Monday, January 15, 2018

Candy Floss and Impunity Jane by Rumer Godden

Several months ago I talked about a book called Everything I need to know I learned from a children's book.  I then talked about one of the books that 'taught' me things Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden.  In the book Everything ... by Anita Silvey she mentioned Impunity Jane also by Rumer Godden and so I was keen to read this.  None of the libraries I have visited recently held this title so I purchased an second hand copy which arrived this week.

Published in 1954 Impunity Jane is a very old book as is the companion story Candy Floss is from 1957. My edition contains both stories in one slim volume published in 1992.  I was not able to find a cover image but here are a few old copies to give you some idea.

I did enjoy both of these stories but it is Candy Floss that will linger with me the longest.  I can see exactly where Rumer Godden found her idea for Belinda in Miss Happiness and Miss Flower (1961) because in Candy Floss she has a very similar character named Clementina.

Here is the tune Jack's music box plays :

Candy Floss

Candy Floss is a special little doll who lives with a carnival man who runs a coconut shy.  I think I must have read about this game when I was a child because I know it has always fascinated me.

Along with Candy Floss, Jack has his friends Cocoa a little dog who sits on a stool beside the shy and Nuts, a little wooden horse who sits on a music box.  Candy Floss sits on the horse's back and she turns around and around.

Jack is kept busy with his shy but when all the coconuts are won he covers over Nuts and pops Candy Floss in his pocket where "there was a hole handy so she could see out."  Together with Cocoa they enjoy all the fun of the fair - rides, games and food.  Then they spend their nights in an old van.  If Candy Floss is looking a little worn out or "when she needed a new dress Jack would soak the old one off with hot water, fluff up a new one and stick it on with glue." Life is happy for our little group moving on from one fair to another until the day Clementina comes to visit.  She is an unhappy and indulged little girl who has been given the most amazing toys and treats but nothing is ever good enough until she sees Candy Floss.  Jack patiently explains Candy Floss is not for sale so when Jack is busy with a customer Clementina snatches her.  Candy Floss cannot speak but she knows dolls can send wishes to receptive children.  Eventually Candy Floss does get through to Clementina and she returns the precious doll to Jack. A lesson is learned and a new friendship forged.

Impunity Jane

"This little doll is very strongly made ... Why, you could drop her with impunity. ... Impunity means escaping without hurt."

Impunity Jane's name is a self fulfilling prophesy.  Over fifty years she has so many owners Effie, Elizabeth, Ethel and Ellen.  None of these girls are even sightly interested in Impunity Jane and she languishes at the bottom of the dolls house but one day Ellen's cousin Gideon comes to play "and suddenly Impunity Jane knew she could make Gideon feel. 'Rescue me,' wished Impunity Jane as hard as she could."

Gideon slips Impunity Jane into his pocket and her wonderful adventures begin but there is a complication - Gideon is a boy with a toy doll.  Think about the exploration of this idea in 1954!

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