Some of the earliest Ladybird books published in the now familiar format centred around animals. As well as the very first series (series 401) which was all animal rhymes, series 497 was a series of 10 different animal stories, first published in 1949 and Tiptoes, the Mischievous Kitten was the second book in this series.
Written by Noel Barr, and with illustrations by P. B. Hickling, there is a 1940s charm and innocence about the story that almost makes it seen old fashioned compared to some other Ladybird books in my collection. Much as the title suggests, Tiptoes, the Mischievous Kitten is the story of a young kitten called Tiptoes who went to live with the Moffatt family.
The Moffatts appear to live a typical 1940s life where Mr Moffatt goes out to work whilst Mrs Moffatt stays at home with their young baby. Tiptoes quickly feels at home in their well kept house and decides that she’s going to like her new life with the family, but they also soon realise just how mischievous she is.
At first she gets away with her behaviour simply on the grounds of being so young. She stands on a freshly painted garden seat and then walks all over the perambulator with a sleeping baby Moffatt on it. Upsets Mrs Moffatt’s Grannie’s work basket, playing with cotton and embroidery silk and wrapping it round the legs of the tables and chairs. She even managed to cover herself in starch after exploring a bowl that Mrs Moffatt had left out whilst answering the door to the postman. That particular adventure led to her having to have a bath and made her resolve not to stake starch for milk again.
After a while though the Moffatts are starting to ask if they can really keep a kitten that is as mischievous as Tiptoes. With the house to look after and the baby to care for Mrs Moffatt’s busy enough as it is without having to constantly clear up after Tiptoes. The last straw is when Mrs Moffatt is trying to make pillows from a feather bed. When she has to go and deal with a crying baby Tiptoes goes into the room and ends up making a huge mess with the feathers. Mrs Moffatt declares that she has to leave and Tiptoes is heartbroken when he realises how serious she is.
Tiptoes takes herself off and decides that she is going to stay away until she can be good. Whilst Mr and Mrs Moffatt have decided that Tiptoes can no longer stay with them they also don’t want her to go missing like this and after while they start to miss her.Eventually Tiptoes does return, but this time she’s not alone…
I absolutely love the quaintness of Tiptoes, the Mischievous Kitten, even if some of it is a tad old fashioned. On one occasion where Tiptoes is regretting her behaviour and deciding to be good from now on she says “Oh dear, ” […] “I wish my mother had spanked me more often.” Certainly not the message that you’d give to children today, but probably what might have happened in the 1940s.
If you have a collection of old Ladybird books then please feel free to join in with Ladybird Tuesday. There are no formal rules to follow, just leave a link to any post you write in the comments below and if you’re feeling kind link back to my Ladybird Tuesday index page here on Being Mrs C. Thanks!