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The Magic Racquet

By Leanna, 9, Toronto, Ont., Canada

King Pennlycourt of Britch loved badminton. He lived for badminton. The national sport of Britch was badminton. But King Pennlycourt was not a good King. He was a bad King. He made foolish rules, such as,

'All true Britchians must eat their meals on a badminton racquet and drink from a birdie.'

Which, of course, caused problems. All the food slipped through the holes in the racquet as did the drink through the birdie.

One day King Pennlycourt called his magician, Tarin, to the throne room. Tarin appeared in the room at once, literally.

'To what do I owe the pleasure of your company, O King?' he asked.

'I want the best badminton racquet in the kingdom of Britch,' thundered the King.

'Yes, O King,' said the magician.

And then he was gone. King Pennlycourt waited one day, two days. At the end of the second day, Tarin returned.

'Your racquet, O King,' he said, displaying a red racquet.

The King was very pleased and used it the very next day. But he missed while returning a serve. He stormed back to his palace and summoned Tarin again.

'To what do I owe the pleasure of your company now, O King?' said Tarin, suddenly kneeling at King Pennlycourt's feet.

'Tarin, this racquet doesn't work,' said the King. 'I want the best badminton racquet in the world. If you can make it, you shall have this one.'

'It shall be arranged, O King, ' and with that, Tarin disappeared. King Pennlycourt waited one day, two days, three days. At the end of the third day, Tarin returned.

'Your racquet, O King,' he said, displaying this time a blue racquet. The King was enormously pleased and used it the very next day. But he missed while returning a serve. He stormed back to his court and summoned Tarin again.

'To what do I owe the pleasure of your company now, O King?'

'This racquet doesn't work either! I want the very best racquet ever made, in this world or other worlds. If you can make it, you shall have this one and the first one you made.'

'Of course, O King. Is there anything else you want?'

'What could be better then the very best racquet ever made, in this world or other worlds? Silly Tarin! Why would I want anything else?'

'I have no idea, O King.'

King Pennlycourt waited one day, two days, three days, four days. At the end of the fourth day, Tarin returned.

'Your racquet, O King,' he said, displaying this time a bright green racquet. The King was tremendously pleased and used it the very next day. But he missed while serving. He stormed back to his palace and summoned Tarin again. The doors opened and Tarin shuffled in.

'Do I need to ask?' he said.

King Pennlycourt ignored him.

'Tarin, all of your racquets don't work! I keep missing!'

'Ah!' said Tarin. His eyebrows rose almost off his forehead, 'So that is the problem!'

'Yes, that is the problem,' said King Pennlycourt crossly, 'So can you fix it?'

'O King, I can fix anything,' said Tarin. He was smiling, 'You shall have your racquet soon.'

'Ha! I'll bet my bottom I won't! Last time it took four days! If you can make my dream racquet, you can have the red, blue, and green racquet.'

There was a blinding flash of light, so bright that King Pennlycourt and everyone within three miles of the palace had to cover their eyes. Then there was a puff of green smoke. When the smoke cleared, Tarin was gone. King Pennlycourt waited one day, two days, three days, four days, five days, and still Tarin had not returned.

'Where is that magician?' the king muttered to himself.

When Tarin finally returned on the tenth day, he was carrying a golden racquet with an intricately carved handle. The King grabbed it greedily from his hands.

'My baby, my lovely beautiful racquet,' he crooned, holding it to his cheek and stroking it, 'My darling.'

And as promised, the King gave Tarin the red, blue, and green racquet.

'But just how will this racquet stop me from missing?' he asked, once he had stopped hugging it.

'The racquet is magic, O King,' explained Tarin, 'Even if you are the worst badminton player ever born, you will never miss!'

'You have served me well, Tarin,' said the greedy King, 'But I already gave you your award.'

And with that, he gleefully skipped off to play a badminton match. Tarin watched him go. A sly smile spread over his face. Then he stepped into nowhere and was gone.

Where did Tarin go? Tarin went to a secret lab that only very talented wizards could reach. Why did he go? To play badminton.

'Why hello, hello Tarin old chap!'cried Tarin's friend Biomula.

She was playing a football game with wizard figurines and a mini crystal ball.

'I haven't seen you in quite a long while.'

'You neither, Biomula,' said Tarin.

He excused himself and went to the badminton room. At that moment, King Pennlycourt was winning a match against his father.

'Oh daddy! I'm winning!' he cried, 'I'm winning!'

'Indeed you are, my son,' said Old King Pennlycourt, huffing and puffing, 'Indeed you are.'

As time went on, King Pennlycourt won more and more matches. He also became more and more lazy. Soon he took to just letting the racquet do all the work. In the first week, the king had forgotten how to play badminton!

Meanwhile, Tarin was getting better and better at badminton. If he missed, he simply tried again. And again. And again.

One day Tarin challenged the King to a badminton match.

'The only rule is that you aren't allowed to use your magic racquet because that wouldn't be fair. And,' Tarin said slyly, 'And, to add a little zest to this game, how about whoever wins becomes King? Or, in your case, stay King.'

The King lazily agreed, thinking that he, the King, would win. But to his surprise, Tarin was a badminton master! And even more to his surprise, he, the King, didn't know how to play at all! Tarin won in minutes.

No-longer-King Pennlycourt fled the land of Britch in shame. His subjects weren't sad, they were happy! King Tarin ruled that the people of Britch were, once again, allowed to eat from plates and drink from cups. He reigned Britch for many long and happy years.
(September 2008)

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The Last Stand

By Teagan, 12, Devon, UK

'If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other story. In this story, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle.

I swivelled around as I heard the door slowly being forced open against its will, instinctively my features screwed up in repulse. A noxious smell clung to the insides of my flaring nostrils as I tried to concentrate on breathing through my mouth. A man had entered the room, or whatever the drawn back, pallid being was. I slowly took an impulsive step backwards as he shuffled towards me. His stained, vacant eyes were fixed on me, unseeing and unknowing, boring into me, his bloodless mouth slightly drawn up at one side, giving him a malicious look and creating a chilling atmosphere around him. His clothes were whitewashed and murky doing nothing for his fading face. I wondered if he had ever once flushed in his younger years.

I cowered into the corner of the room, my heart pounding against my chest, threatening to rupture, sweat slowly trickling down my drained face and into the gap between my quivering lips, creating a salty taste in my mouth. An involuntary shiver slowly ran down my spine as he laid a crooked finger on my cheek, his dirty fingernail digging into my tender skin. A voice inside my head was screaming at me to run, but I couldn't move. My legs gave way beneath me and I collapsed onto the cold, stone floor. Everything went dark but not before I caught the image of the fading figure standing over me, casting a shadow over my body and staring down at me and yet with out realising my presence in the room.

I screamed, waking up with a start. Images flickered in and out of my blurred and unsure mind. A gust of air escaped from my mouth as the image of the scrawny, old man flickered in and out of my mind. I tried to sit up, only to fall back down in agony. I squeezed my eyes shut as the pain threatened to overcome me, I lightly ran my fingers over my body, and I cringed. My face creased in pain as a salty tear trickled down the tip of my nose. I was bruised, bruised and broken in so many places. I didn't understand, how could I have come to be in such a state? The last thing I remembered was collapsing and seeing the man towering over me, his eyes boring into me. I shivered, only to flinch again.

I took the risk of opening my eyes. I was outside, but where outside I did not know. I slowly got to my feet, gritting my teeth as my aching muscles throbbed in protest. A bitter east wind whipped around me like a hawk singling out its prey.

I looked out across the wilderness and all was desolate for miles around me, except for a lump of rock jutting out of the ground. I hesitantly walked towards it, willing myself to go on. I stopped a few paces in front of it; it was a gravestone with a pit dug in front of it. I could hear a storm brewing overhead, the words on the stone read, Mia Anderson 1990-2008. I'm Mia Anderson.

I started running, trying to outrun my thoughts, only to stop as the man that destroys my days and haunts my nights appeared out of thin air. I screamed into the night. He smirked and that's when I noticed something coiled around his neck, but I didn't have time to work out what it was. He was walking towards me and I was walking backwards.

'Hello?' His lips did not move but his words rang clear and sure in my ears. 'Who are you and what do you want with me?' My words came out in a whisper, echoing against the night sky.

'I am death and your time has come.'

I fell, and the ground rose up to welcome me. The last thing I heard was the sound of pure evil, and all went silent as the beating of my heart faded into the distance and death fed on my flesh, quenching his thirst as the smell of blood poisoned the air.
(September 2008)

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Only Dream

By Jesslyn, 10, Kelapa Gading, Indonesia

In the silent night, I saw an angel, she was calling me, 'Jesslyn, come here,' she said.

I was really, really afraid, then the angel said, 'Come, don't be afraid, I just want to talk with you.'

So, I come to her, and she hug me, she said, 'Jesus want to meet you.'

I was really really happy, then, I walk with her, there's a light. Very bright... I close my eyes...

When i open my eyes...

There's a beautiful park with many children there, all peoples there was really kind, no fighting, no cheating...

And at the center of the park...

There's Lord Jesus sitting at the biggest chair I've ever seen..

Jesus calling me, 'Jesslyn, come here, I want to talk with you,' he said.

Then I come with him, he talk many things to me. After that I play with the children there, there's a different feeling there, I feel peace. Then I play at the park until night.

The angel said, 'Jesslyn, let's go home, you have to sleep, you can continue playing tomorrow.'

I said, 'No! I want playing here, my friends really kind to me, I don't want go home!!!!'

Then the angel said that tomorrow she will bring me to the other place. So I sleep at the heaven. When I sleep in the heaven, at the true life I'm wake up at the morning, so, I just doing my activity like yesterday.

At the night, I'm sleep, but in the heaven I'm wake up in the morning.

'It's funny,' I'm thinking.

The angel bring me to the other place, and the place not like in the heaven, but the place was really creepy, scary and so hot!

When I walk there, there's a dark wall, many hands said,

'Help, help, help me...'

I'm afraid, then I saw the other dark wall, many tongues there, they said,

'Help, help, help me...'

I'm screaming! The Angel's come and help me to go to the heaven, I'm really scared!

Then the angel said, 'Better you go sleep again, I would not disturb you anymore, bye, see you sometime..'

Then I wake up again and doing my activity usually I do.
(September 2008)

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The Move

By Bea, 11, Quezon City, Philippines

'MOVING?! WHERE?! WHEN?!' Trisha exclaimed, as I told her about the news.

'We're moving to the village just beside this village,' I calmly said, 'And we're moving in two weeks,' I added.

'But why? It can't be,' she said, softer this time.

'I'm so sorry,' I told her, 'I didn't mean to blurt out the news just like that. It's just that my parents can't afford to pay such a high rental price for this house every month of the year.'

'It's not fair!' grumbled Trisha, banging their front door and walking in.

'It is no fair,' Abby said to herself as she sat on the front porch.

She couldn't believe that just yesterday, her parents made a decision to move in to the house that they recently visited. Abby was as shocked as Trisha when her parents told her the news. I mean, who wouldn't? There was such a huge garden where she and her sisters play everyday. It was also a friendly neighborhood where I had so many friends to play with. It was the house that stored the different memories she and her family had for the past six years. It was the house that she learned to call home.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the voice of her mom calling her.

'Abby! Time for dinner!'

'Coming!' she answered.

At the dining table, everyone was quiet. Everyone was upset. Even Abby's parents were quite upset for making the family upset. The stillness and quietness at the table was quite unbearable for as soon as everyone finished eating, everyone went in different directions to be by themselves.

Back in her own room, Abby's thoughts wandered about their new home. No more garden, no more friends and most of all no more Trisha.

Meanwhile, Trisha in her own room, as well, was having a difficult time thinking of what to give as a goodbye present for Abby.

Suddenly out of nowhere, she heard a tiny voice saying, 'I have an idea! I must be dreaming,' said Trisha, as she jumped out of the chair she was sitting on.

She looked around and saw a tiny fairy perched on her window pane.

'How did she get there?' wondered Trisha.

Before she was able to speak, the tiny fairy said, 'You must be wondering how I got here.'

'Umm, yes, quite,' said Trisha very surprised.

'By magic of course,' answered the fairy, happily.

'Uh, of course,' Trisha mumbled, more confused than ever. '

I am Twinklet, a mind reading fairy. I was sent by our Queen to help you with your problem. You seem to be having a dilemma. But don't you worry; I have the most perfect idea. Come here and I will tell you the plan.'

The next few days, Abby and her family were very busy. They were packing their things and getting ready for the move. By the end of the week, their house was almost bare.

In the meantime, Abby's other friends were in Trisha's house. They were preparing for their going away party for Abby. So far, they hadn't gotten anywhere. Everybody was talking at the same time and everybody had different suggestions to make.

'STOP!' cried out Trisha, 'We're not getting anywhere. Let's take things one at a time.'

Two days later, Abby was back at her room that was getting barer by the minute. She was thinking about their new home again. They would be leaving in two days. At that same moment, Trisha burst in through her door, covered her eyes and led her outside. She was curious at all the murmuring voices she could hear. As soon as Abby opened her eyes, tears sprang into her eyes. All her friends were there with tons of gifts for her.

'We hoped to give you something before you leave,' said Yssa, one Abby's friends.

Everything went as planned. The program was fun and funny and the food was very delicious. After all of the commotion, each of Abby's friends presented her with a gift. Yssa gave her a locket with their names on it, while Mica gave her a home made towel with a simple message for Abby. Lastly Trisha gave Abby something to remember her by. It was heaps of pictures ever since they met up to this very moment. For the second time that day, tears sprang into her eyes. That's when Abby realized that she would be leaving everything behind but the memories will stay with her forever.
(September 2008)

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By Samuel, 11, Gillingham, Kent, UK

I staggered through the great forest, leaving the loss and sadness behind me on the beach.

The first thing that I noticed was the vastness of everything surrounding me. The long vines dangling down from the towering trees were like fifty foot snakes. The swamp was large and murky and it looked like a polluted lake. There were also massive, spiky plants that were like long fingers that moved in the wind. It was as though they were trying to grab as I walked past.

When I had taken in all my surroundings I started to walk. I didn't know were I was walking to. All I knew was that I was hungry and I wanted to get off this uninhabited island. But I soon found out that it was not as deserted as I thought.

For about ten minutes I struggled through the overgrown jungle. The thought of home kept me going. Suddenly I stopped. I had heard a noise that sounded like a drum beat. Then I had heard a song that I couldn't understand because it was in a different language.

I wanted to know, who, or what was making the sounds so I pushed the branches of the tree apart and saw something that I would call the eighth wonder of the world. As soon as I had pushed the branches apart I saw a mass of colour. There were huts that had been painted blue, green, red and any other colour that you could ever think of except black. There were grass skirts and lots more colour. But what most came to my attention was not the grass skirts, but what was wearing them.

They were obviously natives but I did not know if they were friendly or not but I decided to take the chance. I walked to where the people were. Immediately they stopped singing and dancing and they stared at me.

'Hello,' I said, nervously.

No one responded. But one of the natives grabbed my hand and led me to a man standing on a huge rock.

'Hello,' he said in English.

'Hi,' I replied.

He did not say anything more but he went into one of the huts and brought out a chicken. He gave it to me and I ate hungrily.

'Am I allowed to stay for the night?' I asked when I had finished.

'No,' he said, 'You go now. But before you go, tell me, how did you get onto our island?'

I told him, 'I was on a ferry with my family. Then suddenly the captain lost control and we got shipwrecked. I don't think any one survived. But then I got washed ashore.'

His face split into a wide smile.

'Is a ferry a ship?' he asked me.

'Yes,' I replied.

'Then follow me,' he said.

He took me on a long walk through the jungle. We only stopped once and that was to eat some bananas that we found in a big bunch on a tree. When we got to the other side of the island a lovely thing met my eyes. It was....

'A ship!' I yelled, 'The ferry. Thank you for showing me it.'

'It's fine,' he said, 'Now you go.'

Then he left. I didn't wait. I jumped aboard. I did not know how to sail this enormous ship, but I switched on the engine. I would do it somehow.

To England and to home!
(September 2008)

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The Hero

By Madi, 7, Panama City, FL, USA

Once upon a time there was a world in danger. The world was called Bloopa World. People in Dreamland were trying to take over their dreams. So two girls named Madi and Greenlee the rulers of Bloopa World thought that it was their duties to save Bloopa World's dreams.

So they set off on their journey to Dreamland, it was a long way there. They finally got to Dreamland. Madi and Greenlee saw a huge power ray gun pointed straight at Bloopa World. The two girls thought that it would take over Bloopa World's dreams.

Right before the villains were about to hit the button on the power ray gun, Madi took out her soccer ball. This was her secret weapon. She kicked it straight at the ray gun and the ray gun burst into pieces because she had a powerful kick. Then Greenlee captured the bad guys and put them in Dreamland prison to stay for 5 years. Bloopa World lived happily ever after, thanks to the rulers.
(September 2008)

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The Mysterious Man

By Marissa, 12, San Antonio, TX, USA

I was walking to school one morning thinking about the strangest dream I had the night before. Then all of a sudden I saw this man, and he looked just like the man in my dream. I thought I was just seeing things, but I was wrong. The man started to walk towards me, but I started running. I looked back to see if he was following me but he was gone, he was such a mysterious man.

So I went to school and had a great day. I kept wondering where that man had gone. It was the end of the day. I was walking home and I started to hear footsteps behind me. I did what any normal person would do; I looked back. What a big mistake! It was that man, that mysterious man right behind me. I was so scared I froze then I snapped and ran home. I stopped to see if he followed me and once again he vanished. I never saw that mysterious man again. I did, however have many many nightmares about the man; it was a horrible sight.

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In A Past Life

By Raquel, 12, Houston, TX, USA

One day, in a past life, I was best friends with the ocean. The ocean's clear waters would greet me everyday like the sun greets the Earth. As I would walk along the ocean shore every morning, the ocean's waves would crash along my feet and I would smile like a young child, full of happiness. The waves far would wish for me to crash into them, but I would have to say no because every morning I had only put on my blue nightgown. The farthest waves would get used to the rejection because they would wait until 2 'o clock when I would jump into a swimsuit and swim out into them. The waves would wrestle me in water that might seem crystal green to the birds.

Dolphins would wonder how I could have so much fun with something that seems dead to everyone but me. All the birds would shake their heads in wonder in why a land creature like me would stay in the water for hours and hours. Every human I would know would try to pull me out, but it would never work. Never. No matter how many ships were in the sea, no matter how many deadly sharks or poisonous jellyfish there were lurking around, no matter how rough and rigid the waters were, nothing could take me out of the water.

The ocean would accept me as the universe accepts everyone. I would dive into the smooth waters when the sky was grey and when the sky was blue. I loved the ocean and the ocean loved me. Of course, that was in a past life. Things are different now, but I know that someday, I'll love the ocean like I used to. Someday, in a future life.
(September 2008)

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A Tale of a Princess

By Raquel, 12, Houston, TX, USA

My name is Kida. My real name is Kidalasaiana. This is my story.

When I was a young baby, barely a year old, there was a war in my kingdom, the town of Smithsonian. It was against my parents and an evil woman named Aleiansa. My parents sent me away through a portal to the human world and put me on the porch of the Carters.

Later, I grew up thinking I was Kida Leana Carter. One day, 12 years from the war, a girl named Alison appeared and told me everything about Smithsonian and told me the news that my parents were dead.

I said goodbye to my adopted family and joined Alison. When I entered Smithsonain, I found out that my kingdom was being taken over by Aleiansa's daughter, Alexandra.

After a whole lot of work, my new friend Eric taught me to fight. Eric started acting strange toward me.

Alexandra and I had fought a whole lot before I finally defeated Alexandra.

Alison and me became princesses and Eric became my boyfriend.

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The Gingerbreadman II

By Brendan, 7, Northfield Ohio

Once upon a time there was a Gingerbread man who lived in a cottage. He called his cousin to come and play. Their friends were playing whiffle ball, so they joined them. His mom yelled for them to come inside.

They shouted, 'In a minute mom!'

They went to go pick currants instead of listening. A sly bear saw them. They were scared of the sly bear, but he said he just wanted to play chase. The bear was was not really telling the truth. He was really hungry. The bear chased Gingerbread man and his cousin in the woods. Gingerbread's cousin tripped and fell over a tin. Gingerbread man climbed a tree and the bear reached up for him.

Gingerbread's cousin sped by and at that second, Gingerbread fell out of the tree. The bear tossed Gingerbread into his mouth and ate him. Gingerbread's cousin ran further away, but the bear was very fast.

The bear said, Ssooner or later I'm going to eat you,' and he did.

The lesson in the story is -listen to your Mom when she calls you!!
(September 2008)

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Rohan Wins X- Box 360 and Playstation 3

By Rohan, 7, New Delhi, India

Once upon a time there lived a boy called Rohan. His abacus state level competition was on Sunday 11:00 am. He was ready for his big challenge. His Papa and Mama wished him luck and left him at his competition venue. Now he tried the sums very fast and he reached 200th sum!

Then the time was up and the teacher said 'Stop'.

Rohan knew that there were no wrong answers, and when he checked the results they were all correct! Then his Papa and Mama gave him a Playstation 3 and X-box 360. He decided to throw a party and his photo came in the newspaper.
(September 2008)

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The Shooting Stars

By Samuel, 10, Bargo, New South Wales, Australia

David Gardiner was an ordinary eleven year old boy. He had many dreams, but his number one dream was to someday play soccer and to someday be part of a team. David was in a family of seven kids. There was Harvey, Greg, Chad, Grant, David, Raeleen and Susan. He was the youngest of all the boys in his family. They all went to Billinudgel Primary School, which was a ten minute walk down the steep dirt road. Billinudgel was on the New South Wales-Queensland border. They lived on 120 acres of banana plantation because their dad was a banana grower. Their mum worked in the delicatessen at the local store.

All the boys except David played soccer for the Billinudgel Primary School Red Devils. David couldn't play because his parents couldn't afford it. Everyday at school, he would play soccer. The school only had 60 students so David would play a 20 v 20 game. David was such a good player, but he just didn't get the chance. Soon the boys had their championship final. David went to every one of their games, bringing drinks out to the players and cheering them on. The championship final was between the Billinudgel Red Devils and the Richmond Primary Thistles. The two teams had met twice and in both games had 1-1 draws. The Red Devils had always been up 1-0 until the last minutes of the match, when the Thistles struck late.

Saturday's match was going to be tough.

David Gardiner got up early and dressed himself. The game started at 10:30 but all players had to arrive at Billinudgel Primary School by 9:30. David walked into the kitchen to find his eating a soft banana. The boys were dressed in their red, black and white soccer strip. Mr Gardiner walked in with another box of bananas he had collected in the early morning.

'Morning Dave,' said his brothers.

'Morning guys, big game today,' replied the youngest of the boys.

As David said it he wished he was in their position too. Running in the warm summer sun, moving around, getting fit and having a great time. It's every kid's dream.

After a quick breakfast the boys got in the old rust bucket Ute and travelled to Billinudgel Primary School. When they arrived at the school they found their coach and teacher Mr Spencer Jones.

'G'day boys,' said Mr Jones.

Each one of the boys shook their teacher's hand.

'Hello sir, nice morning isn't it?' replied the boys.

As they chatted with their teacher their father was leaving.

'Gotta go boys', he said, 'I've got a lot of work to do on the farm.'

'See you later dad,' said David.

Harvey, Greg, Chad and Grant were all fired up and ready to play. David handed their water bottles to them as the boys hurried off to join their team-mates.


'Alright boys come on.'

The game was about to begin.

'Good luck Harvey, Greg, Chad and Grant,' David yelled to his elder brothers.

The Richmond Thistles in their blue and white strip raced onto the field. The Thistles players were big, tall and strong. They were brazen about winning the game. David hoped that his brothers wouldn't get hurt. The crowd sat down for the beginning of the game. TOOT TOOT! The game had begun.

Greg stabbed the ball to Chad on the kick off. Chad laid a good ball off to a kid named Ben, who was small for his age.

'Ben, Ben early ball!' screamed Harvey, who was darting down the sideline.

Ben passed it to Harvey, who passed it to Grant. By this time they were on the fringe of the eighteen yard box. Greg was in an area of space.

'Lay it on the head, mate.'

Grant lofted a good ball but it didn't reach the forehead of Greg.

'Clean it up, shoot!' Grant cried.

Greg managed to weave through the Thistles defenders and plant the ball into the back of the net. The Red Devils fans went bananas. (Well, their dad was a banana grower!)

'Good work team!' shouted Mr Jones and David.

It was a good start for Billinudgel, a beautiful goal in the first five minutes of the match. The Richmond Thistles weren't too happy though. They jogged up to their keeper and criticised him in every way possible.

For the next five minutes Billinudgel were pushed back to the halfway line. All they did was defend, defend, and defend. In the 21st minute the boys were exhausted. They just switched off for a moment. A big kid named Chuck was pushing through the Red Devils midfield. Chuck wound up his big left foot and punched the ball into the top corner of the goal. The goalkeeper had no chance.

'How'd you like that Billi?' he teased.

The score, Billinudgel Red Devils 1, Richmond Primary Thistles 1.


'Alright half time guys!' said the referee.

David strolled up to the boys and gave them each (you guessed it) a banana.

'Good work, you're playing really well,' he said to his tired brothers.

'Yeah, I guess we're going alright,' Chad replied.

Mr Jones gave the team a brilliant pep talk. Now the boys were fired up. They were going to win this match, no matter what happened.

It was the beginning of the second half and the Thistles had the kick off. Richmond's midfielders raced down the centre of the field, keeping the ball closely at their feet. But the Billinudgel players were going to let them run free. They pursued them down the field. The Thistles went for a wide pass but it was blocked by Chad. Once again the Red Devils had control of the ball. They used their good passing strategy to make their way up the field. At one point Greg received the ball. Greg suddenly heard big feet stomping towards him. He turned around but it was too late. The defender had already taken him out with an aghast tackle.



David dashed onto the field. He wasn't the only one. Just about every parent ran onto the field, some seeing if Greg was alright and others chatting to the ref about the shocking tackle.

'Send him off for good. He doesn't deserve to be playing soccer. I don't want him playing against our team again.'

Greg also felt a bit squeamish so they took him off right away.

'Don't worry guys we can still win this game!' Mr Jones shouted from the sideline.

It was a different game without Greg. The boys lost confidence as soon as Greg was tackled and hurt. They were lazy and let the ball go past them. David was getting worried.

In the 44th minute, disaster struck the Red Devils again. A Thistles defender had stuck out his foot just after Harvey had dribbled the ball around him. Both Harvey and Greg ended up on the sideline injured.

In the 53rd minute a good passing build up from Richmond Primary lead to a late goal. The score was two goals to in favour of the Richmond Primary Thistles. From that moment on things looked bleak. The Red Devils were so frustrated and because of their frustration, they made silly mistakes.
Again two more players from the Red Devils were injured. The ref decided that he had had enough and sent 2 players off.

Billinudgel were down to eight players. Mr Jones looked worried. They needed more players and fast. If they didn't get them now they would be forced to forfeit. Mr Jones looked around him. David sat hopefully on the wooden bench. The worried coach looked at him for a moment but ignored him. But it turned out that he had no choice.

'David, you're going on.'

David buzzed with happiness. Finally his dream had come true. As he ran onto the field everyone was silent. Occasionally, David saw one parent whisper something to another.

'He'll get injured in seconds flat,' he heard some say. But he was out to prove them wrong.


The game continued. The Red Devils determination level rose. They knew they had to work jolly hard in the next 7 minutes if they wanted to win the championship.

David thought, 'Alright David you can do it. This might be your only opportunity so make good work of it.'

When David received the ball playing soccer for a team for the first time in his life, warmth flowed throughout him. He weaved in and out of the defenders at ease. He headed straight for the goal. David had speed like a bullet train and stamina like a bull. He had one more defender to beat. Beat this guy, and he would surely score.

David turned towards his own goal and shielded the ball. The defender tried to kick the ball out of his legs. When he did that David turned quickly and had a shot at goal. The ball pounded the back of the net. David kicked it so hard that the ball went straight through.

'Yeah!' David cheered.

The goalkeeper stood in utter shock. 'Hey kid', he said to David, 'You're the best player I've ever seen.'

'Thanks goalie,' David replied, happily.

After David's goal it was the 57th minute with 3 minutes remaining. The Red Devils had good defence and lots of near chances at scoring a goal. But they just couldn't sneak a goal in. In the 59th minute the Thistles made a foolish challenge just a couple of metres from the fringe of the eighteen yard box.

'Don't worry Richmond,' said their captain, 'Just clear this ball out.'

Chad lined up the ball for the direct free kick. But before he stepped back to kick the ball he paused.

'David,' he said, 'You take it.'

David stepped back to take the free kick that would decide the fate of the game. David was under intense pressure. There was pandemonium around the whole field. David looked at the worried Mr Jones. Mr Jones just nodded with a small smile.

'I'll score this for Mr Jones,' he thought.

He looked at his injured brothers on the sideline, 'I'll do it for them'.

Then he thought about his dad. His dad was so busy on the farm, that he had never seen any of his brothers or him play. A small tear ran down his face. He would have loved his dad to be here right now. He wiped his eyes and concentrated on the kick. David's heart beat like crazy.

David booted the ball at the goal. The wall tried to stop it but they were unsuccessful. The ball hit the post on the left, ricocheted onto the right post and was tangled up in a hard, white net.
It took David a moment to realise what he had just done. But then he felt a buzz of happiness.

'Yeahhhhhh!' he cheered.

The players were squeezing him so hard they almost squeezed him to death. They lifted him high up into the air. David looked at Mr Jones. He gave him a thumbs up and smiled. It was hard to know with Mr Jones. That facial expression meant he was proud of him, it wasn't that he didn't care much.

The Billinudgel Public School Red Devils had won the match 3-2.

David Gardiner, the eleven year old farm boy from Billinudgel, was a hero.

David Gardiner is married and has three kids named Alexander, Samuel and Caitlyn. He lives in a small Sydney suburb named Bargo, while his parents still live near Billinudgel. He is now a school teacher working in the Wollondilly area. He coaches U'11's soccer for the Yerrinbool Bargo Bushrangers. He still remembers that magic day when he scored the winning goal for his childhood soccer team, the Billinudgel Red Devils.
(September 2008)

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The Party Plan

By Keeley, 7, Woodstock, Georgia

One day there were three kids. There names were Kate, Sam and Tom. It was Kate's Birthday! Tom and Sam had to plan Kate's party. They went to the store to buy things for the party. They bought party hats, balloons, a battleship game and a $100 gift card for Toys R Us. Kate was at the park playing volleyball with her friend Miya.

Sam and Tom's mom were making Kate's birthday cake!! Sam and Tom went back home to wrap Kate's gifts. They used birthday wrapping paper. When they were done they hid her presents in their closet. Sam and Tom's mom were done cooking Kate's cake. Kate was coming home with Miya. Tom, Sam, Sam's mom and Tom's mom were waiting for her to get home. They turned the light off and Kate and Miya came in the door. They were all hiding behind the table.

Kate opened the door and they said, 'Surprise!!!'

Then they all had birthday cake! Kate had the best birthday party ever!
(September 2008)

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An Innocent Portrait on an Anonymous Mantel

By Adam, 13, Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees, UK

Max - the blue eyed, greasy-haired, teenage joker of the avenue, with more acne than skin - began the worst, if the smallest, journey of his life towards the wilderness which he called the neighbour's lawn. In amongst the greyish blades and dull, spindly bushes lay a single, multicoloured ball: the ball that shattered the mirror of dark, symmetrical vegetation into a spider web of colour, a vortex of reds, greens, purples and oranges that just kept spinning. But this wasn't the world breaking out into chaos - no, it was poor Max, who had broken into a fit of nausea and fear: he regretted knocking the ball over the wrought iron casket that held this dilapidated, red-brick marvel of a building, even despite the glory of the beast protruding from the ground around him. He had heard the rumours, and seen the so-called 'victims', but...

Could it really be possible?

The boy began to tremble uncontrollably, even with the five layers of clothing articles wrapped tightly around him. However, this outbreak of shivering had nothing to do with the yellow mist closing around him, feeling him out with it's gaseous tendrils, gagging him - choking him. He saw it rolling towards him, and ran, but couldn't escape the billion hands that were searching for something they couldn't find, their fingers reaching out and flowing into every crevice, crack and hole. Max stumbled and fell heavily, barely conscious. The last thing he heard was a scream - and it was his own.

Consciousness came back to him at daybreak, just as the sun was piercing the darkness. The pink light threw a silhouette over the entire garden, and, to a demented child, this long-grass seemed like heaven itself. He got to his feet, and caught a glimpse of the house: it was a squat Victorian building, ugly in the pearly light of dawn, with boards over every doorway and feature: the place was rotting in its own hell-hole.

Forcing themselves onward, his aching limbs struggled into life, and set off onto another journey toward the building. Ever since entering the property, it had acted as a magnet, absorbing his energy, and pulling him towards it and it was doing a great job.

For hours, Max wandered throughout the dilapidated pathways, searching - just searching - for an entrance. Eventually, he found one, a once magnificent oak door, from which the rotten planks and rusted nails had fallen. Thanks to his youth, the teenager just fit through, and he surveyed his surroundings. He couldn't believe his eyes.

Before him stood a fully-functional interior of a family home: a fire roared beneath the hearth, large, luxurious sofas were spread out over the wooden floor, which was covered by sprawled animal hides and skins, and the cream-papered walls were encrusted in family photos and portraits - there was just something wrong with them.

There were no faces on the photographs.

The family shown had been beheaded in foul horror, by a merciless murdering marauder. But, who was it? And was he still here?

Max turned with great rapidity, only, to his amazement, he stumbled upon a door which had only just appeared into his surroundings, a thick, oak slab, the handle brass. He pondered for a good few minutes over it, and came to a decision: it was either explore the room, or roam the wilderness outside for hours on end, searching for escape - and Max decided on the latter.

As the door screamed and protested as it left it's original position, Max came upon a room, much like the other, but with many cobwebs and piles of dust, as if it hadn't been seen, or used, in many centuries. There was also another difference: the large portrait of a medieval ruler, sitting above the mantelpiece: and, for that matter, the skeleton underneath it.

Max was horrified: he couldn't believe his eyes, and was just recovering from shock, when the eyes of the portrait rolled towards him in their wooden sockets, and let out the same force that killed the other poor man.

Only the walls saw the murder, and...

Only the blades of grass heard the scream.
(september 2008)

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The Secret Mission

By Danny, 13, Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-On-Tees, UK

My name is Antonio. There's an evil doctor called Dr Jess on the loose. I got this job because I was in trouble with the police so they said you can either go and look for the highly dangerous Jess. I was just dumped in the middle of the Sahara desert. They gave me all the latest weapons and lots more gadgets I was jumping through forests of Spain, fighting Jesse's bodyguards and with a lot of help from my best friend Lewi.

It all started about five years ago in secret training, when we were sent on a training exercise and Lewi almost lost his life. When that happened all I could think about was my first aid training back in England, 'Don't put your life at risk for someone else'. But, I also knew him from when we were little pupils at Whinstone Primary School and we still went to secondary school together. Although he was my best mate I knew I was going to have to do something to help him.
(September 2008)
All I can think about is my sweet girlfriend. I only think about her because she was kidnapped by Jess and I could not sleep for all the nights she was gone. My heart was broken and the day my princess came back it was like I was born all over again; the joy and relief.

I love going on dangerous missions and the risk of almost getting killed. I've recently been sent on a secret mission all the way over the Himalayas and round the Artic Circle. We were on the plane for twenty four hours but by my side all the way was Lewi. When we finally arrived it was pitch black but there was no time to waste, we only had seven days to catch the dreaded Doctor Jess.

We had to get a jeep to this mysterious place. It was all creepy but when the fighting started there was no stopping us. We bust down the door and there she was. The evil doctor was just sitting there. This was our big chance to grab her and that is exactly what we did. We took her back to England to receive our gold plaque and that was the story of the secret mission!

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The Ant Army

By Sarah, 9, Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland

There was once a village full of ants. There was a group of ants who called themselves Ant Army. One day an ant eater came to the city. All the ants of the city were gathering outside ant army H.Q. The village were shouting, 'ANT ARMY'.

The Ant Army were right on the case. They fought against the ant eater. They had to be very clever though as the ant eater is a giant compared to the ants.

The boss of the ants gathered them altogether and decided that all the ants should split into groups and attack the ant eater from all different sides. The ants then split into large groups. One particular group decided on the nick name 'The Raisins', because they were all as small as a raisin! The leader of this group was called Red, this was due to the fact he had a small red spot right on the top of his head.

Rather than fight by biting at their enemy The Raisins main job was to tickle the ant eater.

Red announced, 'By tickling our enemy we can help throw him off balance.'

But some of them disagreed, to start with no one really knew if an ant eater was actually ticklish! One brave ant called Spot ( no one knew why he was called this as he never had any visible spot!) stood up and asked Red,

'If we try to tickle him won't he roll over to stop us and then crush us all to death?'

All the ants looked concerned and turned to Red to hear the answer. Red just gave a little cough and looked around at his small army.

He thought for a moment then said, 'Well...I can't think of anything you use your noggins,' said Red.

Then Spot said, 'Why us? You're the master. You've got the brains.'

At this Red went redder than ever.

Then he said, 'I give up..the group is not strong enough we need to get more people.'

Then another member of the group called Pipsqueak (he is called that because he is the smallest ant on earth)said, 'But... but we're a team.'

'Well let me think,' said Red.

'We can't join on to another team,'said Spot.

Just then the ant eater ate Spot. The rest of the gang followed. Inside the ant eater was like a new world. The ants found food and got some furniture. They made their own H.Q. They saved the village of eater.
(September 2008)

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Chiquita Brown - The Mystery Of The Poisoned Food

By Lottie, 9, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK

We entered the classroom (owned to Mrs Bossy Boots Bagley) on Monday morning. Me and my best friend Vanessa normally wait until everyone had put their things away. Once the colossal stampede removed themselves from the pegs, the cloakroom wasn't immaculate, it was an atrocious mess. I quickly removed my crimson coat and satin boots and scurried inside the classroom. I waited until Vanessa was ready and we both promenaded in together.

Obviously, the frown lines on Bossy Boots Bagley's forehead hadn't disappeared, it must have scared her for life. You see, Bobby Taylor kind of scared her out of her skin by telling her he had brought rats to school and was going to set them loose in the classroom. But this time she game us a right telling off, guess why, cloakroom!

'Look at the target everyone, it's to keep our cloakroom tidy, and is our cloakroom immaculate? No, it's a disgrace, and why is that? Maybe because some of you are blind, and can't see massive letters, now, do you want me to commit suicide or are you going to keep the cloakroom tidy?' screeched Bossy Boots Bagley.

Our first lesson was boring, it was Numeracy, I was bored out of my skin, we were doing fractions, I mean why do we need to know how to cut a cake? It seemed like it was going on forever, until my pencil started to flash, I had to get to my adventurous mission, but first I had to make up an excuse to get out of the school and into the knowledgeable MCY.

I raised my sweating hand and spoke, 'Ummm, miss please can I go to the loo?'

'Hurry up now Chiquita,' replied Bossy Boots Bagley.

I opened the door slowly and sped through the corridor to the girls bathroom. I quickly stepped into a spare cubical and changed into my stretchy spy costume. The voices of children lingered around my ear lobes, so I knew that class had finished. The toilet started to lower down and so, I jumped on the cystern and entered the outside world, the spy lab.

My teeth chattered as I was lowered into the lab because of the massive walls that surrounded me, capturing me, closing me in. Suddenly, I stopped going down and stepped onto the concrete floor and walked to Mr Bee's mouth. He was sitting at his desk, his grotty feet resting on the edge, in his hands a newspaper probably from the local newsagents. He turned and looked through me, but he had a warm, friendly smile and a civil approach towards me. I was in there almost an hour, when I was let loose to go to my mission. My mission was that someone had been poisoning the food in the cafeteria, I had a pretty good idea who, I had three suspects, the cooks, the classroom teachers and the children, I just needed proof.

I had a variety of gadgets all to my liking, and my use. It is hard for spy companies to get all the new gadgets so count me lucky. My gadgets were the most brilliant, outstanding gadgets in the world. I had a laser lipstick, if you opened the lid of it, it would spurt out goo, really sticky goo, which changed into a sticky net once touched by a human or animal, or if it was to bump into something that you weren't aiming for it would fly around after your target until it caught it, pretty clever, eh? I also have a fountain pen, if you click it at the bottom it will shoot a trance needle, when it goes into something, him or her will do whatever you tell them to for up to 6 hours until the trance had worn out. I also have a jetpack in case of emergency, x-ray glasses and a torch all which are of helpful use. So now I need to set out to my tree house to plan how I will solve this mystery.

So you see, all my gadgets are welcome in all my missions. I think you now get the point of why new gadgets are welcome in all my missions. I must really be strolling off, I need to solve this problem or else the children of this school could end up getting food poisoning unless I stop this now!

I scurried into my tree house and set a scroll out on a tree stump. All I knew is that I had to search at night where everyone would have evacuated the school, but I also had to have a word with my suspects. My plan was to unlock the door with my door picker, and then investigate the cafeteria; the cooks normally leave the food piled up in the fridge so I can look at them pretty closely. However, I would have to stay clear of the schools janitor, he has an evil eye and approaches you with a sly ascent. I had no idea how I was going to approach my mission's statements but I knew I had to.

My tree house was really warm and cosy because of the thick planks of wood tightly fastened with strong metal screws, also, because of the massive oak tree's arms that curved over my tree house, (that stopped the wind blowing my tree house off the great oak). So obviously I was pretty warm, but I knew that something was missing, something's wrong, I can feel it in my bones, I thought....

The next day I woke up feeling thrilled, my mission would be successful, and I just knew it! But you can't be too careful though.

'Do you want some breakfast honey,' called mum from the sweet smelling kitchen.

'No thank you,' I answered, 'I have already eaten'.

Which was true, well maybe half true, I mean I had a few nibbles on my rotting chocolate bar before I came down. I know what you are thinking rotting oooh urrr, but rotting foods are really healthy for spies especially chocolate. 

So I set of to school feeling really nervous, I mean, I forgot to brush my hair and it's a right mess. My hands were sweating so much my school books were slipping out of my hands, maybe I was scared of the janitor catching me, I had no idea. Anyway, I strolled down the corridor to my first class, room 108, guess what it was, maths, we were recapping what we had learned yesterday. I did so bad, I mean, I hadn't listened once, oh well. I was walking home when I thought for a second, 'Will this plan work?' I had no idea.

I walked on the cobbled pathway and reached out for the shiny door handle. My sweaty hand made the metal door knob rust. The green door creaked open as I walked step by step onto the wooden floor and into my bricked house. As I entered the hallway I opened the cupboard door and hung up my dirty school bag and put my hard back books onto the wooden shelf.

I stopped for a second and my nostrils widened as a sweet smell of fish and chips entered my nostrils. I made my way to the dining room and the smell got stronger and stronger. As I entered the dining room I saw a plate full of crispy fish, smothered in sweet smelling vinegar and a mountain of lovely, chunky, warm chips, and behind it an empty space, just for me. I sat down and tucked in to my fish and chips. The luscious taste lingered on my tongue, as I chomped my chips and chewed my battered salmon and haddock. Once I had finished my tea I gathered all my dirty cutlery and placed them on my shiny, vinegary plate. I picked up my plate and strolled off into the kitchen, and gave my plate to mum,' Thank you,' she muttered under her breath. After that, I sped out of the kitchen, up the stairs and into my bedroom.

I quickly tugged off my school clothes and put on my stretchy spy costume once again. I could feel my nervousness boiling up inside of me, and I was sweating with scared thoughts approaching me, however that didn't stop me fighting for what I'm worth. Unfortunately, my parents would see me, and hear me sneaking out of the house, consequently, I had to figure out another way.....

I thought, and thought, and finally ha, ha; it was so simple. All I had to do was make a rope,(probably out of tights), then tie it to the bed rest, throw it out of the window and after that, climb out of the window, and down the rope, pretty easy, eh?

So I set to work, I slowly opened my drawer, and started rummaging through, trying to find a brilliant amount of tights, in the end I found ten pairs, and that would reach the ground (as I lived in a bungalow).

I quickly tied it to my bed rest and jumped out of the window and down the rope. However, on my way down my foot got caught in a plant of ivy growing on the side of my house. I grabbed my scissors and cut my foot free, now I was free to get on with my mission. I jumped down and sped along the path, it was pitch black, and I couldn't see a thing, (because the street lamps weren't working). All I had was my spy torch, nothing else.

I soon arrived at the school and it looked really scary at night all I could see was a light, coming from the janitor'scloset. I could just make out his face, reading a newspaper; his eyes were glaring at the tiny printed words. My heart leapt as he looked up, I thought he was looking at me, but no. However, just in case I ducked, unfortunately, into a nettled bush, the nettles spiked my face as I lowered myself. I would have to go round the back door to not be seen.

I crept, slowly, around the building, but I stopped for a second, the burglar light went off, and my heart missed a beat. I leapt round the corner where no one could see me. I creaked open the back door and snuck inside, my forehead was sweating with the sight of the old, grotty janitor. I could see the corridors reaching to open classrooms. I snuck down the corridor, keeping my body glued to the lockers and walls.

I soon arrived at the kitchen, the door was massive. I crept inside, unfortunately, I heard the janitor coming my way, his big heavy footsteps made the earth wobble, panic seized me as he approached. I made my way to a table, luckily the table cover was on and covering the sides, so I hid.

Suddenly, the footsteps became faint, so I knew he had gone the other way. I slowly crept to the fridge hoping it wasn't locked, luckily it wasn't. I shivered faintly as the fridge door opened and the cold air caught hold of my skin. I quickly looked on the shelves for anything suspicious, but nothing, I looked once more, but still nothing. I would have to move on to plan B.

I raced down the corridor and opened the big door, and sped across the rock hard, concrete playground. I turned around I could only see a silhouette of the janitor creeping along the end of the wall. I trudged home I had got my hopes up high, and it has been brought down, due to my failure of a plan.

'Where on earth have you been young lady,' mum screeched as I walked through the door (luckily my coat was on).

'I have been out with friends, the place I was not very fond of.'

'Room!' shouted mum, 'I'll bring you up your clean jammys.'

So of course I obeyed her order, I didn't want to get into trouble. However, I knew that I wasn't off the hook, I knew mum didn't believe the story of I went out with friends. I mean it was 10 o'clock, and I wouldn't go out at that time, it would be too late. Mum suddenly stormed in carrying a pile of warm clothes, and there on the top were mine, shining brightly as if they were Queen! I grabbed my set and climbed into them, they were so warm and cosy that I scrambled into bed immediately, and fell fast asleep.

Whilst running downstairs for breakfast the next morning, my brain was doing back flips. I was sorting out plan B (but I'm not telling you what it is, you will have to wait and see.) I decided to skip breakfast as I was not very hungry, and anyway I could always have something out of my dinner. I started walking, unfortunately, it was freezing. Consequently, I had to go and get a thicker coat.

When I finally arrived at school ( after all that fuss of coldness) I found Vanessa, all on her own, so I went over, and we started playing until the school bell went. When it eventually went, we noticed we were nowhere near the school door. So, to my belief we started to run. I mean, we, well I had never ran for anything, except for being chased by zombies, by monsters and ghosts. We got there just in time, (luckily). All the lessons flew by (I can't name them, I wasn't listening).

It was lunch time and this was time for plan B. I snook my lunch box into the hall so I could get a school dinner and bring it to the spy lab to be tested. I got in the queue and waited. When it was my turn I got macaroni cheese, crispy chips and for desert I chose green jelly topped with 100's and 1000's, and then I scurried into the toilets, pretending there wasn't any seats. I squeaked the door open and stepped inside; I rushed inside a cubical, and went down and down and down.

I took them to the scanning room, to be checked out. I placed the dangerous food onto the scanning bed, and suddenly pressed the huge green button that said GO! I waited, and waited and finally it had finished. Walking, very slowly, over to the computer to see the results. It said, POISONED! I knew exactly who it was.

That very next morning, my brain told me to organise a school meeting, so that's really what I did! Pressing 999, I ordered the police to come out, and get ready to catch the bad guy. So, at 1:30 I saw piles of children, come moaning into the hall, they were all sat down neatly, teachers also, and I could just see the police at the corners of every door, getting ready to pounce.

So I started to make my speech, 'Good afternoon, I have called you all here because somebody in this hall has been poisoning the school meals.'

The janitor looked up at me, a guilty expression widened on his face. The janitor ran, the police knew this was the guy or else he wouldn't have been running. The police were now hot on his heels. Suddenly, the police pounced, they all eventually, tumbled down.

I explained how I knew, 'You see, I scanned some of the food, and then checked what poison it was, and the only person who owned this poison, was the janitor.'

Everyone cheered me on, and someone shouted, 'Chiquita Brown saves the day again!'
(September 2008)

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The Mystery At The Museum

By Paige, 10, Boiling Spring, SC, USA

'Hey, Mom, will you sign my permission form to go on the field trip to the museum?' Jessica asked her mother.

'Oh course sweetheart, when is it going to be?' Jessica's mother asked.

'The twentieth of January,' Jessica replied.

'The twentieth, that's tomorrow!' Jessica's mother exclaimed.

'I know, I had forgotten about it until today, sorry,' Jessica said.

'Well that's alright, I hope you have a good time,' Jessica's mother said.

'Thanks mom, I'm going to go get ready for bed,' Jessica said.

Jessica went upstairs to her bathroom, brushed her teeth, washed her face, combed her hair, put her favorite pajamas on, the ones with the cute little puppies. Then she climbed into bed and turned her reading lamp on. She took out the book she was reading, it was a Nancy Drew mystery. She just loved mysteries. When she grew up she wished to be a famous detective, just like Nancy. Little did she know that her dream would come true much sooner than expected.

The next day, Jessica climbed out of bed sleepily.

'Whoa!' she said when she looked at her hair in the full length mirror in her bedroom.

'Hurry and get ready Jessica, you don't want to be late for the field trip!' her mother called from downstairs.

Jessica changed into a blue t-shirt with a butterfly in the middle, jeans, and tennis shoes because she knew she would be walking around a lot. She went downstairs and started fixing herself some Frosted Mini Wheats. She ate it quickly, then found her book bag and slung it over her shoulder.

'Bye Mom!' Jessica called as she walked out the door.

'Goodbye Jessica, have fun, and be safe at the museum,' Jessica's mother said.

'I will,' Jessica said.

She closed the door and went out into the cold air. She went over to the bus stop where other children waited too. She spotted her friend, Claire.

'Hey Claire, aren't you so excited about the museum?!' Jessica said.

'Yeah, I can't wait until we get there!' Claire said.

Suddenly the bright yellow bus appeared in front of them. The door squeaked open and everybody climbed in.

'Hello Mrs. Cook, how are you today?' Jessica asked.

'Oh I'm fine, thank you,' Mrs. Cook replied.

Jessica and Claire sat beside each other in one of the seats in the front. The bus lurched forward and was off.

'Hey Claire, did you get the math homework we had last night?' Jessica asked.

'No, not really, I'm horrible with fractions,' Claire replied.

'Yeah, me too.' Jessica said.

They played rock, paper, scissors until the bus squealed to a stop in front of the old brick school.

'Okay everybody load off the bus, and have a good time on your field trip,' Mrs. Cook said from the drivers seat up at the front of the bus.

'We will!' a chorus of voices called out.

Jessica and Claire were the first ones of the bus. In front of them were much more buses to take them to the field trip, but charter buses that had miniature televisions in them, and seats that could lean back.

'Whoa, I went on these buses in kindergarten when we went to Strawberry Fields, they are so cool!' Claire exclaimed.

'I know, I bet we'll watch a movie!' Jessica said.

They looked around until they saw the rest of their class and their teacher, Mrs. Johnson loading onto bus number eight. They rushed over there and climbed into the bus.

'Wow, this place is cool!' Jessica said.

'I know!' Claire agreed.

They took their seat right as the bus started moving. A TV was in front of them and the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks started playing.

'Oohh, I love this movie!' Claire said.

'Yeah, I've been really wanting to see it for a long time!' Jessica said.

They watched the movie until they arrived at a big white building.

'I guess this is the museum,' Claire said.

'Yeah I guess so,' Jessica said.

'Load off the bus quickly and quietly,' the bus driver said.

Once all the kids got off, the teacher led them inside.

'Okay everybody, where do you want to go first, the aquarium, the Imax movie, or the dinosaur display?' Mrs. Johnson asked.

'The dinosaurs, the dinosaurs!' almost everybody chanted out.

'Okay then, the dinosaurs it is.'

We walked awhile until we came to a huge T-rex dinosaur skeleton.

'Wow, that T-Rex is awesome!' a boy said from Jessica's class.

'Yes, it is,' agreed Mrs. Johnson.

Jessica saw that Mrs. Johnson looked like she was in a kind of a trance, starting at the skeleton. Mrs. Johnson suddenly jumped out of her trance and smiled at the class.

'Uh.. let's move on shall we?' she said shakily. They went to the aquarium next, and while they were looking at the jellyfish, the lights went off!

'Ahhhhh!' screamed all the kids.

Jessica looked around but Mrs. Johnson wasn't in sight.

'Jessica, what's happening?!' Claire cried.

'I don't know Claire, I'm really getting freaked out, I don't see Mrs. Johnson anywhere!'

After waiting in the dark for what seemed like an eternity, the lights cut back on.

'Man, I'm glad that's over!' Claire said.

'Yeah, but where's Mrs. Johnson?' Jessica asked, looking around.

Just as quickly as Jessica had said that Mrs. Johnson raced in the front entrance and looked around.

'Mrs. Johnson, over here!' Betty, a girl from Jessica's class cried out.

'Oh class, I've been so worried about you!' Mrs. Johnson said.

'Where were you?' Jessica asked.

'Oh.. um.. I was getting my water bottle from the bus,' Mrs. Johnson fumbled.

'Uh... Mrs. Johnson I don't see your water bottle with you,' Claire said.

'Well... I decided I wasn't that um... thirsty, so I put it back,' Mrs. Johnson said, color creeping up her neck.

Jessica thought something was strange about all this.

'Hey, lets go back to look at the dinosaurs!' Claire said.

'Umm... how about we just stay here, I heard there's an octopus in the aquarium,' Mrs. Johnson said.

'Noooo, dinosaurs!' the whole class cried.

'Well, umm.. I guess so,' Mrs. Johnson said, her face now bright red.

'Yay!' everybody yelled as they ran over the dinosaur exhibit.

As the class was rounding the corner of the museum, Jessica saw the great T-Rex. But something was different about it this time Jessica thought. Then she looked up, a short cry escaped her throat, the head of the skeleton was missing!

'Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Johnson!' Jessica called, 'The head of the T-rex is missing!

'Oh... that's uh, horrible, terrible.. yeah um..let's move on,' Mrs. Johnson said.

'But Mrs. Johnson, shouldn't we inform the museum keepers? Or the police?!' Jessica said worriedly.

'They'll probably figure it out themselves, I mean, it's quite obvious,' Mrs. Johnson said.

Jessica knew what she had to do though. She was a detective and she wanted to get to the bottom of this. Just think, it could be her first case!

Jessica started running off towards the main entrance of the museum, she had saw people who worked here over there. When she got there she was sweating and out of breath.

'Please, please, can I talk to somebody?!' she yelled out.

An old lady came hobbling over to her.

'Is there something you need child?' she asked.

'Yes, the head on that big T-Rex is missing!' Jessica said.

'Oh my gosh! Let me get Lenny, he will come with you to see what has happened,' the old lady went over to a young man and was talking and pointing at me.

'Young lady, will you please take me to this dinosaur?' he asked.

'Yes, it's over here,' Jessica took him over to the skeleton where she pointed out where the skull was missing.

'Oh my this is horrible, yes, a catastrophe indeed, one of our most prized skeletons, skull missing, oh no!' he said, his words coming out in a mess.

'They probably turned the lights off when they stole it and then turned them back on before they left,' Jessica said.

'Wow, great detective work, what's your name Miss?' Lenny asked.

'My name is Jessica Ambers, and I will do any detective work you will let me do!' Jessica said.

'Oh yes, I will miss Jessica, and I am going to inform the police right away, so don't worry a bit,' Lenny said.

'Okay, will you tell me if anything is found out about who did the crime?' Jessica asked.

'Certainly Jessica, my pleasure,' Lenny agreed.

Jessica then ran back to her class and told them what she had just done. She looked up at Mrs. Johnson, she looked steaming mad.

'Jessica, why did you run off in the middle of our field trip without any warning? I am going to have to give you detention for two weeks! Never do anything like that ever again!' Mrs. Johnson said.

All the children stood open mouthed at Mrs. Johnson.

'Mrs. Johnson, two whole weeks?' Jessica said meekly.

'Yes, field trip is over, everybody go out and load onto the bus without a word,' Mrs. Johnson demanded.

'Yes Mrs. Johnson,' everybody grumbled.

When I got on the bus Claire slid into the seat beside me.

'Mrs. Johnson is so harsh isn't she? I mean two whole weeks! My brother got that for getting in a fight, what you did was what the right thing to do was,' Claire said, angrily.

'I know, this is so unfair!' Jessica said.

The rest of the ride was in silence, Mrs. Johnson didn't even play a movie. That night at home I told my mother what had happened.

'That mean old no good teacher! I am speaking to the principal about your punishment, two weeks, that's unbelievable!' she said.

Jessica went to bed that night thinking maybe Mrs. Johnson was right, maybe she shouldn't have told, but then, no, she knew she did what was right.

The next few days were horrible for Jessica. She went to school only to find Mrs. Johnson glaring at her day after day from her desk. Mrs. Johnson tried to ignore Jessica as best she could by not calling on her, or letting her do most anything at all. Jessica was miserable. But one Wednesday afternoon, her hopes soared.

Jessica's mom called to her, 'The phone is for you!'

Jessica grabbed it from her mothers hand and said, 'Hello?'

'Hello, is it Jessica?' a voice on the other end asked, it sounded somewhat familiar.

'Yes, this is she, who are you?' Jessica asked.

'This is Lenny, remember, from the museum?'

'Oh yes, hi Lenny, have you found anything out yet?' Jessica asked.

'Oh yes, bunches of things, could you come over to the police station at exactly 5:00 so I could share with you the evidence of what has been found, maybe you could help me with a little detective work?' Lenny said.

'Oh yes, I would love to, I'll be over at five sharp!' Jessica said.

She said goodbye and hung up, 'Mom!' she called.

'Guess what, Lenny from the museum called and said that the police have found some stuff out and for me to be over there at five!' Jessica said excitedly.

'Oh that's wonderful I will certainly have you over by then,' Jessica's mom said.

Jessica couldn't wait until it was time, finally when the big grandfather clock in their living room struck five, Jessica grabbed her mom and hopped into the car. They drove over to the town's police station where they met up with Lenny who was waiting outside.

'Come in ladies, and I will show you the evidence,' Lenny said.

They went inside where they stopped at a table that was covered with data and papers and graphs and many other things.

'The police collected fingerprints and some DNA, and they have found three suspects, Mr. Towny Lancaster, Ms. Amy Borges, and what was that last one... oh right, Mrs. Sally Johnson.'

Jessica's chin almost fell right down to the floor. She remembered Mrs. Johnson telling the class her first name at the very beginning of the school year... Sally!

'You have must gotten something wrong, Mrs. Sally Johnson is my teacher!' Jessica sputtered.

'Wow, your teacher, well I bet she's not the one. The suspects will be asked questions tomorrow at noon, I will call you again if anything new comes up,' Lenny said.

'Well goodbye Lenny, remember, tell me everything that happens!' Jessica reminded him as her and her mom left the room.

'I can't believe your teacher is one of the suspects!' Jessica's mom said.

'I know, that is so crazy!' Jessica agreed.

Or was it crazy, Jessica thought, Mrs. Johnson had been acting really strange on the field trip. But she knew her teacher couldn't be a real criminal!

The next day Jessica was full of nerves, she couldn't wait until Lenny called her. It was a weekend so she didn't have to go to school. She played with her dog, Muffie, she jumped on her trampoline, she listened to her ipod. But the whole time the only thing that was on her mind was the crime, and Mrs. Johnson. Mrs. Johnson, she had known, had always had an interest in dinosaurs, she loved talking about them in Science class, but why in the world would she want the skull of a T-Rex?

Jessica was lying on her bed reading a new Nancy Drew book her mom had bought her when she heard the sound of a phone ringing.

She jumped out of bed and raced over to the phone she grabbed it and said, 'Hello?'

'Hello, this is Lenny, exciting, very exciting wonderful news, we have found the criminal, they confessed!' he said.

'Oh my gosh, oh my gosh! No way I'm coming right over there in a flash!' she said and hung up.

'Mom!' she called, 'They found the criminal, we're going to the police station right now, Lenny is going to tell us who is guilty!' she said, jumping up and down.

Her mom grabbed her car keys and her purse and they both ran over to the car, and drove as quickly as they could all the way down there. They saw Lenny and another lady. Jessica couldn't see her clearly through the car window, but when she got closer she recognized her as... Mrs. Johnson!

'Oh my gosh, Mrs. Johnson, how could you?!?!' Jessica screeched.

'I'm sorry Jessica, but it's a long story,' Mrs. Johnson stammered.

'I don't care how long it is, I want to hear it,' Jessica demanded.

'Okay well it all started when I was in college, I decided to become a paleontologist. I became a very good one and I had found almost every piece to the T-Rex skeleton, except the skull, I was so frustrated that I quit being a paleontologist and became a fifth grade teacher. But when I saw that beautiful T-Rex skull I just couldn't help myself, I stole it. I regret it now, but there is nothing I can do to change it,' Mrs. Johnson said.

'My oh my,' Jessica's mother said.

'Well, I'm sorry to tell you this but you are probably going to be in jail for a while for theft,' Lenny said.

'Yeah, I know,' Mrs. Johnson said, glumly.

Mrs. Johnson is out of jail now, and the skull is back where it belongs. Jessica is helping a lot of people with her cool detective skills. Wow, Jessica never knew how a simple field trip to a museum could change her life forever.
(September 2008)

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Thompson Manor

By Jay , 12, St.Neots, Cambridgeshire, UK

James ran and ran through the bleak, inhospitable house cursing himself over and over for being so stupid. He knew he shouldn't have gone in on and on he ran tripping and falling over every couple of minutes. The broken rubble was like gravel on his bare feet. Cobwebs breaking on his browhis cut feet were bleeding like the sunset. It pained him to run but he still kept going through the stale smelling, crumbling, structure then he tripped on a crack and that's when he saw him that was the last thing he ever saw!

2 weeks later......

'Ok team we go in and find the boy.'

I was in charge of operation 'missing wolf' to find James. I took a team of 42 police officers into Transville to find this boy. We searched everywhere and I mean everywhere through the restaurants, the pubs, the public toilets but I found zilch. Then I tore open the big dumpster bins I even ripped a lid off it's hinges but still I found diddly squit. So we went door to door with photos his mum had provided us with every one knew who he was but no one had seen him since the gigantic storm 2 weeks ago. Then we came across the count in the street he always seemed a bit odd to me, he had blue eyes looked like he was in his mid 30's. He always looked bonkers but he said he hadn't seen him so I pressed on. That was my first mistake.

It had been 3 weeks since we had started looking for James. So we decided to do a search of every house in Transville. We had the armed response unit on standby, the helicopter 'S O 95' up in the air and my team on the ground conducting the search. Then I got a radio call from 'S O 95' screaming into my ear,

'We have eyeball on a boy matching the description in the town cemetery, repeat the town cemetery.'

So I replied, 'Thanks ground unit out.'

We went to the cemetery it turned out it was just a kid matching the description but it wasn't James. I went back to the search we went into four houses arrested 5 people on suspicion of his abduction. I ran round a sharp corner and that's when I saw it, Thompson Manor.

I thought, 'Naaaaaaa, the count is a good friend of mine he wouldn't have taken him.'

So I moved on. That was my second mistake.

After another day I was told to check Thompson Manor for James. I was a bit angry that they hadn't listened to me but I did as I was told. As we entered, the count wasn't there so we began to search. Every room had smashed glass all over the floor, the doors were falling off there hinges and there was a thick layer of dust on the ground. Little particles were floating in the air, one got into my eye. I opened a door and what looked like a body was there I radioed through to the helicopter and it was a positive ID; it was James. We took the body outside it smelled like it had been dead for a long time we called his mum to break the news to her. We never did find the count but I hear he's a master of disguise so watch out he could be sitting right next to you.
(September 2008)

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Soul Mates

By Lena, 10, CO, USA

'Hi!' I tried to sound upbeat.

'What do you want freak?'

Ok that stung.

'Um...I was just thinking maybe I could hang out with you guys?' I was making ANOTHER brave stab at making friends. So far it was not working.

'Sure you can.'

Oh my gosh! This was my chance! Don't blow it Laurel, I thought to myself. Just be cool.

'Really?' I said hopefully.

'Sure. When pigs fly you dork!'

OK that did not work the way I had hoped. I did not have a single friend at my big, expensive, private school. Maybe kids didn't like the way I looked? Hope bloomed in my chest that maybe... just maybe if I gave myself a new look I could get friends. I quickly pushed that thought out of my head. It could not be my looks. I look pretty average with my straight shoulder-length brown hair and my green eyes. The only thing that makes me look different is the big black splotches that I have on my clothes from my exploding science experiments. Maybe if I got new clothes..... Oh that would not work either. I would have to come up with a new plan.......

The bell rang announcing the school day was over. I walked over to the only place that cheers me up: The public library. I went to my favorite section (the comic books of course!) and started looking for a Betty and Veronica issue that I had not read. I found one and was reaching out to take it when another hand came and touched the book the same time I did.

'Oh, I am so sorry were you going to take this?' The owner of the hand said.

'Oh take it, I have tons more at home!' I insisted.

I looked up to see who I was talking to. My eyes locked with the girls eyes. They were brown and warm. The girl had short blond hair that was held back with a black headband. I saw the girl's clothes and fought back a mad desire to laugh. The girl had black stains on her shirt and pants (like me) except they were smaller than my black stains from messed up science experiments.

'I'm Katie,' the girl said, studying my face.

'I'm Laurel,' I said, studying her clothes trying to figure out what her black stains were from.

'Are you staring at my ink stains?' The girl questioned meeting my gaze.

I felt myself starting to blush. Now the girl thought I was some kind of a clothing snob. At least I figured out what her stains are from. Ink. I think that's kind of cool. I like writing. And that's how I found my soul mate Katie. Katie and I got Starbucks and talked for an hour. I learned she loves Betty and Veronica. (Like me.) She is a good speller, she loves cheese, (Like me. We debated about the best kinds.) She plays keyboard. ( I play guitar. Maybe we could play solos together!?!) We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and promised to keep in touch. YAy! I am so happy!

You know what I said earlier about how I found my soul mate? In case you don't know a soul mate is a person who knows everything about you and can read your mind. Usually your soul mate is the opposite gender of you and you are supposed to marry them. Instead of getting married Katie and I were BFFs. We talked on the phone in the morning and before we went to bed. We met at Starbucks, the library, or the bookstore after school and we slept over at each others houses every weekend. I liked it best when we slept over at Katie's house. We would play hide-and-seek ( I know a bit babyish for two eleven year olds but its so much fun in Katie's house!) Then we would watch scary movies.

I remember one sleepover in particular. We had just given each other makeovers and we were in her room reading comic books out loud when Katie put down her comic book, went over to the window and let out a deep sigh. We had only been BFFs for about two months and I suddenly became worried she was becoming bored with me. I joined her at the window and followed her gaze. My eyes landed on the library. The same one we had met at. Then I saw tears starting to run down Katie's face.

'Wow, Kat are you okay?' I whispered.

'I'm fine. I'm just so happy we me,' she whispered back.

We spent the rest of the night hugging, crying (happy tears of course) and smiling at each other. We spent nearly two hours sitting across from each other and reading each others mind. I was never bored with Katie. Together we made a band with one of her school friends who was a great singer. Our band was called 'I Love Life', Katie chose the name.

Katie introduced me to her school friends and we instantly bonded. My favorite one was Alexa who was smart and witty with short, glossy, dark hair. A lot of the time we would all do things in one huge group or sometimes Alexa, Katie, and I would do things together. But most of the time it was just me and Katie. I owe a lot of myself today to Katie. I am much more social and I have learned not to take life for granted. Katie was always full of ideas and most of them were good. She knew how to make everything fun. I was the happiest I had ever been in my life during that year when me and Katie were best friends. I wish it could have just lasted longer. Because once Katie and I started 6th grade, disaster struck.

I had started noticing that Katie had been getting lots of big bruises everywhere. I was a little concerned, but not too worried. Her mom scheduled an appointment at her doctor just to make sure she was OK and I thought that was the end of it. But I was very wrong. After her appointment at the doctors I called her to see if she wanted to grab some hot cocoa at Starbucks. Here is what our conversation was like:

'Go away, whoever you are. I don't feel like talking,' Katie sobbed into the phone.

'Kat, what's wrong?' I said, suddenly concerned.

There was silence on the other end of the phone. Then Katie started wailing and I could barely make out what she was saying but here's what she said:

'I have leukemia.'

Once I heard that I started wailing as well. Can you imagine? My soul mate had an illness that might be fatal. With those 3 words my life changed.

Katie was at the hospital a lot. That meant no more sleepovers, Starbucks, or reading Betty and Veronica comics together out loud. But Katie was determined to keep in touch with me and her school friends. Katie went to school as often as she could and if she was well enough she would try to call me every day. I prayed every night that Katie would get better. And guess what?!? She did! Oh, I was so happy I went into my yard and screamed out of pure joy. Katie and I had a sleepover that night and it was our best one ever. We talked, gave each other manicures and played our favorite game hide and go seek. I was nothing but joyful that night. I was certain that nothing could make me sad. Oh boy was I wrong.

Then one night she woke up crying. She was rushed to hospital and I later got a call from her dad telling me that Katie's leukemia was back and it was bad. I went to see Katie as often as I could. One time when I was there I heard the doctors talking in the other room.

They said, 'It's gotten so bad it's almost incurable. We should warn the family that her time is limited....'

Before Katie could hear what they were saying I started to talk loudly over them. I left shortly after that because I needed to cry but I did not want to do in front of Katie. When I got home I locked my door and cried for hours. My soul mate, my best friend forever was dying.

One month later I got a call from Katie's mom. I knew the call was coming but I did not want to believe it. My mom drove me to the hospital and I ran up to Katie's room, tears streaming down my face. Katie was almost dead. I just needed to tell her that I loved her.

I walked into her room and said softly said to her, 'I love you.'

Katie looked back at me and said, 'I love you too.'

Then I gently hugged her. I sat next to her talking about the latest Betty and Veronica I had read, trying to act normal even though we both knew it wasn't normal. Katie started to close her eyes. I knew she was almost gone.

So before she left this earth I told her one more time, 'I love you.'

I saw Katie's corners of her mouth lift. My soul mate died with a smile on her face. I recapped that moment at her funeral. My speech was as followed:

'Katie I'll miss your laughs and hugs, your bright smiles and outgoing personality. You taught me a lesson everyday without having to say a word. Like the time when we were walking out of the mall, our arms loaded with bags and you saw an old lady struggling with her packages. You dropped everything and ran to help her. Or the time you talked me into volunteering at the soup kitchen with you. Every time a person came up holding out their plates and bowls you would give them a big smile scoop some food out compliment them on something and then wish them a good day. You always amazed me. If you are out there Katie looking down at me and smiling I just want you to know that I love you.'
(September 2008)

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