This book is one I know I’ve spoken about before on here, when I received it for Christmas a couple of years ago (check out A Very Blyton Christmas for details), and I’m afraid I’ve only just gotten around to reading the book.
It is the fifth reprint, 1951 of the book, so it’s no surprise that the binding is a little loose and the jacket a little weathered. Some of the pages are coming out, but still, its a lovely little book, and not just for sentimental reasons.
The book follows two children, Tony and Mollie who are sent to live with a kindly aunt and uncle in the country for a year because their parents have gone abroad. Their Uncle Jack is surprised that the children cannot tell the difference between the birds singing in his garden and makes it his mission to educate the children about different types of birds and let them enjoy it.
The next day, the children and Uncle Jack make a bird table, and they fill it up with things that their Aunt Jane allows them to have from the kitchen scraps. The day after that they head into the village and buy seeds and nuts, hemp and sunflower seeds, peanuts, Brazil nuts, and coconuts for the birds.
Uncle Jack tells the children how to hang the coconut and string the peanuts together. When placed on the bird table the children retreat inside and watch for the birds from the window. Much to their delight birds descend and Uncle Jack begins to tell them how to spot each bird from its markings.
Soon the children are very keen to do new things for the birds, such as making a special seed cake to put out for the birds, and how to make nesting places for the birds in the cold weather and when they make their spring nests. Over the year they spend lots of time with the birds, learning about birds they haven’t seen from Uncle Jack who draws bird feet and beaks for the children.
At Christmas the children treat the birds to a special Christmas tree where they hang the birds favourite treats on the tree and give it to the birds on Christmas morning to enjoy. Its a good present for the bird who are more exciting than the children’s presents. When they do get around to opening their presents they are excited to find that their uncle and aunt gave them bird feeders to help entice the birds into the garden.
Its a nice story really, no real adventure, and its described by the Enid Blyton Society Cave of Books as a non-fiction book and so it is. The book is based around the birds, and telling the difference between them. There are chapters where Uncle Jack draws claws and beaks for the children so they can see the difference in birds beaks so close up.
With this book, Blyton is educating us about birds, and younger children especially. Although Mollie and Tony seem quite old really, the illustrations show them as very young, around five and six perhaps, when they read as they are about nine and ten. The chapters are small and manageable, best for a younger child and a good way of introducing them to birds.
If you can find this book, I recommend getting it as it is a lovely book to add to your collection and a good one for introducing younger members of your family to Blyton and birds!