CALLING ALL PARENTS!
I've had an idea. Dangerous, I know... ;-)
Some regular readers to this blog will know that I'm a published children's author. Writing - in any form - is a passion for me, but writing stories for children is a special love of mine. Becoming a published children's author was, for a long time, my absolute dream - something I had worked on, albeit unsuccessfully, for many years. Three of my books are now out there and that's great. But I have a head full of stories. So, how could I get those other stories out there into the world, quickly and easily? The answer seemed pretty obvious...
My first ever book launch.
Starting today, every Wednesday is going to be "Bedtime Story Day."
I'll be publishing a brand new children's story every Wednesday evening at 6pm. All of these stories are completely original and unconnected to my previous book series. They're aimed at children aged between 4 and 7 years old. Now, I'm no artist, so there won't be pictures, but... I can remember my mum reading my chapters from books without pictures (or featuring very few) every night before bed, when I was maybe six years old, so I'm hoping that the lack of pictures won't be a problem. That's what our imaginations are for, after all!
What I'd love is for this idea to really take off and if it does, then I'll think about upping the frequency of the "Bedtime Story" feature to twice a week (and maybe more, depending on demand). Of course, if this fails completely, then I'll have to have a bit of a rethink! But please, if you're a parent, or you know someone who is, give this a go and let me know what your little ones think!
With all of that waffle out of the way, let's move onto the very first original story! I hope you - and of course, your little ones - enjoy it.
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Sidney The Shell Bird
Sally Jenkins loved making things. She loved her necklace, made from beads she’d found in the bottom of her mother’s sewing box. She loved her set of paintings, sprinkled with glitter to make them extra special. But most of all, she loved Sidney.
Sidney sat perched on Sally’s bookshelf, surrounded by toys and books. His body was made from a lump of clay, painted pink. His head was a large, pointed shell, with two black-eyed peas glued to it for eyes. His feet were two smaller, slightly rounder shells. Sticking out from his sides were two large, yellow feathers resembling wings, with a third yellow feather as his tail. Sidney was a rather funny looking creature, but Sally adored him. She took him out to play with her in the garden and she’d sit on her bed in the evenings, telling him all about the things she had done at school.
Sidney was very happy living with Sally. But there was one thing that made him unhappy.
Every day, whilst Sally was at school, Sidney would sit on the shelf and stare out of the window. Flying across the sky, he could see birds. Real birds. Sidney had seen his reflection in the glass and he knew he looked different. He knew he had feathery wings, but when he flapped them, nothing happened. He was too heavy to fly. He was certain that he was a bird, but he had never seen another who looked the way he did. Sidney longed to find out what kind of bird he really was, but none of the other toys in Sally’s bedroom seemed to know.
One morning, as Sally hurried off to school, Sidney made a decision. “Barrington,” He called to Sally’s favourite bear. “Today is the day!”
Barrington Bear yawned and rubbed one shiny glass eye with his paw. “What day?”
Sidney puffed out his pink, clay chest. “Today is the day I’m going to find out what sort of bird I am,” he declared. With that, he hopped down from Sally’s shelf and landed on her soft bed, before jumping down to the floor.
“Where are you going?” Eliza, the porcelain doll asked.
Sidney pointed to the window. “Out there,” he replied.
Before Eliza or Barrington could say anything else, Sidney had hopped out of the bedroom, down the stairs, through the kitchen and out of the cat flap into the bright, morning sunshine.
This is it! Sidney thought. I’m out here, with the real birds!
For a while, Sidney simply enjoyed bouncing through the grass, gazing up at the blue skies. Then, as he reached the end of Sally’s road, he spotted a pair of birds, shaking their black feathers as they flew down from the roof of a house.
“Hello!” Sidney called as he hurried over to the birds. “Excuse me, can I ask you something?”
One of the birds cocked his head to the side. “Who are you?” He asked.
Sidney smiled. “I was hoping you could help me to answer that.”
“Whatever do you mean?” The second bird replied. She fluffed out her feathers. “We’ve never seen you before!”
Sidney swallowed hard. “Well... I mean...” He stammered. “What kind of bird am I?”
The first bird laughed. “You’re not a bird, are you?” He chuckled. “You don’t look like any bird I’ve ever seen!”
Sidney lowered his head and his yellow wings drooped. The second bird nudged the first with her wing and looked Sidney in the eye. “What my friend means, is you’re definitely not a blackbird, like us,” she told him. “I’m afraid we’re not sure what kind of bird you are.”
“Oh,” Sidney replied. “Thanks anyway.”
Determined not to be put off, Sidney left the blackbirds behind and continued hopping onwards, for what seemed like miles. Finally, he came to a large set of gates, with a sign above them, written in large letters: “ZOO.” On one side of the sign, was a painting of animals Sidney had seen before in storybooks – a lion, a zebra and tiger. On the other, was a painting of two, brightly coloured birds! Sidney beamed. “This is more like it,” he declared and hopped through the gates with an excited bounce.
Before long, he stumbled upon a large, green bird, with an enormous, multicoloured tail. Sidney gasped. “You’re amazing,” he exclaimed.
The bird nodded. “Of course I am,” he said. “I’m a peacock! We’re fabulous creatures!”
Sidney grinned. “Am I a peacock, too?”
The peacock stared down his beak in disgust. “You? A peacock? Oh, absolutely not,” he sneered. “Look at you! You’re small and funny looking. I’m tall and beautiful. You’re nothing like a peacock!”
Sidney turned away. “Sorry to have bothered you,” he mumbled.
Sidney trudged towards the exit gates, when he heard a squawking noise. He turned around and looked up. “Hello? Who’s that?”
“Who’s that?” A voice echoed. A parrot sat perched on a branch, staring down at Sidney.
Sidney managed a smile. “My name’s Sidney,” he called.
“My name’s Sidney!” The parrot sang back.
Peering up at the parrot, Sidney frowned. “You’re called Sidney too?”
The parrot began prancing up and down the branch, flapping his wings. “You’re called Sidney too!”
Realising what was going on, Sidney shook his head. “Never mind,” he sighed. As he plodded towards the exit, he could hear the parrot singing to himself.
“Never mind! Never mind!”
As Sidney passed through the exit gates, he was fed up. Nobody knew what kind of bird he was and worst of all, they’d laughed at him. With a heavy heart, he decided to go home.
By the time he reached Sally’s garden, the sun was beginning to set. The sky was darkening and Sidney was feeling glum. As he headed towards the cat flap, he heard a voice coming from a nearby tree.
“Are you alright, little friend?”
Sidney glanced up. Sitting in the tree was an owl. Seeing Sidney’s sad face, the owl spread his wings and flew down to the ground beside him. “You look ever so sad,” he said.
Sidney sighed. “Well...” He began, before changing his mind. “It doesn’t matter,” he whispered.
The owl shook his head. “Oh, but it does,” he replied. “If it’s making you so unhappy...”
Sidney flopped down in the grass beside the owl. “It’s just... Everyone has been making fun of me,” he said. “And all I wanted to know was what sort of bird I am.” He sighed and turned away. “But I guess maybe I’m not a bird at all.” Sidney rose back to his feet and began plodding away when the owl called after him.
“Not a bird?” He exclaimed. “Why, you most certainly are a bird.”
Sidney span round. “I am?!” He cried. “Do you know what kind?”
The owl thought for a moment, the way that truly wise creatures often do. Then he smiled at Sidney and pointed with his wing. “Look at your body, made from the finest clay! Look at your feathers, so yellow and bright! And your head is made from a perfect shell. And that is where your name comes from. Sidney, you are a Shell Bird. And might I say, you’re the finest example of a Shell Bird I’ve ever seen!”
Sidney gasped. “Oh, thank you!” He could hardly wait to scurry back up the stairs and tell all of Sally’s other toys the news.
From that day onwards, when Sidney watched other birds flying past Sally’s window, he didn’t feel sad, or confused. Sidney knew just what kind of bird he was. And even more importantly, he knew he was already exactly where he belonged.