Of all the children’s books featured on this blog so far, Noggin and the Moon mouse ranks as perhaps my all-time favourite childhood story. It was written by Oliver Postgate and illustrated by Peter Firmin, who went on to create Bagpuss.
Decades before Game of Thrones hit our screens, the men of the Northlands were led not by Jon Snow but by the peace-loving Viking Noggin, King of the Nogs.
Noggin and Queen Nooka live in this castle, with their son, Knut.
In Noggin and the Moon mouse a visitor drops in from another planet, when a moon mouse lands in the town’s horse trough.
In a story that is right on message for the 21st century, Queen Nooka proves to be kind and welcoming to all visitors – wherever they hail from.
Noggin eventually realises that moon daisies (not sausages or biscuits) are the snack of choice for all discerning moon mice.
Those soap flakes are part of the solution for returning the moon mouse and his spaceship (resembling a silver ball) to his home planet.
This story was published in 1967 by Kaye & Ward in the ‘Starting to Read’ series of Noggin books. According to the inscription by my mother, I received my copy in 1968.
Both the story and the illustrations in Noggin and the Moon mouse are as charming now as they were 50 years ago. Although the jacket is looking rather tatty, the book remains very tightly bound, which makes it difficult to scan the pictures.
Writer, narrator and animator Oliver Postgate (1925–2008) and illustrator Peter Firmin (born in 1928) founded the TV company Smallfilms, which made favourites like Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine and those soup-loving Clangers.
The Noggin stories were also made into a TV series, beginning in 1959, and a stage version is currently running.
While many of the Noggin stories feature the villainous Nogbad the Bad (a Dick Dastardly type), Noggin and the Moon mouse is special because it was the launch pad for the Clangers.
In the Clangers TV series the characters designed by Firmin were knitted by his wife. These days, I prefer his illustrated version of the moon mouse.