Tasseltip Tales - Ladybird Series 474
This was the fifth series to be produced by Ladybird books - series 474. Six titles were published between 1947 and 1953, with the first three being published together in May 1947 - something that can cause confusion to collectors of first editions.
The original stories were written by Dorothy Richards and illustrated by Ernest A. Aris. Ernest Aris was a prolific illustrator not only of books, but also cigarette cards, seaside postcards and jigsaws. He had also designed a series of lead figures called the Cococubs which had been given away by Cadbury's Cocoa. Amongst the many woodland figures that he had drawn, there were several rabbits who bear a resemblance to Tasseltip.
Yes, Tasseltip is a rabbit whose claim to fame is that he can toss his cap into the air and catch it on his ear! He lives in the woods with his family and assorted animal friends - Friskie Squirrel and his sister Susie, Frankie Frog, Robert Rat, Harold Hedgehog to name but a few. The stories portray a character who enjoys life, likes being with his friends, can get into mischief, but is also helpful to his elders when necessary.
In many of the books, Tasseltip will have chores to do or an errand to run before he can hop off and play. At the beginning of The Flickerdick, he goes shopping for his mother before going off with Frankie Frog to look for the Flickerdick. In Clatter! CLATTER!! BANG!!! Mrs. Rabbit asks Tassleltip to take a basket of goodies to Grannie Rabbit who is unwell. On the way he meets Robert Rat who has a tin tray tied to him which makes the noise of the title. He accompanies Tasseltip to Grannie's house. Poor Grannie is very unwell so Tasseltip goes to get Nurse Mole. Later he is asked to fetch some medicine from Dr. Badger.
In The Little Silk Apron, not only does Tasseltip go shopping for new braces for himself, but he also stops at Mrs. Flittermouse's house to ask if she needs any shopping. Mrs Flittermouse, a bat, is not too amused to be woken up just as she is dropping off to sleep! Nevertheless, she does ask him to get some ant eggs and gives him a penny for himself.
It is in this book that we see how kind hearted Tasseltip is when he wants to buy his mother a new apron. He hasn't enough money for the braces and an apron. Mrs. Squirrel takes pity on him and offers him a pair of Friskie's braces, so that using the money for braces plus his own spending money Tasseltip can buy a lovely green silk laced apron for his mother.
It is not all work in Tasseltip's life. He and his friends enjoy themselves playing in the wood. As mentioned earlier when Robert Rat meets Tasseltip he has tin tray tied to him. Errands run, Tasseltip joins his friends at the top of the hill. Robert invites Tasseltip to sit on the tray. Robert then pushes him off and Tassletip goes flying off down the hill. Next it is Friskie and Susie Squirrel's turn to ride on the tray. Then they decide to all pile onto the tray together. Tasseltip uses a stick to push them off and they go dashing down the hill at great speed before hitting a stone. The friends are thrown off in all directions and the tray carries on down the hill on its own!
It is in The First Day of Spring that we see Tasseltip leading his friends astray. He is on his way to school, but thinks the weather is too nice to be inside! He meets up with Robert Rat and they encounter Mr. Hedgehog who wonders why they are not in school. He does admit that he is glad he's not in school anymore. Tasseltip takes this as a sign that they shouldn't be going to school, so they hide their books and go off to play gathering up other friends on the way. Some take more persuasion than others! The friends decide to play rounders with Frankie Frog's mossy ball until the ball is hit into the water. They then make a swing using Susie's satchel for a seat. The fun ends when Mr. Hare the schoolmaster appears. Naturally he is not pleased but Tasseltip does own up and takes the blame. Mr. Hare agrees that it is too nice to be inside and that they will do lessons outside - but Tasseltip must agree to not do it again.
One thing that comes through in all the stories is that it is possible to have fun and enjoy yourself but still help and think of others.
In the 1970's the series was re-issued as part of Series 497 Animal Stories. The stories were not only re-written (by Sarah Cotton) and the illustrations adapted by Roy Smith, they were also renamed - something that hadn't happened before.
So The Flickerdick became Tasseltip and the Boozle
Mr Mole's House Warming became Tasseltip Saves the Day
A Little Silk Apron changed to Tasseltip Buys a Present
Clatter! Clatter!! Bang!!! was now Tasseltip Takes A Ride
The Flower Show was renamed Tasseltip has a Lucky Day and
The First Day of Spring became Tasseltip Plays Truant.
When the books were originally published they had pictorial front boards and plain rear boards. They were published with dustwrappers, also with a picture on the front and a plain back. The endpapers were blue and white drawings of the wood, with details relevant to the story picked out. The reprints of the 1970's had green pictorial boards, not dustwrappers and also have pictorial endpapers.
The tales of this loveable rabbit make a welcome addition to any Ladybird collection.
Contributed by Catriona.