hollie hughes

I am a Children's Author based in Essex, England. This is a blog about my life and work but, more often than not, about anything and everything else that occurs to me! I sometimes publish short stories, flash fiction and poetry for adults here too . . .

POP!

When cosy at home,

or out in the rain,

sometimes a rhyme,

just pops in your brain!

 

You need to write it down,

to let it out again –

or that popping, rhyming, earworm,

will drive your brain insane!

 

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WHAT’S A LIBRARY?

Sometimes you like the look,

of a freshly printed book,

and you want so much to try it –

but you can’t afford to buy it.

 

Nevermind, you see,

you can read that book for free,

in your snugly, kind,

gym for minds –

local library.

 

#piggate

With Cameron shamed for what he’d done,

Osborne thought he’d have some fun.

Scrap school meals, nuke the East,

let old Ashcroft go in peace.

IF THEY HAD TOLD ME

If they had told me that today would be the last time I would push your swing,

or lift you to something out of reach,

or tuck you back in,

or hold your hand to cross the road,

or sing you to sleep,

or kiss it better,

or read your bedtime story,

then I would have circled the date on the calendar, and surrounded it with red stars and exclamation marks.

I would have set an alarm, and shouted to the world upon waking that today was the day.

I would have planned my week, my month, my year, all around that one moment; all around that one undiluted pinprick of light.

But they did not tell me, and I cannot unpick it now.

It is not lost, but hidden; obscured by the whole; stitched and woven into the blanket of memory, and time.

De-Cluttering

You might have guessed I’ve been having a bit of a writing de-clutter – hence the uncharacteristic flurry of blog posts today . . .  It’s basically all the stuff I will never sell (and ain’t gonna be winnin’ any prizes anytime soon!) but I would rather put it out there than just hit delete.  There’s a bit of a hotch potch of short stories, flash fiction, children’s stories etc. – though I think you can search by category.  If you are looking for stuff for children though, please be aware that some (most!) of my stories for adults are not suitable for children – you will definitely need to vet first! – I have put in ‘Children’s Stories’ and ‘Children’s Poems’ categories, to make it a bit easier . . .

PETER DENTER – BOY INVENTOR

My name is Peter Denter –

Peter Denter is my name.

I’m a boy inventor,

and inventing is my game . . .

Today I’ll make a pirate ship –

I’ll build it big and strong.

I’ll have it done by breakfast time,

won’t take me very long.

Next I’ll build a steam train,

like those in days gone past.

I’ll look after it, and polish it –

and drive it really fast!

I think I’ll build a rocket ship,

and fly it to the moon.

All I need is glue and yogurt pots,

and I’ll be finished soon.

I’m going to build a toy machine –

to churn out cars and bikes.

Plus dinosaurs and wiggly worms

  • which everybody likes.

I must just build a tree house,

to play in when it rains.

I’ll have it done by lunchtime –

then I’ll start again!

After lunch I’ll build a robot –

a magnificent machine.

It’s moves will be amazing –

the best you’ve ever seen.

Next I’ll build a castle –

with wood, cement, and stone.

I’ll also need some sticky tape,

to make a lovely home.

I’m going to build an aeroplane,

and fly right through the clouds.

I’ll fly it to a far off land,

with only kids allowed.

I’ll fit it with a parachute,

so I can jump and glide.

I’ll fly right up a mountain top –

and jump off the other side!

Just one more job ‘til teatime

(you’ll find it works a treat).

A micro-monster-cooker-bomb –

to make nice things to eat!

Now tea is done, it’s time for bed

(even though I am not tired).

But Mum says I need a helper

and – I’m pleased to say – ‘You’re Hired!’

FURY IN THE FOREST

There’s a fury in the forest,

there’s a trembling in the trees.

There’s a shakin’ in the ground,

and a whispering in the leaves.

Stop! Listen!

What can you hear?

I don’t know what is coming

– but it’s coming very near!

I think I see its body,

glinting yellow through the trees.

It’s really getting closer now –

won’t someone help us please?

It’s chewing up the ground,

with great big scooping teeth.

It’s flattening down the undergrowth,

with huge black circle feet.

It’s tearing down our shelter,

smashing through our homes.

Shouting out strange noises,

creaking grunts and groans.

We need to run and hide now

– we’ve got to get away!

Don’t want to leave this place we love

– but really cannot stay!

We need to find a new home,

somewhere safe and sound.

Where the neighbours are more kindly

and there’s more space to go round.

Please do come and see us,

when we’re all settled down.

It’s nice to come and visit,

when you need a break from town.

Though don’t be long, lest we be gone

  • and nowhere to be found.

THE BLUE ZOO

At the blue zoo, everything is blue . . .

When stuck in the queue, the sky is blue.

Come rain, come shine, come snow, come hail,

There is only one colour – be it dark or pale.

Look down at your feet; you’ll see a blue street.

Blue bushes, blue trees, blue birds, blue bees.

Once inside, you’ll be surprised,

’cos what soon becomes evident, are the bright blue residents . . .

At the blue park, plays a blue aardvark.

In the blue shop, lurks a snappy blue croc.

And, not to be outdone by the blue alpaca – in his bright blue, sky blue, blue pacca-macca –

a blue mere cat, models a blue top hat.

A blue gnu sits on a blue loo.

Oh no!  Let’s hope he’s not doing a blue . . .

Watching a blue bear balancing on a blue chair,

a blue scaly snake takes a well-earned break.

Down at the blue pool, looking incredibly cool,

a slippery blue seal savours a fishy blue meal.

And a cerulean blue lion, incredibly strong,

strums a guitar to a blue, blue song.

Just joining in, there’s a hell of a din,

as a blue cockatoo makes a right blue hullaballoo.

At the end of the day, when it’s getting late,

a blue zoo keeper shuts the big blue gate.

There’s just one thing at the blue, blue zoo – only one thing that isn’t blue.

Look in the blue mirror; you’ll see it’s true, that one un-blue thing, in fact – is you!

Although . . . are you absolutely sure you aren’t blue too?

THE STAR DRAGON

Far out at sea, on a small stony outcrop of rock, there lived a very lonely – and very grumpy – dragon.  Each evening, as dusk settled, the dragon would leave the tiny island to stretch his wings and hunt for supper but always, by break of dawn, he would return to sit in silence once more and miserably keep watch over the endless sea and the huge waves smashing and crashing against his gloomy grey rock.

One day, when the sea was calm and the sun was high, the dragon was startled to see a small wooden coracle boat approaching the island.  As it drew closer, he was surprised to see that the tiny skipper on board was actually a very young boy.  The dragon stared hard at the boy, expecting him to paddle away as fast as his little arms would take him once he saw that the island was already inhabited by such a fearsome beast.  But the boy did not paddle away at all – in fact, he seemed even more determined to reach the island once he saw that the dragon was there.

The dragon was angry.  ‘How dare you come to this island!’ he roared.  ‘Is it not enough that all of the other dragons have long since left this world?  I am the last of my kind – leave me alone to see out the rest of my days in peace.’

‘You are not the last of your kind,’ replied the boy calmly.  ‘You may be sad, and you certainly must be very lonely – all by yourself out at sea on this rock – but you are mistaken if you think that you are the last of your kind.  And – if you will help me – I will prove it to you.’

‘Help you?’ snorted the dragon.  ‘Why would I help a weedy little babe like you?  You know nothing of my kind if you think I would help you.  You are nothing but a puny weakling human child’

The boy did not reply to the dragon.  Instead he very deliberately closed his eyes and then, very slowly, opened them again.  As the boy’s eyes opened, a bright light shone out from them and bathed the dragon all over in a shimmering, luminous glow.  All at once the dragon realised his mistake.  This was not a human child at all – this was a star child, with all the love and might of the infinite universe pouring out through his eyes.  The dragon was humbled, and felt that he would travel the entire length and breadth of all the heavens if it meant that he might give some little help to the star child when needed.

The star child climbed onto the dragon’s back and gently guided him all the way to where help was needed right at the other edge of the world.  In a dark and dingy cave in a faraway land, a magnificent dragon queen had been kept prisoner for many thousands of years.   Her human captors believed that she was the last of her kind and, for a fee, they allowed visitors to view her through a tiny crack in the wall of the cave.  When the humans saw the huge and mighty dragon arrive with the star child on his back, they were frightened.  The star child told the humans that the dragon was a mighty dragon king, and that he had come to beg the dragon queen to share his throne.  He told them that the dragon king had a mighty army of warrior dragons behind him, who would come to rescue their future queen if the humans would not let her go willingly.  The humans had no wish to stand up to even one angry dragon – let alone an entire dragon army – so they quickly agreed to release their captive, in the hope that the mighty dragon king would yet prove to be merciful upon them.

When the dragon queen was released, she was grateful to both the star child and to the dragon.  ‘I can never thank you enough,’ she said.  ‘For rescuing me.’

The dragon did not answer at once (being already awestruck with love for the magnificent dragon queen) but, when he finally did find himself able to speak, he said: ‘It is I who should be grateful to you, and it is you who have rescued me.  I thought I was alone and last, but now I know that I was not last but only lost.  I was lost, but now I am found.’

The dragon and his queen at once joined wings, and flew together all the way across the oceans until they finally came to rest at the tiny rock of an island where the dragon had lived alone so miserably for all those years.  There they did indeed live happily ever after as king and queen of their very own small and stony realm – but this is not yet quite where the story ends . . .

One quiet day, some many years later -when the sea was once again calm and the sun high in the sky – the star child returned once more.  This time though, he did not come empty handed.  He brought with him an egg – an egg that the dragons were to watch over very carefully indeed.  As carefully even as if it contained their very own baby dragon . . .

And it did!  One hundred years later, the egg slowly creaked open and out from it emerged a perfectly handsome tiny baby dragon.  It is a well-known fact, of course, that a baby dragon is a very special type of beast indeed – and this is even truer for dragon parents who had thought that they were the very last of their kind in the entire world.  However, there was something even more amazing about this particular dragon baby – for, when the baby opened its eyes for the first time, they shone with the exact same glow of love and might that had shimmered from the star child’s eyes all those years ago.  Though the dragons would never again come to see the star child after the day he brought them their egg, still they would remember to think of him with gratitude each and every day – each and every time that they gazed adoringly into their own dearest star dragon’s eyes.

DUCK AND GOOSE BREAK THEIR TRUCE

Duck lived at the edge of the pond – Goose lived on the island in the middle.  That was the way it had always been for as long as either one of them could ever remember.  Or rather, that was the way it had always been for as long as either one of them ever cared to remember – which is not really the same thing at all.

Of course, it hadn’t always been that way.  A long time ago, when they were both very young fowl, they had gladly sailed round the pond together – each perfectly content to be in the happy company of the other.

‘Come share my bread!’ said Duck, when the children came to the pond in droves, trailing long lines of stale crumbs in their wake.

‘Help yourself to all the twigs and sticks from my island you can carry!’ said Goose, when their nests were due a re-build.

As the warm and balmy days of summer began to give way to the sharper breezes and crisp mornings of autumn though, their friendship began to cool also.  The children with their bread and stale cakes were fewer and further between now, and Duck began to think that Goose was taking more than her fair share of the food that was on offer.  Goose, for her part, thought that Duck was just being mean – anyone could see that she, Goose, was twice as big as Duck and therefore needed twice as much food.  But the children came to feed ‘the ducks’, not the geese – so Goose just had to bite her beak and put up with it.  Until, that was, along came the day when Goose could bite her beak no longer.

‘Just who do you think you are, Duck?  That bread is as much mine as yours!’ she squawked.

‘Oh really?’ Duck snapped back.  ‘Why do you think it is that the children come to feed the ducks at the duck pond then?’

‘Well, if that’s the way you feel, why don’t you just stay away from Goose Island from now on then?’ cried a now distraught Goose.

‘Goose Island!  I never heard such nonsense!’ exclaimed Duck.  ‘But, Goosy Dear, if you’re prepared to keep over there and stay away from my bread, then you’re very welcome to it!’

And that was the start of the uneasy truce.  From that day forth, Duck kept to the edge of the pond and Goose kept to the island in the centre – each going to extraordinary lengths to avoid even so much as having to look at the other.

Much, much later – when along came fluffy duckling and sleek gosling – still they kept to the hasty pact made many seasons ago.

‘Stay away from those greedy geese,’ quacked Duck to Duckling.  ‘They’ll steal your bread as soon as look at you!’

‘Stay away from those pesky ducks,’ clucked Goose to Gosling.  ‘They think they’re so much better than us with their hoity toity ways.’

Just like little anythings though, little ducklings and little goslings won’t be told.  Each curious about the other, they began to cautiously circle the middle water – the no-fowl’s lake exactly halfway between the central island and the shore.  Until, over many tentative days, they slowly but surely became friends – and, slowly but surely, they began to hatch a plan.  It was soon agreed that, in the dead of night, with only the moon for company, one very brave little Duckling and one very brave little Gosling would each creep from his own nest and take to the water with a gentle plop – each to be fast asleep in the other one’s nest by daybreak . . .

‘QUAACK!’ howled Duck in surprise the next morning, when she saw that Gosling was fast asleep in Duckling’s place ‘Just you wait ‘til I catch that naughty Duckling!’

‘SQUAAWK!’ shouted Goose in shock, when she found that Duckling was fast asleep in Gosling’s place.  ‘You just wait ‘til I catch that cheeky Gosling!’

As Duck gathered up cheeky Gosling, Goose scooped up naughty Duckling – and, hot under the feather, frothing at the beak, they each pushed angrily through the water to confront the little birds and each other.

‘DUCKLING – you naughty little duck!  YOU’RE NESTED!’ hollered Duck, as soon as she spotted him from across the pond.

‘Now, just you hold on a minute, Duck’ Goose spat back.  ‘I’m dealing with this, and I say this is entirely cheeky Gosling’s fault.  If anyone’s getting nested, it should be him, and I’m the bird to do it!’

‘Well that’s where you’re wrong Goosy dear.  This is just the sort of behaviour I would expect from one of your kind – Gosling can’t be blamed for that.  Duckling, on the other hand, has been brought up to know better – and must be the one to be nested RIGHT NOW!’ yelled a now furious Duck.

‘There!’ crowed Goose triumphantly to Gosling. ‘Haven’t I always told you about these ducks and their hoity toity ways?  Well, now you’ve seen it for yourself!’

Then, with a tut and a cluck and a muttering flurry of feathers, Goose and Gosling returned to Goose Island – and Duck and Duckling made their way back to their own nest at the edge of the pond.

When the moon rose again that night though, a rather unwelcome visitor arrived at the pond alongside it – sneaky, sly Fox!  With a flash and a howl, and a frightened commotion of fur and feathers, Duck and Duckling swam straight over to Goose Island without a second’s thought.

So, what was Goose to do now?  Well, even a very disgruntled goose will tell you that, if there’s one thing worse than a hoity toity duck, it’s a sneaky, silent, sly and deadly fox for sure!

Between them, they soon came to realise that there was actually plenty of space on Goose Island for two nests after all.  Then, when the sun rose again the next morning – and sneaky, sly old foxy had slunk on back to his lair – all four of them took to the pond together, sailing through the middle waters, to play and wait for the parents and children at the edge.  What is more – once they had begun to share the stale bread and cakes more freely, they found that there was more than enough food to go round as well.  Duck and Goose were friends again, and Duckling and Gosling were the happiest of playmates.

And Fox?  Well, let’s just say that old Foxy had to look elsewhere for his dinner after that.  After all, we don’t want to spoil a happy ending now, do we?