My World Book Day challenge from Queensferry Primary School aka The Best Primary School in the World (I'm their Patron of Reading and totally without prejudice) was to write a story that included a list of 14 random words, one chosen by each class.
It was a great list:
pony, caterpillar, dreich, Mrs Fourarms,
bloody, Scandinavia, cantankerous, numpty, higgledy-piggledy,
digesting, lurks, eejit, photosynthesis, mysterious
And, because you asked for it, here's the story, as presented to the whole school during a fabulous World Book Day assembly - it's long and scary, so grab a cup of coffee or tea, and don't read in the dark. (For one thing, it's bad for your eyes.) -
There are many famous detectives in the world. There's Sherlock Holmes. There's Hercule Poirot. There's Slightly Jones. But the tale I'm going to tell you today is
about a detective who is not quite so well-known - but she jolly well should
be. Because she saved the day in one of
our planet's darkest hours by solving the strangest and most awful - the most
horrifying - the most mind-boggling - the most MYSTERIOUS case imaginable -
The Case of the Disappearing Books.
FOURARMS. As her name suggests, Mrs
Fourarms had twice as many arms as you might expect. She had four arms, and one of the many
advantages to having 4 arms - and 4 hands - is that Mrs Fourarms could stroke
all 3 of her cats and read a book at the same time. Or she could stroke 2 cats, read a book and
drink a mug of hot chocolate. Or she could
stroke 1 cat, read a book and knit a jumper.
Mrs Fourarms loved knitting,
hot chocolate and her cats but she especially
loved reading books. She read books of
stories and poems and facts, and she used books to solve every problem that
came her way.
choosing names for her cats, for example.
When they first came to live with her, Mrs Fourarms just couldn't decide what names her cats
should have. So she came up with an
ingenious solution. She picked a book
off her shelves at random, then she closed her eyes, opened the book and pointed
at a word. Then she opened her eyes and
- hey, presto - that word was her first cat's name. Two more times, and job done!
cats don't mind what you call them, as long as you say their names in a loving
tone of voice. I say fortunately, because the 3 words Mrs
Fourarms pointed at were NUMPTY, EEJIT and SCANDINAVIA. 3 interesting
Fourarms lived a very happy and contented life with Numpty, Eejit and Scandinavia until, one grey morning, she woke up to a
nightmare! On the radio and the
television and in the newspapers there was just one headline:
Shock! - Horror! - World Wide Disaster! - All of the Books Have Disappeared!!!
And it was
true. In Mrs Fourarms' house all the
books on the shelves and on the bedside table and on the coffee table and on
the stairs were gone!
prancing PONY!" exclaimed Mrs Fourarms.
"Oh my hairy CATERPILLAR!
This is awful!"
felt empty and sad. She was halfway
through a book on PHOTOSYNTHESIS - she was just getting to the exciting bit,
where the tree was just about to give off oxygen, but now! Now she'd never know if that really
happened! Maybe the tree decided to give
off prussic acid instead. Or peanut
butter. She wanted to know how it turned
out! She sat and stroked her cats, but
it wasn't enough. Her 4th hand wanted a
It was the
most dreary, DREICH day you can imagine.
The sky was full of grey clouds, it was drizzling down with rain, and all
over the world, every face was sad, from the smallest baby to the oldest person
alive, and there was nothing on the news except reports about the disappearance
- which nobody could understand.
on earth can all the books have gone?" wondered Mrs Fourarms.
she noticed something strange. All 3 of
her cats had gone out into the garden, even though it was raining, and they
were sitting there, staring fixedly up at the clouds in the sky. Mrs Fourarms went out to have a look too but
all that there was, was, well, clouds and sky.
But the cats went on staring. It
was as if they could see something LURKING up there ...
maybe," thought Mrs Fourarms, "maybe they can."
started to think like a detective.
thought Mrs Fourarms.
wonder ..." she thought.
then and there, Mrs Fourarms hatched a plan.
indoors and started to knit an enormous woollen net with two of her hands, and with
her other two hands she started to make a stack of fake books out of cardboard. She didn't stop, not even for a mug of hot
chocolate, and by the time the sun was starting to set, she was ready.
she said. "Let's go catch some book
the pile of fake books enticingly on the grass of her garden and hid behind a
bush. She didn't have long to wait.
hear rustling in the dark and then 2 voices whispering.
thought we got all the books - how did we miss these ones?"
cares? Let's be having them!"
thief!" cried Mrs Fourarms and she jumped out from behind the bush and
flung her woollen net. She turned on the
torch she'd brought with her and there, tangled up in the woollen net, were 2
aliens! They had more arms and eyes than
you could count, and all of their arms were flailing about and all of their
eyes were blinking like crazy.
do you mean thief?" they cried.
"Oh dear - are the books overdue already?!"
do you mean, overdue?" said Mrs Fourarms.
"This isn't a library!"
you mean, not a library?" the aliens said.
"We've got our card - our library card - look - here it is! We put
Earth names on it and everything!"
Fourarms scratched her head, totally puzzled.
"I don't understand," she said. "Look, I'll take the net off and you
come into the house and we'll have some hot chocolate and you can explain what
on earth you're talking about."
what they did. It took a bit of time and
a lot of questions before Mrs Foursome could DIGEST their amazing story, but at
last she understood.
were Readers. They travelled the universe
in a spaceship shaped like a cloud, in search of things to read. When they scanned Earth, they thought they'd
come to the best library ever - a whole world
full of books!
to be honest, it's not the most organised
of libraries we've ever visited," said the first alien.
HIGGLEDY-PIGGEDLY," the second alien agreed.
lovely, though - really!" they hastened to add, for they were very polite.
at night because they were nocturnal aliens, so night was their day, and they'd
beamed all the books in the world up onto their spaceship shaped like a cloud.
chose Earth names," said the first alien, "to go on our ILCs - our
Intergalactic Library Cards."
said the second alien. "I'm
Catherine CANTANKEROUS Cartwheel, and this is George BLOODY Gobbets the
said Mrs Fourarms. "Those are, um,
interesting names. How did you go about
Cantankerous Cartwheel looked proud.
"That's the ingenious bit.
What we did was, we took a book at random out of the piles of Earth
books we borrowed, see, and we closed all of our eyes and opened the book at a
page and pointed at a word and then did it again until we had all the words we
needed to make ourselves Earth names."
Fourarms agreed that this was really cunning!
couldn't help but notice that you have 4 arms," said Catherine Cantankerous
Cartwheel. "Are you perhaps an
said Mrs Fourarms. "I'm just
enough," said George Bloody Gobbets the 3rd.
now, could we all have our books back?" asked Mrs Fourarms gently.
aliens looked sad. "Of course,
only, we've not finished reading them all.
Almost, but not quite. We've only
just got to a really exciting bit in a book about photosynthesis and trees ... Could we have just a teeny, tiny extension
more night, then," said Mrs Fourarms.
"And then you beam every one of the books back to where you found
them, and we'll say no more about it."
And she wrote the next day's date down on their library card.
you very much," said Catherine Cantankerous Cartwheel and George Bloody
Gobbets the 3rd. "We'll just beam
back to our spaceship now and get on with our reading. Thank you for the hot chocolate."
were true to their word. The next
morning, when Mrs Fourarms woke up, there was just one headline on the radio
and the television and in the newspapers:
Joy! - Delight! - World Wide Celebration! - All of the Books Have Reappeared!!!
think they should name a day after this wonderful event," someone
suggested, and everyone agreed that this was an excellent idea. And they decided to call it World Book Day.
celebrated World Book Day by doing some of the things she loved - stroking
Eejit, Numpty and Scandinavia with 3 of her
hands and holding the exciting book on photosynthesis with the 4th. She heaved a big sigh of relief.
closed," she murmured with a smile.