‘The Wonderful Isle of Ulla-Gapoo’ by F. Dubrez Fawcett

Sunday, November 1st, 2009 Book Review by Adrianne Jones, davidlane

One of my favourite books from childhood is The Wonderful Isle of Ulla-Gapoo by F. Dubrez Fawcett.  I don’t expect anyone will have heard of it.  I read it when I was 8, at Christmas 1946.  It was a hardback and a first edition.  I’ve still got it.  I almost gave it away recently on one of my de-cluttering days but I couldn’t bring myself to part with it.  The book is beautifully illustrated by H E Harman.

The story is about a maid and a baker’s boy, Mollie and Bernie, both aged 17 or so, who become firm friends. There is a touch of romance and you imagine that they will eventually marry. They have exciting adventures on an island which they come across when rowing on the Serpentine, which is the lake in Hyde Park.  This is Ulla-Gapoo.

At first they though it was a sort of amusement park and were worried they couldn’t afford the sixpence entrance fee. It wasn’t like that at all, of course, though there is much amusement and peculiar people and places. Mollie and Bernie spend what seems like many hours meeting these characters, who include Mr and Mrs Gapoo, the Mayoress, the Constable and the Welcomer. There is panic and distress as Bernie goes missing and is accused of stealing and amazement at the crazy upside down houses where they had to climb up and down the walls. Eventually the pair run away to escape the policeman. They find their rowing boat and realise they have only been away for three hours.

They settle back into their daily routines. However, three months later, they longed to see the village on the island again and went to find it, though a wee bit frightened…  They found the island but there was no village, to their disappointment - and relief.

There is such a mixture of intriguing emotions throughout the book.  At the end, though, I was left with good feelings and, like Bernie and Mollie, wanted to return to Ulla-Gapoo!

Fawcett , F. Dubrez (1946) The Wonderful Isle of Ulla-Gapoo

Modern Fiction, London

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6 Responses to “‘The Wonderful Isle of Ulla-Gapoo’ by F. Dubrez Fawcett”

  1. Glynis Smy Says:

    At last someone who has heard of it! It is myy favourite children’s book, my grandfather read it to me as a child. I read it to my children, I still have it. Mine is a first edition, the front cover has fallen away, but it is my treasure.
    The upside down room is a wonderful drawing!

  2. barbara windsor Says:

    This has always been a title that has fascinated me - obviously had the book as a child, but good to read the resume of
    the story which I had forgotten. I was at primary school in London in the early 1950’s, so memories go back a long way! The
    illustrations particularly stayed with me.

  3. jim tylee Says:

    Loved this book and all the pictures in it…….i wonder if its possible to still get a copy ?????
    jim

  4. Rockypenguin Says:

    I have been telling my daughter about the book for years and it turned up in a box in my dads loft unexpectedly. We have just finished reading it together & it was a fabulous trip down memory lane. It is falling apart but will be squirrelled away carefully for future generations to enjoy!

  5. b hollinshead Says:

    Got a first edition of this book, not in ptistine condition but well read and loved.

  6. Bruce Englefield Says:

    Brilliant to find it via Google and see other people’s comments. Ulla-Gapoo was the first book I owned, a 1950 Christmas present from ‘Father Christmas’ when I was 8. Sadly I no longer have it and it must have been a first edition and was much enjoyed.

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