Well now, this week certainly proved to be an interesting one. For the third round of my yearly challenge I was given what, it has to be said, is probably one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do. At least, within the realm of putting words down on paper anyway. I had to write a children’s story.
I think it’s fair to say that the majority of my writing isn’t catered for children. I’ve got a lot of friends who write/read young adult novels, and I think that would be sort of OK to write because at least you aren’t having to use drastically different language. But a proper children’s story? That’s a different matter.
Anyway, a brief is a brief, and like I said in week one I’m not in this for an easy ride. The whole point of this exercise is to develop my skills as a writer, and one way of doing that is embracing other styles of writing than I am used to. And I certainly had to do that this week. The brief, from my uncle Haydn, was as follows: ‘A story suitable for a 4 year old called Rosie and a 2 year old called Sam, set in Muswell Hill and featuring Rosie, Sam, Highgate Woods and pain au chocolat.’
So without further ado, I hope you all enjoy ‘The Mouse of Muswell Hill and the Hedgehog of Highgate Wood’.
2014 – A Year In Stories
The Mouse of Muswell Hill and the Hedgehog of Highgate Wood
One sunny Saturday afternoon a little girl called Rosie and a little boy called Sam were playing in their garden in Muswell Hill. They had been runnng around and laughing all morning playing a game of tag and now they were thirsty.
They sat down on a bench and just at that moment their mummy came outside and brought them each a nice glass of cold lemonade.
“That was a very fun morning, wasn’t it Sam?” said Rosie as she sipped her lemonade.
“Yes it was,” Sam replied. “But what are we going to do this afternoon? I want to have even MORE fun this afternoon!”
Rosie thought for a moment. “I don’t know. Playing tag is a very fun way to spend time! Why don’t we see if we can think of anything more fun?”
So Rosie and Sam sat there for a few minutes trying to think of some more fun things to do. All the time they were sipping at their lemonade and feeling more refreshed and ready to play.
Just as they both finished their lemonade they heard a noise coming form behind the bench. It was very quiet but if they listened very hard they could just about hear something.
“Can you hear that, Rosie?” Sam asked.
“Yes, it sounds like someone crying!” Rosie replied.
“But they’re very quiet!” Sam said. “I wonder where they are.”
Sam and Rosie both started to look around to try and find out who was crying. They searched and searched, but they simply could not work out where the noise was coming from.
As they were about to give up, Rosie had an idea.
“I know, Sam!” she said, excitedly. “If they are very quiet it must mean that they are very small!”
“And if they’re very small,” Sam replied, “then they must be on the ground.
They both dropped to their knees, and right there behind the bench they could see a little mouse. The mouse was sat on its own and she was crying.
“Hello, little mouse,” Sam said. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, hello. I didn’t think anyone could hear me crying,” the mouse said.
“Well we heard you!” Rosie said. “My name is Rosie, and this is my brother Sam.”
“Hello Rosie and Sam, my name is Molly the Mouse.”
“Why are you sad, Molly?” Rosie asked.
“I was on my way home to my mouse hole to have a lovely lunch of pain au chocolat when I saw a horrid hedgehog stealing them all from my garden. You see, I have some pain au chocolat trees, and they were just ripe enough to eat.”
“Oh no!” Rosie and Sam both said together. “Stealing pain au chocolat is not a very nice thing to do!”
“No it isn’t!” Molly agreed. And now I don’t have anything to eat for lunch!”
Rosie smiled and said to Molly “Don’t be sad. What if we helped you get your pain au chocolat back?”
“You would do that?” said Molly, who straight away felt a lot happier.
“Of course!” Sam replied. “We’ve been looking for something fun to do this afternoon, and what is more fun than helping people?”
“Thank you. That is very kind of you both!” Molly said.
“Let’s go have an adventure!” Rosie said.
As they were leaving the garden Molly said “I saw the hedgehog going towards Highgate Wood. Maybe we can find him in there?”
So they set off in the direction of Highgate Wood. Once they got in to the wood they started to look around for a hedgehog with some pain au chocolat. “Hedgehog!” the three took turns calling. “Hedgehog, are you there?”
After a few moments they heard a rustling in some leaves and a little hedgehog poked his head out.
“Hello?” he said. “I am a hedgehog.”
“Did you take some pain au chocolat from a pain au chocolat tree a while ago?” Rosie asked.
“No,” the hedgehog replied. “I don’t like pain au chocolat. Sorry.”
“That’s OK!” Sam replied, and the hedgehog disappeared back in to the leaves.
So they moved on further in to the wood, looking around for hedgehogs, and again taking turns calling out “Hedgehog! Hedgehog, are you there?”
After another couple of moments a second hedgehog poked his head up through the leaves.
“Is everything OK?” the hedgehog asked. She was much smaller than the first hedgehog.
“Did you take some pain au chocolat from a nearby tree earlier on?” Rosie asked.
“No,” the hedgehog replied. “I LOVE pain au chocolat, but as you can see I am much to small to reach it in a tree!”
A bit further in to the woods again Sam spotted something.
“Molly, Rosie! Look!” he said, pointing at a pile of pain au chocolat next to a hole in the trunk of a very big tree.
The three ran over to the tree and knocked on the trunk.
“Excuse me!” Rosie said, poking her head inside the dark hole. “Is there anybody home?”
Sure enough a hedgehog poked its head out of the hole.
“I see you have lots of pain au chocolat!” Sam said.
“I do!” the hedgehog answered. “Isn’t it delicious?”
“Where did you get it?” Rosie asked. “Our friend Molly the Mouse has had some stolen!”
“Oh gosh!” the hedgehog said. “I would never steal it. Stealing other people’s things is wrong! I grew it all on my pain au chocolat tree!”
And so he showed them the small tree behind his house, that looked much like the one outside Molly’s mouse hole. “I hope you find your pain au chocolat!” the hedgehog said to them as they left.
So Rosie, Sam and Molly searched on and on, and they spoke to a great many hedgehogs in the woods. But none of the hedgehogs had taken Molly’s pain au chocolat.
They had been looking for what felt like hours, and they were about to give up, when suddenly they all caught smell of something delicious. They all looked at each other and straight away they knew what the smell was. “Pain au chocolat!” they cried out together.
They followed the smell until they came to some bushes. Behind the bushes they could hear someone whistling a very cheerful tune to themselves. As they pushed the bushes aside, sure enough they saw a hedgehog cooking some pain au chocolat over a small fire.
“Oh, hello!” the hedgehog said to them cheerily. “My name is Henry! What’s yours?”
Rosie stepped forward. “I am Rosie, this is my brother, Sam and this is our friend Molly the Mouse.”
“Well it is lovely to meet you all,” Henry said. “Is everything alright? Molly looks sad.”
“Somebody stole my pain au chocolat!” Molly said, glumly. “I was just on my way home to have a delicious lunch and I saw someone stealing them.”
“Where did you get those pain au chocolat?” Sam asked.
“I found them on a pain au chocolat tree in Muswell Hill a little while ago!” Henry said, smiling.
“Those are my pain au chocolat!” Molly said. “That was my tree outside my mouse hole!”
Henry stopped smiling and looked very sad. “Oh gosh,” he said. “I am very sorry. I didn’t think the tree belonged to anyone. I didn’t see your mouse hole.”
“I only need a very small hole, because I am only a very small mouse,” Molly replied.
“I am so very sorry!” Henry apologised again. “If I had known the tree belonged to someone I would not have taken them. They are cooking at the moment but when they are done please take them all back and enjoy your lunch. I will find something else to eat.”
The whole time the pain au chocolat were finishing cooking, Henry looked very glum, so Rosie took Sam over to one side.
“Henry looks very sad. Now he doesn’t have anything delicious to eat for lunch!” Rosie said.
“Poor Henry,” Sam replied. He didn’t know they were Molly’s or he wouldn’t have taken them.”
“Look Sam,” Rosie said, pointing at the pain au chocolat cooking over the fire. “There is plenty of pain au chocolat for both of them.”
“You’re right,” Sam agreed.
So Rosie and Sam went over to where Molly was sitting and waiting for the delicious lunch to cook.
“Molly,” Sam said. “We think it would be very nice if you shared your pain au chocolat with Henry. He didn’t mean to steal them from you and he is very sorry for making a mistake.”
“Yes,” Rosie added. “And there is plenty of pain au chocolat for both of you, and there will still be some spare!”
“I know!” Molly said. “Why don’t we ALL have pain au chocolat for lunch? You must be very hungry having helped me search all that time, and I really want to say thank you for helping me! Like you say, there is plenty to go around!”
“That is a wonderful idea!” Rosie said.
A few moments later and the pain au chocolat were ready. “Here you go,” said Henry, picking one up and offering it to Molly. “Enjoy your pain au chocolat,” he added, with a deep, sad sigh.
“The first one is for you!” Molly said, and straight away they all saw Henry’s face brighten up.
“Really? Do you mean it?” he said.
“Yes,” Molly replied. “After all, you cooked them for us!”
And so they passed out the pain au chocolat and the four of them had a delicious lunch.
When they had finished Rosie stood up and said “We should go home. Our mummy and daddy will start to worry if we’re not home soon.”
“Thank you Sam and Rosie for all your help,” Molly said. “I couldn’t have found my pain au chocolat without you.”
“You’re welcome, Molly,” Sam said.
“Rememeber, Henry,” Rosie added. “You should always ask before you take something, because it might belong to someone else.”
“I will always ask from now on!” Henry replied.
So Rosie and Sam walked back home, and Molly came with them. When they got to the garden Molly said “Thanks again Rosie and Sam. If you ever want some pain au chocolat just look for the little mouse hole with the little pain au chocolat tree outside and come and say hello. We can have a delicious lunch together.”
“That would be lovely!” Rosie said.
“I told Henry that he can come by any time and have lunch with me as well, as long as he lets me know this time!” Molly added.
“Goodbye Molly, thanks for taking us on an adventure!” Sam said as they both waved to their new friend.
“Goodbye, Rosie and Sam. See you soon!” and with that Molly disappeared in to her mouse hole, and Rosie and Sam went back in to their garden.
When they got back in to the garden their mummy was sat outside on the same bench where they had started their adventure.
“And where have you two little rascals been?” she asked.
“We’ve been on an adventure!” they both shouted.
Well, that is, as they say, that. I’ve got to do a fairy tale somewhere around April but until then that seems to be my lot for the children’s fiction market for the moment. Of course this is blatantly just going to end up with people making me write 10 kids’ stories in a row now, but so be it. Bring it on I say. BRING. IT. ON.
Next week we have a delightful tale about a dictator who realises the error of his ways, kindly suggested by mein dear papa. So a bit of a change of pace, then.