Helping you find the best children's books to read aloud with your family. In-depth reviews of the best picture, chapter and illustrated books. Dad also recommends his favorite children's book series and treasuries.
Can you believe the following? Noddy reminds me of Leonardo da Vinci.
You are already mouthing "Read Aloud Dad is crazy!".
But, wait. Give me a chance to explain myself.
For example, imagine that you had the task of introducing Leonardo da Vinci to your kid.
"Leonardo is the world's greatest ..."
Hmmm... The greatest what?
Artist or engineer?
Scientist or inventor?
Of course, you always have the easy way out: "Leonardo da Vinci, he needs no introduction"
By the end of this post, you will find out the similarity between Leonardo Da Vinci and Noddy.
All I can say right now is that Noddy is as loved by kids today, as he was when he first drove his first yellow-red taxi around Toy Town in 1949.
So, Read Aloud Dad says please don't let your kid miss out on the biggest star of Toy Land.
I promise to tell you why.
In this first book in the hugely popular series, Noddy arrives in Toyland, lost, without clothes, all alone. He isn't even sure what is he. A boy, a toy?
Illustration from a Noddy book
He soon makes lots of friends, including his loyal mentor Big-Ears who takes care of him.
Almost immediately, Noddy starts going from adventure to adventure.
After stumbling into trouble, he is almost banished from Toy Land.
But Noddy is allowed to prove that he is a good toy at heart.
Who Seeks, Shall Find
Enid Blyton's tales about Noddy in Toyland have been captivating children around the world since this first book about the little nodding boy was published in more than sixty years ago.
Did I say first book? Yep, its a series!!
Sing your praises until you're hoarse!
You are in luck - as Noddy Goes to Toyland is the first in a series of 24 (come on everybody, stand up and sing...one more Hallelujah!!!!) incredibly charming and hypnotic books about the adventures of a little wooden boy who lives in his own little House-for-One in Toyland.
A House-of One built from toy bricks!
Noddy's faithful companion and pet is the funny and quirky 'Bumpy Dog'. Bumpy accompanies Noddy on almost all his adventures and his name has been a source of constant wonder for my twins.
"Why Bumpy Dog, dad?"
Illustration from a Noddy book
Well, I won't let you in on the secret, you will have to read the books to find out.
Although there are 24 books in all, Read Aloud Dad has "only" 13 Noddy books, yet the most ellusive of all has been Noddy Goes to Toyland.
I wanted to get my hands on all - but especially on the first book.
Namely, Noddy Goes to Toyland holds the "key" to Noddy's origins and having a dozen books without the first was clearly insufficient!
After I read Noddy Goes to Toyland, Blyton's genius became clear.
It is simply impossible not to read the following books without the feeling that you are now personally an inhabitant of Toy Town.
Noddy Goes to Toyland teleports you to this new land and afterwards is just one crazy adventure after another.
In fact, the characters are so likeable that you end up loving the bad toys, the good toys and everyone else.
Illustration from a Noddy book
Don't tell anyone, Noddy Goes to Toyland is a book that Read Aloud Dad has been searching for ... well, for the past 2 years!!
And I just got my hands on it last week.
Wait a second as I run to my home library to check something.
Just checked. I have the Noddy books no. 2 - 13 for the past two years. Books 14-24, I couldn't find anywhere.
But - I had set my sights on he first book - Noddy Goes to Toyland - and since then I've been searching high and low for this gem!
Why? My kids were asking me questions about Noddy that I couldn't answer.
Noddy's origins are revealed in Noddy Goes to Toyland and as such it is the best book to start reading this series.
Since Noddy Goes to Toyland was published in 1949, more than 200 million copies of books in the series have been published.
Yes, I said 200 million copies! Yet - Noddy Goes to Toyland was sold out on the largest online bookstores. Everywhere I looked.
For 2 years.
Missing. Out of action.
The story of Noddy's beginning was eluding my twins and me.
So, do as I say.
These Noddy books can be hard to find and they are worth my weight in gold.
And that's a lot of gold!
Toying With Existence
You look rather like an ornament.
Have you ever been stood on mantelpieces?
"No, never," said poor Noddy.
"Have you ever been played with by children?"
asked the policeman.
"No, never," said Noddy.
Illustration from a Noddy book
Noddy and his band of toys from Toy Land are the PERFECT way to introduce chapter books to your little ones, they are great read-alouds and excellent books for aspiring readers.
The marvelously illustrated books are divided into eight to ten chapters and each is long enough to be eventful and full of suspense yet short enough to keep the interest of listeners.
Part of their undeniable magic are the fantastic "old-school" illustrations by Harmsen van der Beek, a Dutch illustrator and commercial artist who died before all of Blyton's Noddy books were written and published.
Subsequent illustrators faithfully copied van der Beek's style, so that the entire Noddy series is visually uniform and consistent.
Noddy began when David White, managing director of Sampson Low and Company, decided to engage Enid Blyton to create a magnetic new character for younger children.
These would have to be books with attractive and colourful illustrations, so Blyton set her heart on Dutch artist Harmsen van der Beek after meeting the artist and seeing his vision of the little nodding boy.
Four days later Enid Blyton mailed her first two Noddy book stories to White with an accompanying note:
"I have finished the first two little Noddy books and here they are. I have written them with a view to give van der Beek all the scope possible for his particular genius - toys - pixies, goblins, Toyland, brick-houses, dolls houses, toadstool houses, market-places - he'll really enjoy himself !
I don't want to tell him how to interpret anything because he'll do it much better if he has a perfectly free hand - but as Noddy ( the little nodding man ), big-ears the pixie,
and Mr. and Mrs. Tubby ( the teddy bears ) will probably feature in further books, and will be "important" characters as far as these books are concerned, I'd be very glad if he could sketch out these characters and let me see roughs'.
Blyton was ecstatic with Van der Beek's vision and very soon, the first book Noddy goes to Toyland was published in November 1949.
Blyton's Toyland is full of crazy places that sound so real to kids, such as Toy Town, Monkey Town, Rocking-House Town, Clockwork-Mouse Town, Toy-Cat Town, Bouncing Ball Village ...
Jen - one of the most inspiring bloggers on children's literacy on this side of the universe - listed her top five:
#1: Avonlea, Price Edward Island, Canada. (home of Anne Shirley of Green Gables)
#2: Gone-Away from Elizabeth Enright's Gone-Away Lake books.
#3: Hogsmeade from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.
#4: Ember from Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember
#5: Green Sky from the Green Sky Trilogy by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.
At the end of the post, Jen invited her readers to list their favorite fictional towns from children's literature.
Toy Town was the obvious addition to the list!
Namely, Toy Town is practically a real town in the lives of my twins.
"Toy Town is so magical, yet so real that my kids
have repeatedly asked us how can we get there.
Whenever we are in a car they point left and right
and ask "Is that the way to Toy Town?".
Read Aloud Dad
Such is the effect of these books, that my kids are 100% certain that Noddy exists,
... as well as the town policeman Mr. Plod
... my son's favorite bad guys ever - naughty goblins Sly and Gobbo
... Miss Pink Cat
... Noddy's neighbor Mr. Tubby Bear
.... my daughter's best friend that she still doesn't have - Tessy Bear.
I could go on and on about the other fabulous characters from this book
... Clockwork Mouse
... Mrs Skittle and the little skittles
... Mr. and Mrs Noah and their Noah's arch
... Sailor Doll
... and Noddy's incredible car!
As for Noddy himself, he is given the name Noddy because of his head that keep nodding whenever he is excited and when someone taops his head.
He wears a characteristic blue hat with a special jingly bell at its end.
Noddy books have, in the 62 years since they were first published, sold more than 100 million copies.
Just serves to prove one should never underestimate a little wooden boy who ran away to Toy Land from a lion.
Oh yes, I forgot I promised to introduce Noddy properly by the end of this post. Noddy is a hero, yet a boy at heart.
In children's literature, Noddy is simply the greatest ... the greatest ...
Don't worry, it's easy.
Noddy simply needs no introduction.
Noddy Goes to Toylandis available from bookstores in the US, Canada and UK:
Author: Enid Blyton
Illustrator: Harmsen van der Beek
Pages: 64 pages
Publisher: Sampson Low, Marston & Co
Source: Purchased by Read Aloud Dad
VERDICT: SNAP IT UP!
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