We asked children aged between 5 and 11 to write a picture book of 200-800 words featuring animals as part of our Bedtime Story Competition. The standard of entries we received from all over the country showed us just how much children love to express themselves and share stories through reading and writing, so we thought we would share the shortlisted entries.
Harley Asks a Favour
Harley dribbled as he gazed at his frisbee stuck up in the tree. He had tried woofing at it. He had tried jumping at it. He had even tried throwing a stick at it, but the stick didn't even reach the first branch. He lay down, rested his chin on his paws and let out a long, low sigh. Then, out of the corner of his eye he spotted a flash of orange. Mr Pheasant! Of course, he'd fly up and carry the frisbee down. His legs trembling, he bounded over. But before he was within a paws reach, he was stopped by the pheasant's angry swipes.
"Go away!" he squawked.
Harley's tail dropped, "Excuse me, Sir? Would you mind flying up and getting my frisbee down?"
Mr Pheasant narrowed his eyes, ''Why of course I will..." he said slyly, "if you get me some of those scrumptious inky-blackberries that I love?"
Harley walked over to the blackberry bush and tried to poke his snout into the middle to reach a branch of the ju! iciest berries.
"Ouch!" he yelped. The prickles had prickled his nose!
He lay down, rested his chin on his paws and let out a long low sigh. Then, out of the corner of his eye he spotted a puff of snowy-white fluff. Mrs Bunny! Of course, she could wriggle in there and get the berries for him! He pranced over to her, but before he was within a snouts length, he was stopped by Mrs Bunny's frown.
"What do you want?" she asked grumpily.
Harley's tail dropped "Ummm, would you get me some blackberries... please?" He mumbled.
Mrs Bunny's frown disappeared. "Why of course I will... if you get me a carrot for the baby bunnies." She batted her eyelashes.
"Okay!" Harley barked.
He trotted down to the vegetable patch and nudged his nose under the fence. " Ouch" he cried. The wire scratched his nose!
He lay down, rested his chin on his paws and let out a long low sigh. Just then a loud clucking erupted ! from inside the vegetable patch. Of course! The chickens would get a carrot for him! He ran to the gate where the chickens were playing catch with a snail. Poor snail, Harley thought.
"Excuse me? Would you get me a carrot please?"
A chicken strutted over to him, "Of course I will..." she clucked, but to Harley's disappointment and the other chickens' delight, she added "If you get us a pot full of corn from the shed."
Harley wandered over to the rickety wooden shed. As usual the cracked little window had been left open, but it was so high up that no matter how hard he tried, he could only nudge it with his nose. He trudged back round to the chickens, lay down, put his head on his paws and let out a long, low sigh. Then out of the corner of his eye he spotted a rat no bigger than his paw, cleaning his whiskers.
"Please will you get me some corn out of the shed, little rat?" He asked.
Before the rat could open his tiny mouth, a chicken squawked "You can't trust a rat! They think of nobody ! but themselves!"
But the rat ignored the mean old chicken, "Me? Really? Nobody ever asked me to do anything before! Nobody ever trusts Ratty!"
"Well, I trust Ratty," said Harley, to Ratty's surprise, "Will you help? Please?"
"Of course I will... if..." Harley's tail dropped "... if you'll be my friend!" and the little rat scampered over to the shed and straight in the window. There came a clunk, then a crash, then eventually Ratty came out with a pot of corn.
Harley trotted to the chickens carrying the corn. The chickens passed him a carrot, just as they had said they would. He took it to Mrs Bunny and she disappeared into the bushes for some blackberries, just as she said she would. Finally he took the blackberries to Mr Pheasant. Mr Pheasant greedily gulped them down then gave a sly smirk and started to strut away.
"Hey, Mr Pheasant!" Harley said, his tail wagging excitedly "Can you get my frisbee down now?"
"Oh, I thought everybody knew..." squawked Mr Pheasant, gleefully, "Pheasants can't fly!"
Harley's tail dropped. He lay down, put his chin on his paws and let out his longest, lowest sigh ever. Then a little voice came from behind him, "Excuse me, my friend?" it squeaked, "I'll go up and get the frisbee down!"
Harley jumped up. "Thank you Ratty!" he yelped happily as the little rat ran up the tree.
So the two new friends played frisbee in the sunshine for the rest of the day and, no matter what he might tell you, they definitely didn't mean to use Mr Pheasant as a target!