Short Stories in Child Life CWS

Short Stories in Child Life Magazine

Child Life published or reprinted a dozen Savery short stories 'decorated' with outstanding illustrations. As indicated below, several stories were reprinted in a variety of publications. The order of the stories is chronological.


Six Enchanted Eggs. Illus. by Margaret C. and Florence J. Hoopes. Chicago : New York : San Francisco: CHILD LIFE, XIV(IV), Rand McNally & Co., 536 S. Clark St., Chicago. Apr. 1935, pp 150-151, 174. CHILD LIFE Cover Reprinted, Apr. 1945, CHILD LIFE, Child Life, Inc., 405 Mercantile Library Building, Cincinnati 2, Ohio, pp. 22-23, 39.

Cover of Magazine The text of the reprint has been edited slightly, and the layout is different, but the illustrations are the same. This is the only Savery story reprinted in the same periodical.

Phillip and Phillis are twins, although that is not stated until the end of the story. They are about six years old. When their strange, elderly Aunt Maria sends them six brightly colored eggs, the children are sure the eggs are enchanted. They each eat a red egg, and shortly thereafter spend a 'red day,' visiting their housekeeper Mrs. Bartle in her red room, where they play with red cushions and red tissue paper, choose their tea snack from five different varieties of red jam, and fall fast asleep on her red carpet. The next morning they eat blue eggs. That afternoon their color-blind cousin allows them to help him paint the garage door, fence, and gate a bright, bright blue, and they come to tea bright blue themselves. The next day Phillip accidentally drops his golden egg in the pond, and when they can't fish it out, Phillis throws in her golden egg, also. Nevertheless, they depart on a yellow bus and enjoy a long 'yellow day.' It is a charming story to read aloud, worthy of the second reprint for a new generation.

Spindleberries and Pam. Illus. by Margeret C. and Florence J. Hoopes. Chicago : New York : San Francisco: CHILD LIFE, XIV(V), Rand McNally & Co., 536 S. Clark St., Chicago. CHILD LIFE Cover May 1935, pp 200-203, 228. Reprinted, 1953, Grolier, Inc. in "The Children's Hour: Stories of Today," vol. 6, Marjorie Barrows (ed.), pp 78-88.

Cover of Book About half of the magazine illustrations are omitted from the reprint, but there are no differences in the texts. This is Savery at her most charming, turning a family crisis into an opportunity for reconciliation.

Pam doesn't like her Uncle Anthony, because she overheard him laughing at something she had said. Pam's sisters love Uncle Anthony, and they are pleased that he is the one to take them to pick spindleberries. Pam isn't happy at all and calls Uncle Anthony a pig. The sisters decide to report the insult to their stern father, writing "Pam says Uncle Anthony is a pig" on a piece of paper. Pam knows she will be barred from the picnic, but Uncle Anthony changes the sentence to "Pam, says Uncle Anthony, is a pig" and it is Uncle Anthony who receives a tongue lashing. At the picnic, Uncle Anthony is absent, and Pam's sisters tell her it is her fault that he has been gated for bad behavior and is in disgrace at his college. That is too much for Pam, who does something about it.

Honeypenny Buns. Illus. by Marguerite DeAngeli. Chicago : New York : San Francisco: CHILD LIFE, XIV(VI), Rand McNally & Co. 536 S. Clark St., Chicago. CHILD LIFE Cover June 1935, pp 255-257, 276.

This short story is suitable for reading aloud. Sent to lodge with old Dame Carraway, Euphemia is distressed that the old lady bakes for children's parties and sells herbs from her home. When Dame Carraway goes on an errand, Euphemia posts a notice, "no honeypenny buns for sale." She takes it down after the 'children from the Hall' walk away disappointed that there will be no buns for little Kitty's birthday party.

The next morning, Euphemia, who likes Kitty, and whose primary purpose had been to annoy the children's nurse, decides to bake the buns herself. Although the buns are burnt, she carries them, covered in sugar, to the Hall, where they are eaten anyway. The drawings are excellent, but the artist spells her name de Angeli, not DeAngeli.

The Lucky Spoon. Illus. by Marguerite de Angeli. Chicago : New York : San Francisco: CHILD LIFE, XIV(VIII), Rand McNally & Co., 536 S. Clark St., Chicago. CHILD LIFE Cover Aug. 1935, pp 348-349, 374. Reprinted, 1936, with illus. by Ruth Yale. Evanston, Ill. : New York : San Francisco: Row, Peterson and Company in "Best Short Stories for Boys and Girls," 2nd collection, Carol Ryrie Brink (ed.), pp 78-87.

Cover of School Book Except for a half dozen words, the text of the reprint is the same as that of the original story. This morality tale is set in "a large town that is drowned many fathoms deep under the sea," reminding us that Savery lived for a time near the famed lost city of Dunwich and wrote a narrative poem, The Pleasance of Cockleshells, about another such doomed city.

A discontented girl, Mop, is told by her grandmother that a lucky spoon will solve all her problems. Mop gives up her most valued possessions to buy spoons of first gold and then silver, but they only add to her unhappiness. Repenting of her foolishness, she picks up a discarded wooden spoon and finds she can be content with what she has.

The Secret of Grandmamma Wastwych. Illus. by Marguerite de Angeli. Chicago : New York : San Francisco: CHILD LIFE, XIV(X), Rand McNally & Co., 536 S. Clark St., Chicago. Oct. 1935, pp 442-445, 470-471. Reprinted, 1936, as The Wastwych Secret, New York : Chicago : San Francisco: Rand McNally & Co. in "Child Life CHILD LIFE Cover Mystery Adventure Book," Marjorie Barrows (ed.) and Frances Cavanah (assoc. ed.), pp 71-79.

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Reprinted, 1953, as The Wastwych Secret, Grolier, Inc. in "The Children's Hour: Favorite Mystery Stories," vol. 7, Marjorie Barrows (ed.), pp 49-60. Reprinted, 1961, as The Wastwych Secret, New York: Random House in "Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful," illus. by Fred Banbery, pp 13-24. The Hitchcock hardback edition has been reprinted at least four times. Reprinted in Italian, 1967, Firenza: Vallecchi Editore, as Il segreto dei Wastwych in "Alfred Hitchcock presenta: Otto racconti contro la paura," pp 21-31. Reprinted in German, 1976, as Geheimnis über dem Moor. Stuttgart: Franckh'sche Verlagshandlung in "Alfred Hitchcocks Gruselkabinett: Der alte Trödlerladen," pp 99-110. Reprinted in paperback, 1985, as The Wastwych Secret, New York: Random House in "Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful," pp 17-30. The paperback has also been reprinted.

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The 1936 reprint has only one small de Angeli illustration, but there are several, also reduced in size, in the 1953 reprint. A very few words have been omitted from the original story in the 1936 reprint, but there are no changes in the English text thereafter. I believe this is the only Savery short story that is still in print. The German translation has no illustrations and follows the English text closely. The Italian has the Banbery illustrations except for the cover, a photograph of a snarling kitten.

The Wastwych Secret, which is the more familiar English title for this story, foreshadows Dark House on the Moss with a mysterious flickering Will-o'-the-Wisp on the moor. Jessica, a nasty little girl, persuades two smaller girls, Estelle and Nonie, that their grandmamma is a witch, keeping that secret only so long as she receives daily bribes. A third young grandchild, Tawny, risks his life to prove Jessica wrong by following Grandmamma across the moor at night. Told in the first person by Estelle, the story brings the children to life and makes the gothic setting as real as a conventional English home.

The Little Dragon. Illus. by Robert Lawson. Chicago : New York : San Francisco: CHILD LIFE, XVI(III), Rand McNally & Co., 536 S. Clark St., Chicago. CHILD LIFE Cover Mar. 1937, pp 102-103, 125, 140. Reprinted, 1940, New York : Chicago : San Francisco: Rand McNally & Co. in "Just for Fun," pp 43-49. Reprinted, 1953, Grolier, Inc. in "The Children's Hour: Favorite Fairy Tales," vol. 2, Marjorie Barrows (ed.), pp 142-148. Reprinted, 2013, Mineola, NY: Dover Pub., Inc. in "Just for Fun," pp 43-49.

Intended for reading aloud, this story was broadcast in 1935 over the BBC, along with five Little Dragon sequels, at least three of which were published in CHILD LIFE, see below.
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The 1940, the 1953, and the 2013 reprints have the captivating Lawson illustrations. A few minor editorial changes improve the 1940 text, but the 1953 text returns to the original. The text and illustrations of the Dover reprint are exactly the same as the 1940 edition.

In her correspondence to Agneta Thomson, Savery wrote that she didn't like villains, so it is a mistake and not mischief when a witch tells Augustus, the little dragon, that he is really a prince, stolen by Mr. and Mrs. Dragon and transformed into dragon shape to satisfy their ambitions. Bored with life in his cave, Augustus pounces on the prince as he rides by, takes his armor, and descends to the castle. The older dragons return to find the prince, but refuse to allow him to leave improperly clothed. Augustus, meanwhile, persuades the castle-dwellers that he is their enchanted prince, but life there is more uncomfortable than the little dragon had imagined. When the witch tells him how well the prince has been doing in his parents' cave, Augustus returns. Leaving, the prince knights Mr. Dragon, but he is chilly with Augustus.

The Little Dragon's Princess. Illus. by Marie Lawson. Chicago : New York : San Francisco: CHILD LIFE, XIX(V), Rand McNally & Co., 536 S. Clark St., Chicago. May 1940, pp 216-217. CHILD LIFE Cover

Marie Lawson's illustrations have black backgrounds and are more stylized than Robert Lawson's, but the spirit is the same. CHILD LIFE has been reduced a bit in size. The war years will not produce a further reduction, but the paper quality will suffer. This pleasant, silly story was also broadcast by the BBC.

Although Augustus, the little dragon, has given up being a prince, he decides that he would like a princess for his own and advertises for one: "WantEd -- A PRINCESS..." After his parents depart for the prince's wedding, Augustus is pleased when a princess knocks on his door, but, freckled and bossy, she isn't what he expected. Not only does she eat all the raspberry shortcake, she demands that August open the cave's treasure trove. As Augustus is sorrowing over his troubles, the prince rides past and makes inquiries. He identifies the girl as Eliza, his cousin, not yet a princess, sends her packing, and invites Augustus to the wedding.

Great-Grandmother's Pansy Spoons. Illus. by Marguerite de Angeli. Chicago : New York : San Francisco: CHILD LIFE, XIX(VII), Rand McNally & Co., 536 S. Clark St., Chicago. CHILD LIFE Cover July 1940, pp 308-309.

This little story appeared first in Chesterman's MERRY-GO-ROUND. Since Chesterman did not pay his authors, there was no difficulty in obtaining permission for the story's reappearance in the United States.

Great-grandmother's wedding gifts had included a set of silver spoons with a pansy pattern and her initials, but they were stolen some time ago. Dame White has a reputation as a white witch, so when Rose and Henry and Susan visit her for honey sirup, they ask how they might find their great-grandmother's spoons. She says she cannot help them, but Susan notices through the window that Dame White's grandson, Garnery, is helping himself to honey with a silver pansy spoon. Accused of being a thief, the old woman throws powder into the fire, and when the smoke clears, Garnery's spoon has no pattern at all. Although she sends the children off, the story ends happily for everyone, including Dame White and Garnery.

The Little Dragon and His Chinese Lilies. Illus. by Marie Lawson. Chicago : New York : San Francisco: CHILD LIFE, XX(II), Rand McNally & Co., 536 S. Clark St., Chicago. CHILD LIFE Cover Feb. 1941, pp 68-69, 83.

Another Little Dragon story broadcast by the BBC, I think it the least inspired of the four stories that were published in CHILD LIFE.

The little dragon, Augustus, is in trouble again. This time he receives three lily bulbs from a witch dragon. When the bulbs sprout, they produce dragon heads that grow and grow! Not only are the dragon lilies as large as Augustus -- and growing -- they are noisy and hungry. When Mr. Dragon (no longer Sir Dragon?) locks them in the larder, they grow so much that they break through the floor into the dragon cave below. Only after Augustus sings a magic spell to them 777 times do they shrink enough so that they may be mailed to a dragon zoo.

The Little Dragon's Birthday Party. Illus. by Marie Lawson. Chicago : New York : San Francisco: CHILD LIFE, XX(X), Rand McNally & Co., 536 S. Clark St., Chicago. CHILD LIFE Cover Oct. 1941, pp 453-455.

See BBC. The most exciting of the Little Dragon stories tells of how Augustus, bored with the tame and silly dragon children who usually come to his birthday parties, wrote instead to invite a gryphon, a fire drake, a giant salamander, a prehistoric lizard, a wyvern, and a unicorn, hoping they were 'the kind one would like to meet at a party.' When his mother bakes only enough for a little-dragon party, Augustus sneaks off to buy a tin of green lizards as well. When all six monsters arrive, Augustus and his mother hide in the cave ceiling while the guests eat all the provisions and fight, complaining the whole time. When the dragons can no longer cling to the ceiling they tumble down on the table, startling the monsters, who run off.

The Little Gypsy. Illus. by C.M. Paget. Cincinnati: CHILD LIFE, XXV(IV), Child Life Inc., 405 Mercantile Library Building, Cincinnati 2, Ohio. CHILD LIFE Cover Apr. 1946, pp. 20-21, 50-51. Reprinted, unillustrated, 1948, Edinburgh : New York : Toronto: Thomas Nelson & Sons in "The Child Life Book of Adventure," Wilma K. McFarlane (ed.), pp 54-59. Reprinted 1955, TREASURE TRAILS.

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When the little gypsy is asked for his accomplishments, he says, "I can play the Jew's harp and the panpipes." This is shortened in the reprints to eliminate the Jew's harp. Other editorial changes are of no significance. Savery started the Memoirs of Jack Chelwood in 1944, and the gypsy lad in that book may have prompted this one.

The little gypsy brings his blackberries to the boarding school door where deaf Miss Susan Primrose is sure he is their runaway new pupil, Master Ralph, and will hear no explanations. The gypsy likes Ralph's bedroom better than his rags under the caravan, and decides to stay. His panpipes make everyone dance, and when Ralph finally arrives, a place is found for the gypsy, too.

The Girl with the Purple Hair. Illus. by C.M. Paget. Cincinnati: CHILD LIFE, XXV(X), Child Life Inc., 405 Mercantile Library Building, Cincinnati 2, Ohio. CHILD LIFE Cover Oct. 1946, pp. 20-21, 53.

When Buttercup from the Orphanage is knocked down by a carriage outside the gate of Barvell Grange and taken inside, she thinks she is in heaven until she remembers that it is Mr. Tom Linton's home, and he knows about "that redhead's" mischievous tricks. She is relieved to find that Mr. Tom is away at school and gratified a little later when Mrs. Linton decides to adopt her. "Don't tell Mr. Tom my hair is red," she begs, hoping to delay as long as possible Mr. Tom's discovery of who his new sister is. When Mr. Tom's arrival home is imminent, Buttercup buys black dye and douses her hair in it. Inexplicably, the dye turns purple, and she finds herself standing with purple hair in the middle of a terrible purple mess. Then in walks Mr. Tom!

The story was accepted after Savery agreed to change her title character from a boy to a girl.

This web site © 2010-13 by Eric Schonblom. Updated 25 July 2013. The unpublished works of Constance Savery are reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner, J. D. Hummerstone. Book and magazine covers are reproduced with low resolution to respect the copyrights of their artists and publishers.