Posts tagged - children’s stories

Bandstand Handstand – a poem

This is a poem I wrote a while back while volunteering at a school, working with young children on their reading skills. A couple of the children found out I write poetry, and demanded (ok, asked) if I could write a poem for them. I wrote this short poem while they had their lunch, and read it to them afterwards. At the time it didn’t have a title but the kids came up with ‘Bandstand Handstand,’ so I stuck with that.

Do share this poem with your children and let me know what they think. I’m interested in what you think too but find that kids are usually the most honest critics! If you would like to hear me reading this poem, click on the title for the audio version.

Bandstand Handstand

“Bandstand, oh Bandstand, tell me a story, if you can”
“Of course I can Sam, let me tell you about when I was the grandest Bandstand in all the land”

Sam sat down and offered the Bandstand a ham sandwich
The Bandstand declined politely by waving his (funny-looking) hands

“So, Mr Bandstand…”
“Oh please, call me Dan.”
“Did you see many bands, Dan?”
“Many, many bands Sam.  Brass bands, jazz bands, one rock band, and even some ladies doing the can-can – back when the summers were long and hot, the men wore hats and ladies carried fans…”
“Didn’t they want to lie on the grass and get a tan?”
“No Sam, that was before Chanel made the tan fashionable, but after that, yes, they covered me with sand, and the ladies put down their fans and tried to tan.”

Sam asked the Bandstand how he ate when he had such funny-looking hands…
The Bandstand ignored Sam.

“Once there was a lady who came and sang.”
“Was she as good as the bands?” asked Sam
“She was so good the bands had her banned ’cause they were afraid she’d steal their fans…
Now people just run around me in their sweatbands, no-one stands on me these days,
it’s like I’ve become some kind of no-mans land.”

Sam jumped onto the Bandstand, did a handstand then crash-landed and hurt his hand.
“Be careful,” said Dan in reprimand and began to wish he did have hands
because by now he’d become Sam’s number one fan and he wanted to help him get up.
Sam looked up.
“It’s ok Dan, I understand,” he stood up and brushed the sand away with his hands.

“I have to go now Dan,” said Sam, “…but I’ll be back.”
Dan the Bandstand smiled. “That’ll be nice,” he said, just like that.


For Best Results Brush Twice Daily (or The Story of Adam and The Tooth Fairy)

I recently posted a question on babyhuddle, asking other parents how they get their toddlers to brush their teeth. I had been having trouble with Mushroom lately, who was point blank refusing to let a toothbrush anywhere near his mouth. I did get some useful answers but as with most of these things that seem insurmountable problems at the time, eventually Mushroom started to brush his teeth again and now he even lets me do it probably about every other day. A massive improvement.

Once he started brushing his teeth again and I was no longer concerned about it, I remembered that my brother had a similar issue when he was young (but older than Mushroom – he was about 7). I did nothing about it at the time, but later, when I wrote a series of children’s stories with ‘morals’ – see Do As You’re Told (or The Story of Julia and The Marmalade Monster for a previous example – during my university years, I remembered this and decided to write a cautionary tale especially aimed at little boys who won’t brush their teeth. If you have a toothbrush resistant child, you could try reading them this little story and seeing if it makes a difference – I would love to know if it does!

For Best Results Brush Twice Daily (or The Story of Adam and The Tooth Fairy)

Adam White was a very interesting little (or not so little) nine-year old boy. He had short blond hair and he wore glasses with big metal frames, which emphasised his beautiful big brown eyes. Adam was a very clever child who usually did as he was told. He collected used envelopes (because everyone collects stamps and Adam liked to be original), which he kept in a big photo album on top of the tank where his pet lizard lived. Adam thought it was ridiculous to name a creature you couldn’t talk to, so he just called it ‘Lizard’. Despite being a very clever boy, Adam hated brushing his teeth. In fact, since he could talk, he had refused to brush them. Adam’s parents, being rather simple people, thought that Adam was a genius and that therefore he probably knew best so they left him to it.

On Sunday night after his bath (for Adam was a clean boy in all other respects), Adam got into bed with a good book, and eventually he fell asleep. At around the hour that strange things happen (midnight, of course), Adam felt a tickle on his cheek. He woke up, rubbed his eyes and reached over to his bedside table for his glasses. When he could see, Adam saw the most beautiful woman in the world. She had dark eyes (they appeared to be purple), a pink, smiling mouth and long, wavy brown hair. Adam thought she must be an angel. Then she spoke. “I’m Esmerelda” she said. “I’m a tooth fairy” and then she smiled. A big, open smile that showed all her teeth. All three of them. Adam blinked. This woman’s teeth were disgusting. The three she did have were black, and small, and her gums appeared to be bleeding. Adam changed his mind about wanting to marry her when he grew up (for this is what he had been thinking). “If you’re a tooth fairy” he said, matter-of-factly, “Then why have you got such horrible teeth?” (Adam was a very honest little boy). Esmarelda laughed “You’re a very honest little boy aren’t you?” Adam sighed. Why do grown-ups always have to state the obvious? “I’m in charge of the rejects” she continued “Come with me”. So Adam went (a thought about not being supposed to go with strangers did briefly cross his mind but he quickly dismissed it). Esmerelda took Adam to a castle. A very old, run-down castle with a rusty gate, but a castle nevertheless. There were about 20 children playing in the courtyard. “I don’t understand.,” said Adam “Why aren’t these children at home in bed?” Esmerelda sighed. She was still beautiful as long as she kept her mouth shut. “These children…..” she said, with a sad look in her eyes “…never brush their teeth.” That was the only explanation she gave and then she disappeared. One of the children turned to smile at Adam, and a fly flew out of his mouth, cockroaches and beetles crawled out of another child’s mouth and a third child, who looked just like Adam, laughed. He had no teeth at all, just black gums that were covered in scabs. Adam screamed and found himself sitting bolt upright in bed, his pyjamas damp with sweat.

As soon as he woke up, Adam rushed straight to the bathroom mirror and when he saw that he still had all his teeth and that they weren’t black, or scabby, or gone altogether (although they were very yellow), he brushed them. He brushed his teeth five times and called to his mother to make a dentist’s appointment. When Adam turned back to the mirror, Esmerelda was smiling back at him…. And she had a perfect set of sparkling pearly white teeth.


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

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.

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