'Clever Polly' by Catherine Storr, from a handmade book of stories

Description

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Catherine Storr’s daughter Polly was ‘intrigued and frightened’ when she saw a wild wolf at Whipsnade Zoo. To calm her down, her mother made up a funny tale about Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf. He intends to eat her, but she fills him up with pie and burns his tongue with toffee. Storr turns the tale of Red Riding Hood  upside down, to give the heroine power.

A handmade book

In 1950, Storr created this handmade book for Polly, containing the wolf story and three others. The book is bound in black velvet with beautiful patterned endpapers.

Not just cautionary tales

The first three stories focus on shockingly naughty children, so we might think they will be punished as they are in traditional cautionary tales. Instead, Catherine Storr – who was a psychiatrist and author – teaches them subtler lessons:

  • Naughty Sue is left at home alone, so she starts causing chaos, filling up the bath with coal and dancing on her mother’s dresses. When a fire starts, Sue saves her parents’ most precious possessions, so they thank and forgive her.
  • Destructive Isabel spoils her clothes by cutting, tearing and biting. But rather than dressing her in rags, her father buys her beautiful outfits, so she’ll take pride in her clothing.
  • Wicked Walter puts salt in the sugar jar and pepper in the flour, so when his mother bakes a cake, it makes him sick. Unlike the others, he suffers for his behaviour and is punished harshly.

Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf

Two years later, these four tales were published as Clever Polly and other Stories, illustrated by Dorothy Craigie. The title story ends with the wolf running off in terror, and it claims he will ‘never come back’.

However, this wasn’t quite true. In 1955, Storr published a whole set of tales about Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf. In an interview in 2015, Polly Storr said children love the stories because they ‘sympathise’ with the wolf ‘and feel superior to him at the same time’.

Transcript

2

SOMETIMES SHE THREW HER TOYS

ABOUT, SOMETIMES SHE HIT HER

LITTLE BROTHER.  ONE DAY

SHE WAS SO BAD THAT HER

MOTHER HAD TO LEAVE HER

BEHIND IN THE HOUSE, WHEN

EVERYONE ELSE WAS GOING OUT

TO A PARTY.

- - -

3

          SUE DECIDED TO DO ALL THE

WORST THINGS SHE COULD THINK OF.

SHE WENT DOWN TO THE KITCHEN

AND BROKE SIX PLATES.

SHE WENT INTO THE DRAWING ROOM

AND TOOK ALL THE BOOKS OUT OF

THE SHELVES AND THREW THEM ON THE FLOOR


4

SHE WENT INTO THE BATHROOM

AND FILLED THE BATH WITH COAL.

SHE WENT INTO HER MOTHER’S

BEDROOM AND PULLED ALL HER

DRESSES OUT OF THE CUPBOARD

AND DANCED ON THEM.

SHE CLIMBED UP INTO THE LOFT

AND THREW ALL THE TRUNKS

OUT OF THE WINDOW.

- - -

5

SUDDENLY SHE SMELT A NASTY

SMELL.  SHE STOOD STILL AND

SNIFFED.  IT WAS A SMELL OF

BURNING!

          SHE RAN DOWNSTAIRS TO THE

KITCHEN, WHERE THERE WAS AN

OPEN FIRE.  SMOKE CURLED UP

THE KITCHEN STAIRS, AND FLAMES

LICKED OUT OF THE KITCHEN DOOR.


6

SUE RAN UPSTAIRS TO THE TELEPHONE

SHE DIALLED 999 AND ASKED

FOR THE FIRE BRIGADE.

          THEN SHE BEGAN TO SAVE THE

THINGS IN THE HOUSE.

          SHE RAN INTO THE DRAWING

ROOM AND THREW THE BOOKS

OUT OF THE WINDOW INTO THE

GARDEN.

- - -

7

          SHE RAN UPSTAIRS AND COLLECTED

HER MOTHER’S DRESSES AND

CARRIED THEM OUT INTO SAFETY.

          THEN THE FIRE ENGINE ARRIVED

AND BEGAN TO QUENCH THE

FIRE WITH WATER OUT OF LONG

HOSES.  WHEN SUE’S MOTHER

AND FATHER CAME HOME THE

HOUSE WAS SAFE, BUT VERY WET.


8

“I HAVE LOST ALL MY BEAUTIFUL

DRESSES’ WEPT HER MOTHER.

          ‘ALL MY PRECIOUS BOOKS ARE

SPOILT’ SIGNED HER FATHER. ‘AND

WORST OF ALL, I HAD SOME

VALUABLE PAPERS IN A TRUNK IN

THE LOFT, THEY WILL HAVE BEEN

RUINED BY THE WATER’

- - -

9

          ‘HERE ARE YOUR DRESSES, SAFE IN

THE GARAGE’, MOTHER’, SAID SUE,

‘AND YOUR BOOKS ARE IN THE

NEXT HOUSE, FATHER.  AND HERE

ARE THE TRUNKS, QUITE DRY

BECAUSE I THREW THEM OUF OF THE

WINDOW. BUT I AM AFRAID I HAVE

BROKEN SIX PLATES, AND FILLED

THE BATH WITH COAL.’

          ‘WE FORGIVE YOU THAT’, SAID HER

MOTHER AND FATHER. ‘THANK YOU,

CLEVER SUE, FOR SAVING OUR

DRESSES, BOOKS AND PAPERS.’


10

II

DESTRUCTIVE ISABEL

 

THERE WAS ONCE A LITTLE GIRL

CALLED ISABEL WHO WOULD

ALWAYS TEAR HER CLOTHES.

EVERYTHING HER MOTHER BOUGHT

FOR HER SHE IMMEDIATELY

DESTROYED.

- - -

11

HER MOTHER BOUGHT THE TOUGHEST

AND THICKEST STUFFS SHE COULD

BUY.  BUT IF ISABEL COULDN’T

TEAR OR BITE IT, SHE WOULD

CUT IT UP WITH THE KITCHEN

SCISSORS.  AT LAST HER MOTHER

WAS IN DESPAIR.


12

‘ISABEL WILL HAVE TO BE DRESSED

IN RAGS’ SHE SAID TO HER HUSBAND

AT LAST.  ‘I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING

SHE CANNOT TEAR OR BIT OR CUT.’

          ‘GIVE HER ONE MORE CHANCE’

SAID ISABEL’S FATHER.  ‘I WILL

BUY HER ANOTHER OUTFIT’.

- - -

13

THE NEXT MORNING ISABEL AND

HER FATHER WENT SHOPPING, AND

HE BOUGHT HER A DARK BLUE

COAT WITH A FUR COLLAR

 

A LITTLE FUR HAT

 

MUFF

 

AND GLOVES


14

A PALE BLUE WOOLLEN DRESS

SMOCKED WITH PINK

FOR WINTER PARTIES

 

A RED JERSEY AND A

BLUE PLEASED SKIRT

FOR SCHOOL

 

A BLUE BLAZER

AND A SATCHEL,

WALKING SHOES

AND SANDALS

- - -

15

A STRIPY COTTON DRESS

AND A SPOTTY COTTON DRESS

 

A PINK SILK DRESS

FOR SUMMER PARTIES

 

A PAIR OF RED

DANCING SHOES

AND A RED

HANDBAG


16

A NECKLACE

SIX HANDKERCHIEFS

THREE VESTS

SUX [sic] PAIRS OF KNICKERS

A PAIR OF THICK TROUSERS

AND A PAIR OF COTTON

DUNGAREES           

 

TWO COAT HANGERS

- - -

17

WHEN ISABEL CAME HOME WITH ALL

HER PARCELS, SHE TRIED ON ALL

HER NEW CLOTHES, ONE AFTER

ANOTHER.  SHE LOOKED LOVELY IN

ALL OF THEM.  SHE HUNG UP HER

TWO BEST DRESSES, AND PUT THE

OTHERS NEATLY AWAY.  THEY WERE

ALL TOO PRETTY TO SPOIL.


20

ONE DAY WALTER WAS IN THE

KITCHEN WATCHING HIS MOTHER

MAKE A CAKE.

          HE STOLE HANDFULS OF SUGAR,

WHEN SHE LOOKED THE OTHER

WAY.  HE LICKED THE BUTTER

AND SNATCHED AWAY THE BASIN

JUST AS SHE WAS BREAKING THE

EGGS OVER IT.

- - -

21

HIS MOTHER GOT FURIOUS.

          ‘GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN’ SHE

CRIED.  BUT AT THAT MOMENT

THE FRONT DOOR BELL RANG, AND

SHE RAN TO ANSWER IT.

          WHILE SHE WAS AWAY, WALTER

EMPTIED OUT THE SUGAR JAR AND

FILLED IT WITH SALE.  HE ALSO

SPRINKLED PEPPER OVER THE

FLOUR.


22

WHEN HIS MOTHER CAME BACK

SHE SENT HIM OUT TO RIDE

HIS SCOOTER UP AND DOWN THE

ROAD.  WHILE HE WAS THERE, HE

THREW A STONE AT A BIRD, AND

BROKE A WINDOW, TOLD A BLIND

MAN THE WRONG WAY ON

PURPOSE, AND PULLED A CAT’S TAIL

- - -

23

HE WAS AN ODIOUS CHILD

 

MEANWHILE HIS MOTHER BAKED

A DELICIOUS LOOKING CAKE, AND

PUT IT IN THE LARDER TO COOL.

 

LATER SHE ICED IT.


24

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

WALTER FELT HUNGRY.  HE GOT

UP AND CREPT DOWN TO THE

LARDER TO SEE WHAT HE COULD

STEAL.

          ON THE SHELF WAS THE MOST

WONDERFUL CAKE WALTER HAD

EVER SEEN.

- - -

25

GREEDILY HE CUT HIMSELF AN

ENORMOUS SLICE, AND TOOK A

HUGE BITE.

          IT WAS ALMOST AS NASTY

AS HE WAS HIMSELF.  INSTEAD

OF SUGAR, IT TASTED OF SALT,

WITH A LOT OF PEPPER TOO.

WALTER FELL OFF HIS CHAIR IN

SURPRISE AND HORROR.


26

HIS MOTHER AND FATHER HEARD

THE CLATTER AND CAME RUNNING

DOWNSTAIRS.  FIRST WALTER WAS

BEATEN FOR STEALING.  NEXT

HE WAS SICK.

          AND IT WAS ALL HIS OWN

FAULT.

- - -

27

IV

CLEVER POLLY

          ONE DAY POLLY WAS ALONE

DOWNSTAIRS.  CAMILLA WAS

USING THE HOOVER UPSTAIRS,

SO WHEN THE  X FRONT DOOR

BELL RANG, POLLY WENT

TO OPEN THE DOOR.  THERE

WAS A GREAT BLACK WOLF!

HE PUT HIS FOOT INSIDE THE

DOOR AND SAID,

          ‘NOW I’M GOING TO EAT YOU UP’


28

          ‘OH NO, PLEASE’ SAID POLLY, ‘I

DONT WANT TO BE EATEN UP’

          ‘OH YES,’ SAID THE WOLF, ‘I

AM GOING TO EAT YOU.  BUT FIRST

TELL ME, WHAT IS THAT DELICIOUS

SMELL?’

- - -

29

          ‘COME DOWN TO THE KITCHEN’ SAID

POLLY, ‘AND I WILL SHOW YOU.’

          SHE LED THE WOLF DOWN TO THE

KITCHEN.  THERE ON THE TABLE,

WAS A DELICIOUS LOOKING PIE.

          ‘HAVE A SLICE?’ SAID POLLY.

THE WOLF’S MOUTH WATERED AND

HE SAID, ‘YES, PLEASE.’


30

POLLY CUT HIM A BIG PIECE.  WHEN

HE HAD EATEN IT, THE WOLF ASKED

FOR ANOTHER, AND THEN FOR ANOTHER.

          ‘NOW’, SAID POLLY, AFTER THE

THIRD HELPING, ‘WHAT ABOUT ME?’

          ‘SORRY’, SAID THE WOLF, ‘I’M

TOO FULL OF PIE.  I’LL COME BACK

ANOTHER DAY TO DEAL WITH YOU.’

- - -

31

A WEEK LATER, POLLY WAS ALONE

AGAIN, AND AGAIN THE BELL RANG.

POLLY RAN TO OPEN THE DOOR,

THERE WAS THE WOLF AGAIN.

          ‘THIS TIME, I’M REALLY GOING

TO EAT YOU UP, POLLY’ SAID THE

WOLF.

          ‘ALL RIGHT’, SAID POLLY. ‘BUT

FIRST, JUST SMELL.’


32

THE WOLF TOOK A LONG BREATH.

‘DELICIOUS’, HE SAID, ‘WHAT IS IT?’

‘COME DOWN AND SEE’, SAID POLLY.

          IN THE KITCHEN WAS A LARGE

CHOCOLATE CAKE.

          ‘HAVE A SLICE?’ SAID POLLY.

          ‘YES’, SAID THE WOLF GREEDILY.

HE ATE SIX BIG SLICES.

          ‘NOW, WHAT ABOUT ME?’ SAID

POLLY.

- - -

33

‘SORRY,’ SAID THE WOLF, ‘I JUST

HAVN’T GOT ROOM.  I’LL COME BACK.’

HE SLUNK OUT OF THE BACK DOOR.

          A WEEK LATER THE DOOR BELL

RANG AGAIN, POLLY OPENED THE

DOOR, AND THERE WAS THE WOLF.

          ‘NOW THIS TIME YOU SHANT

ESCAPE ME,’ HE SNARLED.  ‘GET

READY TO BE EATEN UP NOW!’


34

‘JUST SMELL ALL ROUND FIRST’

SAID POLLY GENTLY.

          ‘MARVELLOUS!’ ADMITTED THE

WOLF.  ‘WHAT IS IT?’

          ‘TOFFEE’ SAID POLLY CALMLY.

‘BUT COME ON, EAT ME UP.’    

          ‘COULDN’T I HAVE A TINY BIT

OF TOFFEE FIRST,’ ASKED THE

WOLF.  ‘ITS MY FAVOURITE FOOD.’

          ‘COME DOWN AND SEE’ SAID

POLLY.

          THE WOLF FOLLOWED HER

DOWNSTAIRS.  THE TOFFEE

BUBBLED AND SIZZLED ON

THE STOVE.

- - -

35

‘I MUST HAVE A TASTE’ SAID THE

WOLF

‘ITS HOT’ SAID POLLY

THE WOLF TOOK THE SPOON OUT OF

THE SAUCEPAN AND PUT IT IN

HIS MOUTH.

          OW!    HOWL!    OW!


36

IT WAS SO HOT IT BURNT THE

SKIN OFF HIS MOUTH AND

TONGUE, AND HE COULDNT SPIT

IT OUT, IT WAS TOO STICKY.  IN

TERROR, THE WOLF RAN OUT OF

THE HOUSE AND

          NEVER     CAME      BACK!


STORR

6 WINDMILL HILL. N.W.3.


Full title:
Soft-bound handmade book created by Catherine Storr. The book is titled 'Clever Polly' and contains four manuscript stories with illustrations by Storr. The stories are titled 'Naughty Sue', 'Destructive Isabel', 'Wicked Walter' and 'Clever Polly'.
Created:
1950
Format:
Dummy book / Original artwork / Illustration / Image
Language:
English
Creator:
Catherine Storr
Usage terms

© Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children's Books. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.

Held by
Seven Stories
Shelfmark:
CS/02/01/01

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