This week's bedtime story is extra special, because for one week only, it features the awesome artistic skills of the very talented Emily Clark! Having pictures to go along with my words has been a wonderful experience - one I've not had since my ABC Animals books (Alana The Angry Alligator, Bertie Bullfrog And The Bullies and Charlie The Cheating Cheetah) came out, back in 2011. So to see an artist's impression of my stories again is a real treat. If there are any budding illustrators reading this, I'd really love to hear from you; regular pictures would be a wonderful addition to the weekly "Bedtime Story" feature and who knows where we'll take it from here... So please do get in touch if you'd like to illustrate a story, even if only as a one-off. In the meantime, a HUGE thank you to Emily, for this week's beautiful pictures!
Now, without further ado, let's get onto the story...
Barry Doesn't Want To Play
The sun was rising and all the jungle animals were getting ready for the day. But over on his favourite tree branch, Barry the monkey lay perfectly still.
“Look at Barry,” Peter parrot squawked. “He’s not even up, yet!” He flew over to the branch, with a banana in his beak. “I’ve brought you some breakfast,” he said. But Barry turned his head sadly and said nothing. Peter looked down at the other jungle animals on the ground. “Barry doesn’t want to play,” he called.
“Let’s cheer him up,” cried Seth the snake. He slithered up the tree trunk and sang a song to Barry, but Barry sighed and closed his eyes. Seth frowned and glanced down at the animals gathered at the bottom of the tree. “Peter brought him breakfast and I’ve sung him a song, but Barry doesn’t want to play.”
Leonard the lion cocked his head to one side. “What if we play a game? How about hide and seek?” He sat down and put his front paws over his eyes. “I’ll count to ten, Barry. You go and hide!” Leonard counted to ten, but when he uncovered his eyes again, Barry was exactly where he’d always been. Leonard shook his head at the other animals. “Peter brought him breakfast, Seth sang him a song and I’ve tried to play a game, but Barry doesn’t want to play!”
Gordon the gorilla beat his chest and grinned. “I’ll tickle him,” he said, as he climbed the tree. He tickled Barry’s ribs, but Barry didn’t even raise a smile. Gordon sighed. “It’s no good,” he announced. “Peter brought him breakfast, Seth sang him a song, Leonard tried to play a game and I’ve tickled him, but Barry doesn’t want to play.”
“Perhaps he’s thirsty?” Jim the frog asked. He filled up an empty melon skin with water and carefully carried it up the tree to Barry. But Barry shook his head at the drink and let out a long sigh. Jim shrugged. “Peter brought him breakfast, Seth sang him a song, Leonard tried to play a game, Gordon tickled him and I’ve brought him a drink, but Barry doesn’t want to play.”
The animals began to move away from the tree, when suddenly, a small voice called to them from the bushes. “Excuse me!” A little mouse appeared, nodding her head at the tree. “I couldn’t help but notice... Peter brought him breakfast, Seth sang him a song, Leonard tried to play a game, Gordon tickled him and Jim brought him a drink, but... Has anyone tried asking Barry what’s wrong?”
The little mouse scampered up the tree trunk and ran along the branch. She sat beside Barry’s sad face and smiled, kindly. “Why don’t you want to play?”
Barry sighed. “I do. But in the night, whilst I was sleeping, I caught my foot on this branch and got a splinter.” He pointed down to a small piece of tree bark, stuck in his foot. “I couldn’t get it out, so...” Barry’s voice trailed off.
The mouse stared down at the animals at the bottom of the tree. “You see? It’s not that he doesn’t want to play!” She scurried along the branch and very carefully pulled on the tree bark, gently removing it from Barry’s foot. “There you are! It’s gone, now.”
Barry beamed as he sat up on the branch. “That feels so much better,” he said. “Thank you!”
“Don’t mention it,” the mouse replied. Then, she hurried back down the tree to where all of Barry’s friends were waiting. She glanced at each one of them in turn. “You know,” she explained. “There’s usually a reason for the way our friends behave. It never hurts to ask them how they feel!”
Barry swung his legs over the branch. “I feel brilliant, now,” he announced.
The animals gathered at the bottom of the tree all smiled as Barry came down to greet them all, properly. “So,” Gordon Gorilla began. “Do you want to play?”
Barry grinned and nodded his head. “Of course I do!”
And as the sun shone brightly in the sky, the friends hurried off together; their laughter ringing through the jungle.