Michelle Barber

All posts tagged Michelle Barber

The Adventure of Father Christmas’s Sack starring Will Blyton and The Stinking Shadow.

Published November 30, 2012 by loonyliterature

When Will Blyton is not busy solving cases and sending people back to the past, he hangs out with his friends.  One of his favourite friends is Father Christmas.  Will likes to share a mince pie with the dear old gentleman and sing some jolly Christmas songs.

Father Christmas and Will Blyton.

Will Blyton shares a festive mince pie with Father Christmas.

When Will has finished his mince pie, he goes outside to feed the reindeer as they are making an awful racket.  Unbeknown to him, The Stinking Shadow has been hiding behind the curtains and when Will goes outside he pops out 0f his hiding place.

Father Christmas and The Stinking Shadow

The Stinking Shadow offers Father Christmas a festive Clementine.

If Will Blyton could see The Stinking Shadow offering Father Christmas something to eat, he would instantly know that there was something greatly amiss.  The Stinking Shadow has one rule about food and that is to eat it himself.  When he time travelled from the 14th century to the 1970s, he thought he was in food wonderland and never misses an opportunity to taste anything he can.

The Stinking Shadow has Father Christmas's sack.s

The Stinking Shadow has managed to get hold of Father Christmas’s sack.

Oh dear!  The Stinking Shadow must have grabbed Father Christmas’s sack.  Does this mean the end of Christmas?  Watch the film clip below to find out what happens next.

Will Blyton makes sure that all’s well that ends well.  As you can see, Father Christmas has got his sack back.

Writing For Kids – Three Easy Steps to Help Kids Create Characters.

Published November 1, 2012 by loonyliterature

 

 

I see so many people who remind me of animals and I don’t mean that in a nasty way as I am a great animal lover, what I mean is if people remind us of animals in reality, why not get children to use animals as a way of helping them create characters when they write stories, act sketches or make their own comic books?   Using these three easy steps, we can give children the confidence to realise that they too can create story people.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 Step One

 

This fun step shows children how people can actually remind us of animals and how  it actually works so that they get a full understanding of what we are trying to achieve.  I have given you  a choice of three different ways of doing this, you only need to pick the way which appeals to you the most   a) out in the field,  b )the internet or books   c) my chosen examples which are below.

 

a) Out in the  Field

 

For brave adults only, we have to play at being spies – we have to act as if we are invisible so that no-one will know what we are doing.  Sitting in busy places with a notebook offers up a glut of possibilities – train stations, bus stations, shopping centres and city centres have benches to sit upon with a notebook perched upon the knee.  The child has to remember  to keep quiet about their findings, notes can only be swapped later when safely away from the ears of the people we have written about. 

 

 b) The Internet or Books.

 

For the more sensible who don’t want to get chased by the dog walker or stressed out commuter , there is a treasure of photographs on the internet – Victorian ones tend to be very useful with all those whiskers, corsets and stern admonishing gazes.

 

 

 

c) Here are some ready made examples:

 

Boris Johnson

Is it a polar bear?

 

 Boris Johnson reminds me of a polar bear with his unruly blond mop, his big, clumsy body and his small, bear like eyes.

 

A male polar bear

A male polar bear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Winston Churchill.

Is it a bulldog?

 

Winston Churchill reminds me of a bulldog with his stocky body, very round face and matching round, bulging eyes.

bulldog

Meet our Winston.

 

 

Angelina Jolie

Is it a cat?

 

Angelina Jolie looks like a cat with her high cheekbones, almond shaped eyes and elegant body.

 

black cat face

Mildred or Angelina?

 

Ask the children to point out how the people in the photographs resemble specific animals.  This gives them the idea of how humans can remind us of creatures – doing this first exercise helps the children to get the hang of using animals to create human characters.  It helps them to see how it can work realistically.

 

*************************************************************************************************************************************

 

Step Two

 

Next, we need to  read how creating characters from animals works in a piece of fiction.  Below is an extract (page 21) from “Will Blyton and The Stinking Shadow” which demonstrates to the children how we can put animal or bird like humans into our own stories.  Ask the children to point out to you what parts of Ravensmite are actually like a raven.

 

 

 

extract from “Will Blyton and  The Stinking Shadow.”

 

I open the door and look out but there is no-one there.  The rain lashes down and a cold draught attacks my cheeks and then something appears.  

 

Standing on the path, by the front door is a tall, thin figure dressed in black.  One of his thigh length, leather boots rests on a stone gargoyle as he sharpens his curved fingernails on the back of a stone.   The nose is too large and hooked for the teenage boy he appears to be.  His coat is like bird’s feathers when they are wet and glistening.   He drops the stone and his hand disappears inside the feathered coat.  It emerges with a lump of something that I cannot identify but has a long, thin tail.   The boy crams the lump into his mouth and his tongue flicks out as he greedily gorges upon it.   He spits a small bone out, and sucks in the tail.   A harsh, watery belch follows and then he wipes his mouth with the back of his clawed hand. 

 

A hard lump lodges in my throat but I am drawn to the figure and the gargoyle as an invisible thread pulls me out into the cold rain.   The figure stops what he is doing and looks at me.   The large nose becomes a black dagger of a beak whilst the coat becomes feathers and the boots slicing talons.   It opens its weapon of a beak and caws.  Black, beady eyes glare directly at me.

 

“Watch out Blyton, Master Corpsehound has sent Ravensmite.”

 

The raven unfolds its large wingspan and flies at me.   A waft of air from its wings hits my face.   Its muscular legs shoot forward and its talons spread and point, ready to splice.   I beat it off with the pogo stick.  It veers over my head scraping my hair with its hook like talons.  I gasp as the claws scratch the side of my face.   My fingers automatically feel for the pain.  They are wet and sticky.  The raven disappears into the darkness. 

 

“Takest me back into thine abode for safety, Blyton, thou puppet.”  

 

Although I am shaking, I quickly put Hamnet into my pocket to muffle the sound of his shrill voice.  I bend down.  There is writing scraped out of the top of the gargoyle.  Before I read it, I look around for the raven, I shiver; it has gone for the time being.  The gargoyle says ‘How do we find the village?’  

^^^^^^^^^^

 

The idea of Ravensmite came from teenagers who dress in black from head to foot and even dye their hair the same colour.  They reminded me of the wonderful bird, the raven.  So this character was created by using the same exercise I am offering here.  From then on it was easy to create this shapeshifting boy as he had to have a large, beak like nose.  His nails had to be like a bird’s talons and as he was a menacing character I could use all the sharp parts of an actual raven to make him more so.

 

************************************************************************************************************************************

 

Step Three

 

Once it is clear how it can work – choose an animal or bug or bird and take aspects of them which you can create a human character with.  It can be fun to use a family pet.  For instance, if I used Mildred, my sophisticated, black cat – she would  be a slim, elegant,  mysterious and beautiful character, probably a female spy.   I would take parts of her personality and put them into the character – for example, Mildred washes herself more than any other cat I have come across; she often forgets where she is going because she stops to have a wash so often.  My character then would be a spy who often got herself into trouble because of her obsessive need for cleanliness.  Mildred is also always falling off tables and chairs because when she sleeps she is completely floppy and she often rolls off things in her relaxed state.  So I would also have my spy as someone who is a bit dozy and falls asleep very easy.  As you can see, my character is already becoming quite interesting as the way she looks actually belies her personality – she is a spy but it would have to be a comic spy – I think she would get into too many scrapes to be a serious spy. 

****************************************************************************************************************************************

 

Main steps.

 

1) Find people or use the examples in this post to see how real people can remind us of animals..

 

2) Read the extract and discuss how a raven could be similar to a teenage boy.

 

3) Choose a specific animal and using parts of its physical appearance, create a physical appearance for a person.  Think about how these animals act e.g. bees are very busy and add personality traits to your character. 

 

 

 

At this point, the children will have created a character which they can use in a story, an acting sketch or even their own comic books.  They might not use the character straight away as the sub conscious needs to work out what to do with it.  However, I know the character will pop up in some future piece of creativity .  Have fun.

 

Children’s Writing – Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys – Chapter 7.

Published September 30, 2012 by loonyliterature

To read the Prologue and chapters 1-6 please click on “Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys” in the categories sidebar.

Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys

Will The Maggoty Motleys’ prophecy come true?

The coffee lounge waitress has returned so Will decides that they can quickly cram some cake and hot chocolate in before Philip Dormouse starts his reading of “Rats in a Haunted Castle.”  The waitress takes their order and rushes off.

Although they have been served with their cake and hot chocolate, Will is simply staring at his huge slice of ginger cake and trying to make sense of everything which is happening.   He knows that Hamnet has sent the whole town of Groaningsea from 1974 to 2006  and they have landed in a Children’s Literary Festival but he is sure  that something else is happening that he has not worked out yet.  He rubs the side of his head as his brain clatters about again, like his dad’s old car.  It has to be something to do with the witches; he is sure that they are people from the past. He remembers what the three witches chanted at him, earlier.  They said that he was going to win the Fan Fiction Gold Cup but he wonders if it is a joke they are playing on people who are at the literary festival; after all, he hasn’t entered the competition as he only found out about it earlier.  He breaks a piece of the cake off and his eyes tell him that he wants to eat it but his stomach is turning over.  He knows that Hamnet has got his spells mixed up as usual and there is trouble on its way, deep, dark trouble.  He still hasn’t told Athena that his awful wish might have made her mother disappear.  He can’t bear to think about that so he decides to eat the cake, drink the hot chocolate and watch out to see if those witches come back and tell anyone else that they are going to win the Fan Fiction Gold Cup. 

He puts the cake in his mouth and is on the point of enjoying it when he hears a voice loudly declare that he wishes that Rita Vamp will be presenting the Fan Fiction Gold Cup to him and not Jonathan Oikle.  The lump of cake in Will’s mouth shoots down his throat and he has to take a  gulp of hot chocolate to stop himself from choking.  He turns around quickly to see where the voice is coming from.  When he sees the teenage boy standing at the back of the room, he has to put his cup down quickly as his hand is shaking so much. 

“You’ve gone a funny colour, Will.”  Bongo takes a large, pink marshmallow from his hot chocolate and shoves it into his mouth.  He grins at Will, lifts Will’s cake off his plate and puts it on his own.  Will ignores him and lifts his cup back up.  He drinks some more of the hot chocolate to help moisten his throat.  He tries to gulp but it is as if a huge lump of bubble gum is blocking it.  He drinks more hot chocolate.

The teenage boy appears at their table.  He is dressed all in black and his long, dark hair falls down his back in ringlets.  He pulls a chair out, sits down facing Will and then puts his booted feet up on the table.  As soon as Will sees the thigh length, leather boots, his darkest fears become real; he drinks the rest of his hot chocolate and bangs the cup down heavily on the table top.  No-one seems to notice.

“Hey, I’m Duncan – I’m Rita’s biggest fan.”  The boy holds his gloved hand out to Athena and Will wants to rip the glove off to show what is probably underneath it but he cannot move; he can only stare.  Athena takes the boy’s hand and giggles as she shakes it.  That’s no fan named Duncan,  Ravensmite has definitely given himself away; no modern day boy reaches out for a girl’s hand as if he is going to kiss it. 

“I hope you will stay around to see me get the Fan Fiction Gold Cup for Rita’s “Vampirilla” series.”  Duncan is still holding onto Athena’s hand and it is making her smile. 

“It is so nice that you write fan fiction for my mum’s books.  Have you got any that I can read?”  Athena takes her hand from Duncan’s and twizzles the bottom of her hair in her fingers as she waits for a reply.  Will feels as if his head is going to burst because the steam cannot be released from his ears.  How dare that evil shapeshifter think he can win the Fan Fiction Gold Cup and befriend Athena?

“We’re going to miss Philip Dormouse, Athena.”  He scrapes his chair back loudly across the floor as he stands up and so Athena looks at her watch and quickly jumps to her feet.

“Maybe, I’ll get to read some of your stuff later?”  Athena’s eyelids flutter like a trapped moth as she waits for a reply.

“Rita has promised that if I win the Fan Fiction Gold Cup for her series, I can spend the day working with her at your house.”  Duncan lifts his feet off the table and springs to his feet.  He bows deeply to Athena and as he leaves Will hears him whisper.

“You’ll not escape this time, mortal.”

Will Blyton – Things To do – Using Bullying to Be Creative.

Published September 27, 2012 by loonyliterature
Will Blyton and The Stinking Shadow

It’s not all bad times with The Stinking Shadow.

I think that it is wonderful for children to have a great time reading a book but even better if they do some fun interactive work with it also.  Below is a short piece from Will Blyton and The Stinking Shadow (pages 2-3),  after the extract there are questions to discuss what has happened and then there is an activity to follow.  Have fun.

The door shuts heavily behind me as I pull on it and then run across the empty road to the deserted beach.  I try to remember my dream full of stripy clothes, fried onion smells and the tinkling circus music that makes the horses dance.

A sharp nip stings my cheek and my specs are gone.  All I can see is a head resembling a dead bat moving towards me; it has to be The Toad.  You can always tell him from the fake, leather jacket he wears.

Always watch your back; it will save you frantically sticking your hands out when you’ve been shoved. 

I know it is Snot who has pushed me; I can hear his whiny, nasal voice shouting. Snot is The Toad’s sidekick; a dried crust of mucous always covers his face, hence the name.

I ask them for my glasses back but my voice sounds weak and I feel like an ant before a shoe takes away the daylight.

My glasses hurtle over my head and I get a short, sharp pain in my back.  The Ferret cackles that he thought I was a football.  Ferret is the other sidekick of The Toad.  He is small with pointed teeth and omits a malodorous odour when excited.  I suspect he is very excited.  I swallow deeply to rid my throat of the lump in it.  I dream of being Robert the Bruce – the freedom fighter who beat his oppressors.  The sea rages in the background and I wish it was me with all that power and fury. I try to get up but Snot pulls my legs from beneath me and I hit the sand again.

My grandma believes in angels and when I hear the croaky voice of Toad’s mum shouting for her crumpets, I believe in them also.  

The Toad answers to the name of Elvis only to his mam, as he calls her.  I hear him shouting back to the croaky angel as if he too is sweet and heavenly.

The Ferret sniggers as he drops my specs in the sand.  My breath comes quickly and heavily through my lips as I watch their outlines saunter away.  My belly is determined to shoot my Weetabix out through my mouth and my legs want to give way beneath me.  I gulp down a sob and get on with the job of finding my specs.

 QUESTIONS AND ACTIVITY. 

The following questions are to springboard a discussion about the piece which will highlight a child’s understanding and also help them to explore the nature of bullying.

What happens to Will when he is on the beach?

 

How do you think he feels?

 

Why do you think that Toad, Ferret and Snot treat Will in the way that they do?

 

What do you imagine Toad looks like?  Do you like him?  Why?  Does Toad treat everyone like Will?  How does he act towards his mum?  Why do you think Toad seems to have two different types of character?

 

Why do you think that Will dreams of being Robert the Bruce?

Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

ACTIVITY – The activity is to give children confidence in their own creativity and writing – oh and to have fun, of course.

Now I want you to imagine that you are Will and you come upon Toad, Ferret and Snot on the beach.  Make up a conversation and act it out with your friends, brothers, sisters or mum and dad – in fact, get anyone to join in.  Anything can happen – it’s your scene.  Get other people to help you make up what happens – this is called improvisation and lots of actors, writers and directors use it to help explore and write scripts.  There are no wrong or right answers – it’s all about being creative.  If you have a camera, it is always fun to film your ideas to share with others.  Have fun.

Children’s Writing – Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys – Chapter 6.

Published September 22, 2012 by loonyliterature

To read The Prologue and Chapters 1,2,3,4 and 5 click on Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys in the categories sidebar.

Chapter 6.

Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys

What do The Maggoty Motleys really want?

Wilf.

           

Wilf follows The Warthog and her sisters back into the bowels of the Groaningsea Hotel.  They have stuffed their pockets with cakes and tarts that Wilf has never seen before, it really is the best coaching house he has ever been to. 

The Warthog leads them back to the place where they have Rita Vamp bound up; when she sees them she tries to speak but almost chokes on the rat which is still stuffed in her mouth.  The Warthog signals for them all to sit down and then she hands out chunks of cake.  Wilf’s heartbeat speeds up as he is given a piece.  He grasps it quickly and shoves as much in his mouth as he can in case The Warthog decides to take it from him. 

When they have finished eating, Wilf watches as The Warthog takes a rat bone, which she has hidden in her bosom, and slowly picks her teeth with it, Rita Vamp is struggling in the background.

“She knows she is with quality now she’s seen me using my toothpick.” The Warthog picks more cake from her teeth, takes it out of her mouth to look at it and then eats it off the rat bone.

“Can we go home sister, dear?  I’m feeling rather tired.” The Peacock bows her head lower than usual whilst The Black Widow clasps her hands together and nods in the direction of Rita Vamp.

“I’m feeling rather undone.  Can I poison her?”

The Warthog rubs the bristles on her chin whilst she ponders on it and then suddenly raises her hand for silence.

“Order ladies.  Remember we are here on business.  I feel it in my water that there are rich pickings to be had.  There might be jewellery for you, Peacock.” The Warthog pushes the ratbone back into the depths of her bosom and The Peacock’s eyes light up.

“There might be a new husband for you.”  The Warthog points to The Black Widow.  “In fact, there might be husbands for us all.  Rich husbands.”  Wilf looks at the three women all stroking their hair down flat and preening.  He notices Rita Vamp stop struggling in the background and he is sure that she is listening to the sisters talking.  Vamp starts to grunt loudly so Wilf taps The Warthog on the shoulder and when she turns around he points to Rita Vamp.

The Warthog heaves herself from her chair, lumbers up to Rita and snatches the dead rat from Rita’s mouth.

“What is to do with you, my pretty?”  The three sisters cackle as Wilf watches Rita Vamp closely for strangely enough she seems to be doing her best to smile.

“Did I hear you mention husbands?  Rich husbands?” Rita waggles her eyebrows up and down as if a bluebottle has landed on them.  The Black Widow and The Peacock leave their chairs and rush to Rita’s side. 

“I would have thought that real beauties like you three would have had men queuing to marry you.”  She does that peculiar eyebrow wiggle again and Wilf is certain that she is possessed of a strange being.  The Warthog blushes.

“The men where you come from must have no taste.” Rita waits for an answer.  The Black Widow runs her hand over the tape which is binding Rita and tells her that she is the only one who has ever been married. 

“So you don’t need a husband?” Rita does not get chance to say anything else as The Black Widow jumps back in horror and her hands go to her face.

“Of course I need a husband, they don’t last very long you know.” The Black Widow pulls a browned handkerchief with holes in it from her bosom and blows her nose loudly.  The Warthog beckons with her fingers for Wilf to join them so he creeps over on tiptoes; he has been watching Rita all the time and he is sure that she has a demon inside her.  The Warthog puts her arm around him and loudly announces that Rita Vamp is going to find husbands for them all.  Wilf takes his Tricorn hat off and bows before The Warthog.

“I fear, mistress that she is trying to trick you.” He puts his hat back on as The Warthog throws her shoulders back and narrows her eyes.

“Trick The Warthog!  Who would dare to do that?”  She lifts her index finger and sticks it up the left nostril of Rita Vamp.

“Would you dare to trick The Warthog?”  Rita Vamp’s eyes are bulging.  She pulls her head as far back as it will go and shakes it from side to side.  The Warthog stares at Rita for a few seconds as if she is thinking, then she removes her finger from up Rita’s nose and sucks on it.

“You don’t eat enough meat, mistress.” The Warthog gives a meaty belch and Rita Vamp gulps loudly.  The Warthog grabs Wilf by the collar and lifts him up to her face and he tries to escape the waft of her rotting meat breath without any luck.

The Warthog shakes him like a leaf in the wind and then turns him upside down.  She warns him to tell her what Mistress here is up to.  Wilf howls as Rita Vamp clears her throat and says that Wilf does not think that anyone would marry them.  He howls again.

The Warthog’s eyes bulge and The Black Widow growls.  The Warthog shakes Wilf by his ankles again.

“Mistress, I just think that she wants to escape that is why she is trying to trick you.”  The Warthog leaves go of him and he lands on the floor on his back.  The Peacock and The Black Widow sisters cackle but The Warthog scratches her chin and marches up and down in front of Rita Vamp.  She kicks Wilf as she goes past him and he scurries on the floor out of her way.  She stops suddenly.

“Do you think this mistress Vamp sitting here is trying to trick us?” The Warthog is breathing heavily and her bosom is heaving as she waits for her sisters to reply.  The Peacock puts her face close to Rita Vamp’s and looks at her.  Rita Vamp gives a little smile.

“It is not just husbands that I can lead you to but jewellery, also.” Rita Vamp seems haunted by the necklaces around The Peacock’s neck. 

“She is not trying to trick us.” The Peacock’s eyes start to twitch and The Black Widow puts her face close to Rita’s, so close that her chin is sticking in Rita’s cheek.  Rita grimaces, gives a smile and tells The Black Widow that she knows the perfect husband for her.  The Black Widow blinks her eyelashes rapidly as she asks to be told about him.  Rita giggles as she breathlessly explains that the man in question is tall, dark, handsome and very rich.  The Black Widow clasps her hands together with glee. She stretches her arms and legs out wide and then brings her hands together and does a rolling motion with them as if spinning a web.  She takes a deep breath and demands that Mistress Vamp tells her more.  Rita Vamp looks upwards as if thinking and then explains that The Black Widow’s future husband always wears black so they are well suited.  The Black Widow nods happily.

“What is this Romeo called?” The Black Widow hides her face behind her dirty handkerchief, coyly.  Rita looks from side to side mysteriously.

“Have you ever heard of Tony Honkabluck?”

Children’s Writing – Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys – Chapter Five.

Published September 16, 2012 by loonyliterature

To read the Prologue, Chapter One, Two, Three and Four click on Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys category in the right hand sided tool bar.

Chapter Five.

Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys.

Can we have a double from another time?

 

“We would like to apologise but Rita Vamp seems to have vanished into fresh air.”  The thin woman dressed all in black and with mouse coloured hair blinks rapidly over her tiny, close together eyes before she scuttles off the stage.  Will raises his hand to ask who last saw Rita Vamp but oddly enough, the woman has not waited around for questions.

Will watches as everybody files out of the theatre which was once built into the hotel to entertain the many visitors who arrived to take the sea air.  The grumbling voices echo around the huge room with the high ceilings and Will pulls his deerstalker down further to hide his face.  He can hear people complaining that they have travelled for hours to see the vile Rita Vamp; thank goodness none of them can read his mind.  It is all his fault so he must confess to Athena that her mum is not there because of him.  How can he confess to his friend that he wished her mum would be kidnapped?  Will looks at his watch and works out that he has half an hour before they go to see Philip Dormouse being interviewed by fellow writer, Tony Honkabluck.  He will confess over ginger beer and carrot cake. 

When he suggests that they go the coffee lounge, Athena grins because a bookstall has been set up in there also.  Bongo mumbles that Athena should be fed up of books as her mum is infested with them so Will grabs his arm and frog marches him at speed, it is too early to mention Rita Vamp.

Bongo shakes Will’s hand off his arm as the aroma of the coffee lounge tickles his nostrils and he follows the promise of freshly baked chocolate cake.  As Bongo strides on ahead, Will overtakes him and whispers that he is going to confess to Athena that it is their fault that her mum has disappeared.  Bongo stops dead as if someone has put a giant mammoth in front of him, he warns Will not to do it before he has had his cake.

Will shakes his head in disbelief, he has to confess to Athena that her mum has been kidnapped and all Bongo can think about is cake!  Bongo is off again in search of rich fruit scones but Will is lingering behind worrying what Athena is going to say to them when she finds out what they really think of her mum.  He does not notice Bongo stop in the doorway of the coffee lounge to take in the tempting aroma of freshly baked gingerbread.  When they collide, Bongo does not notice but simply follows his nose whilst Will is left rubbing his shin and worrying what Athena is going to do to him.  He sees Athena has already found a table whilst he has been falling over Bongo.  Will rings his hands together and then sits down to confess.

“I have to tell you something.” He realises he is holding his hands as if in prayer and quickly pushes them deep into his pockets.  Athena turns to reply but then they both see Bongo float passed as if in a trance.  He has seen the two tiered sweet trolley which the waitress brings around to the tables for inspection.  He glides over to it and stares open mouthed at the thick, cream sponges on display.  Will turns away, his stomach is churning but he has to confess as the guilt is spoiling his day.  He closes his eyes and tells Athena that it is partly his fault that her mum has disappeared.  He waits for Athena to drill his ear drums with knitting needles but there is no reply. He waits a moment longer and still there is nothing.  For a moment he wonders if Athena has left him sitting at the table on his own;  he is about to open one eye to peep at Athena when he feels her hand on his arm shaking it.  He opens his eyes quickly to find that Athena is pointing to something across the room.  When he focusses on what she is pointing at, he laughs because they are obviously actors to do with the book festival.

A rounded lady with bristles on her chin and teeth like a walrus gives Bongo a push with her bottom so that she can get nearer to the sweet trolley.  Bongo quickly manages to steady himself, but for once instead of rushing at the food he is eying up the competition.  Whilst he is glaring at the bottom of the first one, her friends are on either side of him, flexing their claw like hands inches away from his neck.  Will laughs when Bongo notices them and slowly backs away as if still in a trance.  Will thinks that it is amazing that Bongo has been put off his food by actors from the festival but then he sees the boy who is with the fake ghouls and a sense of sickness rises up through his stomach.  As the boy looks at him, Will sees himself although the boy is dirty, thin and dressed in odd, ripped clothes but sporting a Tricorn hat.  The boy gives Will a weak smile but before he can offer a cheeky grin back, the one with walrus teeth turns and slaps the boy around the head.  His hat flies off and as he bends to pick it up Will gets a terrible sense of being here before, not at the hotel at Groaningsea but with people who somehow travelled through the fabric of time.  This happened to him in the case of the Stinking Shadow when a fourteenth century monk hid in his bedroom and turned his life into a cesspit full of bad eggs complete with an evil shapeshifter which attacked him..

Bongo plonks down at the table and sits with his head in his hands breathing like a bull ready to charge.

“Did you see that woman push me out of the way?” His face is red enough to send steam out of his ears.  Athena looks at her watch and complains loudly that they haven’t got time to get any food because the waitress seems to have disappeared, she’s probably in the kitchen stuffing her face with cake.

The pressure of his guilt builds up and Will feels that his tongue has taken a life of its own as he blurts out to Athena that her mum has been kidnapped.  He is surprised when Athena leans forward with her elbows on the table and says that her mother has probably thought of a plot for a new book and is sitting somewhere where she won’t be disturbed, writing it all down.  She looks at her watch again and stands up to leave.

“But she has just gone, bamoosh.” Will waves his hand in the air with an imaginary wand and then feels really silly when Athena folds her arms across her chest and sighs.

“Will, if you knew how many times my mother has just wandered off leaving dad and me to eat our food or watch a film together, you would understand that is how she is.” Athena curls her finger at Bongo to tell him to get up; he pushes his chair out so quickly it screeches loudly as it scratches the floor.  Will wishes that both his friends were not in such bad moods, it’s hard enough to get Athena to believe him.  He grits his teeth together and takes a deep breath, if he doesn’t tell the whole truth, it could all backfire and Rita Vamp could be gone forever.  He gulps as the reality of the situation hits him.

“Athena, I wished your mother would be kidnapped whilst Hamnet was listening.”   Will takes his deerstalker off and pummels it in his hands whilst he waits for the verdict 

Athena does not seem to hear him as she is staring passed him.  When she does not speak he turns around to see what she is looking at and he realises that she has seen the boy who is the double of him.  As Will looks from the boy to the three women who are with him, he sees that they are like witches from a book.  The one with the bristly chin and the walrus like teeth points at him and starts to screech.

“All hail Will Blyton, winner of the Fan Fiction Gold Cup!”  The other two follow her lead and the room is filled with the chanting of “ All hail Will Blyton!”

Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys – Chapter Four.

Published September 9, 2012 by loonyliterature

For anyone new to Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys, the Prologue, Chapter 1, 2 and 3 can be read by clicking on Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys category on the right hand side bar.

Chapter 4.

Wilf.

The Maggoty Motleys' Rat.

The Maggoty Motleys have to give up their delicious tea – rat.

 

Wilf stares at the woman who his mistresses have grabbed hold of and carried down to the dark rooms they are hiding in.  She is underfed and dressed from head to foot in black.  Just like The Black Widow really, except her nails and lips are daubed with what looks like blood and she has spider’s legs stuck on the top lid of her eyelashes.  Her hair is as black as the ravens which circle their home so he knows that she is definitely one of them.  He watches as she struggles against The Warthog, hisses at The Peacock and spits at The Black Widow.  They leave go of the woman but make a circle around her.

“Nobody treats Rita Vamp like this and I know who you are.” Rita Vamp points a long claw at each of them in turn.  The Warthog orders the other two to bind her up but Rita Vamp does a little jump and crosses her arms in the air against them.

“Touch me and you get it.”  She does another little jump, this time accompanied by a kick from the hip in the direction of The Black Widow.  The Black Widow’s eyes become like red coals and she starts to champ at her lips as she declares that she will have to bring the poison out if they can’t land her in the next few minutes.

Rita Vamp laughs, struts towards The Warthog and then pokes her in her chest.

“As for you, beautiful – not!  I have never seen such a bad disguise in all my life.  As if anybody is really as ugly as that.”  Rita Vamp grabs hold of The Warthog’s bristles on her chin and tries to pull them off.  She pulls and pulls until she is red in the face.  Finally, she stops and she looks over  The Warthog’s face.

“All right, so you do look like that, I’ll put you in a book.  Joke’s over, my fans are waiting to see me perform.”  She tries to walk away from the three sisters but is grabbed by the arms and dragged backwards into a leather chair, the type that spins around.  She sits in the chair facing the sisters.

“All right, I will admit to putting superglue on the seat of Claudia Tutu’s toilet.” She looks down at her nails and flecks them as if she is getting ready to use them.  “Tell her I will pay for the treatment for the new skin on the back of her legs and bottom.  Now can I go?”  She tries to stand up but The Warthog pushes her back down.

“Okay, I will pay for the damage to the hotel bathroom as well.” Rita looks slyly from one sister to the other and then stands up with her arms held out wide.

“It wasn’t me who let the newspaper photographer in the loo whilst she was stuck on it, I promise you.” The Warthog pushes Rita Vamp back down and orders the other two to bind her up as she pulls a huge roll of heavy duty, black Sellotape from her vast pockets.  She hands the end of the roll to Wilf who sticks a piece on the back of the chair and then starts to run around it with the tape.  The Warthog pulls another roll of heavy duty, black Sellotape from another vast pocket and hands it to The Black Widow who also sticks a piece on the back and starts to circle the chair with the Sellotape.  The Warthog pulls yet another roll of heavy duty, black Sellotape from yet another vast pocket and hands it to The Peacock who joins in with the others in binding Rita Vamp up as tightly as the Egyptian mummy, Wilf saw on one of their other jobs.  Rita Vamp is screaming that she is glad that Claudia Tutu has got a sore bum.  The Warthog sighs the sigh which means that they have a troublesome job on which calls for the special four roll treatment.  When The Warthog puts her hand in her pocket and brings out yet another roll of Sellatape, Rita Vamp starts hissing like a tom cat ready for a fight.

“What do you want?” 

The Black Widow does not answer but finishes her roll of tape and then drops the empty reel to the floor.  She puts her hand down her bosom and brings out a large, brown dead rat which she stares at lovingly.

“I was saving this for tea, but I’d rather go hungry than listen to you.” She shoves the rat in Rita Vamp’s mouth as a gag.

When all the reels are empty and Rita Vamp’s body cannot be seen for the black, Sellotape cocoon, the group stand back to admire their work and The Warthog proudly announces that it is the best job they’ve done since the gossiping minstrel in The Elizabethan Era.  The Black Widow sniffs loudly.

“Shame about our tea.”  She sniffs the long rat tail which is dangling from Rita Vamp’s mouth and gives it a quick lick.  Wilf notices The Warthog look at her sister with a tear in her eye.

“You’ve always been the kind one of the family.  Always giving up your own things for others.”  She puts out her hand and pats her sister on the shoulder. 

“Never mind sister let’s go and mingle, they might have something for you to eat in this coaching house.”  The Warthog trundles away and her sisters follow but Wilf turns his head to see Rita Vamp struggling and trying to scream through the rat in her mouth.  She frightens him even when she is tied up so he quickly follows his mistress.  As he catches her up, he asks if he will be getting anything to eat and The Warthog turns, looks at him and smiles which makes Wilf relax and then she whacks him around the head.

“All you think of is your stomach.  You never see me or my two beautiful sisters here succumbing to gluttony, do you?”  The Warthog waves a hand towards her sisters as if to demonstrate who they are and they bow their heads gracefully as if in a royal court. 

“We are staying here for the time being, boy.  I can feel it in my water that we will be called on again.  I can’t afford to turn down good work.  That’s what puts all the delicious food into your mouth that I’m always forced to feed you with.” The Warthog slaps Wilf around the head again whilst The Peacock tries to lift her head in surprise that they are staying.  She turns to The Black Widow who also looks surprised when The Warthog nods proudly her bosom heaving.

“I think I have done well for you, sisters.  Can you not smell the whiff of opportunity mixed with the strong sweet odour of sugar?”  The Warthog nods her head and then breaks into a walrus grin.

“Yes sisters, cakes!” The Warthog waddles in the direction of the coffee lounge.

Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys – Chapter Three.

Published September 2, 2012 by loonyliterature

For the Prologue, Chapter One and Chapter Two, please follow the links at the bottom or click on Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys  category in the side menu.

Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys.

You will need more than a magnifying glass when you meet The Maggoty Motleys, Will Blyton.

Groaningsea 2006.

When Will looks at Hamnet and finds that he seems to be asleep; he lets out a sigh of relief.  It would have been terrible if Athena’s mother, Rita Vamp, had been kidnapped and stuck in a swizzle chair with heavy bound Sellotape.  At least, now he can get back to talking to Bongo about what has happened.  Bongo is lying on the bed and staring up at the ceiling so Will gives him a nudge and tells him that he thinks that Hamnet has sent the whole town of Groaningsea forward to 2006.  Bongo sits up quickly.

“You can’t send a whole town forward in time, can you?”  He gets off the bed and rushes over to the small window.  As he peers through it, he beckons Will over and they both stare down at the car park.  It is full of types of cars they have never seen before and Bongo seems to be mesmerized as he flattens his nose against the window and simply stares.

Will puts his deerstalker back on and paces the room.  If they are right that means that he has time travelled.  A tingle of pleasure shoots right through his body and he decides that they have to go and explore 2006 quickly in case they are thrown back to 1974 before they have an adventure.  He needs to decide what to do next; Hamnet has cast a spell and caused the strange thing to happen so they will get Rita’s bag as they are supposed to do and then…  Rita’s bag?   Will looks at Rita’s bag sitting on the dressing table and falls down onto the bed with his head in his hands.  If Hamnet has caused them to travel forward in time, does this mean that Hamnet has conjured up a spell to get Rita Vamp kidnapped?  Will looks around wildly and wonders how he will explain to Athena that Bongo and himself were calling her mother names and wanted her to be kidnapped.  He glances towards the door and for a brief moment wonders if he could run away.  He looks at the bag again and gives a shiver as it seems to be some sort of animal skin.  He slaps his hand against his forehead as he tells himself that there is no way that Hamnet could do two spells so closely together.  They have to be seen taking Rita’s bag to her but  he is not carrying it.

“Bongo, get the bag and let’s go.”  He puts Hamnet in his pocket but Bongo is still staring out of the window.

“Rita Vamp will go bald if we don’t take her bag to her.”  Will taps Bongo on the shoulder and as he turns around he holds the bag out for to him to carry.  Bongo seems to be in a trance as he takes the bag and heads for the door so Will picks up the key to the room and they quickly leave.

Downstairs in reception, it is heaving with kids; all clutching Rita’s latest hit ‘Vampires on a Desert Island.’  Athena is there looking around with a look of disgust on her face.  When she notices Will and Bongo she waves and rushes over to them.  Will grabs her arm and pulls her behind a post which is meant to look Roman.  He is about to ask her if she knows what year it is when he sees a poster on a billboard.  He gulps loudly as he reads that all fans are invited to write a piece of fan fiction for their favourite book or television series and the winner will receive a fan fiction gold cup which is to be presented by Jonathan Oikle from the Doctor Who show.  Will feels his knees tremble as he puts his hands in his pocket and squeezes Hamnet tightly, at last Hamnet is making his dreams come true. 

“C’mon, we’d better go through.”  Athena pulls on Will’s arm and jerks him out of his rose coloured daydream.  “I can’t believe all these kids have come to see my mother.”  As she pulls Will by the arm along the hordes of Rita look-a-likes, Will turns around to make sure that Bongo is following.  He is, in a dazed glaze as he stares at all the kids with dyed black hair, red lips and a full wardrobe of black clothes.  Athena takes them through a side door and they find themselves in a huge room which turns out to be a theatre with a stage and hundreds of chairs at tiered levels.  Athena chooses the front row with some seats in the middle.  As they sit down, the back doors open and kids start to flood in all trying to get on the front row to be as near to Rita as possible.  A girl leans across Will and chews gum in his face.  She pulls on Athena’s arm.

“Hey, you’re Athena, Rita’s daughter.  What’s it like living with the queen of vamp?” She chews with zest as she waits for a reply. 

“She goes to bed in hair curlers carrying a teddy bear.” Athena checks her fingernails and Will notices a look of bewilderment from the girl, for a second she does not seem to know which expression to put on her face.  In the end she chooses a half hearted grin and says

“You’re kidding – right?”  Athena just shrugs so the girl looks at Will.

“What are you looking at?”  

Will tries to give a friendly grin but breathes a sigh of relief when a thin woman dressed all in black steps on the stage.  There is a sudden silence as the woman stands and stares at them as if she has forgotten what to say.

“I em have to apologise, I am afraid.  We do not seem to be able to get hold of Rita Vamp.”  She clears her throat gently.  “However, if you will bear with us we are sure she will pop up somewhere shortly.  Thank you.”

Athena tuts loudly.  When Will asks her why she is tutting, she looks around to make sure that no-one is listening and leans towards his ear.

“She’s doing it for publicity.  She’ll probably turn up on the back of a giant bat or something just as tacky in a minute.”  Will gulps and glances at Bongo clutching onto Rita’s bag.  He remembers his wish and hopes that Athena is right.

Writing – How do you choose a setting?

Published August 21, 2012 by loonyliterature

 

 

English: Enid Blyton's former house "Old ...

English: Enid Blyton’s former house “Old Thatch” near Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

At the moment, I am writing a free in between story for our willblyton.com website.  It is called” Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys” and I’m being either brave or stupid as the work in progress is being posted.  The Will Blyton books are aimed at 9-12 year olds and explore time travel and will be introducing William Shakespeare and his plays in the books and free stories.

 

The setting for Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys is a children’s literary festival in 2006.  This probably seems like a strange place to set a children’s story but around that time my family were going to a lot of children’s literary festivals and seeing a very mixed bag of children’s writers. This was one of the reasons I felt the urge to set a children’s story at a fictional festival.  Seeing such a range of different approaches is truly entertaining and the festivals are worth attending if it is just for that and nothing else.

 

Some of the writers embrace the idea of talking about their books as if they secretly wanted to be rock stars but it never happened.  Others dress elegantly but timidly tell of how they were told that they were a children’s writer and not a science fiction writer.  The variation is endless but I must not forget the ones who made me want to rush for the nearest exit as I wondered if it was the effort of their writing which had left the lifeless slugs drawling before me.  Forgive me for sounding wicked with the last lot but you try sitting through a session with one of them and I bet you could teach me a thing or two on evil thoughts.

 

The second reason I wanted to write a story set at a fictional festival is that I have seen the effect literary festivals have on children and their reading.  My teenage son told me recently that he believes that going to literary festivals when younger definitely spurred him on to read more.  More than that, however, I have seen and heard the excitement of children wriggling in their seats whilst they wait for a favourite author to take the chair on the stage.  The atmosphere buzzes and the air is filled with energy – yes we are talking about author appearances not football stadiums or rock concerts.  Unfortunately, only a small percentage of children get to them because not enough parents and teachers realise what excellent value for money they are – going to children’s literary festivals is not a very well-known activity, more so in certain areas than others.  It seemed then to be a good idea to set a story at a festival and hopefully it might put the idea of going to a festival to the actual children themselves.

 

This only leaves me to ask “how do you choose your settings?  Is it a desire to be in a certain time and place, something which echoes theme and plot or do you choose settings because you think they are popular with readers and will sell more books?  I would love to know your thoughts.

 

Will Blyton and The Maggoty Motleys – Chapter Two.

Published August 16, 2012 by loonyliterature

PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE IS A PROLOGUE AND CHAPTER ONE TO BE READ BEFORE CHAPTER TWO – THE LINKS ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.

Will fights The Maggoty Motleys.

Will Blyton has no idea of what he is going to be up against.

Chapter Two.

Meanwhile 200 years earlier.

Wilf.

“Wilf! Wilf! You lazy wart.  Get off that pallet of straw and get on the cart.”

Wilf sits up quickly and rubs his eyes.  He looks around and sees his mistress Warthog Motley getting the pony ready.  Her chin is bristly and she has two long pointed teeth which hang over her lips; at least they are good teeth and only a bit yellow, when she smiles, the rest are a rotted black.  Warthog is rounded and wobbly through eating too much Pease Pudding which is similar to a mouldy, green vomit.  She has long, black knotted hair which comes below her drooping, rounded belly and her clothes are held together with heavy, black, industrial Sellotape which she acquired from another time.

Warthog Motley

Warthog Motley before she wakes up properly.

Wilf grabs at his black, tricorn hat and dusts his clothes down and then he hears a cackle and a shriek of laughter and he sees the other two Motley sisters leaving the house.

peacock motley

She tries to be a peacock but is, in reality, a struggling peahen.

Peacock Motley comes out first strutting and smoothing herself down.  She is wearing a green velvet dress with a blue hooded cape and so much jewellery that she can not hold her head up properly.  She is followed by Black Widow Motley dressed in lace which used to be white but is now so grubby it looks black.

black widow motley

Her dress was clean but with each husband who disappears it gets grubbier and grubbier.

“Where are we going Warthog, dear?” Black Widow needs to know if she has to take any poison with her.

“We’re going out in the cart.” Warthog pulls her black, pointed hat off the front seat and plops it onto her head before she asks her sisters if she looks nice.

Peacock and Black Widow slowly circle her as if doing a mating dance and then Peacock puts a green, gloved hand on her sister’s arm and tries to look her in the eye but finds she still can’t lift her head properly.

“You look to die for, sister.”

Warthog looks down modestly as Black Widow lifts her sister’s chin up and inspects her bristly face closely before she stands back with a satisfied sigh.  She winks and tells Warthog that she had better keep a close eye on her as the men will be queuing up for a kiss.

Warthog gives a little titter and does not seem to notice Wilf climbing up into the passenger seat at the front of the cart; even when his stomach grumbles loudly, Warthog ignores him, he knows he will not get anything to eat when the sisters have an outing planned.

Warthog clasps her hands together.

“Enough of this frivolity sisters, we have a job to go to.”  She looks around at Peacock and Black Widow who clasp hands with each other and jump up and down. 

When they have finished they turn to Warthog.

“When did this come in?” Peacock always thinks that jobs mean jewellery.  Warthog waits a moment before she answers.  She smooths her hair, Wilf has noticed how she always does that to make herself seem really important to the other two.

“It came in last night whilst you were having your beauty treatments in the cesspits.  I know that if you remove the bat dung before it has time to set, it doesn’t work so well.”

Black Widow and Peacock climb into the cart muttering what a kind and thoughtful sister Warthog is.  Warthog takes the reins and soon they are clip clopping down the country roads on their way to work. 

Wilf’s tummy starts to rumble again and it sounds as if a hive of bees are droning their way through his body.  Warthog puts her hand in her pocket and brings out a mouldy crust of bread which she hands to Wilf.

“Here you don’t deserve this, you lazy, greedy boy.  But as I’m in a good mood…” Wilf takes the bread and starts to chew on it even though it smells sour he has to eat it he feels so faint. 

Suddenly he realises Warthog has stopped the cart, as he looks up from the bread, he sees that they have masked horsemen on either side of them.  The men have their pistols pointed at the cart and then one of the men gets down from his horse and raises his tricorn hat to the passengers.

“Good day it is to you.  I have happened to notice that the fair lady in the back there is having a bit of trouble.” The highwayman bows deeply to Peacock.  She tries to look up at him but is fighting against too much finery around her neck and so gives up.

“You have too much jewellery ma’am.  I will happily relieve you of it and any money you might have and then you can be on your way.”  The highwayman straightens himself up and turns his tricorn upside down.  He holds it out to Peacock to fill.

“Relieve me of my jewellery?” Peacock stands up in the back of the cart and shakes her gloved fist at the highwayman.

“Why, you are a cockroach, sir.” Black Widow spits on the ground to let her thoughts be known.  The other man gets down from his horse and approaches the cart and then he waves his pistol at them.

“Get down, off the cart all of you.”

Peacock and Black Widow climb down muttering and then Warthog and Wilf follow.

“You are not a gentleman sir.” Warthog pushes Wilf forward. “Here take the boy, but not our worldy goods.” She falls to her hands and knees and clasps the highwayman’s knee.  Wilf folds his arms in despair, the sisters are wicked but he doesn’t want to become a highway boy.  He cannot believe that the sisters have given up so easily when he sees Peacock start to unpin her largest emerald brooch and tears fall down her eyes.

“This is the most precious thing I own sir, it was my poor, dear, dead mother’s.”  The tears drip off the end of her pointed chin and an elongated howl makes Will gulp before she shrieks that they will never have her brooch and then she sticks the pin in the nose of the second highwayman.  He screams and as he brings his hand up to his nose drops his pistol and Peacock Motley grabs it.  The first highwayman loses his attention for a second to look at his fellow villain and Warthog pulls on the leg she is holding and pulls it from under him so that his pistol flies off into the hands of Black Widow.

“Strip ‘em!”

Warthog and her sisters work like ants and before the highwaymen can say ‘stick ‘em up’ they are left by the side of the road covered only by extra strength Sellotape.

The cart drives on with two fine horses tied to the back of it and as Peacock happily strokes her emerald brooch, she asks her dear sister where they are going.  Warthog grins and as she shows all her blackened teeth, Wilf wonders just exactly what she is talking about.

“We are going to a book festival, dear.”  

 

Related articles

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,277 other followers

%d bloggers like this: