Thoughts On How To Write For Children

I am an English teacher in an international school in Saigon. This means that I write more or less every day, but often not in the way that I might if I were sitting at home and working on my own ideas. This has led to some pretty fun projects (such as a sonnet designed to convince Year 9 that there are better role models out there than Miley Cyrus) but more often than not I find myself analysing the opening description of Curley’s wife in Of Mice and Men and telling students which elements of my analysis are making my work ‘Level 5’, ‘Level 6’ or ‘Level 7’ quality. This kind of writing makes me a little sad: it can feel like I’m chipping away at their enthusiasm and originality with a little brain-pick axe, one structured paragraph at a time.

Sometimes though, I get to be creative. This is a lot more fun and, although it is not always the most thought provoking stuff that I produce when I model writing for students, it can be challenging and interesting to invent stuff for such a specific target audience which must simultaneously capture their interest and demystify the writing process for them.

My greatest successes with teaching children how to write never come from paragraph outlines or punctuation and grammar check lists: they come from helping children to understand that writing is about communicating an idea, and the writing process is about gathering and using the tools you have to communicate as clearly as possible.

My Year 7 class and I are currently working on ‘Autobiography’. I’m trying to get them to understand that their identity derives from more than their height, hair colour and passion for computer games. I want them to realise that the things they think, feel and love to do are products of their past, indicators of who they are and the best clues to who they might become.

I modelled the following task by explaining that I love to run. I explained to them:

  •  Where it came from (my beginning)
  •  How it is a part of my life now (my middle)
  •  How I feel it will continue to shape me (my end)

I made notes on each section then used the notes to structure a piece of writing, in the hopes that it would bring some depth to their approach of the same task, for which they were thus far mainly listing hobbies. I wanted them to understand that turning statements into stories is just a device for making idea sharing more engaging; it is how people attempt to explain themselves and understand one another. This is what people mean when they talk about ‘showing not telling’. 

Eleven year olds are very sweet. I thought it was a little cheesy (lesson: kids can be cheesy) but they clapped me when I read it aloud and told me that it helped them to understand a lot about my personality. One boy shouted out “I nearly cried, I’m serious!”They got it. They really got it! Then they went back to writing about how much they love video games and will continue to love video games forever because video games. Sigh. One step at a time.

Emily x

How Running Has Shaped Me

I love to run. I never thought I’d say that: when I was a child I was far more interested in food and TV than getting up and moving; sports seemed to me like a hobby designed for muscly, athletic children who had been born into their trainers. P.E. was a lesson where I counted down the minutes and hoped that Mrs Steadman wouldn’t pick on me.

But a few years ago things changed. I had a sudden realisation: I was unfit. If I was late for a train, I couldn’t run to catch it without turning tomato red and panting like a hungry dog. Competitive and determined as I was, I hated to think that there was something so basic that I couldn’t do, simply because I’d never tried to. I realised: it wasn’t my genes that were stopping me from running. It was me.

So I set myself a challenge.

I entered the London half marathon. 21 kilometres through some of the most beautiful parks and gardens of England’s capital: past Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London; through Trafalgar Square and along the Thames. It would be a beautiful run and I was determined: not just to complete it but to enjoy it.

My first run was a disaster. I ran for 15 minutes and turned the colour of a beetroot. I had barely managed 1.5 kilometres and my goal seemed impossible. I had a long way to go.

But gradually, run by run, it got easier. My strides grew longer, my breaths grew deeper and I learned to push myself further and further. On the day of the race I ran non-stop for 2 hours and 7 minutes and enjoyed the beauty of the greatest city on earth as it zoomed past me. The feeling as I crossed the finish line was pure exhiliration: not just because I had run the race but because I had set myself a seemingly impossible challenge and I had made it achievable.

Now I know that running is not for other, more athletic and muscly people. Now, running is for me. I run often and I run for fun. I run fast and I run far. I set myself challenges, I meet them, and every time I feel I’ve run a few steps closer to the ‘me’ that the my childhood self didn’t believe existed.

Leeds Half Marathon
Leeds Half Marathon, May 2013

How To Live Forever And Die Tomorrow: Post #4

Street Art

The reluctant acceptance of how things are

Ten years of growing up had softened Erica. Like any child struggling with the seemingly illogical and oppressive realities put before them by ‘society’ and ‘the man’, Erica eventually grew tired of being mad and fell in line.

Until she was thirteen Erica had kept a journal detailing all the things that she disliked about living life in the corporeal form of Pretty Jenny. Pretty Jenny was a slightly slower runner than Erica had been: her legs just weren’t as long. Pretty Jenny, at ten, had already gone through enough of puberty to require a bra. This was an embarrassing thing to suddenly be faced with at primary school and, even worse, meant that some of Erica’s favourite t-shirts (‘Sea World 2011’, ‘Geology Rocks!’ and ‘I Believe In Unicorns’) didn’t fit anymore. Worst of all, Erica was suddenly alarmingly pretty. Although most of her friend’s bodies had been discontinued too, none of them had become as alienatingly attractive as she had. Her friends suddenly found her difficult to talk to. Reluctantly, after a few weeks of stubborn loneliness and awkward conversations, Erica had edged towards the ‘cool crowd’.

Eventually, being surrounded by ‘cool’ took its osmotic effect. By twelve, perfectly rational things that she had previously not considered suddenly became horrifically embarrassing. Suddenly the brand of her shoes and the length of her skirt in relation to her knee bore significance and, although she did little to resist it, Erica attributed blame to Pretty Jenny for it in her journal.

At thirteen the journal stopped and Erica began to engage in low quality, angry poetry which no one but her would ever see. This was because Erica would become ashamed of her poems days after their completion and would throw them into the bin in crumpled balls. The poems would insult Pretty Jenny more directly and spitefully than the journal ever had, and Erica would become panicked that her ‘collaborator’ would somehow find them or intuitively know about them, and get Erica into some kind of trouble.

When Erica was fifteen, her mother arranged a letter exchange with Pretty Jenny’s mother so that the girls could find out more about each other. Erica had agonised over the tone and length of her letter but Jenny’s reply had been insultingly brief and breezy.

Hey Roomie! ; )

How’s it going? Funny to think I’m writing this and it’ll be me that’ll be reading it tomorrow. Thanks for your letter. Cool to know all your interests and stuff. Cool that you’re in to running. Weird – I never run so can’t imagine me actually running but I guess I do, ha! My favourite things to do are mainly watching sitcoms (I love all my mom’s old stuff like Friends and Sex and the City), hanging out with my guy friends and stuff. I’m really into frappuccinos and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (OMG… phish food).

Anyway, gotta run,   

Jenny XoXo

Erica was incensed. Incensed that Jenny referred to Erica as ‘I’; incensed that Jenny was eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and hanging out with ‘guys’, neither of which Erica had done; incensed that Jenny was allowed to watch Sex and the City when Erica’s mother had described it as inappropriate. It made her skin crawl to imagine Jenny writing the letter the day before and to realise that it’d been her own hands that had been writing. Only Jenny didn’t think of them as Erica’s hands at all.

It galled her to realise that Jenny was having all of the fun for both of them. The next week Erica dropped out of athletics club. She spent her lunch money for the whole week on chocolate and ate it all in one sitting. Then, when her mother had gone to sleep that night, she streamed some old episodes of Sex and the City and watched them wearing headphones. There and then, she vowed to herself to start living the life that Jenny’s beautiful body was built for.

By seventeen behaving in the light, superficial way that had seemed so alien when she had read Jenny’s first letter had become instinctive. Erica too loved ice cream, had ‘guy friends’ and often ended social interactions with abrupt declarations of ‘gotta run!’

By twenty, Erica couldn’t remember why she had been so mad. She was healthy, beautiful and popular, and couldn’t remember what else she’d ever believed she needed. Even better, she now had her own apartment in the outer zones of London, two cats and a steady, reasonable income. Erica was employed as a writer. More specifically: Erica wrote to reassure little girls and boys about the virtues and thrills of collaboration. Erica was a government employed agony aunt. She often thought of herself as a British Carrie Bradshaw and very rarely thought about athletics, angry poetry or geology anymore.

Zombie Poetry

Autumn Leaves
A distant rustle in the trees, the far flung whispering of leaves.

The context of this poem: last summer I was invigilating an exam, which means walking up and down aisles of students working in silence for approximately one hour. There are only so many ways to vary walking up and down aisles and I have lived a relatively sheltered life. Consequently, about ten minutes in, I felt so bored that I thought I might die. I wrote half of this poem in my head to pass the time.

I am obsessed with the zombie genre. One thing that I feel makes zombies such a great antagonistic force is that they are relentless due to their lack of fear. Nothing deters them, which makes fighting zombies a waiting game until the hero slips up: their survival is never a reflection of the threat but of them. With this poem, I wanted to switch it round and imagine from the perspective of the fearful, fearless force. The idea of something that used to be human sitting and waiting in the dark for days on end and not minding really gives me the creeps.

I also had never read any poetry about zombies before. If you are reading this and know of some, please send me a link!

Emily x

Zombie Girl
Bristol Zombie Walk, October 2012.

There once was a man

He fumbles vaguely at a shelf
And uses it to raise himself
Up from the mess of dust and sheets
Where he has spent these last three weeks.

He’s had no cause to move at all,
But now he hears the siren call:
A distant rustle in the trees,
The far flung whispering of leaves.

To look at him where he is sat,
In ragged clothes and blood stained hat
Alone: you may near pity him.
Beware anthropomorphism.

He does not long for finer clothes.
The only desire that he knows
Is hunger. And it drives him now,
Out to the woods, he knows not how.

He does not fear the forest’s pitch;
Hallucinates no wolf nor witch.
The only things of which he’s sure:
He knows no fear; he must have more.

A surgeon in his former life
He’d had a purpose: kids, a wife.
She’s wand’ring too, some other where,
Matching her husband’s lifeless stare.

He’d weep at the cruel irony
That has become his destiny:
The man who lived only to heal
Has turned life’s toil into death’s meal.

Ten miles away in terror’s grip,
His daughter’s biting on her lip.
She’s hiding in a leafy tree,
Where – in childhood – she picked cherries.

That rustling sound it came from her.
And travelled to his lonely ear.
She’s waiting now. She’s seen how strong
Is his hunger. He won’t be long.

It takes a day but then he’s there,
Below her with his deathly stare,
This man that groans is not the same,
As he who chose her Christian name.

The girl knows that the time is near
To enter the realm of no fear.
Her father can see her no more.
His desperate eyes and champing jaws

 Will wait for her; he does not mind.
There is no boredom for his kind.
With this in mind and on a whim,
She drops herself clean down to him.

And as his teeth mete out her blood,
Betrayal of his fatherhood,
She wishes he’d see what she sees.
The burden of her memory.

 Morality lives in this tale,
Of what goes on beyond the veil:
That while the good hold goodness dear,
Remember: evil has no fear.

How To Live Forever And Die Tomorrow: Post #3

The protagonist is called Erica. Erica is twenty years old and, at ten, became a participant in the first wave of collaborators. Erica’s body was not selected for use in her body share and so her mind was downloaded and her body discontinued. I like this word. For ten years she has been living in the body of a girl much fitter and more attractive than she ever might have grown to be. If all the children in your age group had been physically tested at ten and only the top third got to keep their bodies, would yours have been selected? I wouldn’t have much hope for my brother and me.

Emily x

Would you have made the cut?
Would you have made the cut?

Sometimes when Erica was asleep, she dreamed of her old body again.

In the dreams she was always running. Not from an enemy or some unknowable malevolent force as in a recurring nightmare, but running for the pure, life blooded pleasure of it. She remembered a Sports Day race she’d won: the 100m sprint on some distant summer Wednesday when she was nine. She remembered the pure unrivaled pleasure of leaping through the air; of tearing forwards towards the finish line. She remembered the salt of her sweat matting her hair and the congratulatory hugs of her gangly and overexcited friends. She remembered the innocence of being young and of someone else doing all your worrying for her; the promise of a summer and a life that stretched before her, unwritten and belonging to her. She remembered.

It had been a long time since anything had felt as though it belonged entirely to Erica.

Her new legs were better. They were stronger, leaner, more inclined to tan. Her whole body in fact, was more athletic than she had been at nine. Before the change, she’d been lanky, awkward and pale: the kind of freckled, ‘strawberry blonde’ child whose mother badgers her to stay in the shade and plaster on Factor 50, and whose lurching height prepares her for track and field sports, not man-eating. She’d never had the chance to see how her own body might have developed but she felt sure that, had the law not been passed when she was ten, she would never have become what she was now. She had moved through puberty never developing more than a handful of spots and with the kind of easy, cheerleader looks that would have been more at home in an Abercrombie and Fitch advert than a North London comprehensive. It had made things easier, she was sure. But it had never fully felt like home.

Erica remembered meeting the little girl that had beaten her in the physical trials; the little girl that she’d become. Her name was Jenny, and the round, sweetness of the name had matched the face: the cheerful layered hair and apple cheeks of the girl that she was to become.

“My mum told me that you did really well on the physical fitness tests. They just couldn’t pick you because of the eczema.” Jenny had been precociously reassuring and Erica had struggled to meet her eye, her gaze dropping ashamedly to her chapped hands lying limply at her sides. She could feel the hate all the way down to her fingertips. “My mum said we were both in the top 5 percentile for fitness in the country, but that your eczema meant that your body was… less ideal than mine.” There was no question but the girl was smiling expectantly, waiting for an answer. After an awkward beat, pretty Jenny poured more words into the silence. “That’s great about the fitness, you did really well!” “Fuck you.” Erica seethed silently; it was a phrase she had learned that week and was seething at her enemies semi-regularly. She really meant it  in the case of pretty Jenny though. “Fuck you and your stupid layers hair.” Erica had asked for a layered haircut only two months earlier and had been denied, on the grounds of layers being impractical for tying up in sports events. It would not be for another four years that Erica’s vocabulary would extend enough to allow her to describe this series of events as “Fucking ironic”.

After years of political discussion and months of campaigning it had all happened, as big things often do, unexpectedly quickly. Her mother had received a letter on the Monday and the tests had been that Sunday. Her mother had driven her there in the people carrier, uncomfortably breezy and giggly as they strode across the car park and into the clinic. She had been asked to run back and forth across a room in time with a series of bleeps. She had been told to skip for a minute. They had taken blood samples and urine samples and pressed a lollipop stick against her tongue. She had said ‘ahh’, recited the alphabet forwards and backwards and sung up and down two scales of notes. Mortifyingly, she had had to strip down to her underwear and have photos taken from fourteen different angles. Then she had gone home and had her tea and gone to sleep and the next day her mum had received a phone call; she had been placed in the forty-eighth percentile and a match in her neighborhood had already been found. An appointment had been made. Her body was to be discontinued that Saturday.

Erica had not cried, though her mum did. She had contemplated comforting her mother – it was probably the mature thing to do. Instead she had found herself walking upstairs, closing her bedroom door, sitting in front of her wardrobe mirror and trying to count the freckles on her face.

Darling, let’s have a teenager!

When I was fifteen I was, briefly, a ‘nasty-piece-of-work’. Not in any dramatic or scandalous way that would seem particularly unusual to most people; just enough for me to look back and wince at how I treated my mum. Once, the school phoned her to tell her I’d played truant and she confronted me. I met her with an icy, contemptuous glare: “mother, when are you going to realise that I don’t care about school?” Me, who only a couple of years previous had been a lunchtime library assistant; who had worn her form ‘Vice Captain’ badge with pride and who had accounted for 50% of the sign-ups to the after-school Physics club! She looked at me as though I were a cuckoo who had just hatched in her nest and eaten her baby.

It must be difficult to wake up one day and find you’ve got an imposter in the house: an adult who treats you with a distant disdain; who keeps secrets and strives to push you away. If I ask her about it now she is very diplomatic: “it wasn’t very nice; I just waited and hoped you’d come back again”.

When I moved to Vietnam I knew it wasn’t what she wanted. My mum has always wanted me to be happy, but moving 14,000km away from her put that under a lot of strain. I realised one day how, when I moved to Ho Chi Minh City with the full support and encouragement of my mum behind me, she had prioritised my happiness over hers.  So had I, and it made me feel very small.

How can we ever do enough to pay back the debts we owe to our mothers?

Emily x

With mama in snow
Unexpected snow in London, January 2012.

Darling, let’s have a teenager!

When motherhood first sang to thee,
Did you envisage teenage me?

When you first taught me how to talk,
And beaming, watched me learn to walk,
Knew you I would learn words profane?
Knew you I would leave on a plane?

I wince to think that what you grew,
By growing, disappointed you,
By choosing to walk out the door.
Was your dream daughter twenty-four?

I hope you know that I am blessed.
You filled your child with happiness;
You set me free. The irony:
I hope my baby won’t leave me.

How To Live Forever And Die Tomorrow: Post #2

evolution and tradition
Goodbye tradition, hello evolution!

For now, I like the idea of referring to body sharing in the story as collaborating. This will be the term coined by the government to give a sense that body sharing is a positive opportunity for its participants with a focus on working together for a communal goal; for the greater good. With that in mind, below are the government issued rules.

Emily x

10 Simple Rules for Harmonious, Happy & Healthy Collaboration

  1. No smoking
    Since the discovery of tobacco, smoking has enjoyed an exponentially ‘cool’ reputation and inexplicable legal protection as a ‘human right’; simultaneously it has taken the lives of increasing numbers of our human family through various health effects including cancer, heart disease and strokes. Let us be the ones to end the madness! If you or someone you love wishes to protect their right to smoke then ask yourself: is more important to you than protecting your children? All governments must find a balance between preserving the safety and the freedoms of their people. By banning the consumption of tobacco in any form, your government hopes to build a future where the human family no longer views smoking as their inalienable right but as a distant and amusing pastime of their antiquated elders. Besides supporting the health and longevity of your collaborators, wouldn’t you like to help support a smoke free future for our descendants? We thought so.
  2. No alcohol consumption beyond daily unitary guidelines
    All we’re asking is that in the interests of maintaining a reasonable calorie intake, avoiding associated health risks and preventing irrational decision making, you stick to 6 units of alcohol per week. A harder one to stomach than a ban on tobacco, we know. Both tobacco smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have detrimental health effects but – we get it – while the former holds a place in the hearts of the human family purely because of its addictive quality, the latter’s popularity is partly due to, well, the fact that it can be a lot of fun!  But ask yourself a question: did you need alcohol to have a good time when you were a child? No? We thought so. And when you think of your childhood do you think of a time of deprivation, boredom and misery? We didn’t think so. Let’s aspire to bring some of that optimism and energy of childhood into our adult lives. Some might call turning our backs on alcohol the rejection of British heritage and tradition. We call it evolution.
  3. No recreational drug use
    In the light of Rule 2, we feel this one requires little explanation. In the ‘Cons’ corner we have: illness! Bankruptcy! Destruction of relationships! The encouragement of a criminal underbelly! Violence! Death! In the ‘Pros’ corner we have: “but it’s fun, mann!” Which side are you on?
  4. Responsible nutrition
    Don’t worry: we’re not going to nanny you on this one and tell you you can’t eat carbohydrates after 5pm or that you can never have that second slice of cheesecake again. But participating in collaboration does give you the benefit of having your nutritional intake automatically monitored and we’re always looking to reward our healthiest family members! Keep it lean, clean and green guys and your body, your collaborators and your government will thank you!
  5. No unauthorised tattoos or piercings
    This one’s just good manners: would you be happy to wake up and find the name of a band you hated branded on your flesh without your permission? We do our best to facilitate harmonious collaborations by matching you to similar personality types but there’s no accounting for taste. If you want to get inked, then the old adage still remains true: it’s your body. But remember: it’s not just your body, and any such decisions will need to be made collaboratively. See Appendix 174 in The Happy Collaborator’s Guidebook for further information on how to apply for a tattoo.
  6. Regulated sleep schedules
    When one door closes, another opens. Sometimes it can be difficult to be the Cinderella who turns on her heel and leaves the party early, but at the heart of successful collaboration is compromise and a respect for your collaborators. To ensure consistency and fairness (and your much needed beauty sleep!) your chip will be deactivated at 11pm on a daily basis and will reboot for one of your collaborators at 7am sharp the next morning. That’s our end of the deal. We promise to keep you safe, healthy and virus free as long as you keep up your side of things: getting yourself back to a safe and comfortable place for your collaborator to wake up in.
  7. No unauthorised travel
    This one’s a toughie. We know how fun that spirit of adventure can be. But would it be fun to wake up in some far flung hostel bed, baffled by your surroundings and clueless as to how to get home? That’s your adventure from the perspective of your collaborators. Understand us: we love to get away from it all just as much as you do. But just like your mama taught you, it isn’t fun unless it’s fun for everybody, and that’s the ethos behind our insistance on thoroughly planned and authorised travel. See Appendix 23 in The Happy Collaborator’s Guidebook for further information on how to gain authorisation.
  8. No unprotected sex
    Let’s be frank: sex is a hell of a lot of fun, right? Our ancestors have gained us a reputation with the rest of the world for being uptight about what goes on ‘between the sheets’ but the way we see it is: why not throw away the unnatural chemicals our parents used to have a good time and embrace the lurrrve chemicals Mother Nature installed in us for recreation instead? The ethos behind collaboration is not just about embracing the idea of sharing a body. It’s about embracing the idea of a human family. We’re all friends here, guys! Go out, have fun, collaborate! But use a condom: avoiding STIs for you and your collaborators is just good sense. There’s no excuse for carelessness.
  9. Arranged relationships
    Eventually we all want to settle down, right? It used to take two to tango but now, we’re sorry to say, it takes six! Monogamous relationships deserve to be treated with respect and it’s important to make sure that everyone’s happy with their match. That’s why committing to a relationship with any sort of long term prospect without the consent of your collaborators is strictly prohibited. If you’re looking for something a little more serious then refer to Appendix 428 in The Happy Collaborator’s Guidebook for further information on how we can find the perfect match to help you (all of you!) fall in love and stay in love.
  10. Shared pregnancies
    This one’s a gift! Only a third of the morning sickness, a third of the fatigue and only a one in three chance of having to deliver! Now that’s what we call evolution. You don’t need us to tell you that pregnancy affects your body in a big way. And parenthood? Well that’s kind of a big deal too! With than in mind, we’re sure you can understand that any pregnancies not agreed on collaboratively will be terminated. Remember: this is for your protection. When you do feel ready for the biggest ride of your life, refer to Appendix 554 in The Happy Collaborator’s Guidebook for further information on how to communicate collaboratively about taking that big step.

Bedtime stories for grown-ups

People often say that the stars we see burning in the night sky have been gone for hundreds of thousands of years: by the time the light reaches us, the origin has burned up and died. It made me realise that if, in one of those distant solar systems, alien life was looking back at us… the sun that they would be seeing would be the sun that warmed the dinosaurs.

That was the basis of this story.

Emily x

Maisie and the Dinosaur
An attempt at illustrating the story.

Bad Timing

It was just after 8pm when the knock came at Maisie’s wardrobe door. She had been put to bed by her mum less than ten minutes before, so she was still lying awake and staring at the glow in the dark stars that her father had stuck on her ceiling for her fifth birthday.

“Hullo?” queried a polite, muffled voice through the slats.

Maisie hopped out of bed and opened the wardrobe door. There among her chequered school summer dresses and multi-coloured leggings stood a creature not much taller than herself but very similar in appearance to a diplodocus. She knew about diplodocuses from a pop-up book she’d received last Christmas.

“Well goodness me!” exclaimed the creature.

“Can I help you?” asked Maisie, cheerfully.

“Well this is rather embarrassing…” the creature looked around Maisie’s room in confusion. “I’m terribly sorry to bother you but I’ve been sent on a reconnaissance mission from my planet Qarn… My boss was rather sure that the species populating your planet were somewhat similar in appearance to us… I… I was actually expecting to land in a very different… There was nothing in the research about this sort of thing… The diplodocus tapped the wardrobe door awkwardly and gave Maisie an apologetic smile. “Um, is my translator chip working for you? It should help you to understand what I’m saying…”

Maisie wasn’t sure what ‘translator chip’ meant. Or ‘reconnaissance’.

“Oh no,” replied Maisie, ignoring the latter question. “That was a long time ago. We mostly look like this now”. She pointed at herself. Her white fleece pyjamas were dotted with cartoon rabbits. She saw the rabbits and remembered. “Except for the rabbits of course. And the birds. And orang-utans…” She trailed off when she saw the baffled look on her visitor’s face. “They did used to look like you but that was quite a long time ago… at least a hundred years I think.” The visitor looked crestfallen. She felt terrible.

“You’re welcome to stay anyway.” She offered. “My mum makes lovely hot chocolate. I’m sure she’d be happy to make you some! I could show you my encyclopaedia. It explains about the rabbits!” The visitor was fumbling with an ear piece and mumbling something about bad timing and miscalculations.

“Oh no that’s really alright… I’d probably better get back and explain the mistake to my boss. I’m terribly sorry to have wasted your time!”

“Well if you’re sure…” Maisie wasn’t certain how to cheer her new friend up. “I know! Wait there…” She turned around and scanned her little bookshelf. Between ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ and ‘The Jolly Postman’ she found her pop-up book of dinosaurs. She plucked it from the shelf and spun around but the wardrobe was empty; the only evidence of the visit was a crumpled summer-dress on the floor with the memory of a dusty footprint in it.

“What a shame to have a wasted trip” thought Maisie, as she clicked the wardrobe door shut and climbed back into bed. The ceiling stars blazed as she drifted into a deep sleep.