Books I have recently read.

I joined Goodreads. Why? To find interesting indie writers to read and to find people to review my books. I have found a group of highly talented people who simply write for the enjoyment of producing a finished item, a little like Nanowrimo. I feared it would be more like the first auditions in Britains Got Talent or The X Factor, it is far better. So I would encourage anyone who is looking for interesting new writers to try it.

Some of the books I have read and reviewed are:

Eyewitness Blues. Tim Baker

I chose this book of Tim Bakers because of the cover and title.  I enjoy thrillers and mysteries and this promised much. I was not wrong.  His characters were strong and full of personality.
The main character Martin, was born on the wrong side of luck. Lorenzo and his boss, Don Gammino featured in Martin’s run of bad luck and set a string of events in motion. .
Romance arrived with Mercedez, who I felt had a soft spot for Martin, this she proved later on in the book. Ike was a mysterious character, tough and ready to help anyone who needed it, I wanted him to adopt me after reading a few chapters where he featured.
The plot was strong and flowed sweetly with the odd hiccup or surprise, just enough to keep me reading.
I recommend this book of Tim Bakers to anyone who likes a thriller with a twist and I will be reading more of his work in the future.

**********

Christmas at the Cornish Cafe by Phillipa Ashley

I enjoyed this book which is the second novel, featuring Demelza. A young woman who appears to have climbed, with a little help from Cal out of a bad place into a life she loves. Cal’s rival for Demi’s love is Kit. I found Kit a little disturbing and wondered from the start what sort of game he was playing. Of course I loved Mitch, Demi’s dog, as I love 99.9% of dogs, real or imaginary.
I did wonder at how much patience Demi had with Cal and his mysterious past. There was a few occasions where the story line repetition had me sighing but beyond that it flowed enough to keep me hooked on which guy she would end up with. All in all if you are looking for a gentle story this is one I would recommend.
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And as I love writing children’s stories, I sometimes read children’s fiction to see what is out there. So far this year I have read:
This is a very different book  to the usual children’s fantasy book as Lieve is a wildlife photographer, who has created a very different book.
The photographs and images were cleverly input into the story. I could imagine reading it to a five or six year old and they becoming immersed in the story. I enjoyed it, though I am not five or six and would recommend it to parents whose children love animals.
Marie and her sister Lowieske are from Belgium and, like me, did not know what a woodchuck was prior to their meeting with Margot. The images of the groundhog wearing glasses etc were amusing and again this would appeal to children. 

Lottie Weeds Words

I borrowed Lottie and Bob from Mudpilewood’s site.

Mudpile Wood

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Lovisma Tabitha Toothwich (or Lottie for short) was asked to mind her friend Molly’s house. Molly was going on holiday.

Lottie said, “Yes, please.”

They packed with care, for Lottie was bringing Bob with her.  This meant there was a lot of extra’s : jelly babies, bones, and his favorite pink sunglasses.

When they arrived at the address they were surprised. Lottie danced and cartwheeled to the front door. She turned to wait for Bob who, wearing his pink sunglasses, plodded after her.

“Isn’t it perfect Bob? I forgot Moll lives in a lighthouse.  I love circles and look the garden is one giant circle.”

Bob said, “Woof.” They did a lap of the garden to celebrate.

On the first morning Lottie raced to the top of the lighthouse and ran around shouting hello to the birds and animals far below. They spent the day exploring the lighthouse. They decided…

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Giveaway – Freebie Book for young readers

As posted on Mudpilewood.com:

Technically a giveaway in return for reviews could be questioned as not being a giveaway, but that is the deal.  I will post, to three readers, a copy of my book in return for their review. I will leave the giveaway open for two weeks.

I considered many complicated ways of holding this competition but decided simple is best.

Posted below is the first chapter of my book. The names of everyone who answer the following question will be put in a hat, (beanie) and three pulled out.

runaway_schoolhouse_cover_Latest_151031

Chapter 1

 

John and Sara Buggy were twins who didn’t look alike. They didn’t think or act alike either. In fact, they were complete opposites. Sara was a quiet, studious type while John was a messer who hated school and spent his days there playing practical jokes.

One blustery, grey Monday morning, they trudged their way to school, all set for another run-of-the-mill day in the tiny two-classroom building.

“Why are we walking so fast?” Sara asked John.

“I have something to do,” he replied, with the begining of a smile tugging at his mouth.

She knew that look but instead of pressing him further, concentrated on stretching her short legs to keep up with his longer stride. There was a six-inch height difference between them and while John had a head of smooth, dark brown hair, Sara was stuck with a headful of tangled red curls. This didn’t sit well with her.

“School is the oddest place because most of what we learn is pretty useless in the real world,” John was saying, as they walked through the main door.

Sara considered her answer for a moment.

“You may think you’re right but I like learning new things and it’s always so cosy in here.”

***

Once they were seated,  Sara started to worry about what trick John was about to play on their teacher. Mrs Brown, she noticed, kept sniffing and clutching a hanky to her nose. Sara wondered if she were ill. She glanced at John who winked at her.

“Not long now,” he whispered.

“What have you done?” she hissed back.

Suddenly, Mrs Brown sneezed. John giggled. Sara turned her attention back to their teacher who sat in her chair with her nose twitching like a rabbit. She sneezed six times in succession, sending her glasses bouncing onto her desk. Eventually, she managed to stop long enough to hold her nose and shove her glasses back in place. Getting up from her desk she walked to the door and said very quickly, “Carry on with your maths.” This short statement was followed by more sneezing as she left the room.

John was given many high fives and claps on the back as his mates asked how he did it.

“A master never reveals his secrets,” he grinned.

Sara was not impressed.

“Someday Mrs Brown will get really mad at you and…”

“And what?” John demanded. “Writing a hundred lines is nothing I haven’t done before. Now, come on, it’s break time.”

Suddenly a shadow fell across his desk and Mrs Brown said, in a sharp tone, “Let’s try five hundred lines on the whiteboard today John, not on your tablet where you are a master at copy and paste. The line, I should not play pranks on the teacher, is to be written at lunchtime.”

Mrs Brown then turned to Sara adding, “And John is to do it on his own.”

“Yes, Mrs Brown,” Sara said.

***

At lunchtime Sara slipped back into the classroom to help her brother but found him staring at the whiteboard.

“You haven’t written many lines,” she said. Sara noticed a message written across the board – and it wasn’t in John’s handwriting.

School is a useful tool for life, John and Sara.

Sara read the words aloud and looked at John.

“I didn’t do it.The board was clean when I began and then it just appeared. It’s wrong anyway, school is stupid.”

He wiped the message away.

“Perhaps it is magic?” Sara said in a wistful tone.

“Huh, there is no such thing,” John sneered. “If there was I would click my fingers and the board would be full of lines, just like this.”

Turning to face Sara he clicked his fingers but noticed her smile fade as she pointed back to the board.

There before them, more lines of the same sentence appeared. They watched as they scrawled, with no sign of a marker, in neat, tidy rows.

Sara counted the lines.

“There are twenty rows of twenty-five lines.” She looked at John. “Did you do this? Do something else!”

“Two packets of crisps,” John shouted, then clicked his fingers and waited. Nothing happened.

Sara was busy staring at the board again. She read the message aloud.

You have enough lunch to eat in your schoolbag.

“I don’t like this. Is it a ghost? ” Sara whispered and jumped further away from the board.

John was curious and moved closer. “Rubbish! Ghosts don’t exist.”

“I wonder why it happened today?” And no sooner had she said it but the words changed and she read aloud, Today is my birthday, I am one hundred years old.

Gathering all of her courage Sara said,  “Happy Birthday to you but who are you?”

I am the schoolhouse you are standing in and my name is Clearie.

“Clearie, what an awesome name!” John said.

The words on the bottom changed once more and they both read the message.

Clearie means minstrel and scholar in Irish.

Suddenly, the ringing of the bell announced the end of break and the arrival of the other children back into the room, prevented Sara and John from finding out more.

Sara did notice the last message was wiped clean before Mrs Brown arrived back to her desk but she instinctively knew it wouldn’t be the last of them.

In the meantime, there was John’s lack of lines to worry about…

 

*******

What was the first message to appear on the board that was not written by either John or Sara?

Maria’s Stuff: Sample Chapter of The Runaway Schoolhouse

runaway_schoolhouse_cover_Latest_151031As promised here is a sample chapter of the book aimed at children of 7 years plus.

 

Chapter 1

 

John and Sara Buggy were twins who didn’t look alike. They didn’t think or act alike either. In fact, they were complete opposites. Sara was a quiet, studious type while John was a messer who hated school and spent his days there playing practical jokes.

One blustery, grey Monday morning, they trudged their way to school, all set for another run-of-the-mill day in the tiny two-classroom building.

“Why are we walking fast?” Sara asked John.

“I have something to do,” he replied, with the beginning of a smile tugging at his mouth.

She knew that look but instead of pressing him further, concentrated on stretching her short legs to keep up with his longer stride. There was a six-inch height difference between them and while John had a head of smooth, dark brown hair Sara was stuck with a headful of tangled, red curls. This didn’t sit well with her.

“School is the oddest place because most of what we learn is pretty useless in the real world,” John was saying, as they walked through the main door.

Sara considered her answer for a moment.

“You may think you’re right but I like learning new things and it’s always so cosy in here.”

***

Once they were seated,  Sara started to worry about what trick John was about to play on their teacher. Mrs Brown, she noticed, kept sniffing and clutching a hanky to her nose. Sara wondered if she were ill. She glanced at John who winked at her.

“Not long now,” he whispered.

“What have you done?” she hissed.

Suddenly, Mrs Brown sneezed. John giggled. Sara turned her attention back to their teacher who sat in her chair with her nose twitching like a rabbit. She sneezed six times in succession, sending her glasses bouncing onto her desk. She managed to stop long enough to hold her nose and shove her glasses back in place. Getting up from her desk she walked to the door and said very quickly, “Carry on with your maths.” This short statement was followed by more sneezing as she left the room.

John was given many high fives and claps on the back as his mates asked how he did it.

“A master never reveals his secrets,” he grinned.

Sara was not impressed. “Someday Mrs Brown will get really mad at you and…”

“And what?” John demanded. “Writing a hundred lines is nothing I haven’t done before. Now, come on, it’s break time.”

Suddenly a shadow fell across his desk and Mrs Brown said, in a sharp tone, “Let’s try five hundred lines on the blackboard today John, not on your tablet where you are a master at copy and paste. The line, I should not play pranks on the teacher, is to be written at lunchtime.”

Mrs Brown then turned to Sara adding, “And John is to do it on his own.”

“Yes, Mrs Brown,” Sara said.

***

At lunchtime Sara slipped back into the classroom to help her brother, but found him staring at the blackboard.

“You haven’t written many lines,” she said.

Sara noticed a message written across the board – and it wasn’t in John’s handwriting.

School is a useful tool for life, John and Sara.

Sara read the words aloud and looked at John.

“I didn’t do it.The board was clean when I began and then it just appeared. It’s wrong anyway, school is stupid.”

He wiped the message away.

“Perhaps it is magic?” Sara said in a wistful tone.

“Huh, there is no such thing,” John sneered. “If there was I would click my fingers and the whole board would be full of lines, just like this.” Turning to face Sara he clicked his fingers but noticed her smile fade as she pointed back to the board.

There before them, more lines of the same sentence appeared. They watched as they scrawled, with no sign of a marker, in neat, tidy rows.

Sara counted the lines.

“There are twenty rows of twenty-five lines.” She looked at John. “Did you do this? Do something else!”

“Two packets of crisps,” John shouted, then clicked his fingers and waited. Nothing happened.

Sara was busy staring at the blackboard again. She read the message aloud.

You have enough lunch to eat in your schoolbag.

“I don’t like this. Is it a ghost? ” Sara whispered and jumped further away from the board.

John was curious and moved closer. “Rubbish! Ghosts don’t exist.”

“I wonder why it happened today?”The words changed and she read aloud, Today is my birthday, I am one hundred years old.

Gathering all of her courage Sara said,  “Happy Birthday to you but who are you?”

I am the schoolhouse you are standing in and my name is Clearie.

“Clearie, what an awesome name!” John said.

The words on the bottom changed once more and they both read the message.

Clearie means minstrel and scholar in Irish.

Suddenly, the ringing of the bell announced the end of break. The arrival of the other children back into the room prevented Sara and John from finding out more.

Sara did notice the last message was wiped clean before Mrs Brown arrived back to her desk but she instinctively knew  it wouldn’t be the last of them.

In the meantime, there was John’s lack of lines to worry about…

Copies of the book can be purchased via http://www.emuink.ie

This company also offers a unique book rental along with the usual, Kindle/e-reader and printed copies to buy.

I am truthfully hoping I can get some reviews as feed back is how we can develop and change as writers.

Thank you all and have a great Christmas.

 

 

The Runaway Schoolhouse Book Launch Night

It was a great night, and everyone seemed to have fun as you can see by the pictures I was supported by family and friends, and some of my Facebook friends surprised me by dropping in.

Thank you everyone and a reminder it is for sale as an e-book and you can rent it  which is an unusual option but one worth considering: http://www.emuink.ierunaway_schoolhouse_cover_Latest_151031

 

 

 

 

 

ava 1

maria and family (minus niall)

 

But there was someone missing who needed a hug, but he got plenty when we got home.

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Book Launch: The Runaway Schoolhouse

I am in a panic and not even The Bob is calming me. My children’s book is being launched tomorrow night. I will put up an short piece from it for my few followers, thank you all.

But for now, here is the cover of the book. It is aimed at children of 7 years and upwards. This schoolhouse was bored and …ran away.

runaway_schoolhouse_cover_Latest_151031

Bob’s Diary – Bob the Reindeer

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It was four days to Christmas day. Mrs Constance Claus was in a dither.  Enda, Chief Elf, was no help. He was moving fast making her head spin.

“Enda, stop moving and help. Where did he come from?” Mrs. Claus was red-faced, her voice loud, both unusual for her.  Enda looked up recognised the danger signs of a temper about to blow and stopped beside her. The list of must do’s trailed across the yard and into the workshop. Elves were skipping and jumping over it. He noted Leslie’s big jump and made a mental note to include him in the hop skip and jump the barrel competition.

“From his mum.” Enda said before he thought about it.

“Woof” said the dog.

This got both their attention. “Is he talking to us?” Enda looked at Mrs C. His hat had slipped to the side of his head and it fell from his head straight onto the dogs. Delighted with this game Bob, the dog, started to dance about in a circle.

“Hey you have a note tied to your tail. Give.” Mrs. C said in her best no-nonsense voice.

Bob stopped moving and waited while the note was removed, unrolled and read. He decided to have a nap.

Mrs. C read it aloud, “Dear Santa, I would like to send you my dog to help you at your busiest time. Bob is smart he knows stuff. He is strong and he may help you to get this list to the family who live beside Bob’s house.  I put in a drawing of the family drawn by Sean. He put their list written in a bubble above our heads. Bubbles are handy aren’t they, ask Bob.”

Yours miles of smiles.

Enda snatched his hat off Bob’s head and said, “Well I never. This is a first. I wonder who this smiley guy is?”

At these words Bob sat up and stared at Enda. Mrs. C laughed “well it must be this boy Sean’s idea. It is clever and different.”

“What age is Sean ?” Enda demanded.

“Six and three-quarters.” Mrs C referred to the letter written in bright red crayon. She squinted at the letter. ”

“How did you get here?” Enda muttered.

“That is not our problem but him being here is, you know Santa is allergic to dog fluff and this is one large fluffy dog.”

At this moment Enda’s brothers, Slim, Noel and Sam arrived.  Sam bent down and hugged Bob. “Ahh, we always wanted a dog, can we keep him please?”

Bob moved between Sam and Noel.  “We can’t keep him he belongs to someone,” Mrs C said. Then she looked at the three elves. They looked sad. There were tears in their eyes. She sighed. “Okay we will find a way to keep him out of Santa’s sight. He is stressed enough without having to worry about his allergy.”

So for the next two days, Bob was in heaven. He got to meet the Reindeer,  Rudolph he knew about cos of the red nose. The reindeer are:Dasher, Dancer, Prancer,Vixen Comet, Cupid,Donner, and Blitzen.

They laughed when they learnt why he had come to the north pole. Dasher said, “you are one heavy-looking dog, you will have to sit in the back of the sleigh.”

Bob patiently explained he had come to help pull it. The reindeers thought this was hilarious. They rolled about in the snow laughing, then went back to eating. Bob left them to it and went to find Slim, Noel and Sam. They were eating dinner. “Hi Bob, would you like some dinner?”

Slim said,

Bob sat beside slim and ate a dinner of fish, potatoes and green beans. Enda noticed and shouted over, “hey he can’t eat that.”

Slim smiled then said, “Too late he has and he enjoyed every single bite.”

Bob wasn’t listening he went to sleep. He needed his energy because he had a plan to prove to the reindeer he could do anything they could do.

Next morning he got up early. When the reindeers went out for exercise they got a surprise. “What is it?” Rudolph asked.

Bob said, “It is an obstacle course you have to get from point a to point b and no cheating for this one. No flying over things. You have to run, jump, crawl and climb.”

Vixen looked madder than usual. “Climb. How can any of us climb?”

Bob didn’t answer just looked at Noel and said “Woof.”

Noel let a shout at the group. “When I say go, I mean run, walk, climb just get to the end.”

The reindeers didn’t look happy but they lined up beside Bob. Noel shouted, “Go” and they did.

The first obstacle was easy it was a simple jump over a gate. They all sailed over it leaving Bob behind. He wasn’t worried. He jumped over it.  At the next obstacle a low muddy patch under a large flag the reindeers held a meeting about how best to get under it and survive. Bob lifted the edge and slide under it then he was heard grunting as he walked through the muck.

Rudolph said, “Dasher you hold up this end I will follow Bob and when I get out I will hold the other end up and you can all walk through. Easy.”

Bob was now at the tree. He sat and looked back at the reindeer they were carefully tip toeing through the mucky patch. He gave a small leap on to the tree trunk and two swift strides had him onto the lowest branch. He walked onto it and then leapt to the ground landing on some nice soft hay.  Then he trotted to the finish line and lay down to wait on the group.

When they eventually got to the tree they had another meeting. “He said no flying but we could jump.” Dancer said flexing his hoofs.

“No anything over four-foot is considered a flying movement.” Noel told them.

He went to join Bob and they watched the fun. Eventually the reindeers jumped onto Donner’s back and then leapt onto the branch, this took a while as they did it one by one. Then Donner was left stuck on the ground.

The others trotted up to Bob. “Okay you won. But you can’t fly? So how can you help us pull a sleigh.”

Bob gave a grunt. Stood up and shook the snow off his fur. Closing h is eyes he took a deep breath and floated gently off the ground. Rudolph shook his head. “Well I never. Okay so you are in. We need to fit you for a harness and teach you the signals for turning right left and flipping.”

During this time Bob heard a lot of arguing and disagreement among the elves and reindeer. Most believed they could manage without this large hairy  dog who seemed to smile a lot. The main argument was they didn’t need him. So Bob waited until they had loaded the sleigh and were doing a test run before Santa appeared.

No matter how much the reindeer dug their hooves into the snow the sleigh didin’t move. Enda shook his head. “There were a lot more toys this year than normal and the new electronic stuff is not as light as we supposed. We need help.”

Everybody swung around and looked at Bob. He walked to his spot in the middle of the group and waited while his harness was clipped in with Vixen and Cupid. Vixen snarled at him and Cupid batted her eyelashes. Bob said “woof”

When Enda took the reins in his hands this time the sleigh took off without a hitch and they did a neat lap of the north pole landing to a huge round of applause.

Christmas Eve Santa was being patiently helped into his seat by the four brothers who were shoving and pushing as normal. Slim muttered, “I thought you were on a diet Santa.”

Noel said, “he was, a see food diet.”

While the elves were giggling and pushing while trying not to squish the great man too much they heard the words they dreaded hearing him say. “Hang on who is that between Vixen and Cupid.”

Enda looked at bob who was wearing a light weight pair of antlers and had a bright green nose stuck over his own nose. “That is Smiley. Our newest reindeer. He is amazing you will like him.”

Then as Santa landed in his seat Rudolph gave the command and the sleigh took off. Santa’s last words to Mrs C and Enda were “But why does Smiley sound like a dog?”

 

 

Maria’s Stuff: Children’s story: Betty’s Do-whacky’s.

Betty is a Grandmother who loves inventing things.

“Gadgets, Do-wacky’s” she calls them.

Her inventions hang from the ceiling in her workshop.  Everything will be useful some day, Betty says. Especially, the wind powered dog walker and even the grass-growing timer.

Betty would love to invent a special car just for her.  A car, which will not collect great bumps and dents whenever she tries to park it. Until then, Betty cycles everywhere.

She is easy to find with her hair pulled into a high bun, which perches on top of her head like a small bird having a rest. Her eyes are large and dark brown. When she laughs, stars tumble from her eyes.

Baby-sitting and Bird Watching.

Betty was babysitting Jim.  She watched him carefully because, Jim loves trouble. Betty did not want any accidents.

Betty’s white cat Sourpuss was sleeping on the floor.

“W-h-a-t ?”  Jim, a very yoghurt faced Jim asked. He waved his spoon around. Dollops of yoghurt flew off his spoon and landed on Sourpuss.

“What indeed Jim!” Betty said. She stopped eating and put down her own spoon. Betty said,  “Well done, your first word. Say it again!”

“Whaaaattt?” he shouted.

Betty picked Jim up. She danced around the room hugging him. It was a hop, skip and jump dance over the toys on the floor.

Wouldn’t it be handy if I could just fly over all of this mess?  But I’d need a flying suit or gadget of some sort! Then an idea danced about in her head until a picture of it formed. “What a brilliant idea, – a flying suit.”

Later when a nice clean Jim was back in his own house, Betty began to work on her idea.   “How heavy could it be? ” Betty said aloud waving her hands in the air.  “I can imagine how it would feel to fly high with the birds. Splendid.”

Betty went outside. She looked up at the sky. “I need to study the birds for clues” she said to the blackbird sitting on her fence. He didn’t like the sound of that and flew off.  A floating feather gave her the answer.

“If humans had as many feathers as birds then they could fly couldn’t they?”

The Feather Hunt.

The group of children were fidgeting and whispering excitedly as they stood in Betty’s garden. Something great was about to happen.

“What do you want us to do?” the tallest of the children called Harry asked.  Harry was in a hurry to get back to his game boy.

“I need your help, please. To collect loads of feathers.”

“What type of feathers?” This was from Sara a very nosy little girl.

“Dog feathers,”her brother said digging her in the ribs.

Sara glared at him. “I meant what size? Big ones or little ones Betty?”

‘All sizes, types and colours, but only ones that have fallen off birds. You are not to chase the birds.’ She added this as she noticed Jonathon eyeing up a very fat pigeon waddling across the road.

They set off at a run. Feather pillows suddenly became featherless. The empty pillows were stuffed with the most unusual items, old socks (mostly of the smelly variety), sheep’s wool and Harry had a brain wave of filling the empty pillowcase with a cabbage from the garden.

Hen houses and hedgerows were searched. Trees were climbed and bird-cages were emptied. Betty found some feathers in the hedge where Sourpuss slept and she put them in a box inside her workroom.  She went to sleep that night dreaming of skies filled with flying children. Much safer than airplanes Betty decided before she fell asleep.

 The Flying Suit.

 

The next morning after a large breakfast of cereal, two hard boiled eggs and three slices of toast, all washed down with a pot of strong tea, Betty went to her workroom.

The sight of the large box stuffed with feathers, sitting at the door, was a surprise. Betty dragged the box indoors. She emptied it onto the floor. The feathers were all co lours and sizes, some were bright yellow, others were as dark as a lump of coal. Betty felt a tingle of excitement run through her. Taking her oldest boiler suit Betty began to cover it in feathers. She was no good at sewing so she was gluing them to the fabric. It was a sticky, tricky job.

At one o clock the back of the suit was covered in feathers. The wings were her next problem. Walking around her workroom she glanced up at the ceiling. There was the answer, – two old kites dangling above her.  Betty began to work again.

By nightfall Betty was hopping about with excitement. It was finished.

The suit looked strange but impressive. Betty wondered who might test it for her.

“I’ll do it.” Licking her lips and rubbing her hands together, she sensed an adventure about to happen.

Betty Goes Flying!

 

Betty woke the sun up. She pulled on loads of clothes, because, she was afraid the sun might forget to shine. On went her warmest jeans, thick socks, boots, two tee shirts, a huge woolly jumper and matching hat. Plonking her sunglasses on her head, she said, ‘I’m ready.’

Betty quickly loaded the suit on to her wheelbarrow. Pushing the barrow to the old barn in the field next to her house didn’t take long. She was huffing and puffing harder than any wolf blowing down a house. She looked about her for a moment or two.

‘How, and where, will I land?’ She looked about her.

The ground looked hard. The cows in a field beside her looked lumpy.

‘What I need is a nice soft landing pad.’ Betty opened the door of the barn and

smiled. Hay, lots and lots of hay! ‘I’d prefer to land with a bounce instead of a thud!’ She said making a giant hay bed in the field.

Her next job was to climb the ladder into the hay loft.  She looked from the barrow to the loft. It was a long way up. ‘Best have the suit on just in case I fall.’

Putting on the suit was hard. With a lot of wriggling and groaning, she managed it. Climbing the ladder was tricky. Her flapping wings kept getting in the way.

Standing on the upper floor of the barn Betty pushed open the upper door and looked out at the wide countryside before her. The sun, now awake and interested, was beaming down on her.  The ground looked a long way down.

‘I’m not too sure about this,’ she whispered.

A gust of wind came hurtling in through the doorway. The wind was singing as it neatly collected Betty on its way out.

She was tumbling along. Betty was flapping her arms up and down at a terrible pace.  She realized something important. It didn’t matter how fast she flapped her arms because it was the current of air, which was carrying her.

By now Betty was tired. Oh my, I need a rest, she thought. There was a huge roar beneath her. Looking down she saw a small airplane. I’ll take a lift on that, Betty thought and holding her wings by her side she dropped towards the plane.

Landing was a bit tricky and noisy as Betty kept shouting things like, “Mind my new wings you big galoot!” to all of the birds who came to watch. They were flapping about and getting in her way.

Finally there she was – sitting on the wing of the plane looking about her.  I wonder where my house is? Another question popped into her head. ‘How do I get back?’

The pilot couldn’t understand why one side of the plane was dipping slightly. The co-pilot could as he spotted Betty land. He was trying to speak.  His mouth didn’t work! He tried rubbing his eyes to make her disappear but it didn’t work. Betty was waving at him.

“There’s a granny sitting on our wing!” he spluttered.

The pilot chuckled, “What? A Granny on the wing, nonsense.”

But turning to look out of the window the pilot got a surprise. “Oh my.”

“What shall I do,?” the co-pilot asked.

“Ask her to buzz off, politely though, if she is like my own granny, we will be in trouble no matter what we say.”

He opened the window of the small plane and shouted in his most polite voice, “Excuse me. Would you mind, hopping off our wing and flying away?”

Betty stared at him. Was he stupid? she wondered. If she knew where to fly to then she would not be sitting on his plane. “Could you please tell me how to get to Ballytrickle?”

The pilot shouted back, “Two miles that way.”

“Thanks ever so much,” said Betty as she was sucked underneath the plane by a current of air. Turning towards the sun, which was hiding behind a cloud, Betty headed home. As she neared the barn she spotted a tiny toddler playing in his garden. She swooped down near him. He saw her coming and his mouth opened wide but no sound came from him. His toy car was made from plastic and very round. Instead of crashing on to its side, it wobbled for a bit. He started to cry!

“Sorry baby,” Betty said. The barn appeared before her. Seeing the giant bed of hay she aimed herself at it and closed her eyes. Landing was a very bouncy affair as she bounced from one part of it to another. She ran out of hay and rolled onto the ground. ‘Ouch!’ Betty sat up to look at the damage.  The left-wing was in tatters but Betty was in one piece.

“I did it!” She said to a bewildered looking cow. Then she put her suit back into the barrow and headed for home.

Time for an extra-large brunch, Betty might fly like a bird but she won’t eat like one, she thought.

“Rashers, sausages, egg and tea all for little old me,” she sang, as she walked. This was followed by an extra long nap.

The Dragon’s Secret. (Children’s story)

Finn hated being the smallest dragon in his village.

If I can’t be big then I will be famous. I will be a magician, Finn thought.

He gave magic a try. He set his magician’s hat on fire.

Finn tried hip-hop dancing.

“I’m dizzy” he moaned bumping into his mum. The pot of potatoes she was carrying, flew high into the air and landed on his dad’s foot.

With a roar dad flew into the sky and returned with a piece of a cloud. He wrapped his burning foot in the cloud.

Finn tried singing. “He sounds like a fire alarm,” mum said. Finn stopped singing when the lolly pop factory burned down.

“I’ll be a champion swimmer,” he said jumping into the pond. He splashed about so much he emptied the pond. Finn was followed home by a row of squawking, honking, homeless ducks and swans.

“If I were the biggest dragon then no one would laugh at me.”  He moaned.

Finn ate more vegetables, and exercised everyday but he didn’t grow.

Granddad went to visit Finn. “I know how you can be as big as a house.”

Finn asked, “why doesn’t everyone do it?”

“Because their surname is not Nogard” Granddad said. Bending close to Finn he whispered the secret of how to become a large dragon.

“I don’t think I could do it.” Finn said with a shake of his head.

“Don’t think Finn – just do it.”

Finn flew high into the blue sky searching for a cloud.  It was hard work beating his wings.

He remembered Granddad’s words,” keep going especially when you feel you can’t.”

Finn found a perfect small cloud.

He wrapped a silver thread around it by flying in a circle close to the cloud. He counted as he went, “one, two, three, four…” On the thirty third circle a large rumble shook the sky, followed by a flash of lightening.

Finn was thrown to the waiting stars.

“A dragon to play with,” the stars cried bouncing him between them.

The noise brought the other dragons out of their homes. “Where is Finn, how did he disappear?”  They watched the sky and waited.

“He’s gone,” sobbed mum.

“He will be back perhaps we have time for tea,” Granddad said.

Everyone agreed. Tea and cakes were eaten before they heard a light whooshing noise. It grew louder until it became a rumble like a jet plane.

High in the sky they spotted a swooping, diving spot growing bigger.

“It’s Finn,” Granddad said. Everyone began to cheer as Finn came to land.

Finn smiled and spewed flames into the sky.

Looking at his mum he said, “sorry I will need a bigger house.”

She just squeezed his foot, “it’s nice to have you back, I’ll go make an extra large dinner.”

Granddad said, “You will go down in our village history as being the largest dragon in the realm.”

And this was only the beginning of Finn’s fame, for he returned to the land of giants on many more occasions.

Breeze: Mudpile Wood.

Tips for surviving enjoying your holiday in Mudpile Wood.

Leave your sunscreen at home (mud is used if sunscreen is needed), do bring the following:

1.            A really loud whistle, to help wake the Ogre at the gate, otherwise you may spend the entire trip camped outside the wood.

2.            Warm hats and gloves, (fingerless gloves are best in case you are trapped in a warlock’s tavern, you may have to pick a slippy, disgusting lock to escape.)

3.            Wellington Boots (but not red, as witches despise red boots, they tend to set them on fire.)

4.            Chocolate smelling deoderant. Everyone in Mudpile hates eating chocolate but they adore the smell.

5.            A clever friend who can solve puzzles in case Murphy the Leprechaun catches you, he will only release you when you solve his puzzle.

6.            Bring a lot of clothes  pegs. Hamish the resident Goblin adores his pet skunk. However, the skunk, Smelly doesn’t like living amongst, witches, elves, Ogres and Fairies and shows his displeasure by being … well… Smelly!

7.            Bring something unusual to eat. The residents adore eating and will try any new exotic food. By offering them an unusual tart or fruit you are gaining a friend.

8.            Don’t drive there. They hate cars and technology. Phones when discovered are smashed to pieces, computers have been sat on  and tablets, eaten.

9.            Bring loads of books. Ogres have an insatiable appetite. First they  read the book then they eat it.

10.          Last and not least, a sense of humour and some childish manners, it will help win you friends and erase any enemies.

For an image of Breeze (Ogre) inhabitant of Mudpile wood please check out this link to see The Trouble with Trees illustration.