Monday, 14 November 2011

Tom Puss at the Panto by Marten Toonder

In 1952, my brother was given a copy of the Jack and Jill all colour gift book. I was only four at the time and my ‘best’ Christmas present that year was a doll with real hair that (according to the box) would grow and grow. I don’t think my brother was particularly fond of the Jack and Jill book and a couple of years later it moved to my bookshelf. Mum probably decided to pass it on thinking I would enjoy the Enid Blyton story. I did enjoy that story, but the one I enjoyed the most and have never forgotten was ‘the fair’ written and illustrated by Marten Toonder.

Years later I realised Marten Toonder was the creator of the Tom Puss and Oliver B. Bumble cartoons that began to appear in a Dutch newspaper in 1941. With the Netherlands under Nazi occupation, the popular American Mickey Mouse cartoon disappeared from the pages of the daily newspaper and the gaps were filled with Toonder’s comic strip Tom Puss. After the end of the war, Tom Puss re-emerged and appeared in no fewer than fifty newspapers all over Europe and other parts of the world.

Tom Puss and Oliver B Bumble became a huge success and the demand for other products grew.  Picture postcards, puzzles, toys and books were produced in large numbers and Marten Toonder had to engage additional staff to help with the work.

In 1985, at the age of 72, Marten Toonder decided he had said all he had to say, and on 20th January 1986 the newspapers published the last instalment of his last story, aptly titled Mr Bumble and the End of Endlessness.

I don’t know what happened to my brother’s copy of the Jack and Jill all colour gift book; it was probably thrown away or taken to a charity shop. I’ve spent years looking for another copy and last week I finally found one.  It's in poor condition having lost most of its spine, but the illustrations are as bright as the day it was printed. It's now back on my bookshelf, and that’s where it will stay. I may lend it to my brother but only if he promises to return it.

All the illustrations in this post (other than the front cover of the Jack and Jill all colour gift book) are from Tom Puss at the panto. 

Tom Puss at the panto is now sold, thank you for your interest.

Have you ever lost and then found a 'special' book?

Thanks for calling in.


  1. Thanks for sharing about your earlier years and your love for books. Some of us are just meant to read above anything else.
    'A Child's Garden of Verses' by Robert Lewis Stevenson was the book that caused me to fall in love with poetry. My mother had bought it just for me, and since we didn't have a lot of money, I cherished it. Although you can buy the book anywhere, how I wish I would have kept my childhood copy.

  2. Megan@Storybook Love Affair15 November 2011 at 09:13

    I love your blog! It brings back so many wonderful memories and I love all the pictures!

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

  3. Lovely illustrations Barbara, the colours are so clear and bright. I don't know Tom Puss - somehow he passed me by.

    Is this Jack and Jill book the same publisher/series as the Jack and Jill annuals and magazines from the 60's. The annuals are largely responsible for my love of books (and I still have most of them!)

  4. barbaraannefisher15 November 2011 at 21:37

    The illustrations are very striking and I’ve always enjoyed them.

    The Jack and Jill all colour gift book was published by the News of the World (part of the Mirror Group) in 1952. The Mirror Group acquired the Amalgamated Press (later renamed Fleetway) in 1958. The Jack and Jill annuals from the 1960s were published by the Amalgamated Press. Rather a complicated explanation – but yes they were published by the same company.

    Thanks for calling in.

  5. barbaraannefisher15 November 2011 at 22:06

    Thank you Megan, that’s a lovely thing to say! I really enjoy spending time on your blog too.

  6. barbaraannefisher15 November 2011 at 22:11

    That’s just how I feel and although I’m gradually replacing all my ‘lost’ books I’ve never found one with my name in – but I live in hope.

  7. I have recently re-found Smokey House by Elizabeth Goudge. Her Little White Horse was well worth re-reading, but sadly Smokey House wasn't. I remembered it being an exciting smuggling adventure, but her spiritually anthropomorphic animals and intrepid children were far more irritating than I found them as a child.

  8. barbaraannefisher21 November 2011 at 08:50

    I didn’t read Smokey House as a child and having read your comment I probably won’t worry too much about reading it now. Sometimes the memory of a wonderful book read in childhood is better than the book – but not often. Have you noticed how quickly you can read some of the books from your childhood? Something that would take weeks of struggle to read and understand can now be read in an afternoon. Tom Puss is every bit as good now as he was then.


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx