A trilogy of errors and misfortunes - all ending well.
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A toy is not just for Christmas – a toy is for life. Toys have feelings, dreams and faults - some more than others. Toys have adventures. When no-one is looking, they leap out of the woodwork and get on with their mischief. And on dark and cold winter nights, toys flock together from all corners of the wardrobe to tell a story.
This is a faithful record of three such stories: all true and there are photographs to prove it!
The first story “To Kiss a Frog” is about Zaba: a racy, crossed-eye frog with a short temper and bad manners, who embarks on the mission of finding a prince she has dreamt up. In her quest, she is confronted with a multitude of obstacles. She sails the Seven Seas as a stowaway aboard the Titanic. She follows her heart to Venice where she resorts to begging, is arrested for vagabonding and meets the Two Hundred and Eighty Eighth Doge of Venice. Will she find her prince, or will she come to a sticky end?
Book Two, “Monkey Business” is about Big Monkey: an affectionate if hopelessly incompetent creature. His greatest handicap is that he does not know his left from his right, nor does he know his north from his south. These shortcomings spell disaster when Big Monkey decides to run away to Africa and finds himself stranded in Scotland where he stumbles upon the Loch-mess Monster. Will he find his way back home or will he forever forage in the mysterious lands of neither here nor there?
The third story, “Tying the Loose Ants” is about Theodore, a purple anteater of noble lineage and high principles. He is wise but very pompous. His mission is to become a hermit – or druid (depending on his mood) – and to preach the Apocalypse to the world. Like St George of the Dragon fame before him, Theodore battles deadly enemies and bumbles across England, carrying his message like a banner. Will the world listen to our brave hero, or will he be judged a harmless lunatic?
Chapter 3: Still somewhere on the Seven Seas
Zaba was no good at directions and the Atlantic Ocean was not very well sign-posted. In the end she got stranded. Her dinghy whirled and turned on the spot, pointing west, then south, then east and west again, and totally missing the north. Zaba got dizzy and slammed on the brakes. Her eyes pulled in two opposite directions, tumbled around in a criss-cross of confusion and finally got themselves into one big sailor’s knot. Zaba was lost. She sobbed quietly, her salty tears adding depth to the ocean’s waves. She couldn’t help loving the Frog Prince, she couldn’t help her desire to find him in the far ends of the world but these endless, blue waters were more than even a frog of her calibre could handle.
She was tired and soon sleep came upon her. It was a restless slumber. Sea monsters and one-eyed Cyclops climbed up from the ocean floor. An eight-armed octopus with two missing teeth wove his arms around Zaba’s dinghy and began rocking it violently. He was just about to toss the dinghy, with Zaba in it, over the edge of the Earth when Zaba screamed, “HEEEEELLLLPPP!” and woke up.
To her surprise she found herself being hoisted onboard a battered old barge. It was ungainly and filthy, smelling of dead fish and the sailors’ rum breath. As they lowered Zaba’s dinghy on deck (bumping and rocking it as they went about it), they all peered inside to find Zaba cowering under the bench. One of the sailors, with two front teeth missing and big, knobbly hands which reminded Zaba of the Eight-Armed Octopus, pulled Zaba out and gaped at her with great interest.
“Where did you come from?” he asked her in French. Zaba was too scared to answer and so she kept her mouth tightly shut. “Hm... a small, purple frog with crossed eyes in the middle of a great, blue ocean...”
Zaba remained silent. She had her pride after all.
“My niece would like a little frog like you,” the toothless sailor went on and checked Zaba over for any signs of nits and leeches. Not having found any, he took Zaba to his cabin and shoved her into his sailor’s canvas bag.
Zaba was terrified of little girls. They usually squeeze one’s tummy, pull one’s paws out of the sockets and poke one’s eyes with their dirty fingers. She was not going to be owned by one such girl! Besides, she had a mission to accomplish: a Frog Prince to find!
Under the cover of night, Zaba chewed through the knots of the sailor’s canvas bag and sneaked out. She slithered to the window and stuck her head out. The sun was rising from its bed over the horizon, but it must have got up with its left foot first as it was slow on the uptake and a little dim. The sea stretched endlessly. Waves lapped and mumbled, whispering sweet nothing into Zaba’s ear. And then, far far in the distance, Zaba spotted a glimmer of light. And then another. And another...
She knew it was Venice. It had to be! She hadn’t travelled all around the world in a sink-prone Titanic, through the Antipodes, into the mouth of an Eight-Armed Octopus and out, into the clutches of a terrifying little girl and out, not to finally, at last find VENICE!
Zaba jumped. She jumped into the freezing waters of morning seas and swam as well and as fast as only a webbed-foot frog could.
Meantime, at home, a whole month had passed and Zaba did not return. Rumours started going around that she had been run over by an automobile or eaten by an owl. Monkey cried his eyes out and had to buy new ones. Old Rupert went into mourning and refused to come out again, and Little Monkey became a bishop and held a memorial service in Zaba’s honour.
Everyone presumed Zaba dead, but... Theodore. He knew the old Frog was made of more than just fur and fluff and in pursuit of love she would climb the tallest mountains and swim the deepest seas (which as we all know was precisely what happened). Theodore also knew that Zaba would no doubt get herself into trouble and he, Theodore would have to get her out of it and bring her home safely.
Theodore was related to people in very high places and with some of them he was even on a first name basis. One of those Very Important People was the Two Hundred and Eighty Eighth Doge of Venice (which is equal more or less to a king or even the Queen of England!) The Two Hundred and Eighty Eighth Doge of Venice was in fact Theodore’s eighth cousin. So it was the Doge to whom Theodore wrote an urgent telegram.
In his neat and distinguished handwriting, Theodore wrote:
Dear Cousin (stop)
A misguided and unruly frog going by the name of Zaba is romping your city (stop) Please apprehend her and send her home immediately (stop) Please forgive her trespasses (and there will be many of those) for she does not know what she is doing (stop) She is in love, you see (stop) I thank you in advance (stop) And I apologise for all this kerfuffle (stop)
Your devoted cousin and friend (comma)