Here is the first one I want to share. It's a children's story although I'm not sure what age it's aimed at. Probably age six or seven. Before they get too clever, but when they're old enough to appreciate a few subtleties. I wanted to write something that grown ups might enjoy reading aloud with their child. I used to work in a primary school and it's one of the loveliest things, hearing children shout out the words to their favourite book at story time. So I wanted to try and write something that would make them do that.
The idea was to create a series of short stories based on the 'characters' on my bookshelf at home. I'll try and post a picture at a later date, but you get the idea. I'd love to know what anyone thinks. This is a first draft so it would need a bit of work. I've included notes on where the page breaks are and where illustrations might be, to help the story along. You could probably include additional questions at the back for teachers reading it out at story time. Like, 'What does hollow mean? What else is hollow? How does Peppa feel about Hungarian Lady at the start? How does he feel at the end?' etc. etc. I liked the idea of using Hungarian Lady as a metaphor for how children should treat the foreign-language speaking children in mainstream schools. I hope it's not too glib. I worked with children who speak English as a second language and with this now being the norm in most schools it's an issue that might make a good 'carpet time' discussion point. But hopefully the story is just fun on other levels too!
Hope to get some feedback!
In My Room
Introduction (Inside cover of every book):
Hello! This is my room. (picture opposite)
In my room, there’s lots of stuff. I like having lots of stuff because it looks cosy and colourful. How many colours can you see? That’s right! There are lots.
But more exciting than all the colours, is the Big Secret about my room.
You see, in my room are all my magical friends. Would you like to meet them?
I thought so!
Let’s meet two of them now…
Picture (Salt and Peppa Panda Pots)
Salt and Peppa Panda Pots are salt and pepper pots. Can you see them? They don’t have any salt or pepper inside them. They’re just hollow. So they’re always hungry!
And they’re always arguing over who looks the most like a panda.
Salt has one white ear, which is very unusual for a panda.
Peppa has two black ears, but no feet because someone forgot to paint them on! So he’s always grumpy.
Can you tell which is which?
Picture (Hungarian Lady)
Salt and Peppa live on the book shelf.
Hungarian Lady is their downstairs neighbour, but she can’t see Salt and Peppa. She likes Peppa, even though he’s grumpy! She’s always trying to cheer him up, but she doesn’t know that he is just a panda pepper pot.
Picture (Peppa, sneezing)
One day, Peppa was arguing with Salt, as usual.
“Of course you’re not a real panda!” Peppa shouted. “You only have one black ear! You would never survive in the wild.”
And then he sneezed.
“A-CHOO!” This happened a lot. Peppa said it was because of the leftover pepper inside him.
Salt laughed. “Silly Peppa!” She said.
She didn’t mind that he was shouting at her, because she was too busy laughing.
Picture (Hungarian Lady crying)
A little voice floated up from below.
“Bless you, Peppa!” It was Hungarian Lady. “Are you alright?” she asked.
“Who’s snooping on OUR conversation?” he shouted.
Hungarian Lady started to cry.
“Now look what you’ve done!” cried Salt. “It’s OK Hungarian Lady. He’s always grumpy.”
Picture (grumpy Peppa, sneezing)
“I AM NOT!” said Peppa.
“You are too. Can you cheer him up with a song, Hungarian Lady?”
Hungarian Lady stopped crying at once. She loved to sing.
“In my country, when we are sad, we sing this song…” And she cleared her throat. But Peppa was too grumpy.
“In YOUR country?” he bellowed. “You’re not from another country! You’re just a toy! You live here on the bookshelf with us. That’s where you’ve ALWAYS been! A-A-A-CHOO!”
Hungarian Lady started crying again. “Well at least I’m not a grumpy old pepper pot!” she sobbed, paint running down her delicate doll’s face.
Picture (Peppa falling off the shelf)
“Naughty Peppa,” she said. “Apologise at once!”
But Peppa was still sneezing. He sneezed and he sneezed and he sneezed again, until Hungarian Lady stopped crying to listen to the sound of him sneezing. “Are you OK?” she whimpered, wondering what was happening. “I wish I could come up and help you!”
But Peppa couldn’t even speak, he was sneezing so much.
Poor Salt didn’t know what to do. She tried holding his nose, but he still sneezed.
She tried patting him on the back, but he sneezed again.
Soon he was falling over and bouncing off books and knocking over candlesticks, all because he was sneezing so much.
“What shall we do?” cried Hungarian Lady from the shelf below, but it was too late.
With one almighty “A-A-A-CHOOOOOOO!” Peppa went flying off the shelf and landed with a thud on the floor below.
Picture (Peppa on the floor)
Salt and Hungarian Lady peered over the edge, hardly daring to look.
“P-P-P-Peppa! Are you OK?” whispered Salt, already crying as loudly as Hungarian Lady.
From way, way down on the floor they heard a sniff. Then a clinking sound. Peppa was moving!
“Hoorah!” shouted Salt and Hungarian Lady. But then Salt saw what had happened. Poor Peppa had broken both his ears. They were nowhere to be seen. He looked up at Salt and Hungarian Lady. They looked down at him. No one said a word.
“I’m OK!” cried Peppa, beaming! He didn’t realise both his ears had gone.
Picture (Hungarian Lady parachuting off the shelf)
Salt giggled. “Well done Peppa. NOW what are you going to do.”
But she didn’t get a reply. As Peppa looked up at Salt, he saw Hungarian Lady teetering on the edge of her shelf. “I’m coming to help you, Peppa!” she shrieked.
And before anyone could stop her, she too jumped off the shelf. But this time, her pretty skirt billowed open like a parachute and she elegantly floated to the floor.
Picture (H. Lady and Peppa meeting)
Peppa was speechless.
Hungarian Lady looked at Peppa and his broken ears, and decided that she loved him more than ever. “Hello, Peppa,” she said, holding out a dainty hand. “I’m Hungarian Lady. It’s so nice to finally meet you.”
Peppa shook the dainty hand, still speechless. He had never seen such a beautiful doll. “But how will we get back onto the shelf?” he finally stuttered.
“Do we have to?” said Hungarian Lady, with an even prettier smile. “We can live just here, on the carpet. That way we can ALL see each other. And you’ll never fall off the shelf again!”
Salt shouted down to the happy couple: “You were going to sing us a song, Hungarian Lady!”
“Oh yes!” she said, and cleared her throat. “Now Peppa, try not to sneeze…”