Cedrick Steele and the Great Bookshop Rescue

p 4

Cedrick Steele was nine years old.

He lived above a shop that sold

 

pp 5-6

books, bookmarks and stationery.

Days were happy and didn’t vary

until one quiet Sunday

when robbers decided to prey

 

p 7

on clever young Cedrick’s home

snatching and snaffling both poem and tome.

 

p 8

Young Cedrick wasn’t having this,

‘No-one’s ruining my reading bliss,’

 

pp 9-10

He might have been only nine,

but Ced knew he’d be just fine

for Ced had read a thing or two

and knew exactly what to do.

Baddies could try for a cash advance

but they simply didn’t stand a chance.

 

Ced called up his friends, and the cops.

 

pp 11-12

Friends soon came out of their shops

and waited outside for Cedrick’s sign.

 

pp 13-14      ‘

This should do it, Byzantine, fishing line

and just a touch of Frankenstein,’

said Ced as he donned his mask

and began the intricate task

 

pp 15-16

of booby trapping the family shop

‘I’ll strike while they’re on the hop’.

 

pp 17-18

Our young hero wasted no time,

threading books and things on the fishing line,

setting up with  pulley and lever.

Yes, Ced could be quite the deceiver.

 

pp19-20

Who-oop! Who-oop! Who-oop! Went the alarm.

‘Hurry,’ said one. ‘or we’ll come to harm.

Brinngg  CRASH went the register drawer

One robber now lay on the floor.

 

Pp 21-22

His mate shook him, but had no luck,

He got up to run then had to duck

As chairs and books swung toward him,

He was lucky not to lose a limb.

 

p 23

Then from a box behind a tall bookshelf

Rose the masked head of Cedrick Steele himself.

‘Grr Get out grr!’ growled the monster,

‘Your thieving ways I won’t sponsor!’

 

p 24

‘Let’s go,’ said a robber grabbing his mate by the collar.

 

p 25

‘Ready. Now!’ young Cedrick did holler.

 

p 26

He pressed the button to open the door.

It set off two chalk bombs, maybe more.

 

pp 27-28

Friends rushed in with ropes and a net.

Cornered, the robbers would  never forget

how glad they were when the cops fin’ly came

and broke up the children’s raucous game.

 

pp 29-30

Mum and Dad arrived, their faces sank,

but soon they knew who to thank.

Their own dear Ced had saved the day

and he said with delight ‘Book ‘em Serg, take them away!’

Sophie’s Quest

Chapter One

 

“Wait here,” said Auntie Jill, putting down the travel guide. “I’ll be back in a trice.”

Auntie Jill wasn’t Sophie’s real auntie. She was Mum’s friend, visiting from overseas. When Mum dropped them at the shopping centre, and drove off to park, Sophie felt important being alone with “Auntie” Jill. She had only met her yesterday.

First, Sophie had shown the way to the chemist, and Jill bought moisturiser. Then they walked to the supermarket, where Mum was supposed to meet them. She wasn’t there. One of the things on the shopping list, was a SIM card for Jill’s phone—not working yet—

they couldn’t call Mum. Sophie wished for her own phone, but Mum said that she was still too young. Nothing to do but wait.

They looked in colourful shop windows. Auntie Jill bought an apple-beetroot juice drink to share. Still Mum hadn’t turned up.

“Can we go to the bookshop?” Sophie asked.

Sophie was browsing the new book in her favourite mystery series, when Auntie Jill told her to wait. There was no chance to disagree. “I’ll be back in a trice,” she had said. Auntie Jill was gone.

Sophie, at eight-years-old, was rarely alone in a shop. With this unexpected freedom, she browsed the children’s section thoroughly, clutching the mystery book she wanted. Maybe Auntie Jill would buy it when she came back. If Mum came back first, she would say: “Put it on your birthday list.”

All the bright new covers on the laden bookshelves made Sophie feel tingly all over. She continued deeper into the shop. The novels and non-fiction books glowed with gold lettering and jewel-coloured covers. Books covered every inch of space from floor to ceiling. Fairy-lights hung from the wooden rafters, like a medieval cavern. There was a deep, soft armchair upholstered in purple velvet in a corner. Sophie sank into it with her coveted book, and began to read.

The story was more even exciting than the last one (which she had read three times over). Sophie forgot all about Auntie Jill and Mum. She didn’t notice the lights grow dim and the shop go quiet.

A loud thud of a door closing woke Sophie.

I must have fallen asleep! she thought, in a sleepy daze, remembering where she was. Where was Auntie Jill? Where was Mum?

One small red light glowed at the shop counter. It must be very late.

I could just close my eyes and go back to sleep, she reassured herself. I’m safe here until morning. But then she thought of her frantic mother, and police searching for her. . .

Auntie Jill knew where she was. Best just sit tight and wait.

The small red light moved, then suddenly there were two—not computer lights at all, but a pair of red dragon eyes staring at Sophie, moving closer. Sophie reached out to touch the book-covered wall, but she felt only hard cold rock.

She wasn’t in a bookshop any longer.

The Everyday Superhero

Everything changed when a box of cereal shot out of the cupboard and hit me on the head.

‘Ouch! Mum?’

Mum snatched the box and shoved it in the cupboard. ‘Too many preservatives!’ she snapped and left the room.

 

Then, I was at my Grandparent’s bookshop, when Dad yelled. ‘Out the back!’

‘What’s up?’

‘Now!’

I rain to the staircase and stopped.  ‘Dad, where are my legs?’

‘You need to get more sleep!’ he barked and rushed off.

 

Later, I was tidying bookshelves when my head bumped the roof. ‘Aaargh!’

I grabbed the shelves. They collapsed.

Nan dug me out.

‘Nan?’

‘All 9-year-olds float on the roof at some stage.’

‘No, they don’t!’ I said. ‘What’s happening?’

‘I’ll get your parents.’ Nan said and closed the shop.

 

Upstairs, Dad stirred the hot chocolates, while Mum talked. ‘Billy, our family has superpowers!’

‘Superpowers?’

‘Yes, invisibility, flying, mind control…that sort of thing.’

‘Only on your mother’s side.’ Dad grumbled.

‘You’ve inherited blue eyes from your Dad, and superpowers from me.’ Mum beamed.

‘Nan has powers too?’

Nan nodded.

‘Grandad?’

‘Yes, Champ.’

I stared at Mum. ‘You are always the one getting the football off the roof.’

‘Quite right.’

Dad rolled his un-super eyes and placed the cups down.

‘Nan, you do disappear when there’s washing up.’

Dad coughed a little.

‘And Grandad, you do like wearing underpants on the outside of your clothes.’     ‘Nothing to do with his superpowers,’ Dad mumbled.

‘David!’ Mum snapped.

I started imagining my friends’ faces…

‘Billy, before you start imagining your friend’s faces…

Mum was good!

‘…world-domination isn’t for our family.’

‘It’s not?’

‘World peace is out too.’

‘It is?’

‘We don’t even “save the day”,’ she added making quote marks.

‘What can we do?’

‘We use our powers for everyday things – finding socks, shoes, keys…’

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

‘…returning hats…’ Mum continued.

Visions of rescuing people from burning buildings faded quickly.

‘We have superpowers and can fly, but all we do is return hats?’

Her voice softened. ‘Small “super” acts can make a big difference!’

‘Seriously, that’s it! No capes, masks or cool light signals?’

Mum sighed. ‘Late last Century, some superheroes became obsessed with being more super, than hero. Flamboyant costumes, flashy antics and even secret identity-selfies took prominence over justice and compassion.’

‘Some wouldn’t wear the same mask twice!’ Dad added.

‘The Agency made cuts, reshuffled and our family become the Everyday Superheroes.’

‘We used to be in accounts!’ Grandad said.

‘Some still fight crime. But, not us. Anyway, you’re not allowed out after dark.’

‘So, we’re the most boring superhero family ever?’

Mum emptied the cups. ‘You’ll need training!’

‘Where? An underground cave? Secret laboratory?’

‘The bookshop.’

‘No!’

Nan grabbed my hand. ‘Billy, this is no ordinary bookshop.’

‘What do you mean?’

I followed Nan downstairs to the antiquities section of the shop. She pushed a large, dusty book. A trapdoor flung open.

‘That’s what I mean.’ Nan said.

I looked down and gasped.

Wish Upon a Book

[4-5]

[Illustration note: A kindly old woman sits behind the counter of her cramped bookstore, surrounded by mountains of books on shelves reaching to the rafters.]

Welcome, my dear reader, to Wish Upon A Book!

I’ve got something just for you. Come and take a look!

Only one per customer, and every book is free.

But first I need a story – a new one, just for me!

 

[6-7]

[Illustration note: This textless spread is a close-up of the woman’s ear – we can see the side of her face, too; she’s listening intently, eager for the reader’s story.]

 

[8-9]

Fascinating! Mesmerising! Truly, I adored it!

Thank you for your splendid tale. I simply must reward it!

So here you go, dear reader: the perfect book for you.

Perhaps you’d like to open it and read a page or two?

 

[10-11]

[Illustration note: This textless spread shows the inside of the book – it’s completely blank. Best to show various pages to convey the point that they’re all blank.]

 

[12-13]

Ah, you’ve learned my secret: these baffling books are bare.

Of course they are! For how else could the wishes fit in there?

So tell me, what’s your fantasy? What’s your book of choice?

What’s the book that’s bound to make you revel and rejoice?

 

[14-15]

Would you like a cookbook filled with every single dish?

What about a singing songbook? Maybe that’s your wish?

 

[16-17]

Would you rather scratch-’n-sniff an almanac of smells?

Or maybe you like magic, so you’ll choose a book of spells?

 

[18-19]

Would you like a catalogue of enemies and friends?

Why not choose a story book that never ever ends?

 

[20-21]

What about a book to make you riches out of rags?

Or better yet, a joke book with a million billion gags?

 

[22-23]

Would you like a book containing every single fact?

Or fables full of morals, to teach you how to act?

 

[24-25]

Perhaps you have your own idea for something quite unique?

The time has come to make your wish, so close your eyes and speak:

 

[26-27]

[Illustration note: This textless spread is another close-up of the woman’s ear, similar to the first one. This time, while listening intently to the reader’s wish, she’s also holding her hand out towards the reader’s book, which is floating in the air, enveloped by sparkles emanating from her hand.]

 

[28-29]

Ahhh… the perfect book indeed. I knew you’d get it right.

I hope it brings you many years of wonder and delight.

 

[30-31]

And if someday you tire of it, the words shall fade away,

And you’ll come back to wish upon your book again. Hurray!

 

[32]

[This textless page is a close-up of the cover of the book. It’s glowing, or has a spotlight shining on it, looking amazing and inviting and altogether special.]

Vernon and the Musty Dusty Bookshop

Vernon liked to read.

He lived with his mother, father, two sisters, a dog and six cats inside a tiny house, right next door to The Musty Dusty Bookshop.

Although he was lucky enough to have his own bedroom with walls lined with bookshelves, his tiny house was always noisy, having so many people and animals living in it.

So Vernons favourite place to read had always been The Musty Dusty Bookshop.

Every day, Vernon would visit The Musty Dusty Bookshop and find his favourite spot to read. In a quiet corner, beneath a broken window, was the largest beanbag Vernon had ever seen.

He would wander the tired shelves looking for excitement, gently pick out a book then collapse into the warm embrace of the enormous beanbag. It was so large that all you could see were his feet, hands and head. Vernon loved this beanbag. He felt hidden.

Here, was where Vernon had his most wonderful escapades. Carefully opening his book, he would start to read.

And he would become….

Flash Vernon, skilful race car driver, driving his bright orange race car. Crowds of people would watch him streak down the track to always finish first!

Or…

Captain Vernon flying his spaceship among the stars, meeting weird aliens and having afternoon tea with them on the moon.

Or…

Vernon Skullfinder, adventurer extraordinaire, traipsing through jungles, exploring dark caves full of bats and discovering treasures of gold, bright green jewels and hot pink doughnuts.

Or…

Bubbles Vernon, deep sea diver, discovering enormous sharks, friendly whales and multi-coloured starfish. They would sit down on the sea bed and play cards and make jokes that they all laughed at.

Or…

Vernon the Magnificent performing magic on stage in front of all the Kings and Queens of the world. They would clap at his tricks and throw their crowns into the air to show their appreciation.

Eventually, it would become time for the Musty Dusty Bookshop to close. Vernon would gently close his book, say goodbye to his trusty beanbag and make his way home again.

He was never sad to leave, for he loved his crazy, noisy family, He would return home, knowing that there were always more adventures to discover in The Musty Dusty Bookshop tomorrow.

Vagrants, nutters, and other Tuesday shoppers

“Isobelle Carmody,” she hissed at the insensate spines. “Actually, Isabel Allende. Any of the Isobelles, really.”

 

Sigh.

 

Every bookstore owner will tell you that Tuesday is the most frightfully quiet day. No one has ever gotten to the bottom of exactly why. Perhaps people get their fill of books on the weekend, or maybe they’re busy saving money on Amazon. Either way, everyone in the industry knows that Tuesday is a dead day. On Tuesdays, only vagrants and nutters enter bookstores.

 

Our particular owner was reminded of this very truth as he gazed over the counter at his only customer. Vagrant or nutter, he wondered.

 

The woman was wearing generously cut track pants and a jumper with the faded dates of some kind of engineering conference stamped across the back like bad concert paraphernalia.

 

“Can I help you find anything in particular?” said the man.

 

The woman didn’t even turn around to see where the sound had come from. Not a good sign, he thought. Actually quite indicative of those multiple personality types.

 

Suddenly, and without warning, she spoke. “Penelope sounds glamorous, doesn’t it? Like somebody who has never done the dishes or fallen from a chair while trying to pull off their gumboots. I do believe that our name tends to decide our fate to a degree. I just think my life would be different if I were called Belle.”

 

The man let his eyes follow the well-spoken derelict from popular fiction to true crime. “Actually,” he said. “The writers Bell Hooks and Belle Bremer are named Gloria and Martina respectively.” He glanced at the young adult shelves she was now tapping with short fingernails. “Cassandra Clare is a Judith,” he offered.

 

“Well, as a newly minted expert in such things, Judith definitely sounds like the kind of name a husband would leave,” she said, picking up a title called Common Poisons and Other Household Hazards. In the absence of a proper non-fiction section the man had placed it under self help. Regret began to draw the edges of his smile inwards.

 

She leafed through the chapters as he glanced once more at the door. “I’ll take this one,” she said.

 

“I, uh, I feel quite obligated to refuse the sale of that particular book. I…I simply can’t enable whatever lunacy you might be—”

 

His words were cut short as a hardcover copy of Unf*ck Yourself flew across the counter, pages fluttering through the air in applause. The book hit his left temple with a sharp thud. The woman walked calmly to the counter, peering down at the splayed body on worn flannel carpet.

 

“Tell me,” she said, taking twenty dollars from her handbag and leaving it on the counter, making sure to secure one corner with a paper weight. She turned and moved towards the door. “If a woman were to kill her husband what sort of name do you think she might have?”

The Story Tree

A tree stands tall on his patch of grass lining the shops and cafes of his hometown. With the wind’s help, his branches sway towards the window of his beloved bookshop. He listens.

On afternoons when the window is open, the tree leans close so that he can hear stories being told. A woman with a lively voice tells them at the same time each day. After school, children flock to their favourite storyteller. They gather around her, chattering and chuckling until she opens her book. Silence. She reads.

At story time, the tree is transported from his town to faraway lands. Words carry him, roots and all, to places a tree cannot go. His branches become wings, climbing to the clouds as a storybook dragon. His trunk becomes legs, trekking on trails of adventure up snow-capped mountains. His leaves become gills, breathing the ocean with unknown, unseen creatures of the deep.

Books feed the tree with goodness and badness and happiness and sadness, nourishing him with something not found in sunbeams or raindrops. Birds and bees all cherish the magical flavour of his flowers over any other tree in town.

When winter comes, the bookshop window remains closed, and the tree cannot hear any stories. All he can see is the storyteller’s mouth moving, her arms flapping. His branches sag. His leaves fall.

When spring arrives, the window opens again. If not for his roots, the tree would jump for joy. Stories breathe life and colour back into his branches.

Seasons come and go, along with years. Children come and go, too. The tree remains, looking forward to his daily ritual more and more as time passes.

One autumn day, the story is interrupted by a rumbling noise. The woman’s words are muffled by a BRUM-BRUM-BRRRRRRR, thump.

The noise continues the next day, getting closer and louder. It is coming from something hidden behind the other tall, broad trees that line the road. It ruins another good story, drowning out every word with its BRUM-BRUM-BRRRRRRR, thump.

On the following day, the tree can finally see the noisemaker. A man is holding it, a sword with a thousand mechanical teeth. The teeth are angry and hungry, biting into wood, BRUM-BRUM-BRRRRRRR, thump. Progress has come to town, but it is worse than any monster in any book. Trees fall to the earth, thump.

It is the tree’s time to fall. He looks through the window of the bookshop one last time. Dew drips from his leaves. BRUM-BRUM-BRRRRRRR, thump.

After a long sleep, the tree stirs. But he is no longer a tree. He is a book. His trunk and his branches are now pages, alive with words. He sits with pride and anticipation on the bookshelf. The woman reaches for him. The children gather around her, chattering and chuckling. She opens the book. Silence. She reads.

The Jolly Reader

‘Put down that blasted book and finish yer watch!’ bellowed Captain Bluebeard at the young sailor seated in the prow of The Salty Scourge.

‘Blasted-book! Blasted-book!’ screeched the bird perched on the Captain’s shoulder. He rubbed his ear. The man who sold him this new parrot assured him it was trained. Ha!

‘Yes Captain,’ said Toby hiding the book inside his shirt. If the other pirates saw it, they would use it for toilet paper. He picked up the telescope and squinted through the lens.

Yikes! There was a small ship not too far away, gliding out of the mist.

‘Ship ahoy!,’ Toby shouted, ‘Starboard side. She’s a pretty one Captain!’

At last, thought the Captain. They had not plundered a ship in weeks and the crew were getting extremely bored. They had been fighting and throwing each other’s peg-legs overboard. Quite a number of the crew were now hopping about.

There was also the toilet paper situation.

 

As they approached the other ship, the pirates imagined what the cargo might be.

‘Gold, I hope,’ said the Captain, ‘Thar’s bills to pay.’

‘A new cutlass,’ said the second mate whose weapon was a disgrace to the pirate profession, all chipped and rusty.

‘Peg-legs,’ said one of the hopping sailors.

‘Toilet paper!’ cried someone else.

‘Toilet-paper! Toilet-paper!’ screeched the parrot.

The crew cheered while the Captain moved the parrot onto his other shoulder.

 

As The Salty Scourge drew alongside the smaller ship, Toby could see two crewmembers on deck. There was a old man seated on a barrel, with his head buried inside a small book. And a girl about his age, standing at the helm. Her hair whipped about her face in the wind, and she was scowling right at him.

Toby, the Captain, and any pirates with two legs, vaulted aboard.

The old man stood up, bowed, and said ‘Good morrow, and welcome aboard mine humble ship. I, William, selleth many and varied books on any subject thee would like. I pray what booketh art thee looking for?’

The Captain looked confused.

‘Just tell us what yer cargo be so we can plunder it!’

‘We are a bookshop, our cargo is books, which sea rats like you would have no use for,’ said the girl.

‘Sea-rats! Sea-rats!’ repeated the parrot and bit the Captain hard on the ear.

‘We use books,’ said the second mate, ‘for toilet paper!’

He laughed and drew his weapon.

‘Oh dear,’ said William. ‘Captain, thy bird is without manners, and sailor, thy cutlass is a disgrace.’

The Captain wiped the blood from his ear and the second mate nodded sadly.

‘Methinks I have something to help thee and all thy crew.’

William went below deck and came back up with an armful of books.

Care of the Cutlass.

How to Train Your Parrot.

Peg-Legs for Dummies.

‘Tryeth reading these,’ said William.

‘Thank ye for this useful bounty,’ said the Captain taking the books.

‘Would ye ‘ave any spare toilet paper too?’

The Green Eyed Doggerel: A Dastardly Tale of Magic Gone Wrong

“Doggerel (noun): verse that is badly written / comic verse in irregular time”

Thank god you’re reading this. It would definitely come out all wrong if I tried to tell you out loud.

So this is how it happened. I’d been hiding behind the A-G Junior Fiction shelf for only three seconds or less, before I realised my BIG mistake! As I crouched into ‘transformation go stance,’ intending to transform into a massive Harry Potter hardback, that would’ve been funny right, I noticed the green eyed doggerel sitting, drooling beside my right flank.

Now if you know the rules of ‘transformation go,’ you will be as horrified as I was! By taking the stance, ‘whilst flanked to the right by any living creature that engenders horror, the horrified stance taker will be irrevocably affected by said horrifying being.’ These are the rules, these were and always will be the rules and I knew them.

So what happened that could be so awful? Just listen while I tell you out loud. Prepare yourself though, it’s a disaster.

‘I should have checked before I morphed!
Now forever I’ll be dwarfed
in language less than great.
Everything I say from now, will well and truly grate.
My words will rhyme
All out of time
Because of that green doggerel.
He had big ears, a wagging tail but was a fiendish moggrel
I mean a mongrel!

My rhymes, they aren’t good
Not like a poet’s rhymes should…. be

They’re not in keeping with high literatures’ ruling.
And to make it worse,
my doggereled speech,
is accompanied by drooling!!!’

So it’s here, online and here only in the chat room, that I have to make my entire social life. Thank heavens I can write like a normal humagic and not reveal the idiocy of careless transforming with every spoken word. Before this disaster I had high hopes of gaining access to the local Selective Transformational College, but, having made such a monumental error in practical wisdom skills, I have to kiss those dreams goodbye. Luckily it’s not my only humagenic gift. My dad was a Transformational Savant but my mother was an amazing Dance Craze, Daze Maker and lucky for me I have both their gifts. Looks like in public, I’m gonna have to confine myself to bustin’ out with the funky power moves and my transformation skills will have to be my secondary gift. It’s off to the arts academy for me. I’m guessing I’d better learn universal sign language if I want to communicate with people in the same geographic location without making them feel nauseous.
I’m cursing the day I played hide and seek in that store. But if you want to hear something totally sick, you should here me swear out loud… but then again, maybe not.

My Key

I’ve been given a key.

A magical, wonderful, skeleton key.

There are treasure chests all around, and my key unlocks them all.

Sometimes smoothly, with a neat ‘click’ – and out jumps a cat in marvellous millinery, or a ravenous caterpillar.

Other times the key rotates with ponderous effort, like the mechanism is rusty. From these chests creatures emerge and form more slowly, revealing themselves in time.

With a mere turn of my key I can cure my confusion or eliminate my ennui.

The place I love best of all to take my key is here.

It is warm and there’s a hush of quiet.

The walls are lined with shelves.

The shelves are filled with chests.

The chests hold mysterious jewels awaiting discovery.

And sometimes, if I’m lucky, a treasure chest becomes mine.

I bring it home, to my room, where my own shelves are lined with chests.

I spend time with my new treasure. I delve into the contents. I discover amazing new things.

Thank you for my key.

I wonder what treasure I’ll open next.