Bingo and Babs by Alan Wright
I picked this book up while tidying in the shop and was captivated by its charm and cheekiness. It is a simple story but delightfully told. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and looking at the colourful illustrations which enhance it and bring the story to life. It is one of many such beautiful books we have in stock, and it also reminded me of all my favourite books when I was just a few years younger.
Bingo and Babs is a story about a dog, Bingo, who doesn’t like sharing his mistress, Peggy, with the horrid smiling thing she calls Babs.
This is his quest - to get rid of Babs! He spends all afternoon trying to remove his nemesis and when this fails, he enlists the help of all the other farmyard animals, but this doesn’t work either. Babs just won’t go!
He tries to bury her in a tunnel as suggested by Mr Mole, but she is too big and floppy and he can’t cover her.
Silly-Billy-Goat has a go at eating Babs, but he can’t manage to swallow her!
Bobbie Robin says “Keep her as a Christmas present for Peggy” and old Rat says gnaw it up into little bits and make a nest. Neither of these suggestions is of any help as Bingo tells old Rat “I’m not a bird and don’t make nests, stupid!”
Next Bingo tries to drown her in the pond but apparently, she can swim!
He asks Fluffikins the cat, but she only hisses back at him, so he leaves her to it.
After a bit of a do with Cockyloo he speaks to the other members of the farmyard and they suggest putting her in the loft. Bingo attempts to climb the ladder but falls off and bumps his head, so that didn’t work!
He thought he would try and get Piggy-Wiggy to eat her as he’s very greedy, but he is not interested.
So, he leaves the smiling thing and goes round the corner to think it out and of course she comes out to try and hear what he is thinking!
Just then Peggy blows her whistle. The geese think Bingo has stolen Babs and shout “Thief! Thief!” as he goes past them. So, Bingo thinks perhaps he had better take it back to Peggy. He’s wasted a whole afternoon over it – and still it smiles; it must have enjoyed itself! He returns her to Peggy and everyone is happy. Bingo says he will try to be happy too
Alan was born at Newmarket, Suffolk on 30 September 1864 into an artistic family. His father trained as an artist and exhibited at the Bury St Edmunds Fine Art Society in 1880 and 1881.
Alan was an illustrator for the Strand Magazine and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1890 and also several times at the New English Art Club and at the Royal Society of British Artists.
He had a successful career as an illustrator and worked in several genres including children’s books, biographies and fiction parodies. His works varied from the colourful, cute children’s illustrations to pencil drawings such as his ‘pencil on buff reclining woman’ drawn in June 1888, pen and ink drawings for ‘Baker Minor and the Dragon’ and ‘In search of the Wallypug’
He also worked with his wife Anne Anderson, a Scottish illustrator, who he married in June 1912 aged 48. They lived in the Berkshire cottage she had purchased two years earlier. Though they collaborated on many projects, Anne was the driving force and her line and watercolours produced a bright, yet delicate nursery world, which proved particularly popular during the 1920s.
The Cuddly Kitty Book / The Patsy Book
Alan was a distinctive illustrator in his own right, with a particular talent for animal subjects as can be seen in Bingo and Babs.
He died at Reading, Berkshire on 13 July 1959, aged 94. His wife Anne died on 26th May 1952 aged 78.
Although I like pen and ink drawings, I much prefer his colour illustrations as in this book and really enjoyed this trip down memory lane.
Contributed by Bernice
(Published 3rd May 2022)