig is probably politically incorrect but what an adorable story and character.

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    1. Absolutely Shashi! I think the little black pig is adorable, but then I would also think that if he were pink!

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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