Mrs Babcary’s Diving Machine

Sometimes you get a little glimpse back into your childhood and rediscover something that makes you understand your grown-up self a bit more. This made me very happy.

I used to love this book, and this page was my FAVE. You can even see the lines around the shark where I tried to trace round it. I remember I didn’t really care about the story even all that much because I was so captivated by this picture. But the story is rather wonderful. And you know how I feel about Octopi:

“Down and down, deeper and deeper, went Captain and Mrs Babcary, into a wonderful green world of waving seaweed and wandering shoals of fish.

And there on the sea-bed was a glint of gold, a flash of jewels!

‘Treasure!’ cried the Captain. ‘Golden nobles and pieces of eight! We’re rich, we’re rich!’

They were so excited that they did not see a large, round and very angry eye gazing at them furiously.”

“It was an octopus, a huge octopus with terrible, thrashing tentacles that twisted and twined round the diving-machine.

‘I am the Guardian of the Treasure!’ roared the octopus. ‘The treasure belongs to the sea and the sea shall keep it.'”

It all gets a bit dark and scary for a children’s book. But all the best ones are, in my opinion.

At risk of giving the end away (I have no idea if this book is still in print or not), what is so especially lovely about this story is the last page. The Captain grumbles that they lost the treasure, but Mrs Babcary says:

“‘We are rich. We have a beautiful cello to live in and a beautiful boat to sail in. We have the wind and the sun and the countryside and hundreds and hundreds of friends.'”

 

3 thoughts on “Mrs Babcary’s Diving Machine

  1. Great story! I have Mrs Babcary goes to Sea. I picked it up from Sunday school 30+ years ago and now read it to my daughter who is 7. I love the illustrations and the philosophical message in the book.

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