ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Talking Parcel written by Gerald Durrell

Updated on March 20, 2016

The Battle for Castle Cockatrice as it's known by some, or The Talking Parcel by Gerald Durrell

*** "If the words are not looked after and given exercise, they simply fade away and vanish, poor little things, said Parrot. That's my job. Once a year I have to sit down and recite the Dictionary, to make sure the words all get the correct amount of exercise......." *** Parrot was brought up by The Dictionary and his job became Keeper of the Words.

These words written by Gerald Durrell in The Talking Parcel have inspired me to begin giving books on my bookshelf a 'workout'; especially those that seem to be "out of fashion" and not that well known. Starting with kiddies books still loved by myself and my children and now being saved (along with a few much loved toys) for "my son's little boy one day"!, beginning with The Talking Parcel. What a wonderful imaginative story this is for kids (and for people like me who still love fairy stories!) - wizards, unicorns, castles, mermaids and other worlds.

Reading is such a wonderful hobby - it relaxes you, inspires and motivates, stirs the imagination and best of all - it's FREE! You can read anywhere - travelling on a bus, car, aeroplane, boat, at lunch-break, snuggled up in bed, in the garden, while you wait in a queue............. Don't forget it's a wonderful Stress Buster too, letting you escape from the world for a while!

Read to your children - they love story time (especially when they are very small - you will read the same story over and over again!). Reading together will create a bond between you, memories to share all your lives.

So go ahead, give the books on your bookshelves (and those that are stored on your kindle) some exercise.

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

— C.S. Lewis

Awesome author of books for children!

I've read a lot of Gerald Durrell's books over the years (one of my favourite being "My Family and Other Animals" - it always makes laugh); but until I came across "The Talking Parcel in a second hand book shop, I didn't know he'd also written books for children. He has a wonderful imagination, a gift with words and so witty.

Of course, I had to buy the book, then read it and ...I love it. If you still enjoy a nostalgic trip down memory lane reading children's fantasy and magical books, then you're in for a treat with this book....

Oh, and read it your children too, of course, they'll love it!

Did you know Gerald Durrell wrote the most wonderful books for children too?

See results

Buy The Talking Parcel to read, if you can find a copy

Well, it seems that The Talking Parcel is in short supply! There don't seem to be that many copies of this book around.

Gerald Durrell's delightful fantasy was first published as The Talking Parcel.

Interestingly, I have discovered that later editions of this book were renamed The Battle for Castle Cockatrice, possibly to appeal to American readers.

Do yourself a favour and borrow or buy a copy and read it to your children, to your grandchildren, to yourself. If Amazon don't have a copy, don't forget to look on eBay, you may just get a copy at a bargain price!

The Story is all about a parrot, a spider, 3 children, a wizard, a magic land, unicorns, mermaids, toads, weasels and lots more mythical creatures in an adventure that will get your imagination working overtime..!

What a magical fantastical story.........

This is the story of an adventure three children had during one summer the land of Mythologia

Simon and Peter arrive in beautiful sunny Greece to stay with their cousin Penelope and it's while they're sailing their inflatable boat in the sea that the adventure begins.

singing Moon Carrot Pie ...

She found a brown paper parcel tied with purple cord

Penelope discovers a Brown Paper Parcel tied with Purple Cord floating in the sea and, to her amazement the parcel is talking and singing - doesn't your imagination just conjure up all sorts of possibilities?

The parcel was singing a song:

"................... Moon carrot Pie, Moon carrot Pie

It'll liven you up, bring a gleam to your eye.

Oh, a cow in a manger, a pig in sty

They all love their slices of

Moon carrot Pie..................................."

(You'll have to read the book for the rest of the song!)

In the parcel were Parrot, with a plumage of purple, gold, green, blue and pink, shimmering with feathers that curled, and Dulcibelle, a golden spider,who were trying to get back to their home Mythologia to save it from the terrible Cockatrices who had taken over their beloved land and were ruining it!

Hengist Hannibal Junketberry, a famous magician and wizard created the land of Mythologia as a haven for mythological creatures such as Moon-calves and Unicorns, Weasels and Griffons, Mermaids, Werewolves and Firedrakes, Toads and Cockatrices and more, to live in. Together with the three magic Talking Books, he governed Mythologia and everyone lived happily together ... until that fateful day the Cockatrices stole the Talking Books!

Cockatrice | Source

The Cockatrices are vain, noisy and vulgar

and breathe out fire!

Cockatrices are vain, noisy and vulger, breathe out fire so they are always setting something alight. They are big,as a 10 year old human, have the body of a cockerel, the tail of a dragon and red, green and gold scales.

When the Cockatrices stole the three magical Talking books to take over Mythologia and run things their way, life became awful for everyone else who lived there!

Penelope, Simon and Peter together with Parrot and Dulcibelle set off on Madame Hortense, the magical train who took them to the land of Mythologia, and, there they had the most amazing, exciting adventures on their quest to save Mythologia.

Exercise your books!

Dust jacket on my copy of the book
Dust jacket on my copy of the book | Source

Dust jacket design by Liza James

I love it when I find a beautiful or zany illustrated dust jacket - the artist's imaginative impression of the magical story inside just waiting to be discovered and read.

Just look at these fantastical creatures designed by Liza James on the dust cover of my copy of The Talking Parcel. There they are ... the three children, a werewolf, the King and Queen of Unicorns, Tabitha Dragon, Moon-calves, Oswald the Sea Serpent, Desdemona the mermaid, a Cockatrice and more.

Can you spot the Moon-calves in the picture?

And just look at that big bad fire breathing Cockatrice - with his body of a cockerel, the tail of a dragon and red, green and gold scales.

And the book was made into a Movie too!

This animated movie was made in the 70's so compared to today's movies, it will probably seem very dated. It's very different from the book too as only Penny features in the movie with Parrot.

The book is so alive in my imagination that I haven't been able to bring myself to watch this. Anyone else feel like that sometimes about a particular book?

Could you watch a movie of a book that meant the world to you?

See results

Best Gerald Durrell childrens book? - Vote now for your top choice


Have you read any of Gerald Durrell's books for children?

See results

Second hand books - recycle, reuse ... it saves on landfill

I hope the list above will tempt you into reading one or two of them to your children (or ... to yourself?). What a treat to dive into the imaginative worlds of Gerald Durrell.

Or try some his other books - there so many to choose from. You can always be sure to have a good laugh over his stories from his adventurous life.

Buy your book second-hand from places like eBay or second-hand Bookshops.

It means you are doing your bit for the planet - Recycle, reuse, saves on landfill AND the bonus is it saves on your budget too.

And you may just find the most amazing bargain of all time! (Like I did with The Talking Parcel).

A little bit more about this wonderful author

Gerald Durrell - Naturalist, Zoo Keeper, Conservationist, Television Presenter, AND famous Author - what an amazing abundance of talent.

Sadly Gerald Durrell died on 30th January 1995 so there will be no new books from this wonderful writer.

Read on to find out more about a legacy he left for the world to enjoy - a Zoo - Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust - An international charity saving species from extinction

An Ark to save endangered animals

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (or Durrell for short, after its founder, Gerald Durrell), previously called, Jersey Zoological Park or Jersey Zoo is a 25-acre (100,000 m²) zoological park established in 1959 in Jersey.

He created the Jersey Zoo - as an Ark to save endangered animals.

By the way - Jersey is an amazing holiday destination - so start saving those pounds and dollars and plan a magical trip for the family!

butterflies in hedges and forests to greet you.
butterflies in hedges and forests to greet you. | Source

A hope for our Planet Earth

I leave you with this beautifully written sentiment by one of my favourite authors -Gerald Durrell, which was buried in a Time Capsule at his Jersey Zoo in 1988 - a hope for our Earth Planet:

~~~~~ We hope that there will be fireflies and glow-worms at night to guide you and butterflies in hedges and forests to greet you.

~~~~~ We hope that your dawns will have an orchestra of bird song and that the sound of their wings and the opalescence of their colouring will dazzle you.

~~~~~ We hope that there will still be the extraordinary varieties of creatures sharing the land of the planet with you to enchant you and enrich your lives as they have done for us.

~~~~~ We hope that you will be grateful for having been born into such a magical world."

Share your thoughts here - and thanks for visiting.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Chocolatealchemy profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      @grannysage: gosh, I'd forgotten about all the Oz books - thanks will have to download a few!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Since my children are grown I've lost touch children's books, but since I became an avid reader when my mother started me on the Oz books. I've been giving a few old books exercise as well, especially as the classics are usually free for the Kindle.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      You have made wonderful lens thanks

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I enjoyed this visit and learning more about Gerald Durrell. Yes, I have some books that need exercise and I appreciate the reminder. I will dust some off and give them some love.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      6 years ago

      thank you for sharing this beautiful lens.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)