…a little old lady left her fine village in the middle of the land, and travelled to the great Capital City. It took many hours on the wide highway known as the Emmwunn, and it was very late, and quite dark when her silver carriage drew up in a street near the Castle of the Elephant. She was to stay with two charming young people who lived in
an upstairs flat a dusty garret. She had hoped that they would have a grand supper prepared, for she was so tired and hungry. She longed to eat a hot meal and climb into a warm bed.
But no – the table was bare. “Oh take us to the blue and yellow towers in Croi-Donne” they chorused “For we want to see the wonders from over the sea, from the land of Scandiwegia, and eat their strange foods” [and we cannot carry a flatpack chest of drawers on our bicycles]
So the three of them climbed into the little silver carriage and travelled to Eye-Key-Arr, where they ate globes of beef, garnished with jam. And while the young people opened and closed drawers, and debated colours, the little old lady pottered down to the children’s department. For she was young at heart, and spent her days working with children, and was continually seeking new ways to help them learn to read, and count, and be creative.
And her heart sang, as she saw the display of new things they were selling. For in November, she was to be teaching “Traditional Tales” and there, spread on shelves,and dangling from streamers, she found a panoply of storybook characters – soft toys, puppets, and even creatures who metamorphosed into other things
Owls, badgers, hedgehogs, rabbits, fairies, princesses and princes. A set of finger puppets with a castle theatre, Red Riding Hood, plus a huge wolf, which had a tiny grandma halfway down its throat [sinister] and a frog who turned into a prince [strangely gruesome] A stack of animals [the Musicians of Bremen] and lots of mice and rats
She looked in wonder and amazement. Oh the stories she could tell…
There were even dressing up crowns and pixie boots with curled up toes. The little old lady tried on the crowns, and the blue slippers. They were a teeny bit too small [Oh Cinderella, you shall not go to the ball after all] The little old lady had a conversation with the owl glove puppet – to the amusement of children nearby, and she turned the frog/prince inside out and back again, and felt quite queasy, she mused on the lack of Pied Piper to entertain the rats. And she looked at the price tags, and counted the gold pieces in her purse. Sadly, she concluded that maybe just two little finger puppets would have to suffice. She chose a flying green dragon and a piebald pony – which together cost even less than a jar of the mysterious red jam.
Just then, Princess Elizabeth, and her Prince Charming rode up on their trolley, with a
treasure chest, and a clock that told both the time and how hot the room was, and soft pillows, and bendy spatulas…and other wondrous things to decorate their castle flat.
They paid for their treasures, and loaded up the little silver carriage, and went back towards the Castle Of The Elephant. And the little old lady managed [for once!] to make her new little black magic box work properly, so she was able to say Goodnight to her Handsome Prince, who was miles away, and tell him what a wonderful family they had and how she had enjoyed her evening.
She forgot the sad things of the day – preparation for SATs tests, mysterious pools of vomit on the classroom carpet, variable speed limits, diversions due to roadworks…Finally she fell asleep and dreamed of her class – 29 bright faces smiling at her, as the children sat round on the carpet for their story, full of flying dragons, and beautiful princesses.
…and they all lived happily ever after!
[but the little old lady is still thinking about making herself some pointy toed boots and a colourful crown to wear at storytime…]