Sophie and the forest

Chapter one

Once there was a girl called Sophie. She lived in town with her Mum. Her Mum was always busy at work. Her Grandmother was poorly so Sophie was going to visit her. Gran lived in an ancient cottage in the forest and didn’t have electricity. She only had a landline phone, not a mobile. She didn’t even have wi-fi.


Sophie’s mum was preparing food for Gran as she wasn’t well enough to cook for herself; and making sandwiches and packing snacks for Sophie’s journey.


“Now, you have the map to Gran’s cottage on your phone, don’t you?”
“Yes Mum, it’s all here. And I will have my GPS on, so I won’t get lost,” replied Sophie.


“That’s good. Have you packed your toothbrush?”
“Yes Mum.”


Sophie was going to stay the night at Gran’s house. It was a long walk, and it was the summer holidays.


“What about a cardigan? It can get chilly in the forest at night.” Said Mum, squeezing in a bag of crisps and some fruit.


The rucksack was so full that it would be difficult to close.


“Yes, it’s all there.”


“Text me when you get there, but I won’t be able to check my phone for a while.”


Mum zipped the bag closed with a sigh of relief, and picked up her thermos of coffee, heading out of the door, “I packed a first aid kit too. It’s got all sorts in there – you never can be too careful. Gran said that she is ok, just a cough and feeling run-down, but she isn’t one to moan. Right, I’m off to work a double shift. See you tomorrow evening.”


Mum gave Sophie a quick hug.


“See you later Mum, have a good time at work.”


Sometimes her Mum did double-shifts and spent the night at work. There was a small side room where she would catch a couple of hours’ sleep if she could.


Soon afterwards, Sophie set off for Gran’s cottage. She used her GPS and the map on her phone to help find her way there: she had walked there a couple of times with her Mum, but it was a long journey, so they usually drove a different way, missing out most of the forest.


It was hot, and Sophie had to stop a few times to rest in the shade of a tree for a drink. She sat under an old oak tree and rested her eyes for a minute- she wasn’t used to walking this far. Suddenly she jolted awake, and looked around, confused. She must have been asleep for a while- the sun was higher in the sky. She checked her phone before setting off.


“What, battery only 5% How did that happen?”


Oh no, the GPS had drained her battery, and she had forgotten to charge her phone the night before! She looked around – it was obvious that she had to go down that path, as she had definitely come from the other way. But would she really be able to find the rest of the way to Gran’s cottage herself? Sophie wasn’t sure, but as she had come so far already and had to get the food and medicine to Gran, she couldn’t go back home now.


Sophie looked around. The trees were huge here, and so close together. In the heat of the day, the birds were silent, and the silence felt oppressive. Almost like she was being watched. Sophie shook her head and told herself to stop being silly. She switched her phone off, to save the last few dregs of battery power.
She had been walking for a while, fairly confident that she was following the correct path, when it started to go dark. Oh no, not a storm? Luckily the trees would stop her from being drenched, but it wouldn’t be comfortable. She knew that there were a few old houses scattered around the forest but didn’t know if anyone was friendly or would take pity on her.

A crack of thunder made her jump in fright. She looked around for somewhere to shelter, perhaps a hole at the base of a tree. Not finding anywhere, Sophie decided to keep walking. Fat warm drops of rain started falling, and she moved to the shade of the trees to the side of the path. The sky got darker and the rain heavier. Sophie felt tired, wet and miserable.


Up ahead, she spotted a falling-down house in a clearing. Thank goodness! Hopefully the owner would let her inside until the storm ended. She knocked loudly on the door, but there was no answer. She peered through the grubby front windows: it was dark, but she could see an old sofa. Then she checked around the back, also knocking on that door and calling loudly. She tried both doors. The house seemed to be empty. How annoying!


She sighed and sat down at the front of the house, holding her backpack above her head to keep some of the rain off.
She looked up, glimpsing a movement in the bushes.


“Hello… my name is Sophie. I don’t want to cause any trouble. I just want to go into the house until the storm passes. Do you own the house?”
Silence.


“I have some food that I could share with you… a sandwich, or um, some grapes? Would you like some?”


No reply. Sophie thought that maybe her imagination was in overdrive, and she was talking to herself.


A quick flash of orange. Was the owner a hermit who never spoke to other people?


“Oh,” said Sophie, rooting through her backpack to find something to tempt the shy person, “I have a first-aid kit here, if you need a plaster or something? No? Oh, there are some peanuts here too… Gran loves peanuts… oh bother.”


Sophie sunk her head onto her knees and tried not to cry.


“I like peanuts.”


Sophie smiled to herself. She didn’t look up straight away, as she didn’t want to scare the hermit.


“Oh brilliant, thank you. If you let me shelter in your house, just while it’s raining, you can have all of the peanuts,” she replied.


“Ok, hand the bag over, and I will open up the house for you.”


Sophie looked up.


“Wait, where are you?” She looked around, confused. She was sure that they had been standing nearby, but now all that she could see besides trees and rain, was a squirrel – a red squirrel. They were quite rare.


“It’s ok, I will get the peanuts out of my bag now- so you can see I am not lying.”


Sophie took the nuts out and lay the bag at her feet.


“Ok, they are here for you to take – are you behind that chestnut tree? You can come out now.”


The squirrel darted forward and grabbed the nuts.


“Oh no, a squirrel has just nicked the bag of peanuts! I am so sorry; I will get them back… here squirrel squirrel…”


Sophie crawled forward slowly, trying to grab the snack before the animal ran into a tree.


“What, do you think I’m an idiot?” Asked the squirrel.


“What? Argh, a squirrel just spoke to me! I am going mad!” Sophie cried.


I hope that you are enjoying the story so far. Join me soon for the next chapter.


For more literacy resources for families, go to www.SwindonStories.org.uk

A video of me reading this chapter:

https://youtu.be/Hk7p64oOGxU

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Autumn and Fluffy at home school

It was a grey and rainy day. Autumn watched the raindrops hitting the window. She sighed.

“Why does it have to rain so much?” She wondered aloud. “When can we go back to proper school?”

Autumn’s Mummy looked up from helping Fluffy with a maths question. 

“All the grass would turn brown if it didn’t rain,” she replied, “and wouldn’t that be sad?”

“Hmph.” Answered Autumn.

“And as for going back to proper school, I don’t know the answer to that… we will have to wait until it is safer, don’t you think?” Mummy said.

“But why isn’t it safe now? I miss my friends. I miss my school playground with the basketball net and forest school pond.” The young fox moaned.

“We all wish it were safe, don’t we Fluffy?” Asked Autumn’s Mummy.

“Yes. I miss school too. Although, I am glad that we live in the same house so that I can still play with you,” answered Fluffy. “Imagine if we lived apart? No friends to run around the garden with, or play games with then.”

“You’re right. I am glad that we live together too.” Autumn smiled for the first time that day.

“I still miss normal life though. School dinners were much tastier, you got lots of rice pudding for dessert…”

“Thanks a lot!” Laughed Mummy. 

“Sorry Mummy.” Said Autumn with a cheeky grin. 

“Oh, it’s time for your live English lesson soon.” Said Mummy. “I will just start up the laptop. Have you got your pencils and paper ready?” 

“Yes Mummy.”

“Yes Autumn’s Mummy.” 

The friends had some live lessons with their teacher on the computer. They couldn’t have all of their classes that way because their teacher Mrs Badger had to teach the key workers’ children at school too. It was quite complicated.

The live lesson started.

“Good morning class.” Said Mrs Badger on the computer screen.

“Good morning Mrs Badger!” Chimed the children simultaneously.

“Today we are going to practice writing the letter G.” Announced Mrs Badger. “So make sure that you have your sharpened pencils ready, as well as some lined paper. But first I will read you a story. Have you ever heard of Hansel and Gretel?” She asked.

A few children said yes but some said no.

“Right, well, let me show you the cover first…”

The teacher showed them the cover of the book with the title ‘Hansel and Gretel’ on it, and a picture of a gingerbread house.

“Can anyone find the letter G on the cover?” Asked Mrs Badger.

“I can!” Answered a boy called Fido. “There it is, in the title.”

“Well done Fido!” That’s right, because Gretel starts with the letter G.” Mrs Badger pointed to the letter.

“Once upon a time, there was a boy called Hansel and his sister, called Gretel. They lived in a little wooden cottage in the woods. They were very poor. One day…”

Blip! 

The laptop suddenly froze, with a still picture of Mrs Badger reading the book, stuck on it. 

“Oh no!” Sighed Fluffy.

“Mummy, the laptop froze again!” Shouted Autumn angrily. 

Mummy came rushing from the other room, where she had been trying to do some work on her computer. 

“Oh not again. Let me have a look at it.”

Mummy pressed a few buttons on the laptop, but nothing happened. 

“Why does it always go wrong?” Sniffed Autumn. “I am fed up with this home schooling!”

Autumn jumped up from the table and ran upstairs to her room.

Fluffy looked sad and watched as Autumn’s Mummy tried to fix the computer. Eventually, the picture and sound came back. 

“Well done.” Smiled Fluffy.

“Thank you.” Said Mrs Fox. 

He called up the stairs to Autumn that the laptop was working again.

Fluffy really enjoyed the story of Hansel and Gretel, even though she had missed some of it. He explained to Mrs Badger that his computer had gone wrong part way though. Mrs Badger said that she would send the story as a file to read with their grown-ups, for anyone whose video or computer wasn’t working.

Finally, Autumn stomped back downstairs. She still looked cross.

“I see that the stupid laptop is finally working again.” She said, sitting down at the table.

“Yes, your Mummy fixed it.” Replied Fluffy.

Fluffy’s Daddy came downstairs for a cup of coffee. He made one for Autumn’s Mummy too. He was a firefighter. He was working that night, so resting in the day.

“How are you getting on with the home schooling today?” He asked.

“Badly!” Replied Autumn. “Our laptop is so old that it doesn’t work properly. I just want to go back to real school now.”

Fluffy’s Daddy sipped his coffee thoughtfully.

“Do you know why you have to home school now?” He asked Autumn.

“Yes, because of the virus. It is safer for us to stay at home.” Said Autumn.

“The more we mix with other people, the more people will get sick.” Added Fluffy.

“That’s right,” replied Mr Hedgehog. “So even though home schooling is difficult and sometimes annoying, you are both helping to keep everyone safe.”

“Yes, but it’s not fair that we have an old computer. I missed the story today because it went wrong!” Answered Autumn.

“We are lucky to have two computers to use: one for your school work and one for Mrs Fox’s work. Some people can’t afford any computers. Did you know that?” Fluffy’s Dad asked.

“No.” Said Autumn. “How do they do their school work at home then?”

“Some of them just can’t. Others have to borrow their Mum or Dad’s phone, when they can.” Replied Mr Hedgehog.

“Oh,” said Autumn, “I didn’t know that. I suppose that our old laptop isn’t that bad after all.”

“Yes, it does work most of the time.” Agreed Fluffy.

“I helped put out a fire at a house last night,” said Mr Hedgehog. “They lost all of their clothes, toys and computers in the fire. That was very sad.”

“Oh no, were they all ok?” Asked Autumn.

“Yes, we got them all out safely.” He replied. “Look, the rain has stopped. Should we all go outside to play football for a while? It can be your PE lesson. After that, we can have hot chocolate with marshmellows.”

“Yes please!” Said Autumn and Fluffy excitedly.

Autumn thought that home school wasn’t so bad after all.

The End

I wrote this story, and my daughter Bethany drew the illustrations. We enjoy making up stories together.

If you have kids, there are many ways to encourage their love of books. You can read to them; make up your own silly stories; or draw your favourite story-book characters. 🙂

If you would like to find more literacy based activities, and stories to read with your child, have a look at https://literacytrust.org.uk

They have a wealth of resources for all ages.

Christmas memory baubles

It was 7 days until Christmas, and Leila was extremely excited. She loved Christmas. She loved the presents, she loved the crafts, but most of all she loved having all of her family together and eating too much.


Leila’s Mummy and Daddy had put up the Christmas tree, and Leila and Mummy were making some more decorations for it. They had already made some paper snowflakes and painted some wooden cutouts of the Nativity scene. Now they were working on baubles. These were no ordinary baubles though: they had little photos of their family members inside them. Mummy was cutting out the photographs and Leila was adding decorations like small sparkly stars and glitter, to make them look snowy. It was quite messy.


“Oops!” Leila cried as a pile of glitter landed on the floor. “Sorry Mummy.”


“Oh dear, not again.” Sighed Mummy, reaching for the dust pan and brush for the third time that morning.


“Glitter is quite messy, isn’t it?” Mummy asked.


“Definitely.” Agreed Leila.


Leila was filling up a bauble with a picture of her Gran and Grandad in it. They had big smiles. She put in extra glitter because she loved them very much.


“Mummy, I wish that Arlo could be with us this Christmas.” She said.


“Me too!” Agreed Mummy, reaching over to give Leila a hug.


“I really miss him.” 


“So do Daddy and I. We think about him every day.” Replied Mummy.


“How old would Arlo be now, of he was still alive?” Asked Leila.


“He would be 2 now. Just imagine, he would be getting his fingers in the glitter, and pulling the baubles off the tree!” Answered Mummy.


“Yeah, I think that he would be very cute, but also a mischief.”


“I think so too.” Agreed Mummy.

“Look, here is a photo of you holding Arlo when he was very little. Shall we make this into a special memory bauble?”


“Yes please. I think that it will be the best bauble ever.” Said Leila.


They had some tiny heart stickers, which Leila added to the outside of the bauble to show that it was an extra special one.


When it was finished, Leila held the bauble in her hand and smiled. 


“It’s beautiful.” Said Mummy.
“Sometimes I feel sad when I think that Arlo is missing out on Christmas.” Admitted Leila.


“Me too darling. But we will always remember him and always love him, won’t we? Do you remember that time that he weed all over Daddy when he changed his nappy?” 


“Oh yes, that was hilarious!” Laughed Leila.


Mummy and Leila hung all of the baubles onto the Christmas tree. They all looked good, but the one of Leila and her little brother was especially lovely. A ray of sunshine came in through the window and made it sparkle.
Mummy and Leila looked at each other and smiled. 


“It’s like he’s saying hello.”

Christmas can be a difficult time for bereaved people. If you have been affected by baby or child loss, here are some places that offer support.

https://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/family-life/bereavement-support

https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org

https://www.sands.org.uk

Autumn and Fluffy’s forest adventure

Autumn was a fox. She lived in Swindon with her friend Fluffy the hedgehog.

They loved playing in the forest, especially in Autumn when they could collect conkers and stamp in the crunchy leaves.

One morning, Fluffy and Autumn set out on Autumn’s tricycle to the forest. Fluffy sat in the basket, cosy in a blanket that Autumn’s Granny had knitted.

Just as they got to the forest, they ride over a sharp stone and the trike got a puncture.

“Oh no!” Cried Autumn. “How will be get back home now? It’s such a long way home, with lots of hills.”

“Yes, it will be very tiring walking the trike back, and carrying me!” Sighed Fluffy.

“Oh well, let’s just play for now anyway. We will worry about getting home later. Luckily I brought some snacks to keep us going.” Said Autumn.

So the friends left the tricycle by a tree and went into the forest. They stomped on crunchy leaves, played hide and seek and collected paw-fuls of conkers.

Fluffy dropped one of the conkers, and it rolled down the hill into a dark cave. He ran after it, straight into a big brown bear!

“Who woke me up?” Grumbled the bear. “I was sleeping.”

His tummy rumbled loudly in the cave. It sounded like thunder.

“Oh, I’m so hungry.” He said. “I can’t find my favourite blackberries this year, and now I have naughty mice waking me up.”

“I’m so sorry to wake you, it was my conker. And I’m not a mouse. I’m a hedgehog.” Replied Fluffy.

“And I am a fox.” Added Autumn.

“Are you? My eyes are so bad these days. Now get out of my cave. I don’t feel so hungry when I’m asleep.”

“So sorry to disturb you, Mr Bear,” said Fluffy. “We will go now.”

The bear followed them out of his cave, to make sure that they really were going. He felt tired and hungry, and didn’t have any patience for young animals.

And the two friends scampered out of the cave as quickly as they could. They were so scared that they ran up a nearby tree and hid in a hole.

“That was frightening!” Trembled Fluffy.

“Yes, I am shaking all over.” Agreed Autumn.

Suddenly a voice from just behind them made them jump.

“What are you doing in my tree? Get out! I am sleepy and cold.”

Fluffy and Autumn turned around to see who was talking. It was an owl.

“We are sorry, we didn’t know this was your house. We were hiding from a bear.” Said Autumn.

“Oh that would be Brownie. He is very grumpy. Now leave me to sleep. Brr, isn’t is chilly?”

The friends climbed carefully down the tree and went back to the trike. In its basket, underneath the blanket, were some snacks which they enjoyed. Fluffy slurped up some slimy slugs, while Autumn chomped on a chicken sandwich.

“Phew, what a busy day.” Said Fluffy.

Autumn looked at the cosy blanket in the basket. She had a thought.

“Maybe we should give the blanket to the cold owl as a way of saying sorry for waking her up. I know that Granny would be happy to knit me another one.” She said.

“Ok that’s a good idea.” Said Fluffy. “My mum says we should always try to be kind.”

So the friends took the blanket to the owl as a gift.

“Thank you so much!” Smiled the owl. “Now I will be nice and warm. People aren’t usually kind to me. Is there anything nice that I can do for you in return?” She asked.

Fluffy had an idea.

“Well,” he said, “Brownie bear is extremely hungry because he can’t see well enough to find any blackberries to eat. I know that owls can see really well…”

“Yes we can.” Replied the owl.

“So I was wondering if you might be able to find the blackberry bush,show us where it is, and we could take some berries round to Brownie’s cave.”

“Hmm, well I don’t usually go out in the daytime, but I suppose that I could, just this once.” Said the owl.

She she showed the friends where the best blackberry bush was. Fluffy and Autumn collected as many berries as they could in the basket. They took them to Brownie in his cave. Autumn quietly set the basket down in the bear’s cave and started to tiptoe away.

But Brownie had excellent hearing, and woke up.

“Not you again!” He sighed. “Why do you keep waking me up?”

His tummy growled loudly.

“We just brought you some berries,” replied Autumn. “We didn’t want you to go hungry.”

“How did you find these lovely berries?” Asked Brownie. “I have looked everywhere in the forest for the this year. But I just couldn’t see well enough to find them!”

“The owl showed us where they were.” Said Autumn.

“Oh, that would be Olivia. She doesn’t usually help others. She is a bit grumpy.” Said the bear.

“We gave her a cosy blanket,” answered Fluffy. “That warmed her up so she wanted to do us a favour.”

“And you chose to help me?” Asked Brownie, looking surprised. “Creatures aren’t usually nice to me. They just run away. I am not sure why.”

“My dad always says to try to be kind to others.” Answered Autumn.

“Thank you so much!” Replied the bear gratefully. A happy tear rolled down his furry face.

He ate the whole basket full of blackberries surprisingly quickly.

“I would like to be kind too. Can I help you with anything?” He asked.

“Actually, my trike got a puncture earlier… would you mind giving us a lift home? We would be awfully grateful. There are so many hills, you see.” Asked Autumn shyly.

“What, you expect me to leave my cosy cave, walk out of the forest, and carry you too and your trike all the way home?” He asked in a gruff voice.

“Y… yes p.. please.” Stuttered Autumn.

“Of course I will. You two are very kind friends!” Brownie smiled.

So he helped Autumn and Fluffy to climb onto his back, and picked up the trike.

“Hold tight!” He said, as he walked them home: out of the forest, over the hills, and back to their house in Fox Close in Swindon.

They did get a few funny looks from the neighbours. They had never seen a bear in their road before!

“Thank you so much.” Said Fluffy and Autumn, as they waved their new friend Brownie goodbye.

“What an adventurous day!” Laughed Fluffy. “Let’s ask my mum for some hot chocolate. I think we have earned it.”

The End.

….

My daughter Bethany and I wrote this story together one chilly Autumn morning. She did the illustrations too.

It’s fun writing a story with your child with some simple steps:

  1. Name your main character/s and think about how they look, and some things they like. This can be a hobby or favourite food.
  2. What is the setting? Where does the story take place? It can be a home, school or up a mountain. Let your child come up with as many ideas as they can.
  3. What goes wrong? There is usually a baddie, danger or problem to overcome in a story. It doesn’t have to be anything that will scare your child, keep it age appropriate.
  4. How is the baddie taught a lesson, danger faced and overcome or problem fixed? Ask your child for ideas, and you can narrow them down. It doesn’t have to be realistic. 🙂
  5. Are there any things that you would like to talk about? There doesn’t need to be a moral though, and a story can just be fun or silly. But in this one, I decided to focus in being kind. It could be something simple like sharing toys, or more serious like facing grief.
  6. Your child can do the writing if old enough, or you can do it. Remember to keep asking them what they think happens next, what the main character would say if that happened, etc. Let them input their ideas as much as possible while keeping to the storyline.
  7. Have fun! 🙂
  8. Encourage your child to do some drawings, because art is fabulous. It also improves their fine motor skills.

For more resources and ideas on encouraging children of all ages to read and write in a fun way, see the National Literacy Trust’s website:

https://literacytrust.org.uk

The old man and the lawnmower

There was an old man who had a strange pet.
It was a lawnmower which he named Fred.
Its tail was a cable, its colour red.
He took it with him everywhere he went,
He walked him to the local duck pond,
Where the ducks took fright at such an odd sight.
When Fred was poorly, took it to the vet,
Who was not pleased to see the mower
On her consultation table that day.
She was more used to rabbits, dogs and cats.
She said the old man should see his GP,
But perhaps leave the lawnmower at home.
The old man replied “No!” And that was that.

The old man loved Fred, who loved him too.
They lived happily in a ground floor flat.

Jake’s diary

I recently wrote this story for Brighter Futures,  the Great Western Hospital charity that is raising funds for a new radiotherapy centre in Swindon. For more details,  see Brighter Futures Web site.

By Alex Dixon

Illustrations by Connor (age 10)

.

15 April

My name is Jake and I am 12. I live in Swindon with my mum and annoying little sister Rosie. I love football, X-Box and sketching. Mum works in a bank or something, and Rosie’s favourite hobby is winding me up. She also loves going to school, which is proof that she’s crazy.

Yesterday Mum sat Rosie and me down. She looked serious. Mum told us that she is poorly.

“I have cancer.” She whispered.

I burst into tears. Cancer? Cancer! I can’t believe it.

Rosie went quiet for a minute and then asked

“Are you going to go bald, Mummy?”

“Yes I am going to lose my hair, darling, but it will grow back again one day. When I’m better.”

“Maybe your hair will grow back blonde, like mine.” Rosie smiled.

“That would be cool.” Replied Mum.

I didn’t say much. After a while, I went to my room. I texted Sam to ask if he wanted to meet at the park, but he was out with his parents. I climbed into my bed and tried not to think. I fell asleep and woke up feeling angry.

Why did my Mum have to get cancer? She doesn’t deserve it. Why didn’t some nasty old person who kicks puppies get it instead of her? It isn’t fair.

I need to ask Mum something, but I’m too scared.

I went downstairs and pretended that everything was ok. I needed to be strong for Mum and Rosie. I need make sure they were ok.

16 April

It was a rubbish day today. The teachers kept telling me off for staring out of the window. I made a jokey reply to Miss Simmons, my English teacher, and she gave me detention. Just what I need!

When I got home, Gran and Grandad were there with Mum. I could tell that they had all been crying, even though they put on fake smiles when they saw me.

Rosie was playing in her room.

“Why aren’t you at work, Mum?” I asked.

“I’ve been signed off work for my treatment. I’m going to start chemo soon.” She replied.

“Oh.”

I sat down heavily on the sofa. Gran went to the kitchen to get me a drink. Grandad went to play Hungry Hippos with Rosie.

I looked at Mum. She seemed so well, so normal!

“I am going to be ill for a while, Jake. I might be sick a lot. I will be tired and might not be able to make dinner or do as much. But we’ll get through it, won’t we? And Gran and Grandad will help a lot too.”

Mum smiled but her eyes were sad.

“I can help with cooking and cleaning and stuff. I can learn how to do the washing. I’ll look after you and Rosie.” I said.

Mum started crying.

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We went to a pizza place for dinner with Gran and Grandad. Mum said that she wouldn’t be able to go out so much when she was having chemo, because of the germs. When people have chemo they can pick up a bug or infection really easily, and can get sick. Sicker. We’ll have to start washing our hands all the time: as soon as we get home; before any cooking; after we sneeze or cough. It’s going to be hard.

I was knackered by the time we got home so I didn’t get to speak properly to Mum last night. I still didn’t get a chance to ask her the question that I need to ask but don’t want to.

I woke up from a nightmare and couldn’t get back to sleep for hours. I’m worried how we will cope. I’m worried that Mum is sicker than she’s telling us. I’m worried about a lot of things.

17 April

I told Sam about Mum today. He noticed that I’ve been weird. I find it hard to concentrate at school. I don’t really enjoy football anymore. He looked really sad when I told him. He didn’t know what to say. I told him that he doesn’t need to say anything, just be my mate.

My teachers all know about the cancer now. I can tell straight away which ones have been told, because they look sad and ask me how I am. Even Miss Simmons was nice to me!

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29 April

Mum had her first chemo today. Grandad took her and Gran stayed at ours to cook dinner. When I got home, Mum was having a nap. I asked Grandad how it went and he said

“As well as could be expected.”

Mum woke up just in time to have dinner. She didn’t eat much and went back to bed soon after. Rosie was upset so I read her bedtime story and put her to bed. Gran and Grandad said that they were tired and went home, so I stayed up by myself for a while watching You Tube videos. The house was too quiet. I checked in on Mum before going to bed, in case she needed anything.

“Mum, are you ok?” I whispered.

“Yes, just tired darling.” She replied.

“Have you been sick?” I asked.

“No, not yet. I’m ok. Will you be ok getting Rosie to school tomorrow?” She asked.

“No problem. Night Mum.”

“Goodnight Jake.”

23 May

Mum has had her second chemo. She had to go into hospital yesterday because she has an infection. I’m really worried.

Rosie and I were allowed to visit her for a few minutes last night. She was hooked up to machines and looked rough. Rosie cried when she saw her and was a nightmare for the rest of the day.

I asked Mum when she was coming home and she said,

“As soon as I can. Although it is nice being served hand and foot by the nurses in here.”

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I hope that she comes home soon. Gran and Grandad are nice but they are so old! I’m not even allowed to have my mobile at the dining room table, and they treat me like I’m five. Rosie loves it though. They let her eat as much ice cream and crisps as she likes.

27 May

Mum is out of hospital now. Rosie is being clingy with her and winding me up. She’s acting like a baby, and I have to get her breakfast and walk her to school every day.

I’m knackered. I keep having nightmares. In them, I wake up and realise that I am in a strange room, all alone. I try to find a door but there aren’t any. There are no windows either. I start to panic and then actually wake up.

People are being really nice to me at school, especially the girls, so it’s not all bad.

Some people don’t talk to me anymore though. Harry used to always invite himself to mine to play X-box but he hasn’t spoken to me in weeks. I’m not bothered because I have enough friends but still.

The school counsellor, Mrs Brown, caught up with me the other day and asked if I wanted to talk. I said no thanks. I don’t know why people want me to talk all the time now! Before they always used to tell me to shut up.

30 June

I am done with cancer now. It can just get lost! Argh.

Why did this have to happen to Mum? Why did it have to happen to me and Rosie? Mum’s never hurt anyone in her life. And now look at her! All her hair has fallen out and she looks so tired and sad. I feel about 50.

Sam keeps talking about his summer holiday this year. He’s going to Florida with his parents and brother. I can’t even think as far as next week, and we’re definitely not planning a holiday.

How can we, when Mum might not even be alive by summer? She might die. She hasn’t told me that but I know it might happen.

It sucks. 😔😢😠

5 July

I finally asked her last night, when Rosie had gone to bed and we were watching Bear Grylls on telly.

“Mum?” I asked.

“Yes Jake?”

“Please tell me the truth…”

“About what darling?”

She put down her coffee, paused the show and looked at me.

“About, well, I mean, are you going to… are you going to die?” I whispered.

Mum stood up, walked over to me and gave me a massive hug.

“I am not planning on going anywhere.” She said.

“No, but what if you get another infection? What if you die during your operation? What will happen to me and Rosie?” I started to cry.

“Oh sweetheart. How long have you been worrying about this? Listen, my oncologist says that I am responding very well to the chemo. As long as I am careful, I hopefully won’t get another infection. And my surgeon and the other doctors know exactly what they are doing with the operation. They’ve done it hundreds of times. I am young and should make a quick recovery.”

She sat down on the sofa next to me.

“But, what if you die anyway?”

“If I die, which I’m sure won’t happen for a very long time, then you and Rosie will be ok. Gran and Grandad can look after you. I’m so proud of you! I know that you will grow up into an amazing, kind man. I will be ok though, I can feel it.” She smiled.

“You don’t know that mum.” I replied.

“No, but I have faith. I’m going to be ok. We’re all going to be ok.”

My mum is so cool sometimes.

25 July

It’s the school holidays! Yay.

Sam is going to Florida next week, but I don’t mind so much anymore.  Mum found us a last-minute holiday deal online. We are going to Cornwall with Gran and Gramps for a week. I’m going to do some surfing lessons and Mum is going to chill. She’s even going to go to the beach with us. But I told her to be really careful, and she must have a nap when she gets tired.

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I’m so excited! I can’t wait. 😀 🐚 🍦🕶

20 December

Man, it’s been a tough year. Mum finished her chemo in summer and had an operation in October. Her hair is growing back now and she’s doing well.

Now she gets to have a break from cancer stuff until New Year, when she starts radiotherapy in Oxford. She’s going to have to go travel 70 miles every week day for five weeks. She’ll be really tired. One day Swindon hospital will have their own radiotherapy machines, which will make it much easier for people with cancer.

I did a 5k run the other day for the Brighter Futures charity, who are raising money to get our town some radiotherapy machines. I raised £160! Mum said that she’s really proud of me.

It’s nearly Christmas! I can’t wait. I wonder what Mum got me? I bought Rosie a My Little Pony, I hope she likes it! I drew Mum a picture of us three, Mum, Rosie and me, lying on the beach in Cornwall. I also got her a woolly hat because she still gets a cold head sometimes. 🎅👼👪

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The end

Bethany and the dragon

There was a fairy princess called Bethany and a knight called Connor. They lived in the old castle. One day a dragon visited.

“Rarrrw.” He roared.

“Go away dragon, go away dragon, go away dragon!” Shouted Bethany.

The dragon was scared, and flew away.

Bethany and Connor had a party and then everyone went to sleep.

The end.

 

By Connor, age 10.

 

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Felicity Fox gets a bus to the library.

 

If there was one thing in this world that Felicity Fox loved, it was carrots. Roasted, mashed, or raw in a salad. Delicious. And another thing was books. Felicity made her Daddy read her at least three every day. Books about the moon; books about dragons; books about carrots. If there was a story, Felicity wanted to hear it.

It was Daddy’s day off, and he and Felicity had the whole day together before her big brother got home from school.

“Where are we going today, Daddy?”

Felicity asked her dad as they waved Fred off to school. He was so big that he walked to school with his friends.

“I think we’ll go to the library today. What do you think?” Asked her Daddy.

“Yippee! I love the library!” Shouted Felicity with glee.

She jumped on the spot four times: one, two, three, four. That’s how excited she was.

“Ok,” smiled Daddy, “let’s get the bus there.”

“Hooray!” Yelled Felicity with joy.

She clapped her paws four times: one, two, three, four. That’s how happy she was.

She loved buses. Especially red ones with an upstairs.

So, Felicity and her Daddy put on their shoes and sunglasses and ran for the bus. It wasn’t at the bus stop near their house yet: they just loved running.

Finally the bus arrived. Daddy and Felicity sat at the back, just in front of the rear window. They did not sit upstairs this time, because this bus did not have an upstairs.

They waved at the other drivers on the road as they passed. The bus driver was very fast.20160710_222502

“He missed out on a career in Formula one.” Said Daddy.

Felicity looked at the trees outside. One, two, three, four, five trees, all in a row.

“Whee!” Laughed Felicity as they zoomed around a roundabout.

There were lots of roundabouts in their town. Little ones, big ones, and even a magic one.

Soon they got to town and left the bus.

“I can see the library!” Squealed Felicity.

They went to the children’s section. There were lots of windows with comfy seats, so that you could sit and read. There were computers. There were thousands of books. Felicity could not count up to 1000 yet. But she knew that it was a huge number.

Felicity found a book about fairies.

“Daddy, can you read me this one please?” She asked.

“Of course.” Smiled Daddy.

So they sat on a comfy blue seat in a window and Daddy read the story about Fairies.

Felicity couldn’t read yet, but Daddy told her the title was ‘Fairies of the British Isles.’

It had lots of beautiful pictures. Felicity’s favourite was a green fairy who lives in Ireland.

After listening to that story, Felicity found three more books that she wanted to borrow from the library. One was about football; one was about frogs and the last one was called ‘Fantastic carrot recipies.’20160710_222424

They took the four books to the librarian to borrow them. You could use a computer to take out books, but Daddy preffered to speak to people instead of computers. He said that they were friendlier.

Behind the counter stood a lady librarian. She was also a panda. 

“Look Daddy, she is a panda.” Said Felicity quite loudly.

“I am not a panda,” Replied the librarian, “I am a librarian.”

“Sorry.” Said Daddy Fox.

“See, here is my badge.” The panda pointed to a badge on her top.

“Daddy, what does that badge say?” Asked Felicity.

“It says ‘librarian’.” Answered Daddy, starting to cough.

“Oh,” Replied Felicity. “But, she is a panda.”

“I am a librarian.” Announced the panda loudly. “My name is Ms Xiongmao.”

Daddy coughed some more.

“Yes. Well, we would like to borrow these books please.” Smiled Daddy.

Felicity put the four books on the counter. One, two, three, four.

Ms Xiongmao nodded and scanned the books with her computer.

“Beep  Beep Beep Beep.” Declared the computer.

“Daddy, what does that sign say?” Asked Felicity, pointing to a notice on the front of the counter.

“Library rules: 1) talk quietly, 2) no eating, 3) be polite.” Read Daddy Fox.

“Please.” Answered Felicity.

“Please what?” Asked Daddy.

“Be polite please.” Replied Felicity.

“Oh yes, I see what you mean.” Laughed Daddy.

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The librarian looked over her glasses at Felicity Fox. She did not look impressed.

“Here you go, they are due back in two weeks.” Sniffed the librarian who was not a panda (but who actually was).

“Perhaps we’ll use the computers next time.” Mumbled Daddy as they left the library.

Felicity loved the library.

“Should we go and get cake now?” Wondered Daddy as they walked through town.

“Yes please!” Felicity Fox hopped on to her right foot then her left, then her right and then her left again. She was excited.

The name of the cafe was ‘The cake brothers.’

The owner of the cafe was a giraffe.

“Hello, are you a giraffe please?” Asked Felicity politely.

“Hee hee, of course I am!” Chuckled the giraffe in the cafe.

“Pleased to meet you.” Smiled Felicity.

“What a darling child you have!” Grinned the giraffe.

Daddy ordered a pot of tea and a slice of Granny Smith’s apple pie. Felicity asked for carrot juice and a slice of carrot cake. Felicity loved carrots.

After their snack, Daddy and Felicity Fox caught a green bus with the number 14 in the window, to go back home. This time they did sit upstairs because the bus had an upstairs.

Felicity loved buses.

 

 

 

The race

Fairy princess Bethany had a pet unicorn. She would race Connor, who rode a horse. Connor always won the race, so Bethany said

“It’s impossible.”

Fairy Queen Mummy said

“Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”

“Ok. ” Replied Bethany.

Today when Bethany raced Connor, they went over the haybales, around the little tree… but oh No! Connor’s horse suddenly stopped and Bethany’s unicorn galloped to the finish line.

“Yay, Princess Bethany is the winner!” Said King Daddy.

Bethany was given a trophy but Connor was sad.

“Connor, you can have a medal,” said Bethany.

And they lived happily ever after.

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The end.

By Connor, aged 10.