The cover alone did it for me. An elderly Mary Poppins with a sweet moppet by her side. What could be more enticing. Then I opened the book and became acquainted with Violet Pickles, cute as a button on my Great Aunt Mimi's sweater.
But wait! Are her hands . . . stitched?
Why, I do believe they are! Leapin' Lizards and Bust My Buttons! It's yet another doll book. Because little girls - and little girls at heart - can never have too many.
Ivy Cottage is the first book in the Biscuit, Buttons & Pickles series, written and illustrated by E.J. Taylor. And sadly, the books have been allowed to go out of print. Grrrrrr. . .
In this, the first book, we are cordially introduced to Miss Biscuit, a kindly old gal who is gainfully employed as a nanny. Her dearest friend in the whole wide world is Violet Pickles, a rag doll who can "write and talk and has very definite ideas about how most things should be done."
And all is well in Violet's world, until one day when she and Miss Biscuit are having tea on the porch, Miss Biscuit decides to retire. They will move to the country, she tells Violet, and live in a cottage.
Poor Violet is a bit discomposed, I do believe.
But Miss Biscuit is not one to change her mind once it is set, so pack they must. With her, Violet takes "a small suitcase, her teddy bear, and a picnic hamper, which contained her favorite books, a paint set, a feather pillow, her blue blanket and a silk ribbon." All their belongs, Miss Biscuit balances precariously atop her bicycle and into the country they go.
But calamity befalls the duo and they are stranded at nightfall, with no mode of transportation save their four feet. So they set off through the dark, spooky wood, until at last they arrive at the spot where Miss Biscuit swears the old cottage should stand. But nought except the trees can they see under the moonlit sky.
And as it is now raining, they decide to spend the night beneath the umbrella.
In the morning Mr. Bickerstaff arrives in his rattly claptrap to help the two get settled in the cottage. A cottage which they can't find.
Until Violet pushes through a great wall of ivy and discovers . . .