Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Another classic children's book, or rather books, that don't seem to get the attention that they deserve are the Milly-Molly-Mandy stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley. A search on Amazon has revealed that perhaps these aren't quite as forgotten as they might be since they were reprinted in one volume in 2006. Who can resist stories about a little girl with a name like that, particularly when the name is an abbreviation of Millicent Margaret Amanda?
I stumbled upon Milly-Molly-Mandy again in Blackwell's second-hand this week and was reminded how wonderful the stories are, and immediately snapped it up to sit beside the first book Milly-Molly-Mandy which I own. The tales are old fashioned and extremely charming, with wonderful illustrations, creating a lovely picture of village and family life in the first half of the 20th century. In this book MMM gets a new dress, in her trademark pink and white cotton after attempts to choose something a little different go awry, befriends a lonely duck called Dum-dum, is given a surprise plant by the blacksmith which turns out to be a pumpkin and leads to the making of much pumpkin jam, and is bridesmaid at the blacksmith's wedding. All the stories start with "Once upon a time" and invariably involve her friends "Little friend Susan" and "Billy Blunt".
Intriguingly I've just found out that the stories were first published in the Christian Science Monitor. They are certainly not religious tales, or even overly moralistic, although they do conform to usual moral standards.
I hope to find the Puffin editions of More of Milly-Molly-Mandy and The further doings of Milly-Molly-Mandy at some point to complete my set.