Fear was once the feeling of being alone upstairs. In my bed at night. Or worse, a daytime trip to the bathroom. Knowing that I needed to go, I would hold on until the last possible minute and then run upstairs to do the fastest wee I could. Then I’d have to flush the toilet and who knows what awful creature might be lurking in the shadows, cloaked by its invisibility and waiting for its moment. Waiting for that rush of water and hissing cistern to hide its movements, so it could catch me off guard.
So I’d have to be poised – ready. Like a runner at the start of a race. On your marks, my hand goes to the flush. Get set, my body leans down my eyes fix on the door. Go, I press the handle of the flush and start running all at the same time. My hand grabs the doorway to anchor me as I spin almost full circle around and down the stairs two at a time. My heart races, my eyes are wild and my mind is convinced great horrors may have occurred had I not moved with such haste. Phew. Back to the safety of others and their amused eyes.
My mind is not often my friend. What kind of friend would tell you such frightening and painful stories. But unfortunately I’m stuck with this one.
Darcy pulled her scarf up and hunched her shoulders high. She felt stupid already and it was only four minutes after nine, but she’d known all along Jack wouldn’t come.
She wiped the bright red lipstick from her lips, and gingerly stepped across the ice back toward the school entrance. The note could have been from anyone. They were probably there right now laughing at her misery.
“Just don’t fall” Darcy whispered desperately to herself.
But she had already fallen – in the worst possible way. She had fallen for the coolest boy in school and it left her cold.
I round the corner fast, head down, legs pumping furiously, my mind on the repetitive turn of the pedals. I know I’m making good time even without checking my watch, because I know the routine of this place. I see the sign hasn’t yet been put out on the pavement at Pirelli’s as I speed passed, and the sun doesn’t hit my face as it often does at this point. It waits behind the crag which towers over the village, ready for its grand entrance.
“At least two minutes faster than yesterday” I think to myself.
My heart leaps as I see the number sixty eight bus pull away from the stop beside the guest house. It’s even better than I thought and I’m on the open straight now, nothing can stop me.
The sun comes out to play. It peers its vibrant head around the crag, hitting me full in the face. The warmth adds to my jubilance. I don’t see the child. I don’t see her face, or her curls, or the wellies she chose just last week. I don’t see her, until my wheel hits her. Then I don’t see anything more.
This book is as delicious and magical as its title suggests. You’ll find it in the 9-11 year category, but much like other books that sit there, it has the ability to capture the child in all of us. Which is lucky for me as I am currently reading my way through this section in the name of research.
Aventurine is as feisty as you would expect a young dragon to be, but when her plan to prove herself to her family fails, she is tricked and turned into a human girl. What seems like a disaster at first, soon becomes an opportunity to discover more about a wonderful thing she has discovered – chocolate. She sets off on her quest down the mountain every bit as powerful in her human mind as she was in her fiery dragon body. Along the way she learns a lot about humans (perhaps they’re not all as bad as her family believe), discovers the joy of real friendship and finally finds her true dragon passion.
Stephanie Burgis has provided everything I love to find in a book for children (and adults too for that matter): a strong female role model (you can’t beat a small human girl with the mind of a dragon), a good dollop of fantasy and, most importantly, a magical story with delightful characters. Burgis has created a wonderful world in which to lose yourself for a little while, and it is beautifully executed. I now know a lot more about dragons and chocolate than I did before!
I finished the book feeling all warm inside – like I’d just taken a fiery gulp of the Chocolate Heart’s fine hot chocolate or been gifted the power of flame. What’s more it marks the end of a bit of a reading drought for me – so on to the next! Can’t wait!
I would highly recommend The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart to lovers of fantasy, chocolate and dragons of all ages. To find out more or purchase the book visit here.
Helen rested her head against the door, defeated. If it had been any other day she might have laughed at this. She looked sorrowfully at the pieces of the doorknob in her hand and let the tears flow as she released them from her grip.
Mr Spinks purred and rubbed himself against her legs. She nudged him away.
“You can go find your own corner of this bloody cupboard, it’s your fault we’re in this mess” she snapped furiously.
She watched him skulk off as she slid down to the floor.
The clock beside her read 09:01. Yet another door had just closed in her face.
I am very excited to be embarking on a new adventure into writing and hope that this blog will help to pull it all together. Here I will write. I’ll write short stories. I’ll write flash fiction and perhaps a book review or two as well.
I have a passion for picture books. Fifteen years (or so) ago when I was a nursery nurse, I would spend my Saturdays browsing the children’s 3 for 2 aisle at WHSmith, and my free time was all mine to lose myself in books. I’m a Mum of two preschool children now and my time is far from my own, but I do get to read LOTS of picture books (even if I don’t get to lose myself in other books as much). And now I have a plan. Maybe I’ll be able to write a few picture books and stories of my own? Maybe.
So I return to writing (we’re all writer’s really after all – just some of us choose not to actually write it down) and, to help me develop my writing skills I’m going to have some fun writing whatever story falls on to the page too. Just let my imagination and pen (or fingers) flow without concern for genre, audience, or the resulting piece – that can come later. (Note: I probably will have a lot of concern for all those things but I’ll TRY not to put myself into any one box for now!)
So this is the place I will [bravely] share my responses to writing prompts, whether it be flash fiction or short stories. And also where I will flex my reading and writing muscles with book reviews. I can’t wait! Even if it does make my tummy flipple-flop a little.