A message from Mrs Johnson to you all.
Frankie bit her lip as she watched the figures walk past Miss Taylor, who had not moved from her spot, hand on her hips and shaking her head, despairing at children nowadays. As she watched the stern teacher turn to follow them, she wondered what unsuspecting class of children were going to have to face Sergeant Major on Monday. The thought only distracted her for the shortest time, and as she watched her friend disappear through the doorway and saw it close behind Miss Taylor, she turned to Spike pleadingly.
“Let’s go after them Spike! Billy didn’t say goodbye and he’s going to feel awful when he realises.” Spike, who had been sitting at her feet watching the same scene, shook his head sadly. “He’s gone Frankie. He’ll be okay though– he got what he needed. I think you did too.”
“Well, I got to play with someone else and find out a bit more about the school in the olden days,” Frankie replied, nodding her head in the direction of the building. “But I feel worse than ever now! He just left – gone – not a thought for anyone. I think we could have been proper friends too – we had such a laugh.”
“That’s what you needed then. You made him laugh too and made him feel less alone. I reckon Monday’s going to go absolutely fine for Billy now. He’s had a good chance to talk it all out, and you listened, Frankie. That’s what he needed and that’s what he got.”
Frankie thought about this, but wasn’t completely satisfied despite Spike’s best intentions. “But…” she started, and let the word hang there while she tried to find the right words to show Spike how disappointed she was that the story had come to an end. She didn’t need to think any further– Spike seemed to read her mind and continued. “You found each other, Frankie. You gave each other hope, not just a good laugh, but that was important too. That’s all it can be though Frankie. You can’t stay here, stuck in the past. This bit of your story’s over now and it’s time to get you home.”
Frankie sighed. She absolutely got it, but she thought that if she didn’t sigh, Spike might think she was completely over it, and she really didn’t want him to think she could bounce back that quickly. The truth was, she felt a surge of happiness at the mention of the word home, and although she would never forget Billy, the thought of her mum worrying as much as Billy’s dad clearly had, made her want to get home, and fast. “Okay, so now what? I mean we ended up going through that door when we got to the end of the tunnel thing, but where’s the tunnel now?” A sense of panic overwhelmed her and the dryness of her mouth rendered her barely able to get her next words out. “Oh no Spike! I didn’t even think about that before… I mean, I didn’t really notice it wasn’t there. We were just too busy playing. Stupid, stupid, stupid!” Frankie’s face was in her hands as she ran out of words and stared all around her, willing the appearance of a door, a bump in the ground – anything that looked even remotely like a way back. “Calm down Frankie. You know you can trust me. Do I look like I’m worried?” Before Frankie had the chance to reply, and reply she certainly would, making sure that Spike knew just what the difference in their emotional states was, Spike had once again set off confidently across the field. “Where are you going Spike? Why are you going back to the door? I thought you didn’t want us to go after Billy!”
Spike didn’t break his stride, calling behind him: “I didn’t say I didn’t want us to go after Billy. I said he’s gone.” Frankie muttered to herself, but knew from experience that there was little point arguing with the dog once he had decided his next move. Reluctantly at first, and then with growing curiosity, she followed Spike towards the door. “Gone, is he?” she said out loud, but too distant from Spike’s earshot to get any reaction. “He’ll have to get his stuff first, plus we would have heard a car go.” Happy that she was about to be proved right, Frankie picked up her pace and the two arrived at the door no more than a second apart. “Ready?” Spike asked, looking for Frankie’s approval and waiting for her to answer the door. “Ready,” replied Frankie and pulled at the door.
It didn’t open. Frankie pulled at the handle, a bit harder at first, and then with both hands holding on and her heels dug into the ground, with as much strength as she could manage. Nothing. “What’s going on?” she asked no one in particular, because in her freshly panicked state she was thinking not of Spike, but suddenly and more than a little anxiously about her mum. How was she going to get home now? “Spike! Do something! Bark or something while I yell! They must still be in there!” No reply came. Frankie looked to the ground on both sides, and then behind her. “Spike! SPIKE! Where’ve you gone now? It’s not funny – I need you!” Moving away from the door now, Frankie looked across the expanse of the field, putting her hand on her forehead the way she’d seen people do, as if it would help her locate a small, faraway ball of black dog. “Spike!” she called out once again, even though she knew that as he was clearly not on the field, he would be too far away to hear her cries.
She turned back and tried the door again, hoping that in the topsy- turviness of her world, some kind of magic would have taken over and it would open with ease. The door still stubbornly refused to give in to any sort of witchcraft, and looking around, she realised why. There on the wall was the code pad which the teachers waved their security passes at to open the door. Just for a minute, she felt relieved that she wasn’t stuck out here forever, that someone would eventually appear from inside or out, and let her in. But then she took a second look. What was a code pad doing on the wall? Were they around when the school was first built? Frankie wasn’t an expert, but forty four years was a long time ago and Billy hadn’t even heard of cable TV! As she tried to process this latest observation, the whole situation started to turn into a tidal wave in her head, and as it threatened to rise further, her head decided to reduce the pressure. Frankie began to cry. Fat tears tumbled down her face, and then she heard herself sob, at first softly and sadly and then urgently and loudly, as she banged and banged on the door with small determined fists. “Let me in! Please! PLEASE!”
She stopped. If her ear hadn’t been so close to the locking mechanism of the door, she would never have heard it click. But by then, her face was leaning on the glass as she continued to thump despairingly at the wooden frame. She stepped back, and noticed for the first time that the dark blue blinds were closed. Why hadn’t she spotted them before? Again, they had no place in 1976, and although she didn’t remember seeing any loud floral curtains on the door, they would certainly be a better match for the rest of the school.
She felt her heart lift as the door began to open, slowly at first as the blinds were pulled back at the same time, and then wide enough for her to see who was behind it. “Miss Williams! What are you doing here?”
Some parts of the school grounds seemed unchanged and timeless, and others left Frankie puzzled, as she struggled to see what was missing from open spaces, and what now stood where this hedge was growing, or that bicycle shed stood. Without a camera to record the images, she knew that she had to commit all of the differences to memory. But who would she ever share them with? Who, in 2020, would ever believe her? They would look at each other and wonder whether she had banged her head or something. Frankie decided that now was not the time for those questions and concerns, and equally, she banished any fear of not being able to return to her own century to the very back of her mind. Now was the time for play.
Minutes turned into hours, and exhausted from chasing each other, climbing trees (Billy seemed to have no regard for his safety, Frankie thought, as he moved ape-like from branch to branch), and cutting their way through the knotted hedgerows with unprotected arms, the children at last slumped to the ground and stared at the impossibly blue sky. Spike had declined the invitation to enter the unknown, and had left the children to their own devices as they explored. He had chuckled to himself as he heard Frankie talk about the Forest School, much to Billy’s bewilderment. “What are you talking about? It’s a hedge, Frankie. No desks here!”
Now Spike trotted over to join them, a book clamped between his teeth. He dropped it, and carefully smoothed its cover with a gentle paw. “One of my favourites, this. ‘The Tiger who Came to Tea.’ Read it out loud Frankie – I’m hopeless at turning pages!” Both children smiled at him. “Good taste, Spike!” said Frankie, looking at the cover of one of her own favourite books. Billy nodded furiously. “I love that one too! I mean, I know I’m a bit old for it and everything, but Dad still reads it aloud when I’m feeling down.”
The years between them melted away, as Frankie read, and they each gazed at the familiar illustrations of the smiling tiger and the little girl who loved him. It led to talk of other books, and characters who had clearly stood the test of time, and jogged Frankie’s memory of the sights she had seen on the field as she walked out with Spike for the first time.
“The school has been alive with all these books and pictures and everything ever learned, Frankie,” came Spike’s voice as he caught her staring across the field and guessed what she was thinking. “Years of children’s wonder and questions and feelings just can’t disappear, can they? They have to soak in somewhere.”
The afternoon passed quickly, with the children gradually joining the pieces of the jigsaw in which they found themselves. Billy struggled to grasp the enormity of the time travel part of the story, when Spike and Frankie finally decided the time was right for it to unfold.
“So you’re here, but not really here?” Billy asked, his question giving Frankie pause for a lot of thought.
“I don’t know! Thing is, I was getting upset about where my life was disappearing to, but I don’t know – I don’t feel worried any more. I think I should be but I’m just not.”
Billy’s disbelief didn’t last long, as he was fully aware that a talking dog was sharing the explanation, and his questions rapidly fired in every direction, some not even waiting for an answer before the next one shot forward. “Wait, what? How can you have hundreds of TV channels? What’s a laptop? The Queen’s still the same one? What’s Brexit?” Forty four years of history was difficult to compress into one short afternoon in the sun, and eventually the conversation returned to the here and now and the many different things they actually had in common.
So much talk and so much sun, following the miles of running and climbing, could only lead to one conclusion. Tucked up under the shade of dense green branches, all three companions drifted off to sleep.
Minutes or hours later, Frankie’s dream were rudely interrupted by an anxious voice which she thought belonged her mum, calling out for her. “Are you out there? Where have you got to?” And then, more angrily, “Billy, for goodness’ sake! Your dad’s been looking everywhere for you!” Frankie sat up quickly, eyes wide and worried. The friends’ closed world had just reopened to let the grown-ups in, and they weren’t happy.
“Billy! Billy! Wake up! That woman’s looking for you! Look – she’s at the back door now, I think she’s spotted us!”
Billy was a few seconds behind Frankie in his alertness, but as he caught up, his face seemed to return to the anxiety setting Frankie had seen before. “Oh no! What happened there? What time is it?” The tension evaporated as Frankie’s explosive giggles filled the air. “I don’t know! 1976 or something – that’s all I’ve got!” Her own words tickled her further, and Frankie continued to laugh – momentarily forgetting there was a strange woman building herself up to a furious tirade, and she was getting closer.
“It’s not funny Frankie! I’ll be in so much trouble if Dad’s been looking for hours! He’s a real worrier!” Billy stood up quickly, his sudden awakening and movement produced tiny dizzying stars, and as he stepped back to regain his balance, a high-pitched voice signalled Spike’s return from his nap. “OW! That’s my tail if you don’t mind! What are you doing?” Billy whispered an apology as he looked down at Spike, but his eyes soon returned to Miss Taylor, who by now was striding across the field as quickly as her shoes allowed. “BILLY THOMPSON! Have you the faintest idea how much grief you’ve caused? Your father thought you’d run away – he’s beside himself! If you were mine, well, I don’t know what I’d do!”
The words continued, getting louder and more bitter with each step, and they fell on the children’s ears too rapidly to make sense. They just knew she was pretty cross, and Frankie began to wonder if standing there waiting for a closer encounter was perhaps not the wisest decision to take. Just as she was about to shout “Run!” at the top of her lungs, another figure appeared at the doorway and began to sprint towards Miss Taylor, ready to slow her march. “Janet! JANET! It’s fine, go back – I’ll deal with it!”
Billy’s dad now chose to overtake Miss Taylor, as nothing in the teacher’s body language suggested she was about to go anywhere but forward. He ran towards the children, the sheer speed alarming Frankie and convincing her that escape was the only option. But as he got closer, she caught the look on his face and felt her shoulders drop with relief. Billy’s dad wasn’t angry at all. He was smiling, and Frankie thought she could detect a wateriness about his eyes. He was just happy to see his son again. As he almost fell against his son’s body, Mr Thompson picked him up in a tight hug and spun around, laughing. “You’re playing on the field! I should have known! You must have been bored out of your tree with your old dad and Sergeant Major Taylor!” Billy’s laughter rang out in appreciation of a shared joke, and Frankie just knew that this name had been used before – several times.
Frankie found herself smiling and happy once again, and looked to Spike to share the moment. She found him at her feet, spinning in a tail- chasing expression of his own joy – the little dog really did enjoy happy endings. Looking back to the family reunion, she wanted to clap her approval, but as she prepared to do just that, another thought crept into her head. Something wasn’t quite right and she couldn’t for the life of her think what it was.
And then it dawned on her. Billy’s dad still couldn’t see her – his eyes were on Billy the whole time, and absolutely no questions were being asked about the new girl and the strange dog. By now, Mr Thompson had set his son back on the ground and Billy was telling him how daft he had been to worry, that he wouldn’t have done anything silly and that, yes, he was ready to set off home. That was all fine, Frankie thought, we were invisible before so why should that have changed?
But what bothered her was that Billy himself seemed unaware that she and Spike were still there. When both father and son set off together, back towards the school building, Billy didn’t glance back. Instead, he continued to share some private joke with his dad, who ruffled his hair and carried on laughing as Billy pretended to fight with him, his feet dancing and his small fists raised.
“Spike, I don’t think Billy can see us any more, can he?”
This is Musa’s Tuesday homework. He finished reading this book. He explained this story in the end like this:
1.Percy and the rabbit were walking when they saw mice playing in rabbits house.
2. Percy said please don’t play in the rabbits house
3.Percy dug and dug the snow.
4.Percy said where is my scarf? Where is my cap?5.Look, where are my gloves going?
6.Percy saw that the mice were playing in the snowman house and they were playing with his scarf,cap and gloves.
7. Percy said – it’s okay they are just having lots of fun.
The Secret Mermaid by Sue Mongredien
Ayra Year 1 puffins
‘POG’ by Padraig Kenny
Initially a sad young family move to their Moms ancestral home to start ‘afresh’ Penny and David the children meet POG a strange furry little creature that talks! Then new exciting adventures start! I love the way you see things through all the characters eyes- including POG who is very loveable 🥰. It’s hard to tell you anymore without giving the plot away! She’d a little ‘Happy’ tear at the end- lovely story.
Suitable for 8 years and up.
Billy moved his finger to a smudged area of grass, its shade lighter than the rest of the scene. “He was just there, sitting down, but with his tail still wagging like it always did. I drew those little curvy lines with a pencil – you know, the ones that make things look as if they’re moving. You can just about see them if you look really closely.”
Frankie narrowed her eyes and moved her face nearer to the picture. “I can see them! They’re really light but, I can definitely see them!” She sat back triumphantly – both pleased with herself, and pleased with the experience she was sharing with her friend. Billy’s face told the same story, and for what seemed longer than the few seconds it actually was, the two children simply looked at each other, an invisible thread connecting them.
The moment was interrupted by a thumping sound – at first too muffled to register, and then becoming increasingly loud. Both children turned to look at Spike, who had been quiet for some time, but was now craving attention, as his tail frantically indicated. Frankie moved towards him, her arms encircling his neck, and her hands affectionately rubbing at his chest and sides. “I guess I should be calling you Bob now, Spike!”
Although he was enjoying the fuss and attention, Spike felt the need to break himself loose from Frankie’s embrace, realising that she still had much to learn. “No, I’m your Spike and I’m his Bob. I am what you needed when you needed someone or something. At least, I hope I was. I’ve had a bit more time with Billy, and I think he gets it now.”
Billy nodded in agreement. “I was heartbroken when I painted Bob. He was far bigger in real life, with longer legs and not as…blobby.” Spike’s nose twitched in protest. “Sorry Bob, but I’m no good at painting. I got your eyes too small for a start, and then made a right old smudgy mess of them when I tried to fix things. That’s why I hardly recognised you when you came back – they’re much better now!”
“Yes, well, I decided to keep the upgraded version,” replied the dog. “Funny enough I can see better now!”
“So you’re not Billy’s dog then, you know, the one that died?” Frankie asked. She felt more confused than ever. Had a real dog come back to life? It was a spooky idea, she thought, and although it might be a magical event for the owner, it made Frankie shudder slightly and think of the ghost stories she always avoided at the library. “No,” replied Spike, “Like Billy said, the real Bob was a lot more handsome than me. How rude of him!” Billy bit his lip, and then opened his mouth to apologise again, only to be reassured by Spike baring his teeth in the widest of smiles. “Let me explain,” he said, “come on, sit down, this could be while – I’m still getting used to making sense!”
So the friends made themselves comfortable as they sat at opposite ends of the picture, while Spike did his best to help them find their way through the maze of events. He told them that Billy had put his heart and soul into painting every creature in the picture, because with every brush stroke he was thinking of his living, breathing and most beloved Bob. “And by the time he came to paint his old dog, all the love he had for him just kept pouring out onto the paper.” Billy blushed, but not through embarrassment at Spike’s words – he completely agreed with everything he had said. “I just wish more artistic skills had poured out, that’s all,” he mumbled sadly.
“It’s not about the skills though, is it Billy?” said Frankie, who was by now keeping up with Spike’s train of thought. “It’s about what you put into it – all your emotions and feelings and everything. That’s what makes something special isn’t it Spike?” Spike nodded.
“It is Frankie, and your picture is special for so many reasons, Billy. Those feelings you had couldn’t just fade on the page, and without knowing it, you sent out the signal for help to cope with them. Tell Frankie what made you paint that rainbow.”
Billy explained that he had seen a rainbow the day before he painted his picture. In fact, that was really what prompted and inspired him. His dad didn’t believe him, saying that they only appeared after rain, and with this being the hottest summer ever known, with people desperate for water to no avail, rain was distant memory. “I know I saw one though. I didn’t go on about it – didn’t want Dad to think I’d gone mad. He’s not even seen the picture because I think he’d laugh or start his weatherman act again.” Billy rolled his eyes and Frankie laughed in recognition; parents could be such experts.
But Spike had a different view. “I don’t think he would laugh. Maybe he would accept that you saw what you needed to see, just at the right time. You know that rainbows are a symbol of hope, don’t you? They’re a sign of better things to come. That’s what you needed when you were feeling as sad as you were, and that’s why the rainbow appeared to you.”
After a pause to let his words sink in, Spike added to his explanation. “Rainbows aren’t just arcs in the sky, you know. They’re actually complete circles, but you can only see half of them. Unless you’re in an aeroplane apparently.” Frankie and Billy looked at him, both faces betraying what seemed like total confusion. Spike thought that either he had lost any hope of them ever understanding him completely, or he had perhaps gone too far with the science bit. “I read that somewhere,” he added, somewhat sheepishly. “Google, I think.”
But neither child was confused any more. In fact, they were now united in their clarity about why this had happened. Frankie spoke for them both. “We’ve made a complete circle, haven’t we? The rainbows have joined up – your sadness and mine have met each other.”
Billy nodded. “I think so, I really do. We painted our rainbows to give us hope, but we would never have known if it wasn’t for you Bob…Spike…our friend!” He laughed, and passed the wave onto the others, who gladly joined in. The sight of two children from different times, plus an odd-shaped dog with spindly legs and comical eyes, laughing and hugging each other, was not one that had been seen on the new school playground up until now. It was unlikely to be repeated.
Frankie still had so many questions for Spike – about how he knew so much about everything and why he had chosen the two of them to share his messages of hope. But for now, she just wanted to use whatever time she had left with Spike and Billy to play, laugh and properly enjoy life for the first time in days. Reading her mind, Billy broke free from the embrace, his face glowing with anticipation of what was ahead. “Come on, let’s explore this place together properly, before the whole world takes over!”
No persuasion was needed: the three unlikely companions began running across the playground, heading for the field and whatever it held for them at the dawn of a whole new era of school life. Renewed laughter filled the air, and with that and the distraction of the sights around them, Billy’s next words were almost drowned out and remained unanswered.
Nevermoor – Trials of Morrigan Crow
This Book was great and there is also a follow up too.
7/10 – I think it was alright, but it wasn’t my type of book really. It was funny in places, but I personally think it needed more humour in places.
I would recommend this for all ages but it was a long read.
Morrigan Crow is cursed! She is going to die on her eleventh birthday. But before she dies, a man called Jupiter North sweeps her away to a wonderful city called Nevermoor.
This Book is by Jessica Townsend.
The two children looked at each other and then, rather blankly, back at Spike. He thought he had delivered that very important message in an appropriate manner– just the right balance between very serious and very caring. He knew that he wasn’t a public speaker of note, but all things considered that wasn’t bad at all, and yet…. “Well, what I mean is…well…tell you what, just look at Billy’s picture, both of you, and tell me what you see.”
Frankie and Billy were happy to oblige, because Spike was beginning to look uncomfortable and was definitely sounding a bit frustrated with them. Frankie began, in a squeaky voice which she hadn’t called on since nursery class. “I see lots of dogs and cats and birds and trees and a rainbow and…”
“Yes, highly amusing Frankie…. I mean, what do you really see?”
“Okay – sorry. It’s just, this is all so weird. I don’t even know where to start with telling Billy what’s happened to me…to us. I’m …I’m not exactly from round here. Well, I am, but not now… if you see what I mean.”
But it was clear that Billy didn’t see what she meant, and actually, Frankie thought, why should he? Perhaps now was not the right time to share the whole time travel business. Perhaps Spike was right – just focus on the picture and let everything take care of itself when the time was right. “Well,” she began again, “We both like our rainbows, don’t we? I painted one just like this yesterday!”
It was Billy’s turn to respond, and he took the task as seriously as it was intended. He studied his own work, piece by piece, mentally magnifying each detail, some of which he had all but forgotten – like the small white house nestling between the slopes of bluish green hills, its slanted chimney smoke signalling a windy day. “That was where we lived, miles away from here. On the day we moved, I cried. I didn’t want to leave my friends behind, and I missed my dog so much – even more than when I first lost him.”
Frankie face was a puzzled frown. “Well why didn’t you take him with you then?”
Billy sighed heavily. “He died. It was just a few weeks before the move. He was quite old – not as old as dogs can get, but, you know, pretty old. He got sick and I just knew he wouldn’t get better and well, yes, he died.”
The light breeze stilled, and even though the birds had been singing their small hearts out not ten minutes ago, they now seemed to have fallen silent in respect. Billy sat back, tilted his head and wiped his cheek with the back of his hand.
“Sorry Billy,” said Frankie, and realising that anything else she might add would upset her new friend even more, she turned the subject in a different direction. “You really like dogs though, don’t you? I mean there’s loads here, hundreds, or at least twenty anyway, or maybe not that many… I’ll count them, shall I?” Stop talking, she thought to herself, just stop. But Billy’s sudden laughter broke the awkwardness. “If you were to count them, I suppose there’d be about ten! But I guess that’s a lot, and I really do love dogs.”
“So which one’s yours then?” asked Frankie, as she vowed to work at her maths for the remainder of lockdown.
“Oh, he’s not there. This one’s Katie – she’s still alive, and she’s a bit happier now as well. That one’s a golden Labrador, because I love them, but my dad thought they might be too much work. I’d call him Alf if he was real. This is my best friend’s dog – not my thing really, poodles, but he is so cute – and really, really yappy… and that one over there, he’s a … don’t know what he is, I think I just made him up!” Billy’s face beamed with pleasure as he talked about his beloved animals.
Frankie’s eyes scanned the entire scene, taking in all of the dogs of course (and counting them – there were actually nine, but the moment had passed), and also picking out groups of birds which Billy had obviously become a little carried away with painting. Some were in flight and reduced to pairs of m-shaped wings against a pale sky, and others were on the ground, balanced on legs which Frankie thought might look more at home on one of the smaller dogs. As they idly pecked at the stubby grass, a large ginger cat watched malevolently, its well-fed body reducing any chance of stealth or pouncing ability. A single bird, looking suspiciously like an eagle, (Billy really had gone over the top), sat in a tree which was planted in the centre of the picture, its branches zig-zagging through rather too perfectly rounded foliage. Art really isn’t his strong point, thought Frankie, her mouth twitching into a grin. Then she remembered that Spike had begun life as a few clumsy brushes of black paint covering a dodgy unicorn, and she rapidly turned the smirk into a kind smile.
“It’s a great picture Billy, but I don’t get why you didn’t paint your own dog into it. I mean, you even painted a cat which seems a bit strange.”
“I know. That’s Lottie, and she did nothing but fight with him, so I wasn’t sure about putting her in. But that’s cats for you, and even she seemed a bit quiet and sad when he was gone. I did paint him though, but he had disappeared by the next morning.”
Frankie nodded, and carried on studying Billy’s picture, different creatures emerging with each new visit.
And then she looked up, her eyes wide with realisation.
“Just like my dog disappeared. Just like Spike. Spike is really your dog, isn’t he? His real name’s Bob.”