Sunday 29 April 2012

Book of the week; The Bluebell Story Book

The Bluebell Story Book

One of a series of books published by Blackie & Son in the 1930s. The front cover illustration and endpapers are by Cicely Mary Barker. Colour frontis by Mabel Lucie Attwell and numerous black-and-white  illustrations by Helen Jacobs, Ruth Cobb and Rosa C Petherick. Hardback book with 36 pages. First story the sick doll's diary, other stories include kind teddy and nanny and the circus. Presentation plate on front pastedown - ‘Edinburgh Galloway Association prize for excellence in class work awarded to Doris Dowdney, 1st July 1932'. Can you imagine how excited Doris must have been when she was awarded this lovely book?

Spring has officially arrived in the UK, and woodlands are already carpeted in cobalt blue. The bluebell season is fleeting so if you don’t want to miss seeing these lovely flowers pay a trip to the Woodland Trust website which has the world’s largest bluebell database.

My hundred thousand bells of blue, the splendour of the spring, they carpet all the woods anew with royalty of sapphire hue; The Primrose is the Queen, 't is true, but surely I am King! Ah yes, the peerless woodland King! From The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker.

This pretty bluebell postcard is illustrated by Mabel Lucie Attwell; God must have known how sad it would be for a little child in a garden fair, to wander through its walks and ways and never to touch a flower there - and so he planted his woods about - with flowers for the little ones - everywhere!

Do bluebells grow in your part of the world?

Sharon from Sharon’s Sunlit Memories has written a lovely post about another book published by Blackie, possibly from the same series as The Bluebell Story book. Sharon’s book is called “How Nice!” but it’s much more than nice – it’s beautiful. 


  1. The Desert Rocks29 April 2012 at 18:30

    I think the closest we have is lupine. However, here in the desert we have purple lantana and Jacaranda trees. The Jacaranda has a bluebell type flower that sprinkles all over our valley in purple splendor!

  2. The Bluebell Book is beautiful Barbara. I've got another of the same series called 'How Nice!' You may know it - the cover has a girl and boy with a butterfly net in a field of poppies and daisies - they have found a fairy they mistook for a butterfly!

    I've been lucky enough to live in places where there are bluebells (where I live now and they are so special and stunning) and the Jacaranda's mentioned in the previous comment (where I lived before.) When I was at university in Durban the Jacaranda's bloomed at exam time and the tradition was that if one landed on your head you would pass!

  3. I've not seen many bluebells around here this year.

    Do schools still give out books for work well done? I don't remember receiving any when I was in school, but I do have a few that belonged to an aunt who received them for full attendance at school (she never missed a day!).

  4. M Bankswilkinson29 April 2012 at 22:04

    Love Bluebells! I have some in my garden, but when I saw the book pictures all I thought was No!! Don't pick them!!
    It ruins the display for others and destroys the bulbs to yank them out so the end is white, and they don't last in a vase.

  5. barbaraannefisher29 April 2012 at 22:31

    I had to look up Jacaranda and Purple Lantana (thank you Google images!). They are both beautiful as is your description of the Jacaranda flowers sprinkled over your valley.

  6. barbaraannefisher29 April 2012 at 22:42

    Hello Sharon, I don’t know ‘How Nice', but I will be looking out for a copy now. The illustration on the front cover sounds beautiful, is it by Cicely Mary Barker?

    What a wonderful tradition! I would have been standing under those Jacaranda trees every day just to make sure a flower landed on my head!

  7. barbaraannefisher30 April 2012 at 08:41

    Hi Nikki-ann, the honest answer is, I don’t know. I always looked forward to prize giving day when I was at school, and my favourite award of all time was a paperback copy of the lion the witch and the wardrobe. It was the original version with the Pauline Baynes illustrations, and I loved it.

  8. barbaraannefisher30 April 2012 at 08:56

    When I was growing up in the 1950s, it was considered perfectly acceptable to pick bluebells, cowslips, primroses or anything else, but that has all changed now. My sister and I loved going home with armfuls of flowers (we lived on a farm surrounded by fields and woods) and in some ways it’s a real shame that today’s youngster miss out on that simple pleasure. In those days, it was just the farm children who picked the flowers but of course that’s not true anymore so wild flowers have to be protected. If you pick bluebells in Scotland, you can be prosecuted but that law hasn’t spread to the rest of the UK yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. Thanks for calling in and leaving a comment.

  9. The Bluebell Story Book looks very sweet. I just love bluebells, but alas, I don't see them much anymore. But now you've reminded that I first became aware of them when we were kids and we had a jumprope shyme that began bluebells, cockleshells, evy, ivy over, I was born in clover.

  10. barbaraannefisher30 April 2012 at 15:38

    Hello Alex, I'm glad you called in it reminded me to pay a visit to your blog - see you later! I can remember chanting evy, ivy, over while jumping over a rope, but I had forgotten the rest of the rhyme - maybe that’s the one! Your comment took me right back to the school playground, skipping and bung the barrow (don’t ask!) were two of my favourite past times. We have lots of bluebells in the woods where we live, but that’s probably because they are well out of the way. Getting to them is quite a hike over several muddy fields, and few people bother to visit them.

  11. I don't think it is a Cicely M Barker - my eyes are so bad that I can't make the signature out but it looks like something else. I'll have to scan the cover so I can look at it magnified and then I'll include it in a post! The book seems to be in much the same format - about the same number of pages (they are not numbered), 6 stories with 4 colour plates and a host of black and while illustrations. I've had it for ever - it was passed on to me by an uncle or aunt and I've always loved it.

  12. barbaraannefisher1 May 2012 at 07:09

    Hi Sharon, I will look out for the post. Cicely Mary Barker didn't sign a lot of her cover artwork so it might not be her - but I would love to see it either way. Barbara

  13. Lucky Doris to receive such a beautiful book.

    I can't remember the last time I saw bluebells, I also remember the jump rope rhyme Bluebells, cockleshells, easy, ivy over and we just kept repeating it, I never knew there was more to the rhyme until a few years ago when I saw it in an old Nursery Rhyme Book.

  14. barbaraannefisher1 May 2012 at 16:32

    Hello Michelle, I agree Doris was lucky; especially in 1932 it must have been a very expensive book back then.

    Do bluebells grow in Australia? I know you have lots of lovely flowers but I don't remember seeing bluebells. We usually visit between January and April so I suppose we are there at the wrong time of year.

  15. Sharon Souter1 May 2012 at 20:58

    Hi Barbara - I've just put together a quick post featuring my book as a complimentary entry to yours. Hope you enjoy it - I think the illustrations are lovely - different artist, but still so evocative of the era!

  16. barbaraannefisher1 May 2012 at 21:16

    Thank you Sharon, I'm on my way there now!

  17. I love blue bells. I haven't seen any in a long time- but I believe my great aunt used to have some near her house. The book looks beautiful. I think it is wonderful that the book was awarded to someone. I am a 5th grade teacher and I give out books to students for various reasons. I always like to receive books and I hope my students do, too. :)

  18. barbaraannefisher3 May 2012 at 11:47

    Hello Stephanie, it's nice to know that teachers still give out books. I’m positive your students enjoy receiving them, especially if it's in recognition of a job well done.

  19. Oh, I so love this one! The pictures and the text are darling. I love when colors mix to make the pictures seem more vibrant.

  20. barbaraannefisher4 May 2012 at 08:48

    Thank you Donna, I love getting your comments they are always so positive.


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Barbara xx