Feed Item
Added a post  to  , Children's Books & YA Authors

Hello

I’m a new member of the group. I’ve written a children’s fantasy adventure in verse of a little under 3000 words. If anyone would care to offer feedback, all comment would be very gratefully received.


                  Wild Flight

A Fascinating Fable of Friendship, Fearlessness and...Fur

                        1

A little girl lay snug in bed.

‘It’s time to sleep’, her mother said. 

But Selma Rose (for it was she), 

Thought, ‘Sorry, I do not agree’.


Why can’t I choose to stay awake? 

I’m almost five, for goodness sake! 

The stars are out, the moon is bright, 

I’m going to stay up all night!’


Mum gave her cheek a gentle kiss,

And cooed, ‘Now, close your eyes, like this, 

Sweet dreams are what the nights are for’.

With that, she tiptoed out the door.


Isn’t it a peaceful feeling,

Watching shadows on the ceiling, 

When there’s no-one else around, 

To make or hear the slightest sound?


Selma’s eyes began to close.

She fell into a gentle doze,

And had there been two minutes more, 

I’m sure we would have heard her snore.


But all at once those eyes grew wide! 

She whipped her head from side to side. 

Was that a ghost she’d just heard speak? 

She forced herself to take a peek.


It whispered softly, ‘Shhh, look here, 

Our Selma’s woken up, I fear.

I hope she doesn’t make a fuss,

The moment she discovers us’.


Poor Selma, she completely froze,

And went quite stiff from head to toes. 

For who had crept into her room?

Was she about to meet her doom?


‘Who’s there?’ she cried. ‘Come out! Come out!’ 

The voice replied, ‘No need to shout,

Or feel the teensiest alarm.

We do not wish you any harm’.


‘I only have your word that’s so! 

You could be trolls for all I know, 

Who gobble little girls for tea.

I hope that you will not eat me!’


‘There’s no-one here inclined to feel,

That you would make a meal deal.

We’re all your friends, please don’t take fright. 

Here, let me just turn on the light’.


And suddenly, from deepest gloom, 

A brilliant light engulfed the room. 

She saw a face, and what is more, 

There wasn’t only one, but four.


Rabbit, Squirrel, Badger, Fox.

Selma’s eyes came out on stalks!

Her hair stood up. Her knees went weak.

And then the Fox began to speak....


                         2


‘I’m sure, my dear, you will recall, 

That usually, we’re on your wall. 

But when your busy day is done, 

It’s time for us to have our fun.


And what we really love to do

(I hope we can confide in you),

Is seek adventures strange and wild, 

Where it’s not safe to take a child.


Tonight, we fly to Serengeti, 

Where it’s hot and very sweaty. 

Lions prowl, and leopards too. 

It’s far too dangerous for you’.


‘But Foxy, I am super brave,

Not shaken by the closest shave. 

Please let me come with you tonight, 

I promise you I’ll be all right.


London’s lovely, I agree,

But there is so much more to see. 

Perhaps I’ll meet the Lion King.

Oh yes, there’s one more little thing.


‘My brother’s name is Ezra Sam. 

He is as sweet as strawberry jam, 

And it would just be great if you, 

Took not just me, but Ezzy too’.


The animals exchanged a look.

‘This really isn’t by the book’,

Said Badger, with a worried frown, 

‘You might get sick, or hurt, or drown.


If you’re inside a tiger’s tum,

Try telling that to Dad and Mum.

It’s fine for folks like us to roam,

But you, my sweet, must stay at home.’


‘Oh, honestly! You’re such a wuss!’ 

Cried Selma, ‘What a sourpuss!

I promise you we’ll both take care. 

Don’t leave us here. It’s just not fair!’


With furrowed brows, the furry four, 

Went out the room to talk some more.

But when at last they came back in, 

The Rabbit couldn’t hide her grin.


‘Well, Selma, I’ve some news for you. 

At first we were against it, true,

But taking one thing with another, 

You can come with little brother’.


Mrs Rabbit, thank you so!

I simply cannot wait to go.

I’m so excited by this chance,

I think I’m going to wet my pants!’


The Badger coughed. ‘Oh do take care, 

I can’t abide damp underwear.

But time is racing on ahead,

So quick, get Ezra out of bed’.


Selma flew across the floor,

And zoomed into the room next door. 

‘Wake up, wake up, you sleepy sod! 

It’s no time for the Land of Nod!


You won’t believe me, but tonight, 

We’re going on a crazy flight

To Africa. I swear it’s true!

I bet you’ll never guess with who’.


Ezra blinked and rubbed his eyes. 

You can imagine his surprise,

As Selma forced him to awaken. 

What a turn events had taken.


‘Not another of your dramas!

Can’t you see I’m in pyjamas?

Leave me here in peace to dream. 

Sometimes you make me want to scream!’


‘Oh, stop your moaning, Ezzy boy! 

You grumpy little boys annoy’. 

She took him firmly by the hand, 

And marched him off to meet her band.


‘Folks, this is my brother Ez,

The coolest dude, my Daddy says’. 

The boy stood speechless by her side, 

His mouth and eyes both open wide.


Pleased to meet you, Master E’,

Said Rabbit, ‘Kindly follow me. 

The time has come for us to go, 

Now, here is all you need to know.


Tonight, we’re off to foreign lands. 

Please make a circle, all join hands. 

And hush, my friends, attend with care, 

As I recite this ancient prayer.


All present did as they were told. 

(Thought Selma, ‘Badger’s hand’s so cold!) 

The Rabbit raised her arms up high,

And fixed her gaze upon the sky.


‘Lord of the Forest, hear our call.

As we beseech you, fly us all,

Through endless time and deepest space, 

To Africa’s most scary place’.

                       3                         

There came a sudden whooshing sound, 

As Selma’s room spun round and round. 

Her curly head was spinning too.

‘Oh Ez!’ she cried, ‘What shall we do?’


‘Your yelping isn’t helping, Sis!

It’s you who got us into this!

Just shut your eyes, and hold on tight. 

With any luck, we’ll be all right’.


It was as if a giant’s hand,

Had grabbed that gallant little band,

And hurtled them across the sky,

‘Yikes!’ Selma screamed, ‘We’re going to die!’


For all went black. They flew quite blind, 

The Fox called out, ‘I think you’ll find, 

That though you’re feeling petrified, 

Your fear will very soon subside’.


And do you know, the Fox was right, 

For in an instant, all was light. 

Below them lay the vast terrain,

Of Serengeti’s mighty plain.


They landed with a hefty thud, 

Unfortunately, in the mud. 

‘Urrgghh!’ groaned Ezra, ‘This is yuk! 

Just wait till Mum sees all this muck!’


Said Fox, ‘It’s time you knew our goal. 

Not far from here’s a waterhole.

A savage creature stalks this place, 

And few have ever seen its face.


To whom, you ask, do I refer?

Well, I shall tell you, Ma’am and Sir. 

We’re on a quest to find tonight,

A tiger of the purest white.


White tigers, they are fierce and proud. 

To just say, ‘Hi!’ is not allowed.

So hark, while I explain to you,

Exactly what we’re going to do.


Around this waterhole are trees. 

We’ll hide ourselves up one of these, 

And so you’ll have a splendid view, 

I’ve glasses here for each of you.


A spyglass hung around each neck,

Our heroes started on their trek. 

But constantly they looked around, 

Alert to every sight and sound.


At last, the waterhole they spied,

A blue oasis, deep and wide,

And all around it trees were spread, 

Exactly as the Fox had said.


Said Squirrel, ‘Trees are my domain. 

It’s time for me to use my brain.

I’ll run ahead, to be our guide,

And find us all a place to hide’.


He soon come back. ‘Quick! Come with me! 

Just look at this tremendous tree.

Its twisted branches, thick and green.

Will guarantee we won’t be seen.


Now up you go, and do not stop, 

Until you’ve reached the very top’. 

They swiftly did as they were bid. 

And soon were all completely hid.

                            4

‘We must stay still’, the Badger muttered, 

And ne’er a truer word was uttered,

For here, impatience is a crime.

White tigers come in their own time.


Below them, beasts of every size,     

Confronted their astonished eyes. 

More animals than you can think,

Assembled there to bathe and drink.


Lions stalked the wildebeest, 

Preparing for a bloody feast, 

While vultures circled overhead, 

Intent on dining on the dead.


The prairie dogs kept watch and howled,

While monkeys shrieked and leopards growled. 

Beneath the waters, cruel and vile,

Lurked the deadly crocodile.


A resting rhino sniffed and snored. 

The elephants looked slightly bored, 

As they stood drinking in a line,

But of white tigers, not a sign.


‘Selma,’ Ezra whispered low, 

‘How long is it before we go? 

I’m sorry to report my bum

Has just gone absolutely numb’.


But heading home was not a choice,

For suddenly, they heard a voice,

‘Hey you up there, what are you doing?’ 

And knew that there was trouble brewing.


Through the foliage, they peeked.

“Oh help! He’s found us!” Selma squeaked. 

For smiling up at them beneath,

Were two black eyes and razor teeth.


                      5

The dreadful creature down below, 

Had fur as white as driven snow.

It scratched the trunk with giant claws, 

And drool came dripping from its jaws.


‘A juicy boy and girl to eat,

Now that is what I call a treat!

And when with both of them I’m done, 

I’ll eat the rest of you for fun’.


Things could not have looked more black. 

To end up as a tiger’s snack,

Was only his idea of fun,

And now there was no time to run.


The Squirrel, looking very ill, 

Wailed, ‘How I wish I’d made a will! 

Who’s going to care for all my nuts,

When I’m inside this tiger’s guts?’


‘Selma’, Ezra said, ‘Have you,

The slightest clue what we should do? 

There’s not a hope of getting free, 

While we’re stuck up this blooming tree.


‘What we must do, Ez’, Selma said,

Is get inside this tiger’s head.

If we can show him kids are kind,

With luck, he might just change his mind’.

But Ezra warned, ‘Don’t go alone. 

He’ll eat you if you’re on your own. 

Let’s both of us climb down halfway, 

And out of reach, we’ll have our say’.


‘OK’, said Selma.‘Follow me’.

And slowly, they slid down the tree.

The tiger watched with bated breath.

He licked his lips and planned their death.


‘Hey Mr Tiger, How d‘you do.

We’d like to have a word with you. 

It seems there’s been a big mistake, 

So can’t we talk, for heaven’s sake?’


The tiger sneered, ‘Well, that’s so true. 

A big mistake’s been made by you.

You should have stayed at home in bed. 

Instead you’re going to end up dead’.


‘Now that’s the kind of talk I hate’,

Said Ez. ‘Can’t we negotiate?’

There must be something we can do,

To make you change your point of view’.


The tiger snarled, ‘Your situation,

Is not one for negotiation.

Don’t think to run, you won’t get far.

There’s no escape! It’s time to ....Aaarrrhhh!!’


                              6


He screamed in the most awful pain.

Then screamed some more, and screamed again. 

A vicious trap, with jagged jaws,

Had snapped around his two front paws.


‘Quick!’ Cried Ezra. ‘This is it!

Let’s round up all the rest, and split!’ 

But Selma frowned, and shook her head. 

‘We can’t just leave him here’, she said.


‘If we don’t help him, you and I,

We both know that he’s going to die,

And though he’s caused us so much strife, 

We really have to save his life’.


‘But will he leave us be?’ said Ez.

‘Let’s ask, and find out what he says’.

They climbed down from their perch on high, 

And looked the tiger in the eye.


‘Mr Tiger, don’t you feel,

The time has come to make a deal?

If you will let us fly away,

We’ll spring this trap. So, what d’you say?’


The tiger roared, ‘YES! Have no fear. 

If you can get me out of here,

Then you’ll be absolutely free,

On that, you have my guarantee’.


The trap lay glinting in the night.

They heaved on it with all their might, 

Then pushed and pulled from side to side, 

Till suddenly, it opened wide.


From the trap the tiger leapt.

Would his promises be kept?

Rabbit, Squirrel, Badger, Fox,

Watched on from up above, like hawks.


He licked each bleeding, aching limb.

The children backed away from him,

In fear that he’d forget his vow.

Oh how they longed for home, right now.


At last, the beast looked up and spoke. 

‘I used to hate you human folk,

For meeting you, as like as not,

Would end up in me getting shot.


But thanks to you, I’m still alive, 

And from now on, I swear I’ll strive, 

Until the day I meet my end,

To be your true and faithful friend’.


I hope that you’ll come back to visit. 

That’s not too much to wish for, is it? 

But now, I think,’ the tiger said,

‘It’s time to get you back to bed’.


                        7

Teeth a-chatter, up their tree,

The fearful friends all strained to see, 

Exactly what had just occurred,

Too terrified to breathe a word.


Selma cried, ‘Ahoy you four!

No need to be scared any more. 

This tiger’s rather sweet, you know, 

So come on down and say Hello’.


The branches shook, as one and all, 

Descended, trying not to fall.

But when, together, they’d assembled, 

Despite what Selma said, they trembled.


‘Dear friends, fear not, I won’t attack’, 

The tiger said. ‘Climb on my back. 

White tigers have a special power.

I’ll have you home within the hour’.


They saw his promise would be kept, 

So up on to his back they leapt.

The Squirrel gave a nervous cough, 

And prayed that he would not fall off.

‘Now hold on tight!’ the tiger roared, 

As up into the night they soared.

The Serengeti, huge and hot, 

Became, in no time, just a dot.


They flew at twice the speed of light, 

Each hanging on with all their might, 

As zooming through the inky sky, 

They watched the stars go flashing by.


At last, they started gently down,

And through the clouds, old London town, 

Lay still and silent in the dawn.

The hours of night had almost gone.


Down below, lay Shaftesbury Road.

Its lamplight (and their faces) glowed,

As tears of joy poured down their cheeks. 

It felt like they’d been gone for weeks.


‘Friends’, came Foxy’s cheerful call, ‘

‘We’ll soon be back on Selma’s wall, 

And they’ll be snuggled up in bed’. 

‘Sounds good to me, Ez’, Selma said.


The tiger stopped and turned around. 

‘You’ll soon be back on solid ground.

I hope that we will meet again, 

Although we can’t say where or when.


But now, there’s one thing left to do.

I’m going to cast a spell on you,

And if you’ll put your faith in me,

You’ll soon be back where you should be.


By lion’s claw and eagle’s wing!

By serpent’s tooth and hornet’s sting! 

Let you who have traversed the earth, 

Return now to your place of birth!’


They felt a soft and gentle hand.

It scooped them up like grains of sand, 

And sent them tumbling through the deep, 

Where waited home and heavenly sleep....


                        Epilogue


Through shaded windows, morning crept, 

As safe and warm, two children slept. 

Mum peeked in, and called to Dad, 

‘They’ve slept all night! ‘I’m so, so glad!’


On Selma’s wall, four furry folk,

Moved not a hair, and no-one spoke 

(Although, if you look hard, I think,

From time to time, you’ll spot them wink).


This stirring story goes to show,

What every girl and boy should know, 

That in our lives, what really counts, 

Are grit and grace in large amounts.

The kids don’t see the tiger much, 

But still, they try to keep in touch. 

They know his life is really hard, 

And every birthday send a card.


‘We hope you have a lovely day.

Good luck go with you all the way. 

Keep safe and well, dear friend’, it says. 

‘Much love from Selma and from Ez’.


                       THE END

.....................................................................


Comments
  • Welcome to Townhouse, Stephen. Thanks for sharing your story, it was so much fun to read. I think you've got just the right tone. Humorous and not too scary for the little ones. I loved the idea of the wallpaper animals coming to life, and I think kids will too. 

    I think this poem could appeal to a wide range of ages, especially because of its length. I'd recommend upping the girl's age to 6 or even 7. I assume the brother is younger, this way you have all ages covered. 

    Although, if you look hard, I think, From time to time, you’ll spot them wink).  

    I thought this was a great way to end the story. Upbeat and fun. Leave them wanting more and wondering what the next adventure will be! (don't like the parenthesis, however. You don't need them.) The next lines come across as preachy and kids will turn up their noses right away. Stop while you're ahead! I'd eliminate the last two paragraphs. 

    These are just my opinions so take what makes sense to you and leave the rest. I'm looking forward to reading more of your wonderful stories!




    0 0 0 0 0 0
    • Hi Julie

      Thanks so much for your generous and very helpful feedback. Food for thought indeed.

      The children are real people, and have the misfortune to be my grandchildren. Selma is “almost five”, but you make a very good point about age.

      I certainly don’t want the ending to be “preachy”, and am grateful for the thought. I think it only really applies to the third last paragraph, but I’ll think hard about deleting the final three.

      Many thanks again, and all the very best with your own work.

      Stephen

      0 0 0 0 0 0
      • The 'preachy' referred to this part: This stirring story goes to show, What every girl and boy should know, That in our lives, what really counts, Are grit and grace in large amounts. You could just cut these lines if you want to keep your ending. I hope I didn't offend you, just trying to help :)

        0 0 0 0 0 0
      • Yep, got that, thanks again Julie. I’m not in the least offended, feedback that’s not candid isn’t worth having. 

        0 0 0 0 0 0
        • I liked it too Stephen and perhaps a bit of preachiness doesn't go amiss if there's lots of humour.  Hilaire Belloc springs to mind.

          0 0 0 0 0 0
          • Thought no 2.   Do you have a good illustrator?

            0 0 0 0 0 0
            • Thanks very much for the kind comments Jaye. 

              I don’t have an illustrator at the moment. I’m not confident that this type of thing, irrespective of quality, is going to be attractive to publishers. If it turns out that it is, then that’s something to deal with at that point.

              Many thanks again. 

              0 0 0 0 0 0
              Not logged in users can't 'Comments Post'.
              Info