Please bear with me a few minutes, while I give some background explanation about this post, before actually getting to the point.
Last month, as regular readers will know, we added two new laying hens to the coop
and I was searching for names for the gals, preferably beginning with the letter M or names that could become a Miss (something). I was looking for “old” names since I think hens look like quaint little old ladies with frilly petticoats. As you also know, these two gals were named Mauricette and Miss Plumpton but that was after coming up with a long list of possible names. The white Sussex became Miss Plumpton because (after googling) I learned there is a small village in East Sussex called Plumpton . . . so that seemed so appropriate for a lovely plump Sussex hen. Mauricette however was almost named Millicent (after the flapper girl Millie Dillmount from the musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie”). Husband preferred Mauricette though which has more of a French ring to it – and therefore more appropriate for a French Blue.
Anyway . . . while discussing possible hen names with Avis (yep poor Avis got dragged into the naming process) . . . Avis suggested Milly Molly Mandy lol. And one thing leading to another . . . I was soon on amazon (more out of curiosity than anything else) to see if the MMM books were still in print. And what was my surprise to see that they are! 90 years after the publication of the first Milly Molly Mandy adventures (in 1928) by Joyce Lankester Brisley, Milly Molly Mandy is still alive and well, and in Puffin paperbacks!
You know what’s coming next, don’t you?
Of course! How could I resist? I bought myself a copy of The Adventures of Milly Molly Mandy which is a reprint of FOUR of the MMM collections. Including: Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories, More of Milly-Molly-Mandy, Further Doings of Milly-Molly-Mandy and Milly-Molly-Mandy Again. A total of 45 different stories.
This has been my bed-time reading for the last week. Snuggled up under my quilt, with a mug of hot chocolate and a cat, I’ve been re-living the adventures of MMM and thoroughly enjoying myself. Stories will probably annoy some people as they have lost nothing of their innocence and events so obviously take place in an era when children were allowed to play outside unsupervised, go exploring, use their imagination, show initiative and just enjoy being children. It was in a day & age before any of the technologies that young children take for granted today. In a day and age where Father grew vegetables: Mother cooked and washed; Grandpa sold the vegetables at market; Grandma knitted; Uncle kept cows and chickens; and Aunty sewed and did the sweeping and dusting. A situation which would shock many people today, with the sexist stereotypes, but that’s just how things were 90 years ago with all family members pitching in and doing what they knew how.
Possibly, on the surface, much too out-dated for today’s youngsters to be able to relate to the goings on in the stories, but for me (a 1964 baby) the stories brought back so many memories since these books were amongst those I grew up on. MMM isn’t just a little girl in a pink & white striped frock who does girly things. She is always out and about with Little-friend Susan or Billy Blunt, climbing trees, fishing, learning to ride a bike, camping out, discovering the joys of letter-writing, gardening, rescuing baby hedgehogs.
What’s also so lovely (in my opinion) is that Puffin haven’t tried to modernise the stories in any way. They have kept the original black & white artwork (which I think is also by Joyce Lankester Brisley) . . . a few examples here
My very favourite story in this collection is: “Milly-Molly-Mandy Spends a Penny”. If there’s one story that sums up the values my parents passed on to me, and I hope I passed on to my children, it’s this one!
In a nutshell: MMM find a penny (which in 1928 must have been worth quite a bit). She asks all family members (Father, Mother, Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle, Aunty) for suggestions as to what to do with her new fortune. Grandpa says: put it in the bank. Grandma says: buy a skein of wool and learn to knit. Father says: buy some seeds and grow mustard & cress. Mother says: buy a patty-pan and make a cake. Uncle says: save until you have 3 pennies and buy a baby duckling. Aunty says: get some sweets.
Milly-Molly-Mandy thinks long and hard . . . and by spending her penny very wisely, she is, in fact, able to make that one penny go a very very long way, enabling her to grow mustard & cress; learn to knit; bake a cake; buy some sweets; save a penny, and finally buy a baby duckling!