[DWJ] First and Last Children's Books

Kylie Ding kylie_ding at hotmail.com
Tue Dec 27 09:36:27 EST 2011

There's been no discussion.  I've been slack :)  I've been meaning to

The first thing that struck me about Wilkins' Tooth is how much more
enjoyable it was than Changeover.  DWJ really seemed a lot more comfortable
writing in this style.  The humour seemed a lot more natural and gentle.  I
also thought she was a lot more comfortable writing the landscape of
Wilkins' Tooth.  It seemed far more real than the imaginary African country.
Not that me, an Australian, is very familiar in real life with either
English villages or anywhere at all in Africa!

The other thing that really stood out was the language.  I completely missed
the "colourful language" the first times I read Wilkins' Tooth, and was
looking out for it this time.  I also picked up that the Wilkins family were
speaking with West Indian accents, and I would have had no idea that's how
they would have spoken when I read it as a child.  But the thing that really
stood out was that Buster called Vernon a "nig".  I thought that even in the
70s that would not have been acceptable in a children's book!  I read the
first edition, and I've been meaning to look in later editions to see if it
had been changed.  *goes off to check*  Yes, here we go:  P13 Macmillan 1973
edition: "I'll let you off that purple ten pence," said Buster, "if you can
get me my blanking Own Back on that blue-and-orange nig.  Only I bet you're
too scared."  P14 Collins Voyager 2002 edition "nig" has been changed to

Interesting!  Does anyone know any other examples of where DWJ's language
would have been changed in later editions as public sensibilities changed?

I loved the illustrations in the first edition by Julia Rodber.  The ones in
the 2002 edition were not nearly as nice.

In January we have to make the decision how to read the short stories.  The
next on the list is Who Got Rid of Angus Flint.  As it is so short I'd like
to read it with Eight Days of Luke, the next novel.  

Hope everyone is having a good holiday season!


More information about the Dwj mailing list