Enid Blyton - The Naughtiest Girl Again (Armada, 1971: originally George Newnes, 1942)
"But really, I can't let her pull my hair out and slap me in the face. . . Of course, as she's a girl, I can't hit her back. I know she's supposed to be the naughtiest girl in the school ... "
Poor Elizabeth—she had come back to Whyteleafe determined to be good, but that was before she met Robert, the miserable bully. She can't stand to see him persecuting the younger children, but Robert is crafty enough to have Elizabeth branded as the 'naughtiest girl' again ... So how is it that she becomes a monitor?
Have it on the best authority - The Enid Blyton Society, no less - that her The House In The Fog (The Twelfth Holiday Book, Sampson Low, 1957) may be of interest to us for it's "spooky elements," even if it isn't quite a ghost story. Anyone read it? This jolly lacrosse sticks effort, on the other hand, is a phantom-free zone.
The gist is that, after a tempestuous first term at Whyteleafe School, our heroine, Elizabeth Allen, is determined to mend her wicked ways. Unfortunately, she's soon up to her neck in it with staff and pupils alike thanks to machinations of newbies Robert - who has designs on becoming the official school bully - and Kathleen, a spiteful, Quasimodo look-a-like who secretly plots against her nice looking classmates. Cue accusation, counter-accusation, a mouse loose in class, tending horses, Elizabeth running away from school, etc., etc.
As for the sporting content, it's frightfully exciting for those who like a good, clean contest, a ripping yawn for we who prefer our action peppered with diving, fouling, pitch-invasions and all similar manifestations of the dark arts. Everyone is excited at prospect of the impending lacrosse match versus champions Uphill School, with Robert and Elizabeth vying for the final place in the team. Realising Kathleen was responsible for stirring things between them, the pair have since patched things up, so when Robert is chosen ahead of her, Elizabeth takes it like a man and wishes him a wizard good show. But on the eve of the match, injury rules out Whyteleafe's star player and- Elizabeth is off the subs bench! At first, it seems Uphill will inflict humiliation on the underdogs, but a rousing "Play up, Whyteleafe! Play up, Robert!" from Elizabeth turns the game.
"The naughtiest girl"? Spoiled rotten and prone to temper she may be, but Beryl the Peril our Elizabeth most certainly is not. Five seconds at St. Trinians and she'd be blubbing for mercy before the lower sixth could scream "To the DUNGEON with her, gels!"
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.