This was the second to last Judy annual published, and is filled with an impressive 25 picture stories/humour strips, 2 text stories, 2 poems and 2 features. The cover is winter themed whit Judy makinf a snowman. Inside it has the opening splash page of Judy & Co. at Summer Fayre and the last pages has them at the Winter Fayre in the same composition, I like those bookend type pictures. This book also has a table contents. There are a nice variety of stories; a good lot of humour, spooky, drama and a bit of Christmas magic. Plenty of regulars make and appearance such as Junior Nanny, The Honourable S.J, Wee Slavey and Bobby Dazzler make an appearance. There are 5 specifically Christmas themed stories, and others that seem to be set around winter. (For just a list of contents go to the next page)
A Christmas Wish (Pages: 4-11)
Art: Guy Peeters
Starting things off on a Christmas note, this is the story of Jenny who lives with her invalid mother in small flat, in a poor part of town. Jenny tries to stay positive for her mother’s sake, especially as this may be her late Christmas. She tells her they will have nice Christmas goodies as she goes out shopping, while in reality her savings don’t stretch to much. She picks up a small turkey, bruised apples and a few cheap flowers for her mom. Returning home she trips in the doorway and is helped by a girl. The girl then asks a favour to help her and her friends deliver toys to children’s hospital. Jenny although anxious to get back to her mom, is happy to help a good cause. Afterwards as she is returning home, the driver who is dressed as Santa, asks her what her Christmas wish is. Jenny says she would like a beautiful view for her Mom on Christmas, as she is confined to the flat.
The next moment Jenny wakes up in hallway, she thinks she must have been knocked out when she fell and it was all a dream. When she picks up her shopping she is surprised by a change, everything she bought seems to be fresher and bigger. When she goes to her Mom Christmas morning and opens the curtains, they see it has been snowing and it makes the usual dull view look beautiful, delighting Jenny and her mom. It’s a nice story with a bit of Christmas magic to get readers into spirit of things.
What is a…Mum?/ Dad? / Brother? /Sister? (Pages: 10 / 48 / 81 / 113)
These fun little strips consist of one page (7 panels) and start with “a mum is someone who…” and then gives 6 panels of more annoying habits of the family member, before the last panel showing a good quality.
“Don’t Touch My Hair!” (Pages: 14-15)
Liz Croft is delighted when she gets picked to act for a shampoo commercial, but this fame quickly goes to her head. She becomes more boastful, but a worse trait is she becomes over cautious about minding her hair. Because she doesn’t want it damaged, she makes excuses to miss a swimming competition, backs out of helping at a friends BBQ, she spends some of her moms money on expensive shampoo and attacks a girl who catches her hair in door as a joke. The evening the ad is meant to air, she invites some people to watch but is in for a shock when her part get cut. She is upset about this, and even more upset realising what how foolish she has been, she decides to cut her hair and hopes to make up for her past actions.
It’s a good lesson learned for Liz (and for the readers) about priorities and not to get swept out by looks or fame. It has also some really nice art.
Wee Slavey (Pages: 17-21)
At the Shelby-Smythe house, William’s nephew, Nigel, is visiting. Nellie is quite fond of the charming and pleasant man, but William is not impressed with his career aspirations. Nigel is hoping William can help with his acting career, but William refuses. As Nigel leaves, he tells Nellie his only hope is to get in contact with a long absent Aunt Clarissa. Then coincidentally a few days later Clarissa arrives! Nellie hopes to get a message to Nigel but is caught and reprimanded by Lady Amelia. Clarissa hearing this thinks she could do with a servant if they are not happy with Nellie. Of course the Shelby-Smythes can’t be without Nellie, so end up giving her wage increase much to her surprise. Meanwhile Clarissa is talking abut how well Nigel is doing and William thinks maybe they should invest in him after all. Later at Christmas dinner, Nellie accidentally knocks into Clarissa and her wig falls off revealing “Clarissa” to actually be Nigel! He assures the family he was about to reveal himself anyway, and he just wanted to prove his acting talent. William angry at being made a fool, wants him out of the house. Nellie can’t help but giggle at Nigel in the dress and soon the whole family see the funny side and Christmas is saved!
While this is set at Christmas, it’s not very prominent in the storyline, other than the dinner and the importance of family. There are other more Christmas themed Wee Slavey stories that come to mind first, so it was only on a re-read I realised this was set at Christmas! Wee Slavey can always be relied on to be good fun and Nellie usually comes up on top.
Pepper the Pony (Pages: 22 / 112)
In this long standing humour strip of Lucinda and her pony Pepper, they manage to get the upper hand in the two stories presented here. In the first strip, Lucinda’s cousin Basil arrives showing off his 4 wheel drive car boasting about how much better it is than a horse. But Lucinda outsmarts him by challenging him to race, which she wins as when they come to a wall of course Pepper can jump while Basil is left stuck in the car.
In the second strip another arrogant person, Sheila, looks down on Pepper for not being as groomed as her horse. Lucinda does spruce Pepper up, but Sheila still makes nasty comments. She gets her comeuppance when she jumps into muddy water with her horse and there the ones that look unkempt.
The Badge (Pages: 23-27)
Julie is delighted when Johnny gives her his Fleece Club Badge, as it’s a sign that they are a serious couple. But even so, Julie can’t help but feel insecure, especially When Johnny is talking to friendly and pretty girl Wendy. Her and Johnny have a fight about this, and soon after, when she is out, he collects his badge back from her mom. Then she sees Wendy with a badge and she looks guilty. Julie is terribly upset until Johnny turns up for disco. He had taken badge to make it into a pendant for her. She realises how silly she was, Johnny’s been quiet because of exams and Wendy looked guilty because she is nice person and had heard they quarreled about her. She finds out from Johnny that Wendy is now going out with another Fleece Club member. She feels happy and content now.
There isn’t a lot of romance themed stories in this book, this story while not a favourite is still fine. Julie’s insecurities seem relatable, and I’m glad that Wendy wasn’t some antagonistic girl trying to steal her boyfriend, she is just a genuinely nice person.
Judy & Co. (Pages: 28 / 58)
Art: Norman Lee
Our title character gets two strips on this book. In the first Judy prepares herself, making sure she’s comfortable and won’t be disturbed so she can read her favourite magazine “Judy”. Always a little strange when characters in these books reference the book they are fictional characters in, but it is a regular occurrence! (it’s also acts as advertisement so readers know they should pick up weekly issues).
In the second story, it’s a more straight forward humour set up. Judy tries to sled into boy to get their attention, but they jump out of the way except one…. a snowman.
Cinderella Jones (Pages: 29-32)
Art: Oliver Passingham
At Happyholme they are celebrating Mr Jones 50th birthday and mention how Agnes 50th birthday will be soon after that. Cindy goes to give Agne’s Aunt Flossie cake and she goes to take her photo, but Flossie tells her she already has lots of photos and encourages Cindy to look through them. When Agnes hears Flossie still has a photo of her entry to a beauty contest when she was 18, she gets very snappy, tells Cindy to get on with housework and for the rest of the day she is in a bad mood. Agnes decides it’s time for a clear out and makes a big bonfire, getting Cindy and Mr Jones to do most of the work. Agnes brings out more bags to bur,n but Cindy notices they are Flossie’s photos, she finds the one stepmother doesn’t want her to see and she sees why she wants it burns. Agnes chases her around, she makes promises of more money and help for Cindy. The photo shows that Agnes has been lying about her age shes 55 not 50. Mr Jones wonders whats going on but Cindy says its just her and Stepmothers secret and burns the photo. Agnes praises Cindy and then gets Isobelle and Sarah to get up off sun loungers and help.
Another on of my favourite characters, I like that despite everything Agnes and Cindy do have a good relationship, and Passingham dos great job at the comedic expressions. It is one of those stories where Cindy often breaks the fourth wall, addressing the reader directly, which is fun and gets reader more invested with the character.
My Sister’s Keeper (Pages: 33-37)
Alison Fry lives with her parents writers of child psychology (what an oddly specific job, for something that barely comes into play). She is happy when they decide to foster a girl the same age as her, Glenda. Not much is known about her, she had turned up nearly a year ago with no family. Alison tries to be welcoming, when she enquires about a box she has, Glenda is very possessive of it and asks Alison to never open it. One day Alison finds her in the woods one day talking to someone but she can’t make out who. Glenda says it was her sister, Serena, an air hostess. When she voices her concerns to her parents, they tell her orphans often invent siblings when they are lonely and she just needs time to adjust (presumably their psychology knowledge coming in useful!). Glenda still goes off on her own a lot and talks about her sister to other classmates, making things awkward for Alison.
Glenda tells Alison her, that Serena is taking her to Tunisia for a week and then when Alison can’t go to school because of cold, they are very worried when Glenda doesn’t return. They go to talk to her form teacher who says her sister collected her. Alison gets the idea to look in Glenda’s box for a clue. In it she finds a newspaper clipping dated exactly a year ago with story of air stewardess saving passengers in a flight to Tunisia but herself and sister Glenda were killed. Spooky stories where it turns out the person was a ghost all along was quite popular in annuals, presumably as the reveal was a good way to end the story and fitted well into the short story format.
Candy’s Crowd (Pages: 40-47)
Art: Eduardo Feito
Candy and her friends Ann, Patti and Di are all going on a skiing trip with the school. Ann is upset that her dad may get new job and she will have to leave Fullwood and her friends. Mr Potter, one of the teachers that is meant to be organising the trip is very scatterbrained, so he muddles things up such as what rooms everyone is in and nearly taking Bernice’s mom’s bag. Bernice is a pain and know it all so Candy’s not too upset when she hurts her leg, while showing off. Meanwhile Patti’s getting to know some boys and Ann finds out her father got the job, so girls want to try and make this the best holiday. On the last night they have disco and fancy dress competition. After return home, Patti is going to miss Alan, the boy she met, but she gets over it when she hears about new neighbour. Meanwhile Ann hadn’t heard the whole story about her Dad’s new job, it turns out he isn’t taking job as his current job has given him a promotion, so Candy’s crowd get to stay together.
Candy’s Crowd was Judy’s soap story for a while but not as well known as other similar stories like The Comp or Penny’s Place. Still it is fine story and also notable for Eduardo Feito’s art.
Linda’s Lesson (Pages: 52-57)
In 1890 Linda Robertson starts her first day as a maid in the Cobden house. Linda’s mother thinks she doesn’t know what hard work is, and that is why she has been sent here, but Linda thinks it’ll be easy. She soon finds that her mother was right, not only is she worked off her feet, the butler Mr Bennet slaps her for impertinence and cook gives her a small grisly piece of meat for dinner. Linda says some odd things and she gets another slap for asking what coal is. She tells another maid Daisy about her mom and that she is going to contact her saying she’s learned her lesson. She goes upstairs and pulls out a computer. It turns out Linda’s from 200 years in the future, she returns and tells her mom she wont ever complain of chores again. Especially as it’s so easy in 21st century as we see her command robot to do all tidying. (Yes she really had little to complain about!)
The Girl with the Golden Smile (Pages: 59-63)
Art: Bert Hill
Anna Marshall is a trainee at Westerby’s department store, meaning she moves around all the departments in the store. One day in the china and gift department Anna learns about their wedding list service that the store runs, where people can leave a list of gifts they would like and wedding guests can come and pick an item off it. One such customer that is using the wedding list, is a young bride, Bridget. When Bridget’s great grandmother arrives to look at the list, Anna notices she seems troubled. Then Anna notices the problem, all the items are very expensive, and the old lady is feeling deflated. But Anna comes up with perfect solution, a crystal vase, they come in all sorts of sizes including miniature and that can fit in the old lady’s budget.
A few weeks later Anna is in the bakery department and delivers a wedding cake to Bridget, there is one problem for Bridget as she’s not happy with the plastic decoration. Again Anna has a helpful suggestion, then the way out she bumps into the great grandmother who has come to see the wedding gifts displayed. She thinks Bridget is ashamed of her small gift, but it turns out it is now in pride in place on top of the cake (thanks to Anna’s suggestion). She is so happy that it will even be in the wedding photos, Anna thinks today the grandmother has the golden smile.
Bridget seems to be a bit thoughtless, from the little we see, I think her wedding preparations might take a toll on the people around her! It is a very sweet story though, because you do feel for the great-grandmother, who is put in an awkward position thinking she can’t afford anything, so it is nice to see how everything works out and she gets a boast of pride at her present being so important.
Big ‘n’ Bertha (Pages: 64)
Anther humour strip, here Dad tricks Big and Bertha into falling into pond as he takes their photo, by asking them to take a step back. But they get their own back by making him back into wet cement when he takes another photo.
The Honourable S.J. (Pages: 65-80)
This is set during S.J and Ann’s time at Millford. It is Christmas and S.J still has all the girls fooled that she is nice person, only Ann knows better. She wants Ann to convince the girls to buy her a porcelain horse for Christmas, but she is too late to persuade them and they buy her a big box of chocolates. S.J. is not going to let it go that easy so she steals the chocolates and then makes sure Ann will get the class to get the right gift to replace them. She also steals £10 from a student’s Christmas card, then lends her £10 saying she can pay back next term, making her look very generous.
Ann is then invited to the Christmas Ball at Moorfield Hall by the Headgirl. She thinks S.J will be mad and stop her, but she says she will be home in the Cheetwell Hall playing Santa for children of a local orphange. Then Ann hears her scheming on phone with her chauffeur, Wilson, telling him to wait for her at side gate of Moorfield Hall and she will be in her Santa outfit. Ann at first thinks S.J. is out to spoil things for but then she realises S.J. being more devious than that and is after the jewellery that Lady Moorfield gives out every year. By coincidence at the party, Ann sees S.J. dressed as fairy attack the Moorfield Santa, when she confronts S.J. she locks her in a cloakroom. Luckily there’s another way out, but she isn’t in time to catch S.J.. Ann thinks S.J. has won again, as without any other witnesses, no one will believe her. S.J makes appearance at the Cheetwell party giving gifts to orphans will look good for her in the paper though she really wants to get away and check out her goodies. Ann after returning from the party hears the news of the theft, and she is delighted to find out that this year Lady Moorfield sold her jewellery to help carious charity and each box tells what charity it has gone to. While Ann happily takes in this news, S.J. is discovering this herself as she opens up the boxes, it’s not fair, she thinks!
It’s quite a long story at 16 pages, and anyone that wasn’t familiar with S.J. certainly gets to know what kind of person she is. The actual main plot of the Christmas ball doesn’t get going until later in the story, so we get to see S.J.’s other devious scheming beforehand. It is very satisfying end to see that things don’t work out for S.J and her expression at finding this out is very well conveyed.
Who’s Spoiling Things for Lucy? (Pages: 82-89)
Lucy feels lucky to be at the Lamona ballet school, as she only got her place because she first reserve. One of the other girls Jane makes some nasty comments about her, and doubts her abilities. Luckily she gets friendly with a girl Karen, who sticks up for her. Then things start going wrong for Lucy like her hair-tie and shoe going missing or her music sheet being changed. Lucy and Karen suspect Jane, but she always seems one step ahead even when they try to keep things safe. Things get so bad that Lucy will have to leave the school unless she can prove herself in one last performance. On the day of the performance Karen’s friend Jackie visits her. It seems they both got into the school, but when Jackie’s father got a job in America she had to give up her place, when the job fell through it was too late for Jackie to get back in. Karen is surprised to hear Jackie is no longer upset about this, after reading Karen’s letters she realised all the hard work involved and only wants dancing as a hobby.
Of course it is then revealed that it was Karen playing the tricks on Lucy, but knowing Jackie no longer wants a place, she rushes to get Lucy’s dress from where she hid it, but it is gone. She is confronted by Jane who has figured everything out, she promises not to tell Lucy though. Then Lucy arrives her dance has gone well and she is being kept at school. While Jane won’t say her enemy is, she tells her Karen will explain everything!
With other similar stories it’s not a surprise that the secret enemy is actually the supposed friend. Karen’s motivations are to help another friend but getting someone dismissed from school is a terrible thing and its hard to imagine Lucy being too forgiving! We don’t know what the consequences are as the story ends before that, but Jane making Karen own up herself rather than telling on her is a good start.
The Frog Prince (Pages: 92-95)
Art: Wilf Street
Lady Eleanor is beautiful but vain and cold-hearted. She has many suitors because of her beauty, but she won’t settle for anything less than a prince and others she scares away with her demands. When her father asks her to distribute gold to poor children in the village instead she gives it an old lady (whom she had just insulted) when she says she will marry a prince. She tells her to go to an enchanted pool at midnight on the last day of the year where she will see a frog with a crown. He is an enchanted prince and one kiss from her will complete the spell. She does as she says, but he doesn’t change, he tells her he is already prince of the pool so why would he change instead she changes into a frog to become his princess!
Junior Nanny (Pages: 97-101)
Art: Oliver Passingham
At the residential nursery, all the kids have been irritable and fighting after a bout of heavy colds. Chris Johnson and the other nurses, think a trip to Santa might cheer them up. But then while queuing one of the children, Lucy, says she wishes she had a mummy to bring her to Santa, and that subdues everyone. The next day Chris meets some women from the old folks home and they talk about how nice it would be to have a visit from the children. Chris isn’t sure that the children will bring much joy, with the way they’ve been feeling. Then she comes up with idea and enlists Matron’s help to make an announcement that Santa has sent urgent message. He needs help from the children as the old folks have asked for a visit as a Christmas gift. Chris tells them to be his little helpers they need to practice being cheery. So on Christmas Eve after a successful visit the children through acting happy become happy and decide they want to adopt the old people as their grandparents. Chris is relieved to see lots of smiles Christmas day.
A nice Christmas story and reminder of how it can be tough for those without families so nice to see everyone come together and have a happy ending.
It Never Rains But it Pours (Pages: 105-111)
Art: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)
Raye doesn’t like to see her quiet cousin Amy do better than her, so when Amy get a date with Peter, a jealous Raye tries to sabotage it. She convinces Amy to take Peter to the disco on their date, as she knows that’s not his scene. Then when she comes across a rainmaker pendant at a stall, it seems like an extra way to make the date go wrong. The rainmaker appears to be a genuine article so when Raye lends it to Amy, her and Peter get soaked on the way to the disco and have miserable time. The next day Amy, is returning pendant to Raye when it starts raining again. Peter happens to be out fishing and tells her to take cover under her umbrella. The get on better this time as they have time to actually talk to each other, then Amy accidentally drops pendant into river. Amy apologies to Raye about pendant but tells her it seemed to have brought her luck, bringing her and Peter together.
Another nasty character out to spoil things while pretending to be nice, surprisingly the magical element of her scheme isn’t questioned much, but I suppose the main thing is it doesn’t work like she planned.
Bobby Dazzler (Pages: 114-117)
After a talk to the school by Sir Jacob Lang , owner of local woods, Bobby has her eyes peeled for poachers. Unfortunately her suspicions prove false, as Mike and Don confront bird watchers and friends of the forest society on her urging. After all those false starts, they reproach Bobby for being so suspicious, so when they happily help some men out carrying their bags, she tries to see it as positive. But then of course it turns out the men were the poachers and disappear quickly leaving Mike and Don to be caught by Sir Jacob. It’s an amusing (if standard) Bobby Dazzler story.
The Power of the Song (Pages: 118-125)
Art: Guy Peeters
While walking through a subway on the way to school, friends, Faye and Kelly, hear a busker singing. For Kelly the lyrics seem empowering “Dream the word and you can say it. Dream the deed and you can do it” but Faye finds it unsettling. Later at school Kelly is upset when another girl Trish gets the part of Rapunzal in a play. Faye tries to cheer her up by saying its just because she looks the part with her long hair. Kelly says she has a mind to cut it off. Faye assumes she’ll calm down but is shocked when she actually does it, people say things they don’t mean all the time. Kelly tells her it’s because people don’t usually have the nerve but hearing the buskers song has given her the nerve. And she’s not the only one, soon more and more people get in trouble, one girl cuts her cheating boyfriends brakes, people are fighting and the school is getting wrecked. Faye talks to the busker but he says he doesn’t have any powers, and he isn’t putting bad ideas in her friends heads they were already there. Faye uses his song against him, telling him she wants him to go away, which he does. Things return to normal for a while but then she sees in magazine that the busker is to get his own countrywide tv show!
What if we actually always did what we said we’d do, especially in anger, is a scary thought! Faye and others feel guilt for not stopping their friends actions, because they dismiss it as throwaway words and in ordinary circumstances they’d be right. While the busker says the ideas were in the people’s heads already, we don’t see any one do positive things, so it does seem to be only the bad ideas he encourages, and he appears to get some enjoyment out of it. We don’t know where he came from, but the ending means he won’t be gotten rid of so easily!
Wedding Belle (Pages: 49-51)
Belle Love is a bridesmaid for hire, she gets a job with Carol who has had to move her wedding forward as her and her husband to be are moving abroad due to job opportunity. But moving the wedding to Christmas Eve has brought some problems. Firstly Carol’s Spring dress isn’t ideal for the weather and it’s too late for alterations, luckily Belle comes up with solution to make winter capes made from new velvet curtains her mother has decided she doesn’t want. But then Carol is disappointed so many people can’t make the wedding as she always dreamed of getting married in a full church (Like The Girl with the Golden Smile story seems another Bride that has not thought of other people’s circumstances in the wedding plan). There are two invitations leftover and Carol says Belle can use them though it won’t make a big difference. Carol is surprised on the wedding day that Belle has managed to fill the church for her. She had sent the two invitations to an old folks home and children’s home and is Carol is delighted.
I Hate My Gran! (Pages: 102-104)
When Gina’s sister Rosie moves out Gina is upset at first as they were very close, then she cheers herself up by thinking she can have Rosie’s bright big bedroom. Her parents soon put stop to that plan, when they tell her they’ve invited Gran to stay. Not only losing out on the room, Gina finds her Gran living with her causes other annoyances, such as not being able to play her records so loud, her gran always asking her to run errands and she not feeling comfortable inviting friends around. Another blow comes when she gets a chance to go to a disco but her parents have no money to give her for a new outfit as the spent so much on Gran’s new room. A little while later Gran calls Gina into her room, she had made her a stunning outfit for the disco that she had copied from magazine. She tells her it is to make up for the room and a thanks for all the errands she runs. Gina suddenly sees things from her Gran’s perspective, it must be awful to give up her independence and leave her home and being so old that running to post office is a big job and she realises she hasn’t been very welcoming. She thanks Gran for the dress and then she stays asking her if she wants to play cards. Thinking about the times her and Rosie played cards, she now thinks Gran could take Rosie’s place as a special friend.
It’s a nice story and we can see why Gina would be frustrated by the changes but glad to see her understand how much more difficult it is for her Gran and that it’s start of building a good relationship between them.
There are just a couple of features in this annual; how to make a Dressing Table Tidy (Page: 16), Part Time / Yummy! (Pages: 38-39) which have some tips on how to hold party, what games to play, decorations and music and some recipes that you could use for the party.
Then there are two poems Quite Contrary (Pages: 90-91) which is a poem about everything being topsy turvy such as dogs taking their owners on walks and ducks feeding humans and Anticipation (Page: 96)which is about a dog waiting to be taken for a walk.
This is another annual that I first read when I was younger (and re-read many a time), so have a certain attachment to it. I’m also a big fan of most of the Judy regular characters so always good to have more stories of them. Some of my favourite stories here are; Cinderella Jones, Cinderella is a story that has been told and reimagined many times but this is one of my favourite versions, the comedic characters (captured brilliantly by Passingham) and family dynamics are always fun. The Girl with the Golden Smile and I Hate My Gran!, I like for similar reasons as the older person gets recognition, the difficulties of growing old acknowledged and happy ending thanks in part for younger women seeing things from their perspective. Maybe I’m getting more sentimental as I grow older, they were both sweet stories I thought. On the other side of things Power of the Song is an unsettling, well done story with decent art by Peeters and a more subdued colouring that’s fitting. Other honourable mentions go to The Honourable S.J. in particular for that last page where S.J. realises her scheme has gone wrong A Christmas Wish which is nice story for the holidays and What is a… which are fun little strips (when I was younger I did compare it to my own family members to see what held true!)
My least favourite is probably It Never Rains but it Pours, not a terrible story but there are more interesting stories in the book and though other stories have similar tropes (i.e. the false friend), this didn’t capture anything extra for me. The Badge was lower down on my list initially too, but has actually grown on me over time. I did enjoy re-reading all the stories here even those I wouldn’t consider my favouites and as always there’s lots of great art to look at as well.