There weren’t too many changes made in the first chapters, but then again the chapters are pretty short!
I am comparing the first edition (Lutterworth Press, 1947) to an omnibus edition containing four of the six books (Egmont, 2014).
CHAPTER THREE: WHAT FUN TO BE ON A HOUSEBOAT!
As with the previous chapters gay and queer are replaced/removed.
- gay crockery hung in neat rows becomes mugs and cups hung in neat rows
- I’ve never heard of such a queer thing becomes such a thing
- their queer life becomes their unusual life
The first example is an odd one as they’ve changed more than necessary – something it seemed like they were avoiding doing before. Gay could easily have become colourful, bright or pretty – do they think modern children don’t know what crockery is? (Obviously not as they leave the word crockery alone in the next chapter.)
A reference to lack of schooling for canal-boat children is removed – They have hardly any schooling, you know, because they are always on the move. Instead the sentence just starts They are always on the move.
And lastly a possible mistake has crept in. The original text reads a great many of the canal people. In the omnibus this has become a great many of the canals-people. Blyton does hyphenate canal-people elsewhere – and the omnibus leaves those as canal-people – so I’m not sure where the S came from.
A few interesting things have been left in this chapter. First is the fact that they talk about tying Ann to the boat to stop her drowning, and then see two little girls tied up to their boat. This seems the sort of really old-fashioned and un-health-and-safety-conscious thing that would be updated – I rather expected them to say Ann would have to wear a life-jacket!
The other thing is that the passing boat with the tied up girls is carrying boxes to the next town, and it is pulling two coal barges. Neither of these things really seem realistic if the book is supposed to be set in modern times.
CHAPTER FOUR: SETTLING IN
Only one thing got changed in this chapter. The word trustable (which my browser’s spellchecker instantly underlines in red) is replaced with trustworthy. According to a few sources trustable is actually a word and means something slightly different from trustworthy.
Trustable means someone or something you are able to trust, while trustworthy means someone or something worthy of trust. A very slight distinction!
There are some further things I would have expected to have been changed in this chapter. One is how Belinda is the one to offer to make up the fold-out bed for her parents each evening, and is the one to lay the table for supper too. She doesn’t say anything as strong as “I’m the girl so these are my jobs” but Mike volunteers to fetch water from the well so the roles are fairly clear. I don’t have a problem with any of that I hasten to add – but several editors clearly do!
Also suddenly seeming very old-fashioned is Daddy riding lending Davey to a farmer and then riding Clopper to the Saucy Jane. Nowadays he would have hitched a horse-box to the car – well actually they would have owned a car I bet rather than hiring one – and transported the horse that way. Just shows how silly it is to try to make books seem up-to-date when they are full of quaint old-fashioned things.
Another four changes there then, that makes ten in total.