Beginnings – The Excitement Of The Unknown

“Here is a story that’s stranger than strange.
Before we begin you may want to arrange:
a blanket, a cushion, a comfortable seat,
and maybe some cocoa and something to eat.

I’ll warn you, of course, before we commence,
my story is eerie and full of suspense,
brimming with danger and narrow escapes,
and creatures of many remarkable shapes.

Dragons and ogres and gorgons and more,
and creatures you’ve not even heard of before.
And faraway places? There’s plenty of those!
(And menacing villains to tingle your toes.)

So ready your mettle and steady your heart.
It’s time for my story’s mysterious start…”

― Robert Paul Weston, Zorgamazoo

Life Is Full OF New Beginnings

It is that time of year again when pupils are going back to start a new class or new year, and small ones are starting on their school journey for the first time. There is excitement and trepidation of what might lie ahead.

For adults too, any new beginnings can be a time of mixed emotions. There is a lot of anticipation. For writers beginnings are both exciting but nerve-wracking too, as you want to get it just right and hook in your reader. It is important to capture a child’s interest from the very beginning if you are writing for children.

Beginnings For My Children’s Books

Rory Gumboots

Chapter 1 – Noddinghead Nook
On the edge of the wood, by a soft-running stream lies the
neighbourhood of Noddinghead Nook. There is never much going on
there that one would notice. The only activity that one might see is
some small furry creature scampering from its sleepy hollow.
But let us take a closer look under those bushes, in the crevices
of those rocks, or under the soft mounds of earth near the meadow.
‘Ssh! Be quiet! Oh look, somebody is stirring. Who can it be?
Surely it can’t be a hedgehog wearing red gumboots!’

The Reckolahesperus

Sam is in his den. The den is a shady hidey-hole under an oak tree, and behind the hawthorn hedge at the bottom of a big field. The big field is next to Sam’s back-garden. When Sam is in his den he can see out, but people can’t see in. He can also hear birds, animals, and his mother calling him for tea. She is calling him now.
‘Sam! Sam! It’s tea-time!’

Hattie And Jacques Love London

Hattie is a small grey mouse with fine whiskers
and a long tail. She lives at the top of
an old Victorian house near London, England.
The people that live in the house with Hattie
are Mr Humphrey Brown, Mrs Lucy Brown,
and their children Bobby and Bella. Bobby and
Bella are twins. The family happily share the
house with Hattie because they don’t know
she’s there. Hattie is very careful not to be
too noisy, too greedy, or too messy, as she
likes a quiet life. So as she doesn’t bother the
Brown family, they don’t bother her. Hattie is
a very sensible mouse most of the time, but
when she sees a hat she starts to quiver with
excitement, and her tail starts waving from
side to side. Inside her little hole is a huge
array of hats stacked neatly from ceiling to
floor, all made by her from snippets of
material gathered in her night-time hunts for
food.
Last night Hattie had been running softly
along by the skirting board on the landing,
when she had heard Mr and Mrs Brown
talking in the bedroom. She had heard them
quite clearly, as they had left the bedroom
door ajar.

The Dreamsmith

Eleanor was running along a white sandy beach flying a kite and laughing out loud as the soft
as the soft lapping waves tickled her bare feet. But one wave kept coming back and tickling her more and more, until she couldn’t stand it anymore, and she heard a voice saying, “Wake up! Wake up!”
Eleanor forced her eyes open and saw Mum’s face smiling down at her, and she knew it had been Mum tickling her feet.
“Oh Mum I was having such a lovely dream. I didn’t want to wake up.”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to get up for school. Come on, go and get washed, and then have your breakfast.”
Over breakfast Eleanor told her mother about how happy she had felt in her dream, and then thought out loud…
“I wonder who makes dreams.”
“It’s the Dreamsmith who makes the dreams,” her mother replied.
That night it didn’t take six year old Eleanor long to get to sleep, as she was tired after her P.E. lesson at school. During the night she dreamt she was an Olympic gymnast doing her best at everything; she was on the final trapeze, swinging higher and higher, and then she let go and somersaulted downwards to
the mat below. But the mat had gone … she was rocketing towards the hard ground. Eleanor started screaming and shouting… and
Mum ran in. She hugged Eleanor, stroked her hair, and told her she was safe.

Frances Darwin Investigates

Frances Darwin is ten years old and wants to be a detective when she grows up. She loves nothing more than a good mystery and she’s already practising her skills as a detective by actively following up any mystery she comes across. Take last summer’s holidays for instance …
It was a bright, sunny day and Frances felt happy, so she started skipping along Delamere Avenue, avoiding the roots of the cherry trees that had grown there for over half a century, when she saw a piece of torn paper lying between the cracks of the pavement. She picked it up and examined it carefully. On one side of the paper were written the mysterious words, ‘On the left hand of Lucy…’ and there the sentence finished.
‘Oh how annoying!’ Frances thought to herself. She got down on her hands and knees and started scraping around the nearby tree, looking for more bits of paper. But there weren’t any.
She darted home, turned on her computer and googled the name ‘Lucy’. Out of the first few pages that came up, Frances decided to investigate four of them.

  1. Lucy – Australopithecus afarensis – a Hominid species found in 1974 near Hadar in Ethiopia – an ape closely related to human beings – lived 4-7 million years ago.
  2. Lucy the elephant – Margate, New Jersey, U.S.A. – the oldest remaining example of zoomorphic architecture left in the United States – over 126 years old.
  3. Saint Lucy – Lived in Syracuse – lost her life in the persecution of Christians in the early fourth century. Patron Saint of the blind and those with eye trouble.
  4. Lucille Ball – 1911-1989 – American comedienne and star of TV sitcoms – I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy.

Frances decided to start with the Lucy who had lived so long ago, so she went to the museum the next day and asked one of the curators if she had any pictures of when Lucy was discovered. The curator was delighted with her interest and showed her several photographs. Frances studied Lucy’s left hand over and over again but there was nothing there to give her a clue.
She was very disappointed and was walking back to the bus stop when she saw a load of cheap DVDs for sale outside a video shop. One of them caught her eye – The Best of, I love Lucy.
‘It must be a sign!’ Frances thought. She used her bus fare to buy the DVD and walked home.
Frances’ Granny was mad at her because she was late back: she was supposed to be minding her while her Mum was at work. Gran had come to live with her and Mum when Frances was just a toddler, as Grandad had just died, and Frances’ dad had left her mum.
“But I bought you a present Gran,” Frances said, and showed her the DVD.
They settled down with their dinner in front of the TV and watched the DVD. Gran could remember Lucille Ball and Frances had to admit that she was very funny (Lucy that is, not her granny). Frances noticed that Lucille Ball loved to wear rings on her left hand – but was that a clue?
She got up early the next morning and felt grateful that it was the summer holidays, so that she had plenty of time to explore this riddle. As soon as Frances had her breakfast, she was out the door.
“Where are you going Frances?” her Mum called after her.
“Church,” she yelled back and chuckled to herself, imagining the look on her Mum’s face at her reply.
Frances headed towards the Catholic Church down by the Cavendish Street roundabout. It was very noisy outside with all the cars but inside, it was peaceful. Mass had finished about ten minutes before, so the priest was still there. She marched up to him on the altar and whispered loudly her enquiry, which was to know more about St. Lucy. Fr. Kennedy smiled and took her down to the back of the church, where there was a stand of religious books – one was about the lives of different saints, including St. Lucy. He said she could have it for free but that she was to say a prayer for him, which
Frances thought was very odd, seeing that he was a priest.
When Frances was in bed that night, she greedily read all the stories about St. Lucy and stared at the illustration of her. St. Lucy looked lovely and brave and in her right hand, she had some kind of big feather and in her left hand, a chalice or cup of some sort. Frances couldn’t make out if it was Holy Communion or Holy Water in the chalice. What did it mean?
She had a very restless night pondering the various clues and wondered what to do about ‘Lucy the Elephant’, as that Lucy was in America. Frances slipped out the back door before everybody else was up, leaving a note on the kitchen table. She needed fresh air to think. She tried to power walk but thought she looked stupid, so stopped after a while. Then she saw a huge poster stuck onto a telegraph pole, announcing that Rodrigo’s Circus was in town and that there would be a circus parade at 10 am, with Lucy the Elephant heading the parade. Frances hurried home and had breakfast and then went to view the parade.
There were a lot of parents with young children waiting to see the parade. Lucy the Elephant was a magnificent animal but, of course, as Frances suddenly realised, she had no hands. On the left hand side of Lucy, however, was an Indian boy of about fourteen, wearing a gold
turban and a matching gold jacket – was he the missing link?
Frances returned home and as she entered the house, she saw her Mum relaxing in the armchair, reading one of her romantic paperbacks. Her mum loved anything romantic, believing that one day her husband Neil would return. Frances glanced at the picture on the front of the book – a perfectly manicured hand wearing a huge diamond ring and a gold wedding band. Then her Mum moved her fingers and the title was revealed – On the Left Hand. Frances looked more closely over her Mum’s shoulder. She had just started reading the first page but part of the top of the page was missing and so were the first few words. However, the rest of the sentence continued with ‘… were the outward signs of a rich, married woman.’

A Posy Of Wild Flowers

         Bluebell     Coinnle Corra

Pretty bells of vibrant hue,

Create a carpet of hazy blue,

Come before the tree renew,

Catch the sunlight coming through.

First we see your shiny leaves,

Then the flower loved by bees.

Many a passer-by you please

As you grow amongst the trees.

People gather you along the way,

Through the woods in merry May,

To put in jam jars to display,

And brighten up their day.

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