A work in progress
illustrations by Sara Ryan
I think the illustration is great but the words? I don’t think they pop off the page into the readers mind. What do you think?
Mudpilewood is a calm peaceful wood, despite having a resident childish witch and a playful Ogre who loves climbing trees.
Late one afternoon Breeze was enjoying a nap on his favourite branch high in the tallest tree in the wood when a woodpecker paid him a visit. The woodpecker politely tapped on the tree above Breeze’s head but this failed to wake the sleeping ogre. The bird then flew close to Breeze’s face and gave him one sharp tap on the nose.
“Owch who did that? ” Breeze leapt to his feet, wobbled, and then slid off the branch to land on the ground with a huge bump. He stood with care and rubbed the seat of his pants. “Why?” he asked.
The woodpecker flew close to Breeze and whispered in his ear, “Doris is coming.”
Those words had a strange effect on the ogre. He began to run in circles shouting, “Tie everything down, Doris is coming.” Rabbits, and squirrels were the first to react but soon every being in the wood was gathering as much of their belongings as they could and they all ran to the witches hut.
Elegant Witch was waiting for them. Her younger sister Lovisma had flown high into the mountain to watch the fun. Everyone began to talk at once. Elegant held up her hand and waited till they calmed and looked at her. “Now, now, don’t panic. We have time. I have a plan and with Breeze’s help you will all be fine.”
Breeze didn’t like the sound of this because usually this meant he would have to be active. Ogres are very good at doing nothing.
But he knew Elegant and if she needed his help then he would do whatever she asked. He crossed his fingers and hoped it wouldn’t mean having to fight the giant Doris. Elegant smiled at him and said, “I need you to help me take the tiny children to your cave high in the mountain, they will be safe there. You are the only one who can do this.”
Can’t you zap us there? Breeze asked.
Elegant said “No. I have to a far more important task first.”
Great thought Breeze Elegant is going to fight the nasty Doris. Three hours later, Breeze was feeling a little tired. He was carrying the last twenty children to his cave high in the mountain. For the first time he wondered how everyone would fit and more importantly what would they eat?
The last time Doris visited, Breeze had been left with nothing to eat for two full days. It had been terrible. He wondered if he should mention this to Elegant. Once he stepped inside his cave he forget everything because there was a huge party happening at his table. He stared at the fried parsnips and wondered where they came from, I had no parsnips he thought. Elegant walked to him saying, “Don’t worry I zapped plenty of food and water, just in case Doris lingers.”
So it was that the biggest party took place that night, the night that Doris arrived in all her strength and glory. Doris was a giant spiralling wind sprite that danced about the land tearing chunks from the ground, the trees and anything that stood in its way. Breeze and his guests waited and tried to guess what Doris would do next. To their surprise she changed shape until she looked like a stag with enormous antlers, who tossed and tore her way about the wood. When the wind sprite grew tired she shrunk to the size of a tiger and simply slithered away.
Breeze made an important discovery that night. Sometimes when you share a fear it can fade to nothing. Next day there was much repair work to do but everyone was happy to see that Breezes favorite trees had survived though many others had been knocked by the troublesome sprite.
Just a brief note to thank everyone who has reviewed my children’s book, ” The Runaway Schoolhouse”
My latest review was given by Olivia and Oscar who have their own blog site, where they review children’s books. I have to stress that they are not paid to do this but for a copy of the book they will give an honest opinion.
To see what they think of my first book please click on the link .
Once again thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my short pieces. Have a great weekend
On the first day of Spring, every being, except for Breeze, spend their time cleaning. His plan was to sit and watch Spring work its magic on the wood.
Lilian walked beneath the tree he sat in and shouted to him, “Mr. Breeze how come you get to sit around all day while I work?”
“I dunno ask your mum.” He said, hoping she would go away.
“I did – she said, either you love dirt or you are just plain lazy.”
“I am not lazy” Breeze said.
“That is what I said, you love dirt.” Lilian said goodbye and went home.
Breeze smiled, “I do love dirt,” he told a passing bird.
However he lost his smile when he returned home. His cave sparkled. He screamed and ran back into the wood. Banging his fist on Hamish’s door he tumbled inside the moment the door opened, yelling, “It is horrible, just horrible you got to help me. I can’t live in a sparkling house. Do I look like a princess,no, I don’t. “
Hamish said, “Good.”
Breeze stopped and stared at Hamish. “What do you mean good?”
“Great,no more dust flying around you, clogging up the air when you walk, I can go visit you, have tea without my allergies kicking off..”
“Then others would want to come visit – I would have to be nice and not eat all the cakes.” Breeze considered the problem. He smiled then said, “ I’d best go and find some dirt for my home.”
Breeze spent the evening spreading dirt about his home. Next morning he went out side for ten minutes to stretch and admire the morning sunshine. Walking back inside he groaned, “How is this possible?” His home was gleaming, sparkling, super clean. “Ahghhhhhhhhh”
He ran to Elegant witches house where he found his favorite baker, Tulip, having breakfast with Elegant. “Did you do it?” he demanded.
“Do what?” Elegant and Tulip asked.
“Put a magic clean spell on my house?”
“No we didn’t but I am sorry I didn’t think of it. And we can’t blame Lovisma she is on spring holiday.””
Breeze marched away, he needed to think about this problem. As he marched through the wood he spotted a pair of purple boots dangling from a branch in a tree ahead of him. “Hello, now that is a funny place to put a pair of purple boots.” He tweaked the boots.
“Hey let go of my boots.” Penelope demanded.
“Sorry I didn’t realise there was a Penelope attached to them.” Breeze chuckled. “What are you doing up there?”
“I was watching for something to happen.”
“Did it?” Breeze looked about him.
“I dunno I slept late today, all of the super cleaning yesterday made me tired.” Penelope jumped to the ground.
Breeze blinked, her dress was brighter than the sun and her gleaming skin made it hard to look at her. “You look colourful.”
“Thanks. Are you going home now?” She smiled at him and waited for his answer.
“Yes. Bye” Breeze was in a hurry to get home for he hadn’t eaten breakfast. His stomach rumbled with each step he took. As he walked he scooped up lumps of earth from the ground and stuffed them in his pockets. When he reached his home he closed his eyes and walking inside he began to drop bits of dirt against the walls, on the floors, furniture and on him. Then he opened his eyes in time to see each bit of dirt roll back outside.
He sniffed the rolling dirt and whispered, “this stinks of Elf magic.”
While he ate his three bowls of cereal he considered the likelihood of meeting Penelope who was watching for something in a tree on a day when an elf spell had been placed on his home.
“Penelope did it.” Now he knew who cleaned his house, it was time for him to persuade her to let him continue as normal. Trouble was Elves are tricky beings to deal with, for they are clever. But Breeze knew they were kind and Hamish’s words gave him an idea.
So he set to work. The next time he met Penelope she got a fright. “Oh my, what happened to you?”
Breeze looked ill, his normally green skin was an unhealthy orange colour and sprinkled with bright blue spots. He sat down and whispered, “I don’t feel well, my house…”
“What about your house?”
Breeze said, “I am allergic to cleanliness. I need dirt to make me feel well, happy and …alive.”
At his words Penelope began to panic, “Oh dear, oh dear. Let me come home with you and see what I can do to help.”
“That would be most kind of you but there is some evil spell working on my house, every time I get it right – poof – it is clean again.”
Penelope looked horrified. “I will do my best, I won’t promise much but I will do my best.”
And she did, of course, though Hamish did scold Breeze for tricking the kindly Elf. “Well she shouldn’t muddle in other people’s lives, we are all different you know.”
Hamish simply shrugged his shoulders.
Reviews from young readers make every writers heart sing, including this review from Arfah of St. Michaels School.
Today Arfah in Year 4 has written a review of Maria Matthews’ book The Runaway Schoolhouse for us!
What is the book about?
A schoolhouse called Clearie is one hundred years old and fed up. So many times he has helped children get educated but his reward has been nothing but fuss. How much he hates the school! He dreams to go to France instead but doesn’t know how because he’s a house.
Did you like the book?
Yes, I enjoyed the book because it was really adventurous. It was also funny too when Clearie tried to move and fell apart and bits of crab came out of him!
How many stars?
5 out of 5!
Thank you, Arfah, and I am glad you liked the book!
Breeze, the ogre, loved to eat. When he wasn’t eating he was sitting on a sturdy branch dreaming of eating. The trouble was if he saw food, he ate it.
One day he was passing the witch’s house when he saw a cake sitting on their porch. Breeze, wondered why anyone would do this.”A pretty looking cake deserves to be eaten.” He said aloud.
No one shouted, “no it doesn’t, leave it alone, that is mine.”
So in his mind, finders were keepers or in this case – eaters. Breeze ate the cake in one neat mouthful and went off to find a sunny spot to have a snooze.
“You ate my cake. In fact, you are always eating things without asking. It is time I taught you a lesson.” Lovisma flew over him and sprinkled some horrid pink dust on his head before heading home.
Breeze noticed two odd things when he woke up. Number one was; he wasn’t in a tree. He was swimming in a salty pond. The second one was he was eating and his nose seemed to be protruding from his face much more than it normally did. “How odd,” he said between munches. He looked down at his body and it too had changed. But it wasn’t for the better.
Because he was now a … seahorse.
“I am very hungry and why can’t I stop eating? ”
Hours later he was exhausted from eating non stop, but still hungry. He closed his eyes and thought about all that had happened since he ate the cake. It must have been Lovisma’s cake Breeze reasoned. Elegant witch would never turn me into a non stop eating seahorse but Lovisma would, perhaps I should ask her forgiveness.
The second he thought it, the tiny witch appeared before him. She smiled. “Do you give in?”
“What?” he asked between mouthfuls.
“Are you ready to apologise for eating my delectable cake?” She was standing with her arms folded.
Considering she didn’t look like she might explode with anger, Breeze nodded.
“I am really really sorry and will do anything to make up for it but just turn me back to the way I should be, chubby and green.”
Lovisma smiled. It wasn’t pleasant. Breeze held his breath he knew something nasty was about to happen.
“Okay so every Saturday for the next month you will bake cupcakes for me and you will wash up all of the baking equipment at….Tulips house, when she bakes.”
Breeze didn’t really listen, all he heard was cupcakes and Tulip bakes. He loved Cupcakes and there was no better baker than Tulip. “I agree”
She said, “If wishes were fishes and Ogres could bake cakes before dinner time let’s have Breeze back before the end of this rhyme.”
Breeze shivered and with a loud “pop” he leapt from the water onto the grass. Looking down at the ground he was delighted to see his nice chunky green toes.
Lovisma reminded him of where he was to be on Saturday morning and left him with a large smile on her face. Breeze was a little confused and decided the best thing to do was to go see Tulip and offer to do the washing up for her. “What a horrendous thought,” he shuddered and wondered what put such a task into his head.
Constance Claus loves Christmas as much as she loves her husband but, every year from November until December 26th a disaster happens. And at his tremendous age, Santa hated problems. Constance tried to plan ahead as, let’s be honest; most people like to have a trouble free life.
Last year it was the missing gingerbread recipe. The recipe was ancient, almost as old as the cook who had the job of baking five million perfectly formed gingerbread houses. Every inch of the North Pole was searched. This meant the elves were hungry, a lot more than usual and so Constance spent most of her days cooking and preparing meals. If, she often reasoned afterwards, if she hadn’t been busy feeding the hungry elves, then she would have solved the puzzle earlier. She found it – under the cook’s hat. It had risen as high as his pastry and was stuck to the top of it.
This year she began her anti disaster plan in July. The first thing she did was to make certain there was a copy of the recipe on her tablet. Next, she checked there was an awesome mountain of buttons for the Minion’s dungarees,then, enough paint for the rocking horses and on and on her list went. But she with the help of chief elf Enda, worked their way through it.
So by the second week of November she was wondering if she could finally relax.
The workshop was thundering through the long menu of toys and electrical gadgets that needed to be made. The new computer department was turning out to be a great addition as the technicians had rigged up a mechanical serving belt which brought the food straight from the kitchen to the tables at lightening speed.
“Too fast for me,” moaned Santa as yet again he was too slow to collect his dinner off the moving belt and it whizzed on to Slim who snagged it.
“But dear you are looking all the trimmer for it,” Constance said.
She was sitting before a pretty log fire with Summer, her cat, snoozing on her lap, when her walls began to shake and rumble. Strange, thought Constance. However, when the rumbling increased she jumped to her feet and went to investigate. Summer slid to the ground, shook himself and went off to find a more reliable less jumpy cushion to snooze on.
Constance wondered if Santa and the elves were playing a trick on her so she was a little wary of opening her front door. This was just as well, because when she opened it a chunk of snow slid off the roof and landed on her doorstep.
“This won’t do,” Constance muttered and picked her way through the mountain of snow.
Then she stopped and stared. She giggled because she couldn’t help it. The reindeers were playing dodge the snowball. And due to their very heavy appearance they were making the ground shake and groan under their hooves.
She frowned. “This is terrible, Rudolph you are looking a little chunky tonight.” She mused and then stopped and sniffed the air. He smelt of chocolate and something else. She stared at him.
“Is that marshmallow sticking to your coat?” He backed away and looked at her with huge sad eyes.
She went back inside but instead of sitting in her comfortable chair she peeped out the window. She noticed some of the reindeer sniff the air and stroll off towards the elves living room. Constance decided to follow.
In the elves living room she discovered the elves were having a snack. They had taken their shoes off and were sitting before a huge fire toasting smores. “Where did you learn how to do that?” She asked Santa who was managing to toast four at a time.
“Internet.” He said, “Try some. They are delish.”
She tilted her head to one side, “how long have you been doing this?
“Oh only a week or two. It’s just that we get so hungry with the extra work. It is a nice way to relax and we tell stories then head to bed.”
She looked around the room and noticed many of the elves were already asleep in their chairs. Just then the door opened and a young reindeer entered. He walked straight to a sleeping elf and very gingerly took the uneaten smore from the elf’s hand before moving to the next elf.
Constance did not want to be a spoilsport but she was worried. The reindeer needed to be fit and Santa, she knew would eat until his suit was close to bursting.
Over the next two weeks no matter what she did, the reindeer always found a way into the elves sitting room. She wondered if they were paying the elves to leave a door open. No, that is totally silly, she decided.
It was December and the workshop was producing toys at a frantic rate.
There was a “bang” followed by a “pop” and everything stopped. There was a shocked silence. Enda shouted, “lets find the fault.” An hour later they knew the problem. The generator couldn’t produce enough electrical power.
“We need to produce more electricity.It’s knackered.” Was the final statement from their workshop maintenance team.
“Right early lunch and lets chew on it.” Santa said.
Constance went for a walk. She always thought better when left to think by herself. Rudolph accompanied her, with Summer sitting on his back.
“I know you are trying to get fit and slim Rudolph but it is not working. You need a high intensity work out. Cross fit for Reindeers, I think.”
She let the thought rattle about in her head for a while and when she returned she called the maintenance team to her.
Three days later the workshop was producing more toys by the hour.
Enda smiled and said, “Thank you Constance for your brilliant idea.”
Constance beamed at him. “You are welcome and I think everyone is happy with this ….or almost everyone.”
Enda grinned. “Well if Santa insists on eating so much then he has no choice. He can’t have it all his own way, even if his name is Santa.”
They both looked over at the line of reindeer waiting their turn to get on the exercise wheel. Beyond the exercise wheel there was another line of reindeer happily munching on smore flavored hay. Santa walked alongside the reindeer. A giant pedometer declared, “well done Santa just 5,000 more steps to earn a whole smore this evening.”
Santa wasn’t worried as he had a date on the 25th with a dog called Bob who was currently stashing marshmallows in his christmas stocking. The deal was, Santa would trade his jelly babies for Bob’s marshmallows, then it would be home to smores and more smores.