Copyright remains with the individual authors
Published by Storm Cloud Publishing (2016)
ISBN: 978-1-925285-18-5 Shakespir Edition
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Junior Fiction: A collection of short stories from writers all around the world.
Fun and adventure, Animals, History and legends, Christmas celebrations, Santa Claus, Elves and reindeer, Aliens, Family relationships, Friendships, Kindness and helping others, Stories in rhyme
Ages 8 – 12 years
The presents are wrapped, the stockings are hung
We’re waiting for Santa and the reindeer to come.
There’s chocolate money for you and for me
Even the cats have their own Xmas tree!
The pudding’s all ready, the drinks icy cold
The fridge is humming, and the rumballs are rolled.
Everyone’s happy it’s holiday time
The mozzies are buzzing, the weather’s just fine.
Mum made burgers; there are sausages too
For our Xmas Eve BBQ!
Streamers and fairy lights, lollies and chips
And all those yummy Xmas bits.
We carried out plates and buttered bread
And we set it all out in the BBQ shed.
Mum was so handy with flipper and tongs
While we all sat around singing Xmas songs.
As we laughed and ate, the wind blew up
Scattering tablecloth, kittens and cups.
Then came the rain through our leaky hut…
Then we heard the back door slam shut!
Mum said, “Stay here and don’t go out.”
And she ran round to break back into the house.
She tried every window and tinsel hung door
But she couldn’t get in, no, not any more!
Mum tried and tried with all her might
But the house was locked up, good and tight.
Us two little sisters were cold and afraid
But because it was Xmas, we tried to be brave.
We huddled round the barbie till it ran out of puff
Then we told Xmas stories, sang songs and stuff.
The darkness was so dark, the wind was screaming
The trees bent over, the rain was teeming!
And then one by one, the kittens and cats
Came piling around us on shoulders and laps.
Their warm, furry bodies covered cold arms and legs
Until we were cosier than in our own beds!
We slept deeply that night through the wind and the rain
We didn’t even hear when Santa Claus came!
When the locksmith came round we were still asleep
If Mum hadn’t woken us, we’d have slept for a week!
We shared Xmas breakfast with the cats and kittens
Even the ones who were old and flea-bitten.
Because that’s the best way we could think to thank it
Our living, breathing Xmas blanket!
Saint Nicholas and the Kidnapped Boy
Georgios sat on the end of the dock. Water lapped at the wooden poles below his sandaled feet. The evening breeze blew off the sea, smacking salt in his face.
The fishing boats had all returned. The last load from the last boat was being lugged along the dock towards the town plaza.
“Georgios, you should be home by now,” the fishing boat captain said, turning his attention from his crew to the small boy. “It’s the Feast of Saint Nicholas tomorrow. Your mother will be wondering where you are.”
“A few more minutes.” Georgios looked up at the captain. “I just want to watch the sun go down.”
“The sun goes down every day. And every day your mother worries that the sea will swallow you up.”
Georgios smiled as the captain ruffled his hair.
“If I see her, I’ll not be taking the blame for you not listening to my words.”
The captain followed his crew towards the plaza. Georgios looked down past his feet at the water. The tide was coming in, but he knew it wouldn’t creep high enough to wet his sandals.
He looked back up as the sun hit the horizon. Light streamed across the moving water, rippling and dancing as the sky grew dark. Shadows of the fishing boats crept along the dock.
A shadow to his left moved on the water behind the fishing boats. Dark poles rose into the darkening sky.
Georgios blinked. For a moment, the last rays of the sun blinded him, mixing light and colour, dark and shadow. But the poles moved and soft voices crept across the dark.
Georgios knew the fishing boats were all in. One thought ran through his mind – pirates!
He pulled his feet up and stayed low, turning to head for the plaza to warn the villagers, but a looped rope sailed past him and hooked onto the tie up pole.
Georgios couldn’t get off the dock without being seen. A second rope sailed past. It fell to his left, so he ducked to the right and over the bow of the nearest fishing boat. He flattened himself against the inside of the boat. He’d wait there until the pirates passed. Then he’d sneak out and warn the village.
Pirates were there for riches and the only riches the village had were in the church of Saint Nicholas. He could run through the backstreets and reach the church before them. He could warn Father Dimitri to hide the treasures. He could warn the villagers to stay inside. If the pirates found nothing to steal, they would go away.
Georgios waited until the pirates moved past, then poked his head above the side of the fishing boat. The sun had set and it was too dark to see. He couldn’t hear anything from the pirate ship.
He crept over the boat and onto the dock. He ran as fast as he could to the nearest house. His heart was pounding in his chest.
“Pirates,” he called softly as he knocked quietly on the wooden door. “There’s pirates in the village. Stay inside.”
“What… what you say?” came a confused voice from inside.
“Pirates. Stay inside until they’re gone.”
Georgios raced to the next house, then the next. Around the corner he saw his mother and he slammed to a stop.
“Georgios. Inside now,” his mother growled.
“There’s pirates,” Georgios told her as he turned and ran the other way. “I’ve got to warn Father Dimitri.” He put his hands to his ears so he couldn’t hear his mother’s voice calling him back.
Georgios kept to the shadows. He reached the empty plaza. It was ready for tomorrow’s Feast for the village’s saint.
He couldn’t see the pirates. He’d beaten them! He smiled to himself.
Ahead was the church. Pirates would use the front door, so Georgios ran to the side door.
“Father Dimitri!” Georgios pushed open the side door and rushed into the church. “Pirates –!”
Georgios froze in terror. The pirates were there. The pirate captain stood in front of Father Dimitri, pointing a sword at his chest. The other pirates were moving around the church, stuffing everything they could find into large bags.
The pirate captain and Father Dimitri turned to Georgios. The captain smiled a crooked smile. Father Dimitri’s eyes were wide with fear.
“Close the door and come here, boy,” the captain ordered.
Georgios looked at the captain, then at Father Dimitri. Father Dimitri nodded his head slowly.
Georgios obeyed. He closed the door, his hands shaking, and walked to Father Dimitri.
The pirate captain lunged forward and grabbed Georgios by the hair.
“Agh!” Georgios cried. His face screwed up in pain as the pirate captain dragged him away from Father Dimitri.
He yanked Georgios’s head back and put the blade along his throat.
Georgios’s whole body began shaking. His head was tilted back, forcing him to stare at the ceiling. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw the fresco of Saint Nicholas. The saint wore a red robe with a white collar. One hand was raised in front of him, in blessing. The other hand held a staff. He had bishop’s mitre on his head with a golden halo shining behind him.
“Please,” Father Dimitri begged, clasping his hands in front of his chest. “He’s just a little boy.”
“A little boy with a big mouth,” the pirate captain snarled. “I think we’ll be taking him with us.”
“No.” Father Dimitri fell to his knees. “Please. I beg of you.”
“The boy is ours. If you warn anyone, I’ll slit his throat!”
Father Dimitri threw himself down face first, kissing the floor in prayer.
The pirate captain lifted his sword. He brought the handle down on Georgios’s head, and everything went black.
For three days and nights they sailed. Georgios couldn’t speak the pirates’ language and he had no idea where he was going. He wanted to jump overboard, but there was no land to swim to. And he feared his mother’s words would come true and he would be swallowed up by the sea.
On the morning of the fourth day, they reached land. There was a huge city surrounded by a stone wall. The pirate captain grabbed Georgios by the arm and dragged him through the city streets. Georgios had to run to keep up.
They soon reached a mighty palace. Its walls towered into the sky. The palace was guarded by armed soldiers. They let the pirate in. He walked through the palace, dragging Georgios behind him, until he came to a mighty room.
Ten men sat around a large table. One of them wore a crown. They stopped talking and looked up as the pirate entered.
The man with the crown stood up. He was wearing bright silk clothes and long black boots. Georgios thought he must be a King.
The pirate bowed and the King waved him forward. The pirate dragged Georgios with him and stood him before the King. The King and the pirate spoke together. Georgios couldn’t understand what they were saying.
The King reached to the table. He picked up a golden cup and took a long drink from it. Then he put the cup down, smiled and turned to Georgios.
“You will be my new cupbearer,” he spoke in Georgios’s language. “You will bring my golden cup and make sure it is always filled with wine.”
The King turned and spoke to a guard. The guard grabbed Georgios’s arm and dragged him through the palace, down to the kitchen. He spoke to a woman stirring a pot over an open fire. She looked at Georgios and her old face broke out into a cackle as she nodded.
Georgios had an old flour sack in a corner of the kitchen for his bed. It was rough and scratchy, but warmer than the cold, stone floor. He ate leftovers with the kitchenmaids. The skinny girls were around Georgios’ age. They ran in fear every time the cook yelled orders at them.
The year turned and the seasons changed. Every morning, Georgios would take the King his wine and his golden cup.
One morning, Georgios lay on his sack. Tears fell and he sobbed quietly.
“Why do you cry?” a voice asked.
Georgios jumped up and looked around. The voice had spoken his language.
The cook had her back to him. She was busy stirring a pot over the open fire. The kitchenmaids were nowhere about.
Georgios thought he must have imagined it. He wiped his tears, and lay back down.
The cook mumbled and cackled, pointing to the King’s golden cup and wine jug on the table.
Georgios stood up. He looked around again for the strange voice before grabbing the King’s golden cup and jug and heading out of the kitchen.
“Georgios, you are not forgotten by your family or your village,” the voice told him as he walked along the empty stone corridor.
“Who are you?” Georgios looked around. He should have been scared, but there was something about the voice that calmed him. “I know not your voice. And how do you speak my language?”
A man suddenly appeared before Georgios. Georgios jumped back, startled, nearly spilling the wine.
“Do you not know me?” the man asked.
Georgios knew the bearded face. He knew the red mitre, the robe with the white collar and the staff he held in his hand.
A roar from beyond and Georgios knew the King was in a bad mood.
“I must go. The King wants his wine.”
Georgios stepped around the man and continued on. He glanced back over his shoulder, but the man was gone.
Georgios reached the King’s dining room and quietly opened the door, hoping to sneak inside without being noticed.
“Where is my cup? Where is my wine?” the King roared.
Georgios kept his head low as he crept to the King’s table. He put the cup in front of the King and began to fill it.
“Is that tears? Is my cupbearer sad?” the King laughed. The Queen laughed. All the King’s guests laughed. “Tell us all why a cupbearer would be sad.”
Georgios shook his head. He poured the King his wine and said nothing.
The King thumped the table with his fist. The golden cup wobbled. Georgios had to stop pouring so he didn’t spill the wine.
“I told you to tell us all why you are so sad,” the King demanded.
“I am thinking of home,” Georgios said quietly. “It is the feast day of Saint Nicholas and I have been here for a year.”
The King laughed. “A feast day. Every day,” he spread his arm over the table covered in food, “is a feast day for me. And you,” his eyes narrowed as he pointed a finger at Georgios, “will never return home!”
Georgios swallowed hard to stop the tears as he poured the wine. He held the wine jug in one hand and held the golden cup steady with his other hand.
Suddenly, a hand grasped his hair. He screwed his eyes shut tight as his feet no longer touched the ground. The laughing was gone. Replaced by faint voices speaking a language he knew and the smell of salt.
He opened his eyes. It was Feast Day in his village. He was home!
He looked up at the man who held his hair. The man blessed him, then put him on his feet.
Georgios was so surprised he dropped the jug. It clattered noisily on the cobblestones of the plaza.
A woman looked up. “Georgios!” she cried. “Is that you?”
She ran to him and picked him up. She hugged him tight. Tears fell down her face as the villagers began to gather around.
“I thought you were swallowed by the sea.”
“Saint Nicholas brought me home.”
The villagers celebrated and gave thanks to Saint Nicholas for bringing the kidnapped boy home.
Noah’s Magic Spark
“Noah, it’s time to wake up,” said the elf’s mum, Jeannie. “You don’t want to be late for your first day at Santa’s Workshop.”
“Coming, Mum,” Noah said. He yawned and slowly opened his eyes.
“Breakfast will be ready in five minutes,” Jeannie said and left the bedroom.
Noah stared at the ceiling. “Santa’s Workshop,” he whispered, a big smile across his face. “The day is finally here. I’ll find my magic.”
All elves had magic that was specific to them. Toy-making elves generally didn’t need instructions when it came to making toys due to their magic. They could just look at a toy and automatically make it without a fuss or mistake.
Most elves had to wait at least another year or two to start working at Santa’s Workshop. But not Noah. He came from a long line of successful toy-making elves. Noah’s dad, Henry, had won Best Toy Maker for the last ten years. Noah’s grandfather, Malcolm, had won the award ten years straight prior to that.
In fact, Noah’s family had been winning awards for toy making ever since his great-great grandfather, Morris, invented the Teddy Bear over 100 years ago. It was just assumed that making excellent toys ran in Noah’s blood.
Noah could smell pancakes and toast – his favourite. He jumped out of bed and ran out the door. Noah quickly ate his breakfast and got dressed. His excited nerves made his heart race and he couldn’t keep still.
“Ready for your first day?” Henry asked, watching his son put his bell-tipped shoes on.
“I can’t wait, Dad,” Noah replied. “I’m going to make this family so proud, just wait and see.”
“You’ll be just fine,” said Henry, packing his lunchbox and Noah’s in his bag. “Give your mum a hug goodbye and let’s hit the snow.”
“Welcome, Noah,” said Mr Foreman. He was in charge of the Toy Department at Santa’s Workshop. He was taller than most elves, but was one of the friendliest.
“Thank you, Mr Foreman,” said Noah, looking around at all the elves and toys before him.
“Let me show you around,” Mr Foreman said. “It shouldn’t be too hard to see which area will trigger your magic spark.”
Noah nodded and walked alongside his new boss. Even though Henry was hoping that his son would excel in making jigsaw puzzles and fun board games like him, Noah had his hopes on making different sports toys. Noah loved playing all kinds of sports, and hoped his toy-making gift would be there.
Mr Foreman pointed to the first table of elves and toys. “Everyone, this is Noah,” he said. “It’s his first day today, so please make him feel welcome.”
All the elves stopped what they were doing instantly. They waved and smiled at the young elf.
“Good morning, Noah.”
“Hi, everyone,” Noah replied. He waved back, feeling his cheeks grow warm from all the attention.
“This is where all the toys made of wood are created,” Mr Foreman explained. “You may find your spark here.”
Noah watched, fascinated at how the elves easily cut, sanded, glued and painted all different kinds of wooden toys.
“Devin, please get a chair for Noah,” Mr Foreman asked. “He’s going to try making a wooden toy.”
Devin, who wasn’t that much taller than Noah, smiled eagerly and went to fetch a chair.
A young female elf moved over, giving Noah some room at the table. “Here are some tools,” she said, gathering extra supplies sitting on the table.
“Thank you,” Noah said, carefully holding the small saw she had handed to him.
Devin soon returned with a chair, which Noah thanked him for.
Mr Foreman grabbed a block of wood from a pile near the table and placed it in front of Noah. “There you go,” he said, smiling warmly.
Noah looked at the toys scattered across the big table, wondering which one he should make. He spotted a red wooden car.
“That’s the one I’ll try,” he said, doing his best to ignore all the faces eagerly looking at him.
“Wonderful,” Mr Foreman said, clapping his hands. “When you’re ready, Noah.”
Noah took a deep breath, waiting for his spark to show itself. Henry said a spark felt like a fireball building inside of you but it didn’t hurt. Once it settled, he felt incredibly happy. Noah carefully put the saw on the wood block and began to cut.
He didn’t feel any different as he went about cutting the wood. He couldn’t feel any spark of magic or any inspiration. When he finished cutting the wood, the two pieces looked hopeless on the table.
Mr Foreman gave a small cough. “It’s okay, Noah,” he said encouragingly. “Wood may not be where your spark is. Why don’t we try another area?”
Noah nodded, trying his best to smile at the elves watching him. They too smiled encouragingly. Noah thanked them for their help and followed Mr Foreman to the next table.
“It’s okay, Noah,” Mr Foreman said, hours later. “I think it’s time to have some lunch. A full stomach may help you find your magical spark.”
Noah sighed, and nodded. “You might be right, Mr Foreman.” He tried not to sound defeated.
Mr Foreman nodded brightly. “We still have one more table left. I’ll see you back here soon.”
Noah walked over to the Board Game table where his Dad waited eagerly.
Henry’s smile vanished when he saw Noah’s head was down. “What’s wrong, Noah?”
Noah explained how he had been to almost every table in Santa’s Workshop, with no spark appearing.
“It’s okay, Noah,” Henry said, patting his son gently on the shoulder. “Which table is left?”
“The Sports table,” Noah replied. “I’m just stopping for lunch.”
Henry opened his bag and took out Noah’s lunchbox. He had already had his lunch, but offered to sit with Noah until he was finished.
Noah shook his head. “It’s okay, Dad. I just want to go for a short walk while I eat. Get some air.”
Henry nodded. “Whatever happens, I’ll still be proud of you, Noah.”
Noah gave his dad a small smile. “I’ll be back soon, Dad.”
Noah made his way to the big doors at the end of Santa’s Workshop. He grabbed his snow coat hanging from a hook next to the door. He zipped it up and opened the door leading out to the winter wonderland of the North Pole.
There was a map beside the door, showing the different areas of Santa’s Workshop. Noah looked at the ‘You Are Here’ marker outside the Toy Building. There were two other buildings next to it, the Reindeer Sanctuary and Santa’s home.
Noah could smell freshly baked cakes and scones coming from Mr and Mrs Claus’s house. He was tempted to have his lunchbreak there, but decided not to. Mrs Claus would just ask him which toy sparked his magic. Noah couldn’t bear revealing his fears. What if he wasn’t good at making sport toys either? What would he do?
Noah looked at the Reindeer Sanctuary marker on the map. He decided it was time to pay his old friends a visit and made his way down the path.
When Noah was a little elf, he loved visiting the reindeer with his family. Every year, on December 26th, Santa threw a big party to thank the elves and their families for all their hard work. During these parties, Noah was always drawn to the reindeer. He could easily spend hours with them, brushing them, feeding them and helping in the stable pens.
Noah loved listening to the elves talk to the reindeer. Their magic was specifically for them. They could understand the majestic creatures and have conversations with them the same way Noah could with his family and friends.
As Noah got older, he began to spend his time talking to the other toy-making elves at the party, listening to their stories of making toys. He would listen to Mr Foreman talk about Noah’s family success in the toy-making departments over the decades.
Noah would applaud and jump for joy when Henry would win his award. Noah dreamt that he would win the award for best sporting toy, going down in the history books like his father and his grandfather.
As Noah got closer to the Reindeer Sanctuary, he began to feel warm. He stopped and unzipped his coat, hoping that would cool him down. The distance between Noah and the reindeer got smaller and smaller, and Noah found himself getting warmer and warmer.
When Noah reached the main doors to the sanctuary, he was sweating heavily. He opened one of them and walked straight in. Inside was a long corridor. On either side were large pens where the reindeer slept. In front of the corridor, was a large water fountain.
Noah rushed over to the fountain and dipped his head straight into the water! It cooled him down. He stood up, the water dripping off his head, running down his coat.
Standing before the elf was Santa Claus!
“Sa-Santa!” Noah spluttered, quickly wiping his wet face with his wet coat sleeves. “I-I’m sorry. I was coming to visit the reindeer and I got all hot and started burning up.”
Santa snapped his fingers and a comfy chair appeared instantly. “Sit down here,” he said. “Take a couple of deep breaths.” Santa snapped his fingers again and Noah’s coat, hair and face were instantly dry.
Noah nodded and sat down. He told Santa about his embarrassing morning at not finding his magical spark yet and feeling extremely warm on his walk. Noah no longer felt hot, but his whole body tingled.
Santa listened carefully, nodding his head until Noah finished. He snapped his fingers again and two cups of tea appeared on a small table in front of them, along with two pieces of cake.
“Please, have some cake and tea, Noah. It will help.”
Noah’s stomach grumbled, having forgotten all about his lunch. He thanked Santa and eagerly picked up a piece.
Santa slowly sipped his tea. “Noah, I know what’s happened to you. I don’t want you working you in the Toy Department of the workshop.”
Noah almost choked on his cake!
“You see, Noah,” Santa continued quickly, “I think you should stay here, in the sanctuary. When you’ve finished your cake, I want to show you something.”
Noah nodded. He could hear chatter and murmuring coming from the reindeer pens. He didn’t know that there were other elves nearby. They must have heard everything. How embarrassing!
Santa snapped his fingers and they were instantly standing, the table with the goodies and chairs gone. “Okay, let’s go,” Santa said.
They walked over to the pens. Noah could hear the chatter much clearer now.
“Hello?” Noah called, expecting to see elves.
Instead, a reindeer’s head popped up from a pen.
“Noah!” it said, happily. “You’re back! It’s been ages since we’ve seen you.”
Noah’s mouth dropped open.
“Noah?” came the sound of another reindeer who popped its head up too.
“Did someone say Noah? I’ve missed that elf.”
Standing before Noah, were all of Santa’s reindeer. They rejoiced at seeing the friend they had missed. As each spoke to him, the tingling in Noah’s body took over and he felt more alert and alive than ever. He ran over to each reindeer, patting and embracing them.
Santa stood next to Rudolph. “It looks like you have a new elf joining your team,” he said, chuckling.
“And what a special elf he is,” Rudolph said, nodding. “Noah was always such a loving and caring young elf. I’m glad he will be with us from now on.”
Noah felt overjoyed and wanted to dance from happiness. His magic found its spark at last! Tears of joy ran down Noah’s face, and he knew this was exactly where he belonged.
The Christmas Wish Box
My friend gives me a Christmas wish box.
“What’s in the Christmas wish box?” I ask.
“It can be anything you can imagine but you have to wait until tomorrow for the first Christmas wish.”
Mmmmm, I wonder if there’s a dinosaur in there or a reindeer or something like that? I will know in the morning when we open the box.
“Hurry up, it’s time to open the box. I want to see what’s in there!” I say.
“Are you ready? Today’s the day, the first day of Christmas wishes. Here we go… Ta da. It says ‘To dance in the moonlight and sing a Christmas song.’”
“How do we know the moon will be out tonight?” I ask.
“It will be!” my friend says.
“What song shall we sing? I don’t really know many.”
My friend says, “Just sing the first one that pops into your head.”
“But what shall we wear?” I ask.
“Pyjamas and reindeer ears with barefoot toes,” my friend says.
Tonight, the moon shines brightly as we tippy tiptoe onto the soft green grass.
My friend says, “Let it rip and have some fun.”
So we do.
We dance and dance, and prance and prance, and then sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer ever so loudly. When we look up high, the moon hits our eyes like a big pizza pie.
That night, we wonder what day two of Christmas wishes will bring…
On the second day of Christmas wishes, we open the box.
“I can’t see a thing!” I say.
My friend says, “We have to go climb a tree.”
“But I don’t know how to climb a tree!” I cry. “Kids can fall out of trees and get hurt.”
But my friend says, “You just have to pick the right tree. The old fig tree with the lookout over the street is awesome and you can watch what goes on below.”
With our climbing shoes on, off to the park we go.
“How do we get onto the first branch?” I say. “I’m too small.”
My friend says, “Put your feet onto the knobby bits and it will be easy peasey lemon squeezy.”
We put our feet on the knobby bits and use our arms to pull ourselves up. It is just like climbing a rock wall.
My friend says, “Don’t look down till you sit in a comfortable spot.”
So we sit together and look out from way up high.
“We’re on top of the world!” we yell.
We spy all the dogs in the street as they sniff and snuff about. Along comes the postie and Bruce the bulldog goes crazy guarding his fence and all the other dogs in the street decide to do the same.
My friend says, “Don’t look at the ground as you climb down.”
We can’t believe that we climbed the big tree. It feels good to be so brave. We can do anything if we believe we can.
That night, we wonder what day three of Christmas wishes will bring…
On the third day of Christmas wishes, we open the box.
“What does the Christmas wish box say today?” I ask.
“It says ‘To spread some Christmas cheer by walking all the dogs in the street,’”
my friend says. “The dogs will be happy to have some fun.”
We make sure to take poop bags and ask each owner if it is okay. The owners are so happy and grateful that we both smile.
Down the road we go with a scatter of claws and a whoosh of waggly tails as an excited Bigsy leads all the dogs into a crazy run as they bungy sling us here and there and everywhere. We flop into a heap as the dogs loll all around us. Then we take Bigsy the ringleader and all the other dogs back to their grateful owners.
It feels good to have made the dogs and their owners so happy for the day.
That night, we wonder what day four of Christmas wishes will bring…
On the fourth day of Christmas wishes, we open the box.
My friend says, “Grab some cardboard and have some fun.”
I say, “What do you mean grab some cardboard?”
“You know, cardboard boxes. One for me and one for you, and more depending on what we decide to do,” my friend says.
“Will we build or slide? Mmm I think we’ll slide,” I say.
My friend says, “Find a grassy hill and then let it rip.”
We find a really good grassy hill and take our box to the top.
My friend says, “Whizz down and be sure to brake at the bottom.”
The wind whistles in my hair as we whizz as fast as we dare. We go as many times as we can until we are pooped out. It feels good whizzing. We are so excited to know we made our own fun.
That night, we wonder what day five of Christmas wishes will bring…
On the fifth day of Christmas wishes, we open the box.
My friend says, “It’s time to have some sprinkler fun.”
We race inside and get our cossies on.
“How do we get the sprinkler to work?” I ask.
My friend says, “We just connect the sprinkler to the hose and find a good place on the lawn, then turn the tap on.”
At first, we have the sprinkler on low and dash through or do little jumps over the top. Then we decide to sit on top of the sprinkler and the water sprays all around us. Then I decide to turn the tap on full blast and the sprinkler roars to life and sprays cascade everywhere as we dance and jump and run through the water squirts.
Wet as drowned rats, we smile and laugh. It feels good being free.
That night, we wonder what day six of Christmas wishes will bring…
On the sixth day of Christmas wishes, we open the box.
My friend says, “It’s a day for kindness.”
I say, “What do you mean a day for kindness?”
My friend says, “There are some people in our street who have great stories to tell.”
“Who shall we visit?”
We spy Andy in his garden and go over to say “hello”. Guess what? Andy rides motorbikes. Not just any motorbikes but Harley Davidson motorbikes.
Andy says, “When you have something special that you love, you look after it.”
Andy brings the Harley out and the best thing about it is the noise that it makes. It roars. Andy gives it a polish each day. He shows us how he uses a special cloth to shine it up and then he shows us his bike leathers and helmet. Andy promises to take us for a ride but only if we ask our parents first.
It’s good to look after your special things.
Then we spy Gwen in the yard, weeding. She tells us she has just cleaned out her pantry and there is some old flour. Did we want the flour to make mud pies?
What an awesome idea!
She gives us an old bowl to mix it all in. We set to work on the front lawn and mix flour and dirt and water. Pat a cake, pat a cake, baker’s man, bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Twelve cakes are lined up in a row. Now it’s time for mud cake afternoon tea.
Gwen comes over and joins us for a while. Then Andy wanders over and pretends to take a bite. Kindness is a good thing.
That night, we wonder what day seven of Christmas wishes will bring…
On the seventh day of Christmas wishes, we open the box.
I ask, “What does it say?”
My friend says, “Build sandcastles with walls and moats and turrets.”
I think a turret is a small tower that sits on a castle’s wall. I say, “We need to have a drawbridge and a dragon in the tower.”
My friend says, “As long as we have a seagullasaurus as a guard.”
We grab spades, and buckets and trowels and head off to the sandpit. Mounds of sand are moulded and patted and dampened as we work and work and work all morning. The dragon is in the tower, a drawbridge stops the sneaky rabbits and rascals and the seagullasaurus stands on guard.
It’s fun when your imaginary world of adventure becomes real.
That night, we wonder what day eight of Christmas wishes will bring…
On the eighth day of Christmas wishes, we open the box.
I ask, “What does it say?”
My friend says, “Take a peek at the sky.”
What does that mean? I wonder. Mmm, I guess we should go into the backyard with our sunnies on.
We flop down on the grass and lay on our backs. The sky is a bright blue and the clouds look like they are chariots racing in the sky. I can’t believe there is a dinosaur! A huge T. Rex is chasing a tiny little mouse. Yikes, that mouse had better skedaddle before he’s dinner. I can see a horse and a monkey and a sheep. Some move slowly and some move fast.
The funny thing is, each of us can look at the same cloud and see something different. Everybody sees things differently.
That night, we wonder what day nine of Christmas wishes will bring…
On the ninth day of Christmas wishes, we open the box.
“Oh no! We can’t do that!” I say.
My friend says, “Why not? Marbles! Mum can bring us some.”
We’re going to have a marble race to see how far they can roll. First, we need ramps and tunnels and planks. Our marble construction site begins and we test the marble rolls. Too high and they bounce and roll off the run; too low and they sit on the ramp and don’t go any further.
So we test and change the ramps so the marbles get some good speed. We keep trying until we get it just right and make drops and different levels too. It feels good to have a go.
That night, we wonder what day ten of Christmas wishes will bring…
On the tenth day of Christmas wishes, we open the box.
‘Whatever can it be?’ we wonder…
My friend says, “Get some sheets and blankets and chairs and make a big cubby to read stories in.”
So off we race and grab some huge blankets and sheets to prop up with chairs and to tie to a couple of trees as well. We throw in some pillows and nestle down with a pile of books.
Gwen pops over with some fruit and biscuits and a torch to make our reading fun.
We visit some of our favourite books and share with each other so there is even more books to read now. It’s good to share as it doubles the fun.
That night, we wonder what day eleven of Christmas wishes will bring…
On the eleventh day of Christmas wishes, we open the box.
My friend says, “Write Christmas messages on some paper that can be folded into paper aeroplanes that can fly. Then fly each aeroplane onto the veranda of your neighbours.”
We grab a pile of paper that is not too light and not too heavy. Now, here comes the tricky part – we have to work out the best way to fold the planes.
After a few test runs, we have the best one. Then we write and decorate each plane and place it in a basket so it is ready to be flown. Next, just like the postie, we walk along the footpath and fly each plane with its Christmas message onto our neighbour’s verandas.
Sending good cheer is fun.
That night, we wonder what day twelve of Christmas wishes will bring…
On the twelfth day of Christmas wishes, we open the box.
My friend says, “It’s time to think for ourselves.”
What do you think we are going to do?
Are We There Yet?
“Are we there yet?” Snoot asked.
“Does it look like we’re there?” Remur waved one of his four long, purple tentacles towards the windscreen.
Snoot leaned forward and looked out into the darkness. All he saw were unfamiliar stars and planets. To the far right, a comet moved quickly. Its long tail of ice and dust streamed out behind it.
“No,” Snoot sighed.
He leaned back in his seat, folding his upper two tentacles across his chest. He turned his bulbous head to stare at Remur.
“We should have turned left at Sol.”
“I did turn left.”
“No, you turned right.”
Remur took his eyes from the controls for a moment and glared at Snoot.
“I’ve got a map here somewhere.” Snoot reached a lower tentacle down and opened the glove compartment beneath the control console. He pulled out a folded piece of paper. He began to unfold it, using all four tentacles.
“Put that away. I know where I’m going,” Remur growled.
Snoot continued to open the map. Each tentacle held a corner as he spread the map out and lay it on the control console. It was bigger than the console and folded down the sides.
“We should be here.” He pointed to a spot on the map. “But we’re here.” He pointed to another spot with a different tentacle. “This…” he pointed to a third spot with his third tentacle, “is that blue planet there.” His fourth tentacle pointed to a blue dot visible through the windscreen. “We are going the wrong way.”
Remur glanced at the map. “You are holding it upside down. We are not going the wrong way.”
Snoot lifted up the map, blocking their view of the windscreen. He turned the map around in his tentacles until it was upside down – or, right way up.
“Oh,” he frowned, his forehead dipping low enough to cover half his eyes. “Then we should have turned right at Sol.”
“I did turn right at Sol,” Remur repeated. “Now get that map out of the way so I can see.” He lifted a tentacle and pushed the map away.
“Aaaggghhh!” they both cried as hundreds of tiny projectiles raced towards the windscreen. “Meteors!”
Snoot dropped the map, closed his eyes and covered his head with all four tentacles. The meteors began to hit the spacecraft. Small pings sounded through the hull.
Remur tried to steer the ship away from the moving projectiles. Plink, plink, went a few of the smaller ones as they bounced off the hull. Plink, plink, plonk. Plink, plonk, plunk – Crash!
“What was that?” Snoot uncovered his head and peered out at Remur.
“Um…” Remur looked at the instruments on the control console. “I don’t know.”
Snoot looked out the windscreen. Everything outside was spinning around. Coming closer, at rapid speed, was the blue planet. “We’re heading towards the blue planet. We’re going to crash!”
“We’re not going to crash.”
Remur’s brow wrinkled and unwrinkled as he tried to think what he could do to stop them crashing into the blue planet.
Snoot grabbed the radio mouthpiece and switched the supersonic, subspace radio on. The supersonic, subspace radio could send and receive signals over hundreds of light years instantly, as though the person you were talking to was standing right beside you. “Hello. Hello. This is Snoot and Remur calling Planet Grerg. Can anyone hear me? Hello?”
There was no answer.
“Hello.” He tapped the mouthpiece with a tentacle. “Is anyone there? We’ve run into a meteor shower. Hello. Can you hear me?”
The sound of static screeched through the cockpit.
The spacecraft hit the atmosphere, skimming like a stone across water before it began to sink through. It bumped and bounced, rocking and shaking Remur and Snoot in their seats.
The clear darkness of space disappeared as they fell through the cloudy haze of atmosphere. Pulled down by gravity, the spacecraft sped up. The friction of the atmosphere began to heat up the outside. The shaking increased as the little spacecraft threatened to break apart.
“We’re going to burn up!” Snoot panicked.
“We are not going to burn up,” Remur assured him. “The heat panels are designed to withstand the heat of a supergiant star.”
“We’re going to break apart!”
“We are not going to break apart.” Somehow, Remur wasn’t even convincing himself of this.
Remur pulled on the controls, but they didn’t respond. Vibrations from the shaking spacecraft rocked through his tentacles and up into his body. His eyes shook in their sockets and his head rocked and jarred on his slender neck.
The blue planet zoomed up quickly in the windscreen.
“That m-meteor must have h-hit our s-steering c-control,” Remur said, his voice shaking along with the rest of his body.
He kept hold of the steering with one tentacle, while the other three pushed buttons, flicked switches and rotated dials, trying to reset the steering and bring the spacecraft back under control. Purple sweat began to seep out of the pores on his head and run down his face.
The spacecraft sped through the atmosphere at a thousand miles per hour. Friction and rising temperatures caused the exterior to change colour. It began to glow a soft yellow, quickly turning to orange then a bright red.
Inside, Remur and Snoot were well protected from the ever increasing heat.
Their view became distorted by the rush of air and gasses hitting the windscreen. Everything outside began to ripple like a heatwave rising from hot tarmac.
“Hold on,” said Remur. “I’m going to fire the reverse retro thrusters. It’s going to get rough, but we’ll slow down to a manageable speed.”
Snoot wrapped all four tentacles around his seat, holding himself into place.
Remur fired the reverse retro thrusters. The spacecraft screeched and shook even harder, until it threatened to shake itself apart. But it didn’t slow down.
Sweat began to pour from Remur. It was flung from his head before it could start to run down his face, and spattered across the control console, the windscreen and all over Snoot.
Snoot wanted to complain. But he felt liquid leaking from a lower region of his body, and hoped Remur didn’t notice the accompanying smell.
“It’s no good,” Remur said, switching the reverse retro thrusters off. “The gravity’s too strong.”
One of Snoot’s tentacles still gripped the radio mouthpiece and he lifted it towards his mouth.
“Hello, hello –”
“Shh,” Remur pulled the radio mouthpiece away from Snoot. “We’re inside the atmosphere. We don’t want any of the inhabitants of the planet to hear us. They are not technologically advanced enough to accept contact.”
“Oh, sorry, I forgot.”
The outside of the spacecraft kept getting hotter. Soon it was nothing but a glowing ball of white heat racing through the atmosphere.
“The reverse retro thrusters won’t work properly without the steering and the steering’s broken,” Remur continued. “I need you to fix it.”
“I’m not going outside –!”
“Hopefully, it’s just blown a fuse. See if you can rewire it.”
Snoot uncurled his tentacles from around his seat. He reached down and grabbed the toolkit from under his seat. He tapped the kickbar and a door opened at the front of the control console. He peered inside to see what the damage was.
“Yes,” Snoot said. “It looks like a fuse. Lots of fuses.”
He quickly got to work. Tentacles and tools poked and prodded, screwed and unscrewed, cut and soldered and generally banged around inside the console.
Then, suddenly, it was silent.
“There,” Snoot announced, tentacles and tools retreated. “That should do it.”
Remur fired the reverse retro thrusters. They were almost exhausted but had enough power left to begin to slow the ship down without shaking it to pieces.
Remur hung onto the controls with all four tentacles. He pulled back on the throttle, trying to lift the nose of the spacecraft as the reverse retro thrusters fizzled out. Slowly the spacecraft began to level out. It no longer plummeted towards the ground.
They were low enough to make out features on the planet’s surface as they zoomed past. They flew across land and water. There were vast forests of green, endless mountain chains of white, and barren sandy expanses. They flew from bright sunlight, through a darkening haze and into a clear night, before reaching sunlight again.
“Okay,” Remur sighed. “We’re in a low orbit. Let’s see if we can use our speed to pull out of the atmosphere.”
He pulled back further on the throttle. The nose tilted skyward, but the spacecraft refused to lift.
“It’s not working,” Snoot wailed.
“I know it’s not working,” Remur said. “And if we keep racing around the planet like this, we’ll hit something.” He tapped a tentacle against his forehead while he thought. “If I cut the power, we’ll gradually slow down. As long as we stay in orbit, above the planet, we’ll be fine. The spacecraft will cool down and we can reassess our position and call home for help.”
“Good idea,” Snoot agreed.
Remur switched off the engines. He left “accessories” on, so they could still have light and use the radio. It would take many hours for the exterior to cool back down to normal.
The spacecraft was now a glowing white ball that drifted across the planet’s sky.
“Do you think anyone noticed?” Remur asked.
Remur and Snoot looked at each other. They both peered out the windscreen, then the side windows.
It was dark. Above them, the night sky was clear. Stars twinkled through the rippling atmosphere. A section of the planet’s only moon was visible, casting its light on the planet’s surface. Below them, the open land stretched out. A small town of wood and stone buildings dotted the landscape to one side and various tracks snaked off into the distance. Fuzzy balls of what looked like cotton wool flocked together in green squared areas of land.
To the other side, the landscape stretched to the sandy hills they had flown over. Three beings dressed in colourful material and jewels that sparkled in the moonlight, sat on three humped four legged creatures. They slowly strolled the dunes, heading in the general direction of the town.
Billy’s Christmas List
Hi, Santa Claus, it’s Billy Grist
Just writing down my Christmas List.
I tried real hard to be good this year
So if you can see your way clear…
I’d like a bike, all shiny and new
In red or green. No, make it blue.
And lots of cars and trucks and blocks
And, please, no clothes or Christmas socks!
About the frog, I know you heard
Mum said she told you every word.
I put it down the teacher’s back
She nearly had a heart attack.
But Tommy said it would be fun
To see her squirm and jump and run.
I’m sorry now, I truly see
That frogs should always be set free.
Our tree is up, it looks just great
Claire and I helped decorate.
There’s tinsel, balls and coloured lights
On top, the star shines in the night.
Around the base the old train goes
Stops at stations, whistle blows.
It chugs around the old snow town
Chugs up the ups, rolls down the downs.
Back to my List, I’ve still got more
I hope it all fits through the door.
My baby sis, that’s little Claire
She’d like a cuddly teddy bear.
Dad loves his car, he’d like some tools
Mum wants a great big swimming pool
And Grandpa’s teeth, he’d like pure gold
A coat for Gran, ’cos she gets cold.
What I want most is not for me.
Can’t put it ’neath a Christmas Tree.
There’s kids out there, doing it hard
They won’t even get a Christmas card.
There’s drought and flood, hunger and war
Some tyrants out to settle a score.
Kids get lost in a world gone rotten
On no one’s list, they get forgotten.
They don’t want much, for what it’s worth
Somewhere to live, their place on Earth.
A bowl of food, just one kind word
Voices silent, they go unheard.
So, Santa, if you can see you way clear
I’ll try to be really good next year
Please find a gift and bring some joy
To all the lonely girls and boys.
Be careful on your Christmas trip
They’re saying snow so please don’t slip.
I’ll be asleep when you arrive
Dad’s moved the car; park in the drive.
There’s milk and cookies waiting here
And carrots for your eight reindeer.
Can’t think of anything I’ve missed
Signed… Billy Grist
PS: I’d really like that bike.
On Sunday morning, Martha Mouse called her large family into their spacious kitchen under a bright sprig of Christmas bush. Bits of sparkly blue and red tinsel and a shiny gold bauble, cracked on one side, hung above their table. Little Monte had rescued them from the farmer’s trashcan before the dumpster arrived on Friday morning. Standing tall and straight next to Martha was Major Mouse, her father, wearing a walnut helmet and toothpick sword stuck in his string belt. Martha twitched her long whiskers as she studied the little mice clustered around her.
“As you all know,” she squeaked, “next Wednesday is Christmas so I want you all to be on your very best behaviour.”
“We always are, Mamma,” giggled little Mandy. She had pretty brown eyes and neat little paws.
Martha straightened Mandy’s bow and stroked her ear. “Well dear, most of you are very good.” She glanced at all the pink ears facing her and the brown gleaming eyes of her pinkies. One was missing. “Oh my, where’s Max? He’s always elsewhere!”
“Last time I saw him, he was off with the fairies,” squeaked Marcus.
Martha’s nose twitched. “How many times do I have to tell him to leave the fairies alone? He plays so roughly he’s likely to pull off one of their wings.”
“No, Mamma,” whispered Mindy. “They like to ride on his back through the garden.”
“What ho,” the Major rasped. “I’ll bring the little pup back, don’t you worry.”
Martha licked Mabelle’s face clean and tweaked Mario’s whiskers so they looked straight on his snout. “Now remember, don’t go near Scratch. He may look like he’s sleeping, but one of his eyes is always open and watching for a mouse to eat. Go and play in the straw, but don’t venture far from our hole.”
“Yes, Mamma!” twelve pinkies piped up in unison.
Outside in the garden, something bright and fast headed straight for the Major’s helmet. The old mouse ducked just in time as a giggling fairy dive bombed him. He waved his toothpick sword at it but missed, scowling. There was a rustling sound in the bushes and then out ran Max Mouse through a grass tunnel with a tiny, laughing fairy sitting on his back grasping his fur. The Major grabbed Max and the fairy flew off with an indignant yell shaking his fist.
“Home with you, young pup,” the Major wheezed.
The Major hauled Max into the kitchen by the scruff of his neck. The little mouse was squealing, his tiny legs running so fast in the air they were a blur when Martha saw him. The Major dropped him in front of his daughter who frowned at the breathless pinky and placed her paws on her hips.
“Max!” she squeaked in a very high voice. “When will you ever learn not to tease the garden fairies?”
“But, Mamma,” Max moaned. “I wasn’t teasing them. We were just playing chasings in the long grass.”
Martha squeaked. “What if you had pulled off one of their delicate wings? We’ll have to pay for the damages and we’re as poor as church mice. I don’t want you to play roughly with them again! Remember it’s Christmas next week. Santa Mouse won’t leave you anything if you’re naughty.”
Max hung his little head. “Yes, Mamma.”
“Now go and play with your brothers and sisters.”
His little claws scraped on the stone floor of the kitchen as Max made his way outside. Martha looked at the Major and shook her head.
“There’s always one in every litter, isn’t there?” she sighed.
The Major pulled out his toothpick sword and waved it about. He stepped back and forth crying “Tally ho” and stabbed at the air. Martha placed her paw on his arm.
“Now don’t you start.”
On Monday morning, Maddie and Mindy raced through the hole and into the kitchen. Their long whiskers were waving up and down excitedly and their beady little eyes looked huge. They didn’t know whether to giggle or be serious. Martha stopped counting out the grain for lunch and looked at them curiously.
“Mamma,” they squeaked. “Max is puddle boating in the rain!”
Martha’s paws shot to her snout as she gasped. “Oh my tail and ears! Major, please go see what’s happening at once.”
The Major scowled, being woken from his midmorning nap. He adjusted his toothpick sword and lopsided helmet and dashed outside the hole flanked by Maddie and Mindy. The garden was dripping with fresh rain and whenever the Major ducked under the delicate fern fronds, they showered him with water, making him scowl even more. Maddie and Mindy just giggled behind him.
Ahead, they heard loud, squeaky laughter. Pushing through the long, wet grass, they came to a muddy lake of puddle water where Max was sailing on a ragged slither of bark. Tied to a stick was a dirty rag he’d stuck in the middle and used it for a sail. Wrapped around the top of the stick was a piece of gold tinsel he’d scrapped from somewhere for decoration. Up and down the puddle lake sailed the tiny mouse, the wind blowing his whiskers back. A delirious smile was curled on his little snout and every so often he laughed out loud with glee.
“Oh, there’s the naughty little pup!” the Major exclaimed and in the next breath called out. “Max! Come here at once!”
And so, Max was hauled before his mother once again in a filthy state. His fur, wet and muddied, stuck up all over his tiny body and his whiskers were more crooked than Scratch’s hind leg. His beady eyes gleamed mischievously. Some of his brothers and sisters raced inside, squeaking, to see what would happen next.
Martha threw her paws into the air and shook her head. “Just look at the state of your fur and whiskers, Max! What were you thinking? You could have drowned in that puddle! We mice are not good swimmers, you know. Major will tell you the tale of poor Uncle Mannie Mouse.”
Major Mouse cleared his throat and placed his paw on Max’s head. “Why, yes, your Uncle Mannie loved to play in the puddles just like you do. But one day, the rain was heavier and the puddles much deeper. He didn’t know this of course and fell off his bark boat and simply drowned.”
“So, Max, find something safe to do,” Martha scolded, licking her paws and cleaning the mud off his fur.
“Yes, Mamma,” squeaked the tiny mouse, hanging his head.
On Christmas Eve, there was a great commotion in the barn. Redman Rooster was flapping about, telling all the animals that Henny’s eggs were finally hatching. They all congratulated him in their special ways. The cow mooed, the sheep bleated and the pig oinked in her pen. They promised to do something special for Henny and Red. When Martha called her pinkies to tell them Henny’s good news, Max was absent – again!
“Has anyone seen Max?” she squeaked in an anxious voice, looking at her children.
“He told me he was going into the farmhouse to get some bread,” Morris piped up, his jaws full of seed.
“Oh my!” yelped Martha.
The Major jumped up at once, toothpick sword waving in the air and made a valiant dash through the hole toward the farmhouse. Following closely behind was Martha and all her pinkies.
The Mouse family didn’t have to go far when there was Max proudly clutching a lump of fresh bread in his paws. Martha ran up and held him by his ears. The Major waved his toothpick sword around, just in case Scratch was about. The pinkies all gathered.
“What were you thinking, Max, going into the very farmhouse?” Martha Mouse waved her paw at him. “Don’t you remember how the farmer’s wife cut off the tails of those three blind mice with her carving knife?”
“But I wasn’t getting it for myself,” squeaked Max, clutching the piece of bread in his tight paws. “It’s a gift for Henny. She’s been sitting on her eggs all day and hasn’t eaten anything. I thought she might like fresh bread for Christmas.”
Max’s thoughtfulness brought a lump to Martha’s throat and she hugged him. “Well, why don’t you go and give it to her? After all, it is Christmas. Look, there she is on her nest.”
The Mouse family followed Max as he carried the bread to Henny’s box. The other animals had gathered, too, to look at her brood. From under her wings came the soft chirping sounds of her newly hatched chicks. Redman Rooster was standing nearby, looking proud with his glossy red feathers.
“Thank you all for coming to celebrate with Henny and me,” he clucked.
“We’ve also brought some gifts,” mooched Jasmine the cow. “I brought you some nice-smelling new hay for your box, Henny.”
“Thank you, Jasmine,” clucked Henny. “That’ll come in handy.”
“And here is some soft wool so your chicks can keep warm at night,” baa-ed Barbara the old sheep, laying down some of her white wool.
“Oh, thank you, Barbara,” clucked Henny. “The nights have been a bit cold.”
“And I brought you some extra grain to eat,” oinked Peppy the pig.
“Thank you, Peppy,” clucked Henny. “It’ll save me having to go look for it myself.”
Then Martha ushered her pinkies forward. The Major prodded Max out in front, still holding the fresh bread in his tiny paws. At that moment, Martha felt so proud of Max.
“And my littlest pinky, Max, has brought you some fresh bread, straight from the farmer’s wife’s oven.”
“Ooooh, I love bread!” clucked Henny, her brown eyes gleaming. “Thank you, Max, and all the mice.”
Redman strutted forward. “Max is very brave. The bravest of all the mice.”
“And so say all of us,” agreed the other animals.
Max’s ears turned bright pink but he felt very happy all the same. Just then, six little chicks peeped their heads out from under Henny’s wings.
“Look!” he squeaked.
And that’s just what all the animals did. Henny’s face glowed as she clucked. Martha placed her paw on Max’s head and wiggled her whiskers.
“Merry Christmas, everyone!” she squeaked. She winked at Max, her heart swelling with pride. “Merry Christmas, Max.”
“You’re what?” Santa blared at the little reindeer. “I know you’ve been putting on a little weight, but you can’t be pregnant. It’s Christmas Eve.”
Cupid lowered her head and turned away shyly.
Santa turned to his other reindeer and put his hands on his hips. His chubby cheeks were redder than ever. “All right, who’s responsible for this?”
The boys all headed for the door and out into the cool freshness of the snow.
“I thought you’d be happy for me,” Cupid sobbed.
Santa turned back. He knew he’d upset his little reindeer. “Any other time of year and I would,” he told her softly. He sat down in the straw and held out a hand for her to come to him. “But it’s Christmas Eve and the sleigh is more full than ever. How am I going to manage with only seven reindeer?”
Cupid waddled across the floor of the stable. Her belly drooped and her sides ballooned out, and she was nearly as round as Santa himself. She rested her chin in his hand.
“There now. That’s a good girl.” Santa’s other hand stroked her head and tickled behind her ears.
“What if you use extra Christmas Dust on the sleigh?” she asked. “That should make it lighter.”
“Yes, but those elves have been playing with it and I’ve got barely enough left to do the job.” His arm went over her neck and gave her an affectionate squeeze. “Don’t worry yourself about it. I’ll think of something.”
All day as Santa packed his sleigh he tried to figure out what to do. It had taken years to come up with a schedule that would enable him to travel around the world in a night and visit every child’s home. No elves would be able to come on this trip, the sleigh would be heavy enough.
At last the sleigh was packed and the harness ready to be attached. He had to organise his reindeer with the least disruption.
“Come on,” he called them. “It’s time to set off.”
“What about Cupid?” they all wanted to know.
“She’s staying home. The elves will look after her. And when we get back, I’m going to have a serious talk with you boys.”
Comet was shattered. “What am I going to do without Cupid by my side?”
“You’re going up the front,” Santa told him. “Dasher, you’ll take lead. Comet, you’re in Dasher’s place.”
“I get to lead out front on my own?” Dasher asked, his proud head flinging higher than usual.
“Why can’t I lead?” Dancer asked.
“Comet’s a left side reindeer,” Santa answered. “I can’t suddenly move him to the right. It’s going to be hard enough as it is.”
Santa backed his reindeer into the harness. He’d taken out the traces where Comet and Cupid normally were and put in a single one out front for Dasher. Then he sprinkled the reindeer and sleigh with Christmas Dust, using the last few grains for himself.
He checked his watch, pulled his coat and hat tighter around himself and stepped lightly into the sleigh. He picked up the reins and flicked them once.
“On Dasher. On Comet and Dancer, and Prancer and… everyone else.” He fumbled with the new order. “Let’s go before it gets too late.”
At first the reindeer struggled to move the stationary sleigh. It took another minute to get used to being able to fly and to get into rhythm with each other. Dasher snorted happily in front, flinging his head and calling to the sky. Dancer sulked, but only briefly as he had a job to do. Comet looked around fascinated. This was a much better view than Prancer’s hindquarters.
The reindeer tried hard to keep to their schedule. Without Cupid’s help they began to tire more easily. The last few hours of their journey found them trying to outrace the first rays of the morning sun.
Eventually, they were finished. The now empty sleigh rose into the sky for the last time and Dasher turned to the north and to home. His cheerful snorts had disappeared and his head began to droop.
Miles of ocean passed beneath them and the sleigh began to lower. Familiar white icecaps appeared on the horizon. Dasher lifted, the other reindeer followed his lead. The sun rose in the east and they caught a glimpse as they passed back into the endless winter that was the arctic north.
Home. The reindeer stumbled on landing, the sleigh bumped heavily. Santa had to hang on as it leaned heavily to one side, then settled and came to rest.
He patted and praised each reindeer as he released them from their traces. Most dropped down to rest. Dasher’s legs wobbled, but he was determined to stand. Comet turned his tired head toward the stable, his hooves dragging through the snow.
Two elves rushed out of the stable. “Santa, come quick. It’s Cupid.”
Comet galloped to the stable, lowering his head to push the door open. He skidded to a halt in the straw, eyes darting anxiously around.
Cupid was resting. Curled up beside her was a tiny, spotted fawn. She looked up as Comet burst into the stable, knocking the door off its hinges, and smiled at him.
He walked over to her. He lowered his head and began to nuzzle her.
“Comet, there’s no need to break down the door,” Santa complained as the elves dragged him inside. The sight of Cupid’s fawn made him smile.
“I’ve called her Eve,” she told Comet. “Because she was born on Christmas Eve. If that’s all right with you.”
“That’s perfect,” Comet answered. “What do you think, Santa?”
Santa patted his reindeer and watched the sleeping baby. “I think she’s the best present any of us could have asked for.”
About the authors
Sarah Cowan loves stories, music and trees. She is also very comfortable with a wheelbarrow full of cow poo or a bucket of worms: gardening. Sarah was a nice little girl, a naughty adolescent and a rebellious, runaway teenager; and now she is a writer with masses of experiences to write about. She lives in a small town on the NSW coast with her cat and her garden.
Sarah has a Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing and Editing. She has published a music program/CD for schools (The Music Cubby), a book for grade sixes (Year 7? No Sweat!), and stories, poems, articles and haiku for older people and absolute dinosaurs. She has facilitated writing and songwriting workshops in schools and at camps and festivals.
Sarah has written over 350 songs, and has made seven CDs, five of them with her band sacred cow in which she is singer and guitarist.
She recently won the Open Age section of the 2016 “Change the World with your Song” competition. The winning song is called Western Greed Blues.
Most of Sarah’s songs are for older people and absolute dinosaurs, so maybe you can pass on this link to your parents and they can leave you in peace to read her stories:
I’ve spent most of my life telling people my name is James Jesse, not Jesse James like that infamous (that means bad – very bad!) outlaw of the Wild West.
One thing that did happen because of it is that I developed an interest in history. When I saw this opportunity for Christmas stories, the first thing I thought of were the legends of Saint Nicholas. Nicholas lived about 1, 750 years ago. He wanted to help children and performed lots of miracles. Some miracles even happened after Nicholas’ death.
There’s some pretty gruesome stories, so I decided to pick a nice one for you!
In this legend, a boy named Basilios was kidnapped by pirates on the eve of the Feast of Saint Nicholas. It happened in a town called Myra in Turkey. Nicholas had been the bishop of Myra when he was alive. After he died, the people chose him as the patron saint of the town. A Patron Saint is a special protector.
Basilios became a slave to a king or emir. His job was to bring the king his wine in a golden cup. Next year, on the Feast of Saint Nicholas, Saint Nicholas brought Basilios back to his family.
The problem with legends is that there are so many different versions of them, and everyone says their version is the right one. So I decided to use the legend and create my own story.
This is the first story I’ve written that is suitable for children. I hope you like it.
Melissa Cleeman is a children’s writer and illustrator. She has written several children’s nonfiction books including, The Catacombs of Paris and The Wonders of Stonehenge, as well as the biographies of Saint Nicholas and Abraham Lincoln.
Melissa also enjoys writing children’s horror stories under the name MC Perri. Her first story, Ice Scream, is available for FREE from Shakespir. Her next story, Under the Big Top, will be available from various online bookstores by Christmas 2016.
She is also excited about a new series she will be launching in 2017 on Celeste, a witch from a magical realm who tries adapting to our world. Celeste and the Sticky School Fete will be available in February 2017.
As an illustrator, Melissa enjoys bringing to life the children and ghosts from Jeannie Meekins’ Cemetery Ghost series, and has also illustrated the delightful book, The Great Tadpole Hunt.
Melissa is the owner of a new business, Pen to Print, which offers manuscript and editing services, along with one-on-one mentoring for emerging writers.
In her spare time, Melissa loves playing video games, eating ice cream, spending time with her partner, family and friends, and hanging out with her dog, Mia, and her cat, Doormat.
Gidday! My name is Karen and writing for kids is my game. I live by the sea and the best things in life for me are the simple little things. Like a good coffee, walking on the beach, catching up with friends, having a good belly laugh, just doing cool stuff like listening to music and eating good food.
I think our dog Elmo is the best thing since sliced bread, but he can be super naughty. You see, he is an escape artist, so you will often find me out and about looking for Elmo. He is such a naughty puppy, but I would not be without him.
I really hope you enjoy the “The Christmas Wish Box”, and that it gets you thinking about all the things that you can do with a little imagination. Summer holidays are my favourite time of the year, and some of the things I used to do as a kid are in my Christmas Story. You see, Christmas is about family and love and all that other gooey stuff. So this Christmas, have a little think about something special you can do with your family to make some cool Christmas memories. It might be backyard cricket, or Lego creations, or boogie boarding in the sea, but just soak up all the fun.
I have an author page on Facebook to be found, and also a page on Creative Kids Tales and Just Kids Lit. I would love to know your favourite day of Christmas in my story, so post it on my page if you dare.
Hello children. My name is Pete.
It gets really cold up here in the mountains at this time of year. The clear cold nights far away from the smog and lights of the city give glorious views of the sky. I can look at it for hours, just wondering what’s out there. It also makes me feel so tiny.
My story is a little bit different. I followed the guidelines and made it suitable for everyone. If your beliefs don’t follow the Christian Christmas, you can still enjoy my story about two aliens who get lost finding their way to their home planet.
I write a bit, but I’ve never had anything published. I’m really chuffed about having this story published.
Hi, I’m Sam
I like playing cricket and football, so that keeps me busy for most of the year. When I’m not playing, I’m usually outdoors, doing something. It’s much more fun than being stuck inside.
I started writing for kids because I love your sense of fun and imagination. Nothing is impossible when you’re a kid. Whatever you can dream can become real.
Billy’s Christmas List is all about what Billy wants for Christmas. Billy is not always good and often gets into trouble. But as he’s writing his list, he realises that sometimes, it’s not all about yourself.
I started writing rhyming books for fun. Ideas kept popping into my head and the rhymes just started to happen.
My first book, I Thought I’d Teach Myself to Shave was published earlier this year. It’s all about one of the first rituals of becoming a man – learning to shave! And it’s easy, right? No! Shaving is full of danger and pitfalls. It should not be attempted by anyone under the age of about 50!
My next book is called Andrew and the Dragon. It’s about a boy who fights a dragon to save his town. ’Cos we all know that when adults are too scared to do anything, it’s up to the kids to save the day.
It’s due out in 2017, so keep an eye out for it!
Here’s the link for I Thought I’d Teach Myself to Shave. I’d love you to check it out.
Hi, I’m Lizbeth Klein.
I live in a caravan and travel about the countryside with my husband. I love reading but I love writing stories more. With a love for fantasy adventure, I have published two young adult novels titled Firelight of Heaven and Greenheart of the Forest. Both have won the Literary Classics Seal of Approval. They are a mystifying glimpse into a world overtaken by magic, gripping stories of loss, elusive destinies and painful discoveries. I have also created learning resources for two learning centres, published stories in reading kits in primary schools, published articles online and in magazines, stories in anthologies and poetry.
Recently, I published some quirky plays about rude pirates, silly fairy tales and wacky playground adventures. At present, I’m focussing on a young adult book called The Gryphon Key, as well as some middle grade books and picture books. So there’s a lot going on in this caravan. You’ve probably seen my light on from where you live.
Would you like to visit my website for more of my writing? bethloria.com.au
I’ve got a couple of kids, a couple of cats and a dog – and he thinks he’s a big kid. Whenever anyone’s playing or having fun, he wants to be a part of it.
I write for kids and adults. I have a lot of different interests, so I write about a lot of different subjects. Writing fiction is fun. You can have adventures just about everywhere. Non fiction is where you’ve got to get things right. All that textbooky type stuff even makes me bored, so I try to make my books interesting and if I can put some fun in them, then I will.
A lot of my non fiction has been used in schools. Maybe you’ve come across some of them. I even get comments from kids and parents saying how helpful the books have been for assignments and projects. That makes me really pleased.
You can drop by my Facebook page and check out the albums to see what’s there.
Storm Cloud ebooks
For young readers
Under the Bridge – for readers 8 years upwards
Girls Can’t Play – for readers 8 years upwards
Slimming Down Santa – for readers 8 years upwards
The Great Tadpole Hunt – for readers 6 years upwards
Andrew and the Dragon – a rhyming book for readers 8 years upwards
Scully the Cat – a rhyming book for readers 6 years upwards
I Thought I’d Teach Myself to Shave – a rhyming book for readers 6 years upwards
Meg Helps Out – a picture book for readers 6 years upwards
Who’s Scared of the Dark? – a picture book for 18 months upwards
Grandpa’s Hat – a picture book for non or beginning readers, or foreign language readers
Short Tales – a short story collection for readers 8-12 years
Short Tales 2 – a short story collection for readers 8-12 years
Christmas Tales – a short story collection for readers 8-12 years
The Virtues of Drac (complete edition)
Into the Land of Clubs (The Virtues of Drac: Book One)
Through the Land of Diamonds (The Virtues of Drac: Book Two)
Fallen Virtues (The Virtues of Drac: Book Three)
For readers 15 years to adult
By Any Other Name
Shoulder of the Giant
For information and updates on Storm Cloud books, writers and illustrators, visit the Storm Cloud Publishing page on Facebook: