The Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories
Written and Illustrated by Joyce Lancaster Brisley (1896-1978)
When I was little these were some of my favourite stories. First my mother read them to me, then I read them to myself, then I read them to my brother and sister. They are ideal for reading aloud, and are also very good for anyone learning to read.
Joyce Lancaster Brisley was an author and illustrator who wrote many books for children. Her stories about the little girl called Milly-Molly-Mandy were her most popular, and they were collected together and made into four books (these are Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories, More of Milly-Molly-Mandy, Further Doings of Milly-Molly-Mandy, and Milly-Molly-Mandy Again).
Milly-Molly-Mandy lives in a “nice white cottage with a thatched roof” along with her father, mother, aunt, uncle, and grandparents. They have a small farm and the little girl gets to ride to market with her grandfather in the pony and trap, paddle in the brook, keep a little yellow duckling, and grow a pumpkin in her own vegetable patch. She also has two friends, called Susan and Billy Blunt, and together they sleep outside in tents made from sheets and kitchen chairs, learn to cycle on two old bicycles, and make a little house together in a tree.
The stories are simply told, but their humour and freshness make them as endearing to today’s readers as they were when they first appeared, seventy years ago.
The books are still widely available, but make sure that they contain the original illustrations; these are an integral part of the story, and really cannot be improved upon.
This extract is from “Further Doings of Milly-Molly-Mandy”:
“Once upon a time Milly-Molly-Mandy had
a nice little surprise. Uncle came back from market one Saturday with a square
cardboard box under the seat of the pony-trap, and he gave it to Milly-Molly-Mandy
to hold while he got his other parcels out. It was a neat little whitey-brown
box, tied round with string, and it wasn’t very heavy, and it didn’t rattle
much, and it didn’t smell of anything except cardboard, and Milly-Molly-Mandy
couldn’t guess what was in it. So she asked Uncle.
And Uncle said, ‘Oh, just some odd bits of things I want to get rid of. Throw them away for me, Milly-Molly-Mandy.’
Milly-Molly-Mandy looked at Uncle in surprise, for it didn’t seem the sort of box to be thrown away. She thought Uncle was looking a bit twinkly, so she said, ‘I’d better just peep in it first before I throw it away, hadn’t I, Uncle?’
And Uncle, gathering up his parcels said, ‘Oh, yes, yes. We don’t want to make any mistake about it,’ and went off with them towards the kitchen door.
So Milly-Molly-Mandy picked the knot undone, and when she got the box open what DO you think she saw inside? The sweetest little dolls’ tea-set, with cups and plates and milk-jug and all complete, fitted neatly in holes cut in the cardboard so that they shouldn’t rattle about!”
Milly-Molly-Mandy has a Tea Party