No Time to Dream (Pages: 17-20, 49-52, 77-80, 109-112)
The longest story in the book at 16 pages. Allison Carthwright is fed up of having to dress nice and keep clean on Sundays while the boys can run around and get dirty. Her mother is quite uptight, she doesn’t allow Alison to do any outdoor activities including horse riding. While out walking thinking about this unfairness she meets her double although she is barefoot and rougher looking. She is a gipsy named Anita. Anita has a beautiful black pony and seems to have lots of freedom. The next day Allison goes back to the river in the hopes of meeting Anita but mistaken identity leads her to be taken by two gipsies, Rosa and Ricardo. Allison soon finds Anita doesn’t have a lot of freedom as Rosa and Ricardo keep her working hard.
Allison goes along with the deception when the black pony comes with a note from Anita. Allison is able to sneak out later and meet Anita who explains that Rosa and Ricardo are after her pony and she can’t go back because the pony will follow her. She asks Allison to stay and help find the papers that prove the pony is hers. Anita was raised by Granny Doughty and after she died Rosa and Ricardo took in Anita just because they wanted to make money from her pony. Anita does find the papers hidden in a patch in the roof. She escapes but is pursued, luckily Anita and her pony arrive to bring her to safety. They arrive at a policeman’s house. Allison is surprised to hear that Anita’s pony is named Bevington, as that was her childhood Teddy’s name. The policeman tells them that they are sisters, Anita was kidnapped as a baby.
The story is fine though I feel with it being a long story there is stuff it could have cut out and more things could have been focused on. The majority of the story is Allison looking for the papers, trying to sneak around Rosa and Ricardo and having to work hard. Although she does feel a connection to Anita there isn’t much time spent exploring it and the ending, has the parent’s on the way to the policeman’s house, but we don’t see any kind of reunion. I wonder was the mother’s wariness about Allison doing outdoor activities to do with losing Anita, it was sure to make her over protective. THe question of who kidnapped Anita is not answered either. It may have been Granny Doughty who raised Anita, but on all accounts she seemed to be very nice and caring, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Ready, Steady- Help! (Pages: 29-32)
Dixie Dean works with Ready, Steady – Help! who offer their services to anyone who needs help. She loves Christmas and is happy to be when a job comes in to work at a department store on the inquiries and gift wrapping desk. She is kept busy all day, a man asks for help to get something for his niece who is spoilt and has everything, Dixie suggests a handbag and leather gloves. A woman also has trouble deciding on a present for her hermit-like brother. Dixie suggests a book, and the sister chooses a book about starving children in India. The shop manager gets Dixie a little present too. Then Dixie helps deliver the presents, but later realises she mixed all the presents up. It turns out everyone’s happy with the mix-up. The girl is fascinated by the book and decides to help people, the old man receives Dixie’s gift of an apron, Christmas crackers, two tea towels and it gives him the push to be more sociable and he opens his home up to family and friends for Christmas. As everyone is happy with the presents the manager tells Dixie she should get the handbag and gloves, which is convenient as Dixie’s own gloves are quite worn.
This is the only Christmas story in the book and I really liked it. It’s a fun story and it is interesting on how everything turns out. It’s also funny with Dixie’s confusion when the man says he’s going to wear his Christmas present, and she first wonders how he’s going to wear a book, then thinks he got the handbag.
Beth of Battle Harbour (Pages: 61-64)
Beth Poole works with Dr Grenfell at a mission in the late 1800s. A big storm brings them lots of work. One of the injured is a boy Colin Barton who has great love of the sea, even every painting he does is of the sea and boats. He is devastated to hear he’ll never walk without crutches again. There is several failed attempts to get him to come around. Finally Beth brings him to the sea to make peace with it and Dr Grenfell arranges for him to be trained in boat design.
The Lady From the Picture (Pages: 72-73)
Marigold is sick from the measles when she sees her Great-Grandmother step down from the painting on her wall. She can hardly believe her eyes, she asks her about the watch that played Auld Lang Syne. He mother had told her stories about it, how it was meant to be passed down through the family but it was lost. Marigold’s Great-Grandmother shows her a secret hiding place and then gives her the watch, before stepping back into the painting. Marigold tells her mother everything who is quite disbelieving until she sees the watch and in the picture there no longer hung a watch from the lady’s side.
When the Clock Strikes Twelve (Pages: 101-103)
Helga inherits a clock shop from her Uncle Gustav and along with it his cockatoo Klaus. Klaus keeps saying old man cuckoo. Helga isn’t very happy with her inheritance especially with Klaus saying “old man cuckoo” and the noise of the clocks at 12. She is still getting organised when a young man comes to the shop looking for the gold clock his aunt, Duchess von Eyck left. Helge is disbelieving that she would leave it in this little shop. But he says she was eccentric and trusted Gustav. They search the entire shop with no luck and he leaves angry.
Later the Duchess herself arrives and commends Helga for not giving the clock to anyone but herself, especially her nephew. Helga explains her uncle never told her about the clock before dying, which upsets the woman to think she may never hear it play the Blue Danube again. That night she hears the Blue Danube but it is Klaus singing. She resigns herself to having to sell all the clocks to try and pay back the Duchess. Before it comes to that Klaus, grabs one of the cuckoos at 12 o’clock and won’t let it go. It is then Helga hears the Blue Danube and figures Gustav had hidden the little gold clock inside another clock and told Klaus about it.
This is a good book and a good start to Mandy annuals. There is lots to read with interesting and varied themes; sports, mysteries, humour, ambitious girls, school stories, mysterious girls, period stories. There are good female characters, who are quite a varied bunch too, they are smart, tough, resourceful, athletic, cynical, kind hearted and funny. The art and colours throughout the book are some of the best I’ve seen, even if you had no interest in the stories it would still be very pretty to look at. My favourite stories are Valda, Mandy, No Good at Games, Go, Girl-Go! and Ready, Steady – Help! An honourable mention to King Cat as well which I thought had a good build up.