So, picking up where I left off last time, reading this book for the first time.
AMELIA JANE AND THE TELEPHONE
In Amelia Jane and the Telephone, Amelia Jane has been away for a few days, and in that time a toy telephone appears in the nursery. The toys are quite afraid of the real telephone as it rings so loudly and contains strange voices from far-away, so they steer clear of the toy one too. Amelia Jane isn’t scared, though, and uses it to pretend to order sausages, buns and a watch to come to the nursery.
The toys believe she really has spoken to people on the telephone, and worry about how they shall pay for the goods. Amelia Jane demands the bits of change they have scraped together as payment for her to ‘cancel’ the orders, and does another bit of pretend telephoning. She adds a rude message, apparently from the watchmaker, about the teddy bear, which gives her an idea.
Using a bicycle bell to make it seem like the toy telephone is ringing, she starts answering it and passing on rude and rather threatening messages to the toys from a the made-up Mr Mumbo-Jumbo.
The toys cotton on to her trickery when the bell falls out of her pocket and the clown is the one to come up with the clever plan for revenge this time. They hook up a rubber hose to the telephone so they can talk into it without Amelia Jane knowing, and so the next time she picks it up, Mr Mumbo-Jumbo threatens to come and get her, frightening her off of using the toy telephone again.
Just on a side-note, how often do you ever read or hear the word telephone any more?
NOW THEN, AMELIA JANE
For once, a story starts off with someone other than Amelia Jane being a bit naughty. She’s actually behaving, doing a bit of sewing and the skittle starts being quite rude to her, so she retaliates by poking at him with her needle, causing her to lose her thimble which the skittle then makes off with.
She takes chase, but instead of taking it back she smacks him over the head and jams the thimble on tightly, so tightly none of them can get it off again. As it is Amelia Jane’s fault, she is persuaded, or rather threatened, into speaking to the imp who lives in their garden.
She and the imp dislike each other, and Amelia Jane is unable to stop him taking her shoes. He at least gives her a way to get the thimble off the skittles head though – heating it up so that it expands! (Rather a scientific answer rather than the magic one would expect from an imp.)
AMELIA JANE GETS INTO TROUBLE
Amelia Jane really does get herself into trouble in the story which is aptly named Amelia Jane Gets Into Trouble. She easily persuades the red-skinned doll to give up his outfit so she can go off to a party, frightening him by saying he might have his head chopped off if he goes. She was right to warn him, though, as she is pounced on and tied up by the children – and ends up being left there into the night. As has happened in a few stories, the toys are too kind-hearted for their own good and Redskin shows surprising bravery in going out to rescue her.
AMELIA JANE HAS A GOOD IDEA
We find it’s another toy that’s misbehaving in Amelia Jane Has a Good Idea – the tiny teddy by the large name of Sidney Gordon Eustace, or Sid for short. He’s lazy and unpleasant, and Amelia Jane joins forces with the other toys to teach him a lesson. The mouse that lives in a hole in the play-room answers to the name Sid or Sidney, and even Sidney Gordon Eustace, so when the toys call on the bear to do a job and he ignores them, the little mouse does it and earns the reward instead, until the bear is very fed up and begins doing his own jobs. Amelia Jane has the last laugh, too, when she reveals the mouse will answer to any name, even Polly-Wolly-Doodle!
AMELIA JANE IS VERY BUSY
This story has the doll showing off her knitting skills. Unfortunately she knits all sorts of things into the long, long (Dr Who-esque) scarf, including a hair-ribbon, some bootlaces and the clock-work mouse’s tail. The toys use her knitting to tie her to the table, and only let her free when she agrees to knit them all new clothes… only she deliberately makes them too big, too small, or with extra armholes!
OH BOTHER, AMELIA JANE
Amelia Jane digs out a paint-box in Oh Bother, Amelia Jane, and after painting lots of pictures she starts running amok, painting on all sorts of things she shouldn’t, including the other toys. There’s to be a fancy-dress party later, and Amelia Jane has a wonderful queen-costume, only the toys decide to get revenge by painting designs on her face as she sleeps. They have a great laugh at her expense until she realises what they’ve done, and she has to change her costume at the last moment which they’ve all escaped to the party already.
GOOD-BYE AMELIA JANE
Suitably, the last tale is Good-Bye Amelia Jane (this is the last book in this little series, though there have been a couple of other collections of Amelia Jane stories published in more recent years.)
The toys are sick of Amelia Jane after a spate of unpleasant tricks, and decide to play one on her. They make a tea-tray very slippery, and when she slides down the stairs on it, it just keeps going. Out of the front door, down the garden path, across the road, on and on until she lands in the stream. The toys are quite pleased to see the back of her at first, but then start to feel rather guilty. Fortunately for everyone, Amelia Jane gets an unexpected lift back home, and everything turns out alright in the end.
I did enjoy the book, though at times it felt like going over old ground – the same stories with a few details changed. Which I suppose they are, as there are rather a lot of stories about Amelia Jane (around seventy in all) so it’s unsurprising there is a bit of repetition. I also didn’t have the benefit of nostalgia this time around, which often masks things like repetition and plot holes.
I don’t have any of the recent collections, so for the moment this is the end of my look at Amelia Jane, though if I spotted any of the books in the charity shops I would probably be tempted to pick them up, even knowing they’d be minus the golly and the smacking.