'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday, 15 June 2009

Hurdy Gurdy Gondolope

When my brother said to me a while back, these words: "hurdy gurdy gondolope" - my entire childhood book-reading experience rushed up behind me like a mass tidlewave and swamped me in severe and very emotional nostalgia.

"OMG," I whispered, tears in my eyes. "If you had not said those words, I would never have remembered that book so long as I lived."

As soon as I got off the phone, I googled 'Hurdy Gurdy Gondelope' with my breath seized in my throat. Nothing. How odd. Maybe I miss-spelled it. 'Herdy Gerdy Gondelope', I typed.


'Herdy Gerdy Gondelope'

'Hurdy Gerdy Gondilope'

'Herdy Gurdey Gondaloap'

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

I was heart broken. I tried another dozen google-incantations, but nothing worked, so I let it go.

Then, today, for some unknown reason, I remembered it again, and I thought I'd try again. And to my utter delight, this is what I found - The No Such Thing by Penelope Janic. I had made the mistake of thinking the lead character was the book title.

I was ecstatic. I eBayed immediately and found an original (but somewhat pricey) edition and bought it on the spot.

Now all I have to do is wait by the post box in anticipation of reading this most beloved book to my own children.

Do you have a long lost childhood book you'd love to find?


  1. How funny is that? I was searching through my old books looking for one to read with my 8 year old son. For some unknown reason, a book I really loved sprung to mind. All I could remember was a colourful and somewhat silly bird. It annoyed me all morning - I couldn't remember the title.
    An hour or so later it popped into my head... a book also written by Penelope Janic. (Although I didn't know that or recall your book until I started searching for mine)
    Both were a big part of my childhood - I loved them both. Just found The No Such Thing on Ebay... now waiting for the Ha Ha Bird to appear :-)

  2. Oh my goodness - what lovely synchronicity! and I know JUST the bird you're talking about! I read this book at a school recently - they invited people to come and read a favourite book from their childhood. The kinders I read it to were mesmerised. It's a gorgeous book. I'm so glad you found a copy!

  3. I loved this book. Just googled exactly like you did and came upon your blog. At the age of 3 I knew every word by heart, when to turn the pages, everything... my adult siblings convinced friends I could "read" by handing me this book at telling me to read the story. Thank you

  4. Oh, Curvey Spice--how lovely to know we share the same childhood book love! I have adored my copy--it's everything I ever remembered. I hope you have a copy!

  5. Oh wow! Yes! I was just searching to find my fave childhood book The Ha Ha Bird - I remember it for the beautiful illustrations. I found out the author and illustrator was Penelope Janic... then I found your post!! The Hurdy Gurdy Gondolope!!! I'd forgotten all about it. Tears here too. Thank you for bringing back that memory, I must find my own copy now.


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