Anothe, by popular request, in the 'read to at bedtime series'.
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This is another read to at bedtime story book. It follows requests from readers who read 40 Bedtime Stories For Children.
The original book 20 Bedtime Stories, was written in self defence. Five grandchildren expected a new story each evening when staying with us on holiday. To avoid the blank feeling as I climbed the stairs to the bedroom without an idea in my head to tell to expectant heads peeping above bedclothes, I wrote 20 Bedtimes Stories.
Now, a year later, there are 90 short bedtime stories. These I hope will last for a couple of holiday seasons. Again most of them have been told to sleepy heads for approval and again, you have market tested products here.
Once upon a time there was a little village that lived under a very tall cliff. The cliff was so tall and the village so small the sun hardly ever shone on the little village.
With the tall cliff rising high above them, and always being in the shade, made the people who lived in the village very miserable.
So miserable in fact that most of them hardly smiled and the rest only smiled on their birthday or at Christmas. And, there was something else that was very different about the village people.
What would you think if I told you that everyone in the village was named after loaves of bread and cakes and things?
That would make you laugh wouldn’t it? Imagine living next to Mr Pizza, Mrs Doughnut, or Mr Baguette!
“Good morning Mr Mince Pie!” Now that would make you giggle wouldn’t it?
But even their strange names did not make the village people smile and the Crusty family were totally miserable.
There was Crusty Roll, the baby who was always crying. Crusty Slice, a five year old boy who was terribly rude. Do you know why he was terribly rude? Because he was always sticKing his tongue out!
He had a sister called Crusty Crusty, she hated her name so much she refused to speak and spent the day just nodding and shaking her head.
The father’s name was Crusty Sourdough, a man so miserable his face would fall to pieces if ever he smiled.
Crusty Muffin was the mothers name, a big round fat woman who liked to smile a lot, but only dared to smiled when she was alone, and only laughed in the middle of a field in case everyone else thought she was mad.
They had a cat called Crusty Carrot because it would be silly to name a cat after a piece of bread!
And the family lived in the silent village where the streets were dark and the curtains in the windows of the houses were kept closed for most of the day.
And then Mr Jolly arrived. Not Crusty Jolly, because he had not been born in the village and so did not have a bread name.
And because he had not been born on the village he could not understand why all the people were so miserable.
“You should love your tall high cliff,” he shouted. “It keeps the wind out of your streets, and stops you all from getting sunburned!”
But that did not cheer up anyone.
“You have wonderful names like loaves of bread that taste good and make you healthy.”
And that cheered up the villagers even less.
So Mr Jolly thought hard about the villagers. They could not go wasting their lives being miserable, and living in the dark behind closed curtains, and so decided he must do something about it.
One day he was having his breakfast in his kitchen when there was a knock on his door.
Crusty Flatbread, his neighbour, wanted to borrow some salt to put on his toast.
“Salt on your toast!” Mr Jolly yelled. “That’s horrible and stupid!”
“But in this village we always have salt on our toast.” Cackled Crusty Flatbread. “And lemon sandwiches and we wash them all down with a glass of vinegar!”
Mr Jolly stood up and then flopped down again in surprise. His bottom making a loud thud on the chair.
No wonder the villagers were always miserable, with food like salt, and lemon, and vinegar, smiles would be very rare indeed.
He would have to do something about it, but, and this was his problem, what could he do? He could not move the cliff, and he could not make the sun shine in the village. So he paced up and down his kitchen, his hand stroking his chin as he thought very, very deeply. So deeply he did not notice a jar on the edge of his table. His coat brushed the jar and CRACK! The jar tumbled off the table to smash to bits on the floor.
But, instead of hopping on one foot and shouting in fury, Mr Jolly looked at the marmalade spreading a big yellow stain on his floor.
“That’s it !” He yelled.
Jumping into his car he roared away to the nearest supermarket, far away from the village.
It was late in the evening before, with is car loaded down with his shopping, he parked his car outside the village bakery.
The next morning very early he met the baker as he opened his shop to start selling his bread.
“I have a surprise for you, and all the village.” He chortled.
Do you know what chortling is? I am sure you don’t. When people laugh when they speak it is called chortling. Like mummies and daddies do when they have drunk a lot of wine.
“Every time you sell some bread I am going to give your customers a jar like this.” Mr jolly put a huge box on the counter and showed the baker one of the jars he took from the box.
“What,” asked the baker. “Is that?”
The jar was full of a red sort of paste.
“Its strawberry jam and it’s sweet and tasty.” Said Mr Jolly.
As the villagers came in to buy their bread they all took home a jar of the strawberry jam to spread on their bread at breakfast. In fact some of the villagers liked the strawberry jam so much they even had it with their potatoes at lunch time and their lemon sandwiches at tea time!
Within a few days, for the first time ever in the village, people began to smile, and by the next Tuesday they were even talking to each other in the street.
To Mr Jolly’s delight on the following Saturday they had, and you won’t believe this, organised a party for the whole village beside the village pond!
Mr Jolly gave away strawberry jam for a month, until his box was empty. And to this day the villagers buy a box of Strawberry jam each week and share it amongst each other.
The village is thought of as one of the happiest in the country, so the lesson for you is, whenever your are feeling sad or miserable like the villagers, take a big spoonful of strawberry jam, smack you lips and start smiling!
Too Many Children!
Mr and Mrs Cuddlemequick had a very big family. No, they had a large family. No, they had an enormous family!
Can you guess how many children they had?
If you hold up both your hands and stick out each finger in turn you still would not have enough fingers to count the number of children in the family.
Why? Because Mr and Mrs Cuddlemequick had nineteen children!
Nineteen! Can you imagine having nineteen brothers and sisters?
And, and this was their big problem, in their house they only had two bedrooms.
Of course you could not get nineteen beds into one room so they had bunk beds. But not your usual bunk beds with just one on top of the other. The children’s bunk beds were four on top of each other!
And as the children got older and heavier, the beds were so high they would sway, slowly back and forth all night. Making the children’s bedroom look like a harbour full of ships, swinging and bumping into each other.
“We can’t go on like this!” Wailed Mrs Cuddlemequick. “Very soon those bunk beds are going to break.”
Mr Cuddlemequick spend almost a week going around all the bed shops looking for smaller beds that might fit in the bedroom, but whatever he saw, when he worked out the space for nineteen beds, there was never enough room.
Then it happened! At three o’clock one morning there was a huge crash! His two oldest boys had toppled one of the bunk beds over! Right on top of two of his other children.
The next day Mr Cuddlemequick’s brother came to visit. He did not visit very often because the brother was a sailor and not very often in port.
When he saw the bedroom he looked at his brother and laughed.
“But you don’t have a problem here.” He looked around the room. “You can easily fit all the children into this room.”
Mr Cuddlemequick looked at his brother in amazement. The room was too small for nineteen children.
“Hammocks!” Said the brother. “Wonderful things, I sleep in one every night.”
Now a hammock is a very, very clever bed. It is made from a sheet of canvas with ropes at the ends. You tie one rope to one wall and the other rope to another wall and you sleep in the big canvas bag in the middle. Sailors use them because when the ship goes up and down and from side to side with the waves, the hammock swings gently and the sailor does not fall out, as he would if he was in a bed.
Mr Cuddlemequick was delighted with the idea and bought nineteen hammocks. Then, with his brother, they tied them up in the bedroom.
The children were delighted with their hammocks, they were so comfortable, and when they made them sway, it as better than being on a swing!
Then one of the children discovered bumpy!
Bumpy was when she made the hammock swing so far to one side it went bump! Right into the hammock of the brother beside her. That made his hammock swing as well, right into his brother beside him. And that brother’s hammock bumped another sister’s hammock, and so it went on, all around the bedroom until the children were all bumping each other and yelling with laughter as sometimes, they bumped their brother or sister so hard, they fell out of the hammock onto the floor.
MR Cuddlemequick was yelling from the doorway.
“Anyone who swings their hammock again tonight will sleep on the kitchen floor!”
He had not been back in bed two minutes before the laughing and screaming started again.
“STOPPIT, STOPPIT, STOPPIT! He yelled, yelled, yelled. “Who started this?”
It was dark in the bedroom and all the children knew was their hammock had suddenly started to swing.
“One more time and you will all sleep on the kitchen floor!”
For the rest of the night no one dared move, and, at breakfast the next morning, all the children complained.
“I feel seasick in a hammock.” Moaned one.
“I’m covered in bruises.” Groaned another.
“Mine came undone in the night and I slept on my head.” Cried a third.
But it was Mrs Cuddlemequick this time who found the answer. She was sorting through her dresses in her wardrobe, sliding the hangers along to see what see was doing when the idea suddenly arrived.
“We could hang the children up!” She cried. “Just like my dresses1”
That night the parents slid coat hangers in the tops of the children’s pyjamas and, standing on a pair of steps, hung each one from the picture rail.
The children all agreed it was very comfortable being hung up, and they did not swing as they did in the hammocks, and they could look around and see each other, especially those hanging on the wall opposite.
It was all right for the first night as the children were all very tired after sleeping in hammocks, but on the next night, the parents had to go into the bedroom several times because the children just would not stop speaking and making faces across the room at each other.
On the third night BANG - it had happened again!
On one side of the bedroom the picture rail had fallen off the wall! The six children who had been hanging on it finished in heap in the middle of the floor!
“It’s not working, wailed Mrs Cuddlemequick. “We must think of something else.”
By now the children were complaining bitterly. They wanted their old bunk beds back, even though they knew they could not have them.
That evening, to try to stop the children moaning, their parents took them to a circus. The children were thrilled to see the animals and the clowns and the acrobats. But Mr Cuddlemequick was thrilled for a very different reason. He was watching a man balancing on a rope high up above their heads. The man was very clever and even stood on one leg right in the middle of the rope.
The next day Mr Cuddlemequick went out and bought a very long rope, so long it stretched across the children’s bedroom several times.
When the children went to bed that night they had a surprise. Instead of being hung up on the picture rail, they found the long rope and on each part of the rope was a little card with each of the children’s names.
Angela was the first because her name began with A.
“What do I do?” She stuttered, standing beside the rope. Her father took her arms and draped them over the rope. Angela leaned against the rope, it was so relaxing she fell fast asleep instantly! Then all the other children flopped onto the rope and within minutes they were all asleep as well!
Mr Cuddlemequick quietly closed the door of the bedroom. So pleased he had solved the bed problem. When he saw the man on the tightrope in the circus, he remembered that a long time ago, when people were so poor they could not buy a bed, that is how they used to sleep - on a rope, just like his children were doing!
Why don’t you try to sleep on a rope? It is very comfortable!
Little Boy Lost
Peter was rather a naughty little boy. But he was only naughty in one way. He never turned his breakfast bowl upside down when it was still full, or broke his mummy and daddy’s things, or woke everybody up in the middle of the night.
Peter used to run away from his parents!
In the supermarket, when his mother was not looking, he would vanish behind the rows of vegetables and food, and, sometimes his mummy had to call the manager to help her find him.
He ran away so many times when the family went for walks, that his father made a collar to fit around his neck and a lead to hold on to and lead him behind like a little doggie!
And they could not take him to the cinema. He would slip out of his seat in the dark and hide under the seats. One time he hid himself so well, the film had to be stopped and the lights switched on before they could find him!
No matter how much they scolded him or made him stand in the corner for hours, he just could not stop himself. The moment he saw a chance he would scamper off and hide.
One night, as he was getting undressed for bed he noticed his mummy had left the window open. Instead of telling her, he kept quiet, it was a wonderful way to escape!
HIs mother did not notice the open window and after a goodnight kiss, she turned out the lights and gently closed the door.
Quick as flash Peter leap out of bed and ran to the window. It was bit chilly outside so he turned back into the room and opened his cupboard. He had a big overcoat, with a tall collar and long sleeves and it was just what he needed.
Quickly he slipped his arm into one sleeve, hauled the coat over his back and poked his other arm around inside, trying to find the other sleeve.
With a gasp of impatience he pushed his head inside the coat, trying to look for the sleeve, but it was dark inside the coat and even poking around with his hand he could not find the opening for the sleeve. Shaking his head he pushed it through the neck of the overcoat but, and this really made him blink, now he couldn’t find the hole his head was supposed to go through!
He pulled his arm out of the sleeve, expecting the coat to fall to the floor, but the coat was now hugging him tightly. With both hands he pushed hard against the front of the coat but, and Peter’s eyes opened wide with astonishment in the dark inside the coat, he suddenly realised he could not find the front of the coat.
No matter how much he turned and twisted, all he felt when he punched and kicked, was more and more coat!
What do you do if you can’t get out of your overcoat? Peter had no idea, so he gave the coat another good hard kick.
It’s not polite to kick anything, but do you know what Peter heard?
He heard the coat laughing at him!
This time very slowly, Peter felt all the way around the coat.
Then! At last! There was a sleeve hole! But the hole was very big, so big Peter could push his head through it.
If I can’t get out of the front of the coat, with such a big hole, perhaps I can wriggle down the sleeve and get out that way.
While Peter’s head would go through the hole, his shoulders would not. No matter how hard he pushed, he could go no further. With a sigh he started to tug himself backwards. But now he could not go backwards either!
No matter how hard he struggled, he was stuck, securely in the sleeve!
HA.HA.HA.HA! Now the coat was laughing at him. The laughter rolling down the sleeve towards him.
Peter fought! My word, how he struggled and kicked lashed out inside the coat. Then he heard another sound.
Someone was shouting!
Someone was shouting very, very, loud.
In fact someone was shouting their head off.
Peter slapped his hands to his ears but not before he recognised who was shouting.
It was him!
He was shouting so loud he was giving himself a headache!
“Peter! Peter! Peter!” This time it was another voice. His mother had rushed into his bedroom.
“What on earth are you doing?”
Her son was on his bed, his head in his overcoat, the sheets and blankets a mess, and his bottom sticking in the air!
“Oh Mummy!” His little face, all red and hot, appeared as his mother lifted off the coat.
“I was lost in my overcoat and it would not let me out!” The tears streamed like little rivers down his cheeks, he was very, very, frightened.
His mother saw the open window and Peter with the overcoat, and it did not take her long to guess what had happened.
Her son was going to run away again. But this time he was so tired, he fell asleep as he was putting on his coat.
“You have had a bad dream,” she whispered, tucking him back in bed.
“Now you know what nasty things that can happen when you try and run away.”
Peter’s big eyes opened wide as he looked up at his mother. “You know mummy, I’m never going to run away again!” He sobbed.
Peter’s mother smiled to herself as she closed the window and picked up the overcoat. Peter had not got lost at all in the overcoat.
She had put Peter’s daddy’s coat in Peter’s cupboard by mistake. It was no wonder the little boy struggled so much in such a huge and heavy overcoat.