Noddy returns, minus golliwogs, to mark 60th year

Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:35pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Noddy, the beloved toy character created by British author Enid Blyton 60 years ago, returns to book stores on Thursday in "Noddy and the Farmyard Muddle," written by the late writer's grand-daughter Sophie Smallwood.

The book will be the first classic Noddy tale to appear in 46 years and is illustrated by Robert Tyndall who has been the artist for the stories since 1953.

Smallwood, 39, who has admitted the challenge she faced was daunting, has created new characters including Stumpy the Elephant and The Bull and retained several old favorites like Big-Ears and Mr. Plod the policeman.

According to the book's publisher HarperCollins, in the story the goblins are up to their old tricks again, turning cows blue, making the pigs woolly and driving the tractor into the pond. Fortunately Noddy is at hand to put things straight.

But among the notable absentees are the golliwogs, characters inspired by black-faced minstrel rag dolls which have gone out of fashion because the term is widely interpreted as racist.

"The golliwog characters haven't been part of the Noddy ecosystem for at least two decades now," said Jeff Norton, senior vice president at Chorion, the company which owns Blyton's literary estate.

"Firstly, the storyline just didn't involve them, but secondly we all felt it was not appropriate to put characters and terminology into a children's book that have that connotation," he told Reuters.

Chorion approached Smallwood, who is a teacher by profession, to pen a Noddy story to mark the character's diamond anniversary. Smallwood already knew illustrator Tyndall.   Continued...