The Naughtiest Girl in the School
|Illustrator||W. Lindsay Cable|
|Series||The Naughtiest Girl series|
|Published||1940 (George Newnes)|
|Followed by||The Naughtiest Girl Again|
The Naughtiest Girl in the School is the first novel in The Naughtiest Girl series by Enid Blyton, published in 1940. It stars Elizabeth Allen, a spoiled girl who is sent to a boarding school called Whyteleafe School.
Elizabeth Allen is a spoiled girl who is the only child of her parents. She becomes very upset and outraged when she learns that she is being sent to a boarding school. When Elizabeth joins Whyteleafe School she is determined to misbehave so that she will be expelled and able to go back home as soon as possible. She is surprised to find that the children run the school through weekly community meetings, and that her behaviour will be judged by her peers. It is a portrayal of children's restorative justice, and is based on A. S. Neill's school, Summerhill.
At Whyteleafe Elizabeth discovers a new world. Because of her mischief she is first disliked by her fellow students and she pets out eleven things on her chest of drawers, instead of the permitted six and when Elizabeth refuses to put any away Nora confiscates five of the things, which includes photos of her family. The next morning, she refuses to get out of bed so, with Ruth's help, she strips all the bedclothes off her and then tips her out of bed. Elizabeth fumes at Nora, but loses some of her defiance when she threatens to spank her with a hairbrush. One day, Elizabeth hears about the village and the shops there, but nobody will go with her so she goes alone which is not allowed. She meets Rita and she tells her that a girl in her class – Joan Townsend – is not happy, as her parents neglect her, and Elizabeth promises to try to make friends with Joan, and she finally wins her over, and soon they become best friends and Joan talks about how much she loves her mother and how hurt she is by her mother's neglect. Joan knows that her mother will not send her any birthday presents or cake. Elizabeth is soon reported at the meeting by her schoolfellows who are sick of her and she loses a lot of privileges. After that meeting Joan convinces her that misbehaving to be expelled is a bad idea, and advises her to be good, and to ask the heads of the school to tell her parents that she is unhappy and to ask them to take her away, but not in disgrace. Elizabeth accepts this suggestion, and her behaviour improves a lot. She also makes good progress at her piano lessons and secretly longs to play at the function held after the half-term break, though she knows this will not be possible if she goes home at half term. One day, Elizabeth plays a trick on Harry and he retaliates by pinning a note on her that says 'I'M THE BOLD BAD GIRL! BEWARE! I BARK I BITE I HAVE EVERYBODY!" and everyone laughs except Elizabeth who slaps Harry in the face and calls him a cheat. Nora comes along just then and points out that that behavior is not acceptable and orders her to apologize to Harry. Elizabeth initially refuses, but when Nora explains things to her she agrees to, even though she is sure Harry will not accept the apology and it'll make everything worse, but Harry accepts the apology graciously and everyone is friendly again. Elizabeth receives a pound note from a relative and decides to use it to purchase a large cake, presents, and cards to be sent to Joan for her birthday, as if from her parents. Nora finds out and says "Elizabeth! Why didn't you hand that money in?" "I forgot" says Elizabeth and Nora reports her at the meeting. Elizabeth still won't say what she used the money for and finally it is decided to leave the matter until she receives a reply from Mrs Townsend. Soon Joan's birthday comes and she is overjoyed at the presents, but when she writes to her mother to thank her, her mother replies that she did not send anything. Joan is distressed, wanders off in the rain, and becomes very ill. Elizabeth writes to Joan's mother to confess her role in making Joan ill. Joan's contrite mother arrives to visit Joan, and explains to the heads that her neglect of Joan stems from a resentment that Joan survived an illness years before, while her more loved twin brother died. Joan and her mother reconcile, and Joan becomes happy again, while Miss Best explains to William and Rita that the money was used for a very kind cause, and so they summon Elizabeth up to their office and explain to her that she did a right thing in a wrong way and that they will just tell the meeting they are satisfied with the explanation. Sometime later, John grumbles about nobody helping him in the garden except her and she's no use because she's leaving in a week. Elizabeth sits on the swings and says "Elizabeth Allen, you really are cutting your nose off to spite your face! You are perfectly happy here and you have a friend who will miss you when you leave and you want to play the piano at the concert at the end of this term. You really should change your mind and decide to stay.", and at the next meeting, everyone is amazed.
Elizabeth Allen is a pretty girl with dark curly hair and blue eyes. All her life she had done as she liked. Six governesses had come and gone, but not one of them had been able to make Elizabeth obedient or good mannered. All the governesses failed – no one got success and she is almost 11 years old. She does not like other boys and girls at all. They were shocked at her mischief and rude ways. Her governess, Miss Scott, describes her trouble very well when she says:
The trouble is that people have loved you too much. You are pretty, and merry, and rich, so you have been spoiled. People like the way you look, the way you smile, and your pretty clothes, so they fuss you, and pet you, and spoil you, instead of treating you like an ordinary child, But it isn't enough to have a pretty face and a merry smile – you must have a good heart too.
And indeed when Rita finds her at the village alone (which is not allowed and can be punished) and she escorts her back, we do find for all her naughtiness, she has a kind heart and is eager to help Joan – the Mouse (who later becomes her best friend and is no longer the mouse). Towards the end William says "You are just the sort of girl Whyteleafe school wants".
Completely unlike Elizabeth, Joan Townsend is gentle, timid, shy and nervous of confronting people or speaking in public. Although a timid mouse, there is nothing weak or silly about Joan, who later in the series is found to be an extremely mature and understanding girl. She becomes a calm girl that is sensitive for doing the right thing.
Nora, a monitor at Whyteleafe school, is a girl who upholds its traditions. She is very responsible, jolly and sensible, but does not look below the surface. Elizabeth gets into a lot of trouble with the sometimes unreasonable and strict monitor. Nora looks after the girls in dormitory 6 including Elizabeth, Joan, Ruth, Belinda and Helen. Nora is a strict but fair girl and hates it if the school's traditions are disobeyed. She is Irish.
William and Rita
William and Rita are the head children at Whyteleafe School. They are very understanding and kind and firm in a way. They are well known and highly appreciated around the school.
Richard is a sensitive boy who is brilliant at music. He becomes one of Elizabeth's best friends.
Although Harry Dunn is introduced as a cheat, he makes good and patches up a quarrel with Elizabeth very well. He also ends up a friend to the little girl.
Like Richard, John Terry is also a one sided boy – devoted to gardening and little else. Elizabeth and John have a very good relation early in the book. John is fond of gardening, due to his and Elizabeth common interest in gardening, both of them become good friends.
Michael was Joan's twin brother who died from an illness while Joan survived. As a result, Joan's parents ignored her until Elizabeth's actions instigated a meeting and Joan's mother told Joan the truth at Whyteleafe.
Peter is a boy in the lower school. He admires John Terry and helps out in the garden a lot.
Arabella is a girl much more spoilt than Elizabeth and only cares about her self. During one summer holidays she stayed over at Elizabeth’s house, she was polite to mrs Allen but rude to Elizabeth.