Back in 1998, I spent a year in France as part of my university course. My French didn’t improve as much as it should have because I didn’t really put myself out there. With hindsight, I was probably a bit young to have been at university. I didn’t know who I was, let alone what I wanted to do with my life. Anyway, I digress. Much of my time, in between teaching English classes and writing my dissertation, was spent writing. Articles, letters, stories… During this time I wrote several children’s stories. I’ve decide to share some of these here, to get feedback – not from you, but from your children! I find they’re usually the most honest critics.

So, here’s a sample story (below. Please note this has barely been edited since 1998. If your kids like the story, I might think about editing it properly). Please, read it to your children and let me know what they think!

Do As You’re Told (or The Story of Julia and The Marmalade Monster)

Julia Smart was a very pleasant little girl. She was seven years old and a bit of a tomboy. She had a happy face with rosy cheeks and black wavy hair that she insisted be kept short. Julia liked going fishing with her father at weekends and climbing trees. More than anything else in the world, Julia loved marmalade. Every morning for breakfast, she would have a bowl of cornflakes and two pieces of toast with butter and marmalade. Julia also had another daily habit that infuriated her father… She never put the lid back on the marmalade.
Mr Smart ate breakfast with Julia every morning. He would have three weetabix and a banana, and then he would drink a cup of coffee as he read the morning papers. He was a stern man with piercing grey eyes and a square jaw. Mr Smart believed that there are two ways to teach children – by fun or by fear. He tried teaching by fun but discovered he wasn’t very good at that so he resorted to fear. One morning as Julia left for school, her father called out after her “Julia! If you leave the lid off the marmalade one more time, you know the marmalade monster will get you!”

The next morning, Julia left the lid off the marmalade as usual and went to school. That night, poor Julia didn’t sleep very well. She went to bed at 8 o’clock and tossed and turned but couldn’t sleep. At midnight (which, as we all know, is the hour that strange things can happen), Julia opened her eyes. Then she closed them again. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Tentatively, she opened her eyes a second time  and discovered that everything in her room was made of marmalade! Her bed was an orange marmalade-y bed and her desk was also bright orange and made of marmalade. She stepped out of bed and her foot sunk into her carpet for it wasn’t a carpet any longer, but a sea of marmalade! Julia dived in. She came up for air and licked at her orangey fingers. Suddenly, she became aware of someone (or something!) behind her. She turned around, and came face to ankles (for it was a very big something) with a ridiculously tall, orange being. She looked up and realised that this was the marmalade monster that her father had warned her about. It had a stern orange face and piercing grey eyes. The monster reached for Julia, it’s mouth wide open. She tried to scream but no sound came out. The monster ate her.

Julia woke up the next morning (for of course, it had all been a dream) and was relieved. She went downstairs to join her father at the breakfast table. She had her usual bowl of cornflakes and three pieces of toast with marmalade. Don’t be surprised. The dream hadn’t put Julia off her beloved marmalade. It would take much more to do that, for Julia Smart loved marmalade more than anything else in the world. When she had finished her breakfast, Julia screwed the lid back on so tight that the effort made her hand hurt. Mr Smart observed this form over the top of his newspaper and smiled to himself as he wiped a tiny shred of orange from his hair.