Katie-Lee and the Monster Trees
This set of stories - set in Selsdon Wood - is awaiting illustration. If anyone out there reading the stories is interested in producing some pictures to go with them we will be delighted to add these to the website. Drawings and paintings by children are especially welcome.
Downloadable pdfs are available below each story.
Notes for Parents/Teachers
Felicity's trick with the tin (Ch 2) should work with a syrup tin or similar if the lid is not on too tightly.
Photosensitive paper (Ch 4) is available from Amazon and many other online suppliers.
Bird feeders (Ch 11) are RSPB recommended.
Under the Monster Tree
Chapter 1 - January - Magic Time
Bella was a honey-coloured Labrador puppy. She lived with Katie-Lee and her family in a comfortable little house on a modern estate called Forestdale.
Next to Forestdale there was a large wood. Bella knew the wood very well because each day she went there for a walk. Sometimes Dad took her, but usually it was Mum. Bella and Mum went walking in all weathers, come rain, come wind, come snow, but when the weather was fine and sunny Katie-Lee often went along too.
The wood was a beautiful place all year round. In the spring the ground was carpeted with bluebells. In the summer the thick canopy of leaves kept it shady and cool. Autumn was the time for blackberries and nuts. And in winter, when it snowed, the wood was silent and magical.
But whatever the time of year, Katie-Lee's favourite place in the wood was where the Monster Trees grew. The Monster Trees were two huge yew trees with thick knobbly trunks and wide spreading branches. These hung almost to the ground, making each tree into a sort of tent. Inside the tents it was cool and dark and Katie-Lee and her mum used to pretend that a monster lived in each tree.
Every time that Katie-Lee and Mum took Bella for a walk in the wood they would pass the Monster Trees and peep inside together to see if the monsters were at home. It was all a game of make-believe of course; there weren't really any monsters. But one New Year's Day, soon after Katie-Lee's fourth birthday, something magical happened and the make-believe came true!
It was the first day of January and although it was cold, the sun was shining and the air felt fresh and crisp.
‘It's a lovely day for a walk,’ Mum had said.
‘Come on, let's go out to see what we can find in the wood today.’
Bella had jumped up like a jack-in-a-box at the sound of the word ‘walk’. So when she had her collar on and Katie-Lee and mum were well wrapped up in warm coats, gloves, hats and boots, they had all set off up the hill.
Now in the wood, Katie-Lee and her mum were playing hide-and-seek but Bella didn't really understand the game and kept spoiling it by standing right next to the tree or bush where Katie-Lee was hiding.
‘Go away Bella!’ hissed Katie-Lee crossly. ‘Every time I try to hide you give me away.’
‘You will have to find a bigger hiding place,’ said Mum, coming up to them. ‘One big enough for Bella to hide as well.’
‘O.K. I will,’ said Katie-Lee and she wondered where to go.
Suddenly she thought of the Monster Trees. That would be a great place to hide and the trees were not far away.
‘Hide your eyes and count to fifty, Mum,’ Katie-Lee shouted. And she ran off around the corner and up the hill to the nearest Monster Tree with Bella trotting behind her.
Katie-Lee bent down and crawled under the canopy of the Monster Tree. Bella did not follow her but stayed outside sniffing along the path. It was the first time Katie-Lee had been there on her own but she knew the place well and as Bella and Mum were only just a shout away she didn't feel at all frightened.
As she stood up inside the tree Katie-Lee heard a strange little sound. At first she didn't know what it was but after a minute she realised that it was the sound of someone crying. She looked around to see where the sound was coming from and discovered that something magical had happened.
The spreading branches of the Monster Tree had vanished and Katie-Lee found herself standing in an odd little room. It was quite round with curved walls and in the middle of the room where the tree trunk had been there was a spiral staircase. The crying seemed to be coming from upstairs, so Katie-Lee took hold of the banister and climbed cautiously to the top.
The room at the top was even stranger that the one downstairs. It had a low domed ceiling and was full of a dim green light. At one side of the room was a little round bed and this was where the crying sound was coming from.
Curled up in the bed was a very fat monster. His face was buried in his pillow and he was sobbing and wailing so loudly that he did not even hear Katie-Lee come in.
‘Hello,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘Whatever is the matter?’
The monster looked up in surprise. His eyes were all red from crying and he looked very miserable.
‘It's my foot,’ said the monster. ‘I went out for a walk in the winter sunshine and suddenly I felt a terrible pain. It hurts so much and I can't bend down to see what the matter is because of my round tummy.’
The monster wailed again and rocked himself backwards and forwards on the bed.
Now, Katie-Lee was a very kind little girl and it upset her to see someone so unhappy.
‘Let me help you,’ she said.
‘Put your foot here on the edge of the bed so that I can take a look.’
The monster did as she asked and straight away Katie-Lee could see what was wrong. A huge thorn was sticking out of the monster's big toe.
‘I see what the trouble is,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘There's a thorn in your foot. Keep quite still and I'll pull it out for you.’
Katie-Lee took hold of the thorn and gave it a sudden tug. It slipped out easily leaving a little round hole.
‘I think you need to put some cream and a plaster on, then you won't get any germs in it,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘Have you got any?’
By this time the monster seemed a bit better. He had stopped crying and he gave Katie-Lee a little smile.
‘Look in the cupboard by the bed,’ he said.
Katie-Lee opened the door and looked in. Sure enough, there was some cream and a box of plasters, but when she looked in the box it was quite empty.
‘I've found some cream, but you have run out of plasters,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘I have a tissue here in my pocket. I'll wrap that round your toe instead.’
After Katie-Lee had finished dressing the monster's foot he gave her a big hug and said, ‘Thank you so much for helping me. I really don't know what I would have done if you had not come along. Now come downstairs and tell me who you are.’
So Katie-Lee and the monster went downstairs, and he fetched her a steaming cup of acorn tea. She told him that her name was Katie-Lee and that she lived nearby on Forestdale. The monster said that his name was Sobersides and that he lived here in this tree all alone and that he had never ever seen a little girl before.
‘But I hope you'll come to visit me again,’ Sobersides said. ‘It gets a bit lonely here on my own.’
‘Oh yes, I'd love to,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘Mum and I often come for walks in the wood with our dog, Bella. We could call in to see you each time we come.’
‘Oh, could you really,’ exclaimed Sobersides. ‘That would be just wonderful!’
‘Coming, ready or not!’
Katie-Lee heard her mum's voice and looked up.
‘I must be going now.’ she said.
And as she stood up the monster and the magic little house faded away and there she was standing under the branches of the Monster Tree.
‘Found you,’ cried Mum, parting the branches and peeping inside. ‘Bella gave you away again!’
Katie-Lee and Bella and Mum played for a little longer and then it was time to go home. As they walked back to the gate Katie-Lee tripped and got her hands all muddy.
‘Wipe them on your tissue,’ Mum suggested. ‘You've got one in your pocket, haven't you?’
Katie-Lee searched in her pockets but she couldn’t find a tissue anywhere.
‘I hope you haven’t dropped it making the woods untidy,’ scolded Mum.
Mum got very cross about the thoughtless people who dropped litter in the woods. Sometimes she took a bag and some rubber gloves to pick it up and bring it home to put in the bin.
‘Ah now I remember what I did with it,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘I gave it to the monster to bandage his foot.’
‘Did you indeed!’ said Mum, not believing a word of it.
‘Yes, I did. I really, really did,’ replied Katie-Lee.
Mum shrugged her shoulders. ‘Ah well, never mind, use mine instead,’ said Mum.
‘Perhaps this make believe game has gone a bit too far,’ thought Mum as they walked home.
‘Why, sometimes I think Katie-Lee really believes it's all true!’
MT Ch1 January Magic Time.pdf
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Snow in the Great Field
Chapter 2 - February - Snow Time
February had brought wintery weather to Forestdale. For over a week there had been a thick carpet of snow over the gardens and footpaths and long icicles hung down from every roof. Katie-Lee was out in the garden picking up the icicles, which Mum had just knocked down with the end of a broom.
‘What makes icicles, Mum?’ Katie-Lee asked.
‘Well,’ her mum replied. ‘When the sun shines on the snow on the roof a little bit of it melts into water and starts to drip down from the gutter up there. But the air is so cold that the drips freeze and stick to one another to form little icicles.’
‘But these are huge icicles!’ argued Katie-Lee. ‘I can hardly lift this one.’
‘Yes, I know,’ Mum replied. ‘Every day more snow melts and more drips run down the icicles and freeze onto the ends - so they grow longer and longer. When they get very big and heavy they could pull the guttering down and that's why we have to break them off,’ Mum explained.
‘Anyway, that job's done now. Shall we take Bella out for a walk while were still wrapped up warm?’
‘Oh, yes!’ Katie-Lee shouted.
So mum whistled for Bella, locked the door and off they set.
The woods seemed especially mysterious covered with snow. Footprints ran everywhere, some made by birds, some by dogs and lots made by winter boots.
‘I wonder if the monsters have made any footprints,’ said Katie-Lee, and she ran ahead to the Monster Trees to find out.
Strangely there were no footprints around the first Monster Tree at all, not even those of dogs, birds or people, so Katie-Lee ran on up the hill to the second Monster Tree. This was another spreading yew, just like the first but a little smaller. Again there were no footprints to be seen so Katie-Lee ducked under the branches to see if there were any inside.
As she lifted her head and looked around, the snowy branches faded away and Katie-Lee heard the sound of someone singing. She realised that the magic had happened again.
But this time she was not in the cosy little house where Sobersides lived, but in a small round room that looked a bit like a garage. Tools were hanging all around the walls. Katie-Lee recognised a screwdriver and a drill but there were other more curious ones that she had never seen before. In the middle of the room, instead of the spiral staircase, was a huge round workbench and this was where the singing was coming from.
‘When it snows, ain't it thrilling,
Though your nose gets a chilling
We'll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walking in a winter wonderland.’
Standing at the bench was a very thin monster. She was holding a tin in her hand but she dropped it with a start and looked round at Katie-Lee.
‘Oooh! Hello, Chucks!’ said the monster, ‘You gave me quite a turn.’
‘Who are you and wherever did you spring from?’
Katie-Lee explained who she was and told the thin monster all about her other monster friend, Sobersides.
‘Oh I know him, Sweetie’ the thin monster exclaimed, ‘he's an old misery, always moaning or crying. Me, I'm much more the cheery type. My name is Felicity and this is my workshop.’
‘What's a workshop?’ asked Katie-Lee.
‘Well, Pet, it's the place I come to do all my inventing and experiments,’ explained Felicity. ‘I live in another part of the wood but I come here every day to work. I do some really interesting things in this workshop,’ she went on.
‘What work are you doing today?’ Katie-Lee asked.
‘Well, I've just had a bit of a problem with this tin, Dearie,’ Felicity explained. ‘I couldn't get the lid off so I filled it with water through the slit in the top, then I left it outside in the snow to freeze. When the water turned to ice, it pushed the lid off for me, Duckie. Look!’
Felicity held out a little tin, a bit like a syrup tin, with a slot cut in the top. The lid had been lifted by the block of ice swollen beneath it.
‘That's a clever trick!’ said Katie-Lee. ‘But why did you want to get the lid off anyway?’
‘Ah well, Lovie,’ Felicity replied, ‘it’s because I got all mixed up, see. I thought that I had put my best ring in this tin for safekeeping, and I wanted to wear it. But while the water was freezing I found another tin with my ring in, Poppet,’ said Felicity holding out a bony finger to show Katie-Lee the ring. ‘So my ring isn't in this one after all.’
‘But what is in it then?’ asked Katie-Lee.
‘Why! Nothing but a penny, Sweetheart!’ said the monster. ‘This tin was my money box and that was all that was left of my savings after Christmas was over!’
‘Tell you what, Chick, you can have it!’ said Felicity. ‘It's good to have someone to talk to. Perhaps it'll remind you to come to visit me again.’
‘Oooh thank you, yes, I'd like that,’ said Katie-Lee excitedly.
‘Now, come over here, Honeybun, and tell me all about yourself,’ said Felicity.
So Katie-Lee sat down on a stool beside the monster and told her all about Mum and Bella and their walks in the wood.
‘Katie-Lee! Where are you?’
Mum was calling!
Katie-Lee jumped up and was just about to explain to the monster that she had to go now, when she realised that Felicity and her workshop were melting away. Soon she found herself back under the branches of the yew tree. She pushed through them and ran out back on to the path.
‘What have you got there?’ Mum asked.
Katie-Lee looked down and found that she was still holding the little tin full of dirty ice.
‘Oh, Felicity gave it to me,’ she replied. ‘It's a tin full of ice and there's a penny in the bottom.’
Mum took the tin and looked at it. The ice was thick and blackened with mud.
‘And I suppose Felicity is another of your imaginary friends?’ asked Mum.
‘No, Mum, she's real. She's a thin monster and she has a workshop in that tree,’ Katie-Lee explained and she told her Mum all about her adventure
‘That child has a wonderful imagination!’ thought Mum, as they walked home.
They left the tin on the kitchen sink overnight and, would you believe it, when they looked at it the next day the ice had melted and there really was a penny in the bottom of the tin.
‘Now, however could Katie-Lee have known about that?’ puzzled Mum.
MT Ch2 February Snow Time.pdf
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It was a mild March morning and Katie-Lee and Mum were getting ready to go out walking with Bella. The weather was gloomy but at least it wasn't raining as it had been for most of the past week. After a lot of rain, the paths in the woods always turned to thick slippery mud, making walking very hard work.
‘We shall certainly need our boots today!’ said Mum as she turned on the kitchen tap.
When it was muddy in the woods Mum always put a bucket of hot water and a sponge by the back door before they set off for their walk. When they got back, the water was just nice and warm for washing Bella's feet (and Katie-Lee's boots) before they went back into the house.
‘I like the mud!’ said Katie-Lee, as Mum pulled on her red boots. ‘I shall jump in it and make footprints’.
Bella liked the mud too. She would always find the biggest puddle to splash around in, so she usually got very dirty.
Up in the woods everything was very peaceful. Not many people went walking when the weather was bad and there was nobody else about. Mum showed Kate the places where people had put sticks and twigs on the muddiest places to make a kind of bridge to walk over.
‘They do that so they don't get their boots stuck,’ Mum explained. ‘When the mud is very sticky it can hold your boots tight and it is hard to pull them out again.’
The mud was full of leaves which had fallen from the trees last autumn and been trampled in. Now they were all brown and thin but you could still recognise some of the shapes.
Mum pointed out a beech leaf and an oak leaf. Katie-Lee looked at them.
‘Yes, and there are some old acorns,’ she said. ‘The squirrels seem to have missed those.’
They walked along in silence for a little while, with Bella trotting beside them.
Suddenly Katie-Lee asked, ‘Why do all the flowers look so sad?’
Mum looked where Katie-Lee was pointing and saw that she was quite right. The little white wood anemones had all their petals closed up and the flowers drooped gloomily.
Mum explained that some flowers only opened up when the sun shone. If it was dark or wet they closed up tightly to keep out the rain.
‘There are some yellow flowers in the woods that do that too,’ Mum said. They are called celandines. We must look out for some. They usually grow in shady places under the trees.’
‘I wonder if there are any in here,’ said Katie-Lee as she ducked under the branches of one of the Monster Trees.
Katie-Lee loved the Monster Trees. They were two huge yew trees with thick knobbly trunks and wide-spreading branches. Every time Katie-Lee and Mum went past them, they would peep inside to see if the monsters were at home. Mum knew there weren't really any monsters, but Katie didn't.
‘Please take your boots off before you come in,’ said a mournful voice, ‘It's muddy enough in here already!’
Katie-Lee jumped and looked round. She was back in the little house of Sobersides the fat monster and there he was with a mop in his hand and a big bucket.
‘Hello, Sobersides!’ exclaimed Katie-Lee, ‘It's lovely to see you again.’ She obediently slipped off her boots and padded across the floor towards him in her socks.
‘I would be glad to see you, too, if I didn't have all this work to do,’ Sobersides replied.
‘When it is muddy like this my floors get in such a mess. Every time I come back into the house from my walks, I tread mud all over the floor and have to get a mop to clean it all up. It really makes me so miserable when my house isn't clean.’
Sobersides did not wear boots or any other clothes because he was covered in green fur. He had large feet, which were hairy on top and leathery and tough underneath, just like Bella's. Now they were filthy, and all over the floor Katie-Lee could see his muddy footprints.
‘You should do what my mum does,’ she advised the monster. ‘When we set off for a walk she leaves a bucket of hot water outside the back door with a big yellow sponge.’
‘When we get back the water is cooler and Mum washes Bella's feet, and her tummy, with the sponge before we go in to the house. That way the floor does not get muddy at all.’
‘What a wonderful idea!’ exclaimed Sobersides. ‘If I wash my feet after every walk I won't have to spend so long cleaning up. It's going to take me hours to get the floor clean today!’
One of the reasons it was taking so long, was that as soon as one place had been wiped clean, Sobersides stood on it, making it dirty again!
‘Well let me help you this time,’ said Katie-Lee and she kneeled down beside her friend. ‘First of all we must wash your feet so that you don't spread the mud.’
He could see the sense in that when it was pointed out to him but he had not thought of it for himself. Sobersides was not a very clever monster!
He gave her another mop and they worked away together and got the job finished in no time at all.
‘Now we deserve some elevenses,’ said Sobersides getting out his biscuit tin.
‘Have you found any celandines in there?’
It was Mum calling, and at the sound of her voice the magic house disappeared.
Mum looked under the branches and there was Katie-Lee standing without her boots on! The boots were stuck in a muddy puddle.
Mum was very cross. ‘Why didn't you call me when your boots got stuck?’ she complained. ‘It was very silly of you to take them off like that. You have made your socks all muddy!’
‘They didn't get stuck, Mum,’ Katie-Lee protested. ‘Sobersides asked me to take them off so that they didn't make a mess in his house. But I did tell him about what you do to clean Bella's feet … and I helped him clean up,’ she added.
Mum sighed. She found it hard to be angry when Katie-Lee invented such clever excuses.
‘I wish you would help me do the housework sometimes!’ she said, as Katie-Lee put her boots back on. ‘I think you are much better at making a mess than cleaning it up!’
When they got home Bella's feet got their usual washing.
Mum dipped them into the bucket one at a time and when they were all done Katie-Lee stood in the bucket and splashed about. Mum slipped off her own boots as she went through the door and Katie-Lee sat on the step to take hers off.
Her socks were terribly muddy so she had to take them off too.
‘It's straight in the washing with those!’ said Mum sternly.
MT Ch3 March Muddy Time.pdf
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Chapter 4 - April - Bluebell Time
It was late April and the bluebells were in full bloom. From the bedroom windows of their house on Forestdale Katie-Lee and mum could see the wood, just starting to turn a fresh spring green. And from beneath the trees peeped a vibrant blue carpet of bluebells.
‘Just look at those beautiful colours,’ said Mum as they were getting ready to go out. ‘I think we'll take the camera with us today so that we can take some pictures.’
‘Oooh goodee,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘Can I take some too?’
‘Yes, of course,’ Mum replied. ‘You can take some of Bella as she sniffs through the bluebells and I'll take some of you with the beautiful spring-green trees in the background.’
They played ‘I spy’ as they walked along. Mum went first.
‘I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with....'B'.’
‘I know...bluebells,’ shouted Katie-Lee.
‘Yes, that's right,’ said Mum. ‘Now your turn.’
‘I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with....'G', said Katie-Lee.
‘Grass’, guessed Mum.
‘No.’ said Katie-Lee.
‘Gate’, tried Mum.
‘No.’ said Katie-Lee.
‘I give up,’ said Mum.
‘It's GREEN,’ said Katie-Lee gleefully. ‘Look, everything seems to be turning green.’
And so it did.
They took lots of photographs. Katie-Lee took some of Mum and Mum took some of Katie-Lee. They took lots of pictures of the trees and the bluebells and they both tried to take some of Bella but it was hard to get her to stand still.
‘Let's take a picture of the Monster Tree,’ suggested Katie-Lee as they walked past.
‘O.K.’ said Mum. ‘You stand in front of it with Bella.’
After the picture was taken, Mum walked on up the hill with Bella but Katie-Lee stayed behind and ducked under the branches into the green tent.
Someone was singing again.
‘If you go down to the woods today,
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today
You'd better go in disguise.’
But Katie-Lee couldn't see where the singing was coming from, because all around her was pitch black. When her eyes grew used to the dark she could just make out a faint red light coming from the place where Felicity's workbench usually stood.
‘Hello, is anybody here?’ called Katie-Lee, feeling a little bit frightened.
‘Oh, Hello, Pet,’ a familiar voice called. ‘Just stand there a minute and I'll put the light on when I've just finished this little job.’
After a moment, Katie-Lee heard a switch click and the little workshop was filled with light again. Felicity stood over by her bench with a piece of paper in her hand.
‘Whatever, were you doing in the dark?’ asked Katie-Lee.
‘Photography, Duckie.’ replied the monster. ‘Look!’
And she held out the paper she was holding.
The paper was almost all blue, but right in the middle was the white shape of a beautiful leaf. It looked like a white shadow on the blue paper.
‘Wow, that's pretty!’ exclaimed Katie-Lee. ‘Did you draw it?’
‘No, it's not a drawing, Sweetie, it's a photograph.’ said Felicity. ‘Come over here and I'll show you how I made it.’
The little girl crossed over to the bench and sat down on the stool next to the one that the thin monster was sitting on. Felicity pointed to a packet lying on the bench.
‘In that packet, Lovie,’ she began, ‘there is some special sun print paper. I can't get it out to show you because as soon as the light gets to it, the paper changes.’
‘Oh, so that's why the light was off!’ said Katie-Lee.
‘Yes, I had to turn the light off before I could work with it,’ replied the monster.
‘A few minutes ago, I switched my light off,’ she went on, ‘And then I took out a piece of paper and lay it flat on this tin with a lovely spring leaf in the middle of it. I put a glass lid on top to stop the leaf from blowing away and then I put it out in the sun for two minutes. The sunlight changed the chemicals in the paper, fixing it so the blue colour would not wash out.’
‘I see,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘But where the paper was covered up by the leaf no sunlight got to it so the chemicals on that part did not change.’
‘Yes, that's right, Poppet,’ Felicity went on. ‘When you came in I was just finishing the job. I turned off the light again, took the glass and the leaf off and quickly dipped the paper in water. All the blue colour from under the leaf washed away but the fixed colour around the outside stayed blue. And here is my photograph,’ she said waving the paper. ‘It's a bit wet still, but it will soon dry.’
Katie-Lee looked around the workshop. Leaf photographs were hanging up everywhere.
‘I see you've made lots of them,’ she said.
‘Yes, sweetie, one for every sort of tree in the wood,’ replied the monster. ‘Would you like one?’
‘Oh, yes please,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘Mum and I have been taking photographs too, I'm sure she'd like to see one of yours.’
‘You can have this one if you don't mind it being a bit damp,’ said the monster. And she handed the Katie-Lee the print she was holding. It was the shape of a lovely young sycamore leaf.
As soon as the paper touched her hand Katie-Lee saw Felicity's smiling face start to fade away and soon the workshop had disappeared. The little girl pushed her way between the branches and back onto the path, and skipped up the hill after Mum and Bella who were not far ahead.
‘What's that you've found?’ asked Mum looking at the soggy bit of paper clutched in her daughter's hand.
‘It's a photograph of a leaf,’ replied Katie-Lee, ‘And I didn't find it, Felicity gave it to me.’
‘Oh, yes of course she did.’ said Mum raising her eyebrows. ‘Let me see.’
The paper was blue with a white sycamore leaf shape in the middle. It was pretty, but quite damp. That was not surprising. It had probably been lying in the wet grass, thought Mum.
‘It's amazing how much litter Katie-Lee seems to find under that tree.’ she said to herself.
When they got home they put the paper in the airing cupboard and when it was quite dry Katie-Lee stuck it up on her bedroom wall with Blutak.
‘Tomorrow, we'll upload all the photographs to the computer then we shall see what photographs we managed to take in the Wood, said Mum.
The next day Mum uploaded the photographs and sat down with Katie-Lee to look at them. There were some lovely ones of the bluebells and of Bella and even some of those that Katie-Lee had taken of Mum had come out quite well.
Just one of the pictures hadn't come out. It was very dark with a funny squiggle in the middle that looked a bit like a smiling mouth.
‘I wonder which one it was?’ said Mum.
‘I know,’ shouted Katie-Lee, ‘There isn't a picture of the Monster Tree. Don't you remember you took one of me and Bella standing in front of it.’
‘So I did,’ said Mum. ‘Now, I wonder why that one didn't come out properly?’
MT Ch4 April Bluebell Time.pdf
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It was late May and the day had been fine and warm. Mum and Katie-Lee were gardening. Mum was pulling out the weeds and Katie-Lee was watering the flowers with her own little watering can.
‘What are weeds?’ asked Katie-Lee.
‘Well, they’re really just wild flowers,’ replied Mum. ‘We only call them weeds because they are growing where we don’t want them to grow. See this one is a dandelion. It looks very pretty growing in the wild but I don’t want it in the middle of the patio.’
Bella came sniffing round.
‘Good, that job’s just about finished now,’ said Mum, ‘and I think Bella is ready for her walk.’
‘Shall we go to see how many different kinds of wild flowers we can spot in the woods?’
‘Oh, yes, let’s!’ said Katie-Lee.
So they went indoors to wash their hands and get Bella’s lead and they set off for the woods.
Even before they reached the woods Katie-Lee had spotted lots of wild flowers. The grass verges by the roadside were full of buttercups, daisies and dandelions.
‘That’s 3 kinds of flowers I’ve seen already!’ cried Katie-Lee, ‘buttercups, daisies and dandelions.’
It was cool and shady in the woods. The trees were all in full leaf now, lush and green. Katie-Lee looked at the ground around her.
‘Why aren’t there any flowers here Mum and what happened to all the bluebells?’ asked Katie Lee. She remembered that last month when they had been out walking the woods were carpeted with blue.
‘The bluebells only flower for a short time before the leaves come out on the trees,’ said Mum. ‘Then it gets too dark in here for most flowers. They like to grow in sunnier places like the open fields.
‘But you might see some if you look higher up,’ Mum added.
Katie-Lee looked up into the nearby hedgerow.
’Oh, yes! I see lots of lovely pink flowers! What are they?’ cried Katie-Lee.
‘Those are wild roses,’ replied Mum. ‘They’re cousins to the roses in our garden.’
‘They’re very pretty,’ said Katie-Lee, sniffing, ‘but they don’t smell as nice as our roses do they?’
In the clearing in the woods there were more flowers. Katie-Lee spotted buttercups, clover and speedwell.
‘But we’ve already counted buttercups so now that makes 5 kinds!’ said Katie-Lee.
‘Can you remember them all?’ asked Mum.
‘Yes,’ said Katie-Lee, ‘there are buttercups, daisies and dandelions by the roadside and clover and speedwell in the clearing.’
‘Don’t forget the wild roses,’ Mum reminded her.
‘Well that makes 6,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘Buttercups, daisies and dandelions by the roadside, clover and speedwell in the clearing and roses in the hedgerow.’
As they turned up the hill Katie- Lee and Bella ran on ahead.
‘I wonder if any flowers grow under here?’ Katie-Lee wondered as she pushed her way between the branches of the Monster Tree.
She realised she was in Sobersides’ house when she heard the usual doleful sounds. This time Sobersides was moaning.
‘Oh dear, dear, dear, dear. I’ll never be finished!’
He was sitting in the middle of the floor with a huge bowl in front of him and bags all around overflowing with white blossom.
‘Hello Sobersides! Whatever are you doing?’ asked Katie-Lee.
‘Oh, hello Katie-Lee!’ replied Sobersides. ‘I’m so glad to see you! I’m making elderflower cordial. Please come and help me!’
‘Of course,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘What do you want me to do?’
‘Well, I went out this morning and picked all these clusters of blossom and now I’ve got to take all the little flowers off the stalks and put them to soak in this bowl of water,’ explained Sobersides.
‘But the flowers are so small and there are so many stalks that it’s taking me ages! moaned Sobersides. ‘Maybe if there were two of us doing it it would not take so long.’
‘I’d love to help,’ said Katie-Lee and she sat down beside the monster and joined in.
‘Aren’t they pretty little flowers?’ observed Katie-Lee. ‘Just like tiny stars!’
While they worked they chatted and Katie-Lee told her friend that she and Mum had been out looking for flowers too, trying to see how many kinds they could spot.
‘We saw buttercups, daisies and dandelions by the roadside, clover and speedwell in the clearing and roses in the hedgerow. That’s 6 kinds altogether,’ said Katie-Lee.
‘And on the way back you can look out for the elder blossom. That will make 7,’ Sobersides suggested.
The work was soon done with Katie-Lee helping.
‘What does elderflower cordial taste like?’ asked Katie-Lee.
‘Come and see me in the winter when it’s ready and I’ll give you some,’ said Sobersides. ‘It’s lovely!’
‘Come on Katie-Lee, time to be getting back,’ called Mum.
Katie-Lee jumped up and as she did so Sobersides and his house vanished and she was back standing alone under the Monster Tree.
She ran out to join Mum and Bella.
‘Oh Katie-Lee! What have you been doing to get your hands in that state?’ complained Mum.
Katie-Lee looked at her hands - they were all green.
‘I was helping Sobersides make his elderflower wine,’ she shouted to Mum as she ran on ahead.
Mum shrugged her shoulders and smiled to herself.
‘Another fairy story!’ she thought.
Suddenly Katie-Lee stopped.
‘Ooh Mum! What’s that lovely smell?’ she cried.
Mum caught up, sniffing.
‘Oh yes, it is lovely isn’t it! That’s honeysuckle,’ Mum answered.
‘Look around and you’ll see where it is growing.’
Sure enough twined up in the bushes above them was some yellow honeysuckle.
‘That makes 7 flowers we have seen,’ said Mum. ‘Can you remember them all?”
‘We saw buttercups, daisies and dandelions by the roadside, clover and speedwell in the clearing, roses in the hedgerow and now honeysuckle in the bushes. That’s 7 kinds altogether,’ said Katie-Lee.
‘And now I’ve spotted number 8!’ she cried, ‘Look, over there, there’s some elder blossom.’
‘You’re right said Mum, ‘the elder bushes are full of big white flowers.’
‘No they’re not,’ said Katie-Lee. ’They are not big flowers - just lots of little ones all growing together and each flower is like a tiny star.’
Mum looked closely and saw that Katie-Lee was quite right.
‘Now however did she know that?’ Mum wondered as they walked home.
MT Ch5 May Blossom Time.pdf
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Chapter 6 - June - Shadow Time
It was 7-o-clock on a fine June evening and Katie-Lee was getting ready for bed.
‘Why do I have to go to bed while the sun it still shining?’ she grumbled to Mum as she brushed her teeth.
‘Little girls need lots of sleep,’ said Mum, ‘and in the middle of the summer it is only dark for a few hours so you have to go to bed while it is still light.’
‘It’s not fair!’ said Katie-Lee crossly.
‘Never mind,’ said Mum. ‘Hop into bed and I’ll read you a story.’
Mum was teaching Katie-Lee to tell the time and reading her a book called ‘What’s the Time, Mr Wolf?’ Katie-Lee was a quick learner and she already knew all the o-clocks.
Katie-Lee had had a busy day, so after the story and a kiss goodnight she soon fell sound asleep.
The next day Katie-Lee, Mum and Bella set off for their walk as usual. Katie-Lee was running, skipping and jumping along. The sun was high and bright in the sky making short sharp shadows in front of them all as they walked.
‘Can you run faster than your shadow?’ challenged Mum.
Katie-Lee tried. But however, fast she ran her shadow was always in front of her.
‘Your shadow is only short,’ said Mum. ‘Can you jump over it?’
Again Katie-Lee tried but although she could easily jump over Mum’s shadow and Bella’s she never seemed to be able to jump over her own.
Once they got into the woods the shadows disappeared. It was shady there and the woodland floor was covered with dappled light. Not enough sun got through the canopy of leaves to make clear shadows.
Under the Monster Trees it was even darker. Their needle-like leaves and spreading branches made gloomy tents where it was almost as dark as night-time.
‘There aren’t any shadows at all under here Mum,’ shouted Katie-Lee as she ducked beneath the branches of the small Monster Tree.
As she stood upright Katie-Lee heard the sound of someone singing.
‘Me and my shadow, Strolling down the avenue,
Me and my shadow, Not a soul to tell our troubles to,’
sang the voice.
‘Hi Felicity!’ exclaimed Katie-Lee.
‘Hello, Sweety-pie! How lovely to see you again,’ said Felicity.
The thin monster was standing on the bottom rung of a rather rickety ladder, which poked up through a hole in the ceiling. A shaft of sunlight was streaming down through the hole.
‘I was just going up onto the roof to check the time on my sundial,’ the monster explained.
‘What’s a sundial?’ asked Katie-Lee.
‘Come with me, Honey-bun,’ said Felicity, ‘ and I’ll show you.’
The monster held the ladder for Katie-Lee while she climbed carefully up. At the top she found herself on a flat platform way above the top branches of the tree. It was not dark or gloomy here at all; the sun was streaming down brightly.
‘Wow! What an amazing place!’ exclaimed Katie-Lee.
‘This is my outdoor workshop, Ducks,’ said Felicity. ‘I do lots of experiments up here when I need to use the sun or the wind or the rain. Come and take a look at my sundial.’
Katie-Lee had never seen a sundial before.
A tall stick, pointing straight up at the sky, was fixed into a flowerpot full of clay. Around the pot there was a circle of pebbles with a number painted on each one.
‘Ah, I see that it is 3-o-clock,’ said Felicity and she pointed to the shadow of the stick, which was covering the pebble marked with the number 3.
‘That’s clever,’ said Katie-Lee, ‘how does it work?’
‘Well, Dearie,’ said the monster, ‘as the sun moves across the sky the shadow of the stick moves too. I can tell the time by reading the number on the pebble that the shadow falls on.’
‘The shadow also changes in length throughout the day.’ Felicity told her. ‘It is shortest at 1-o-clock and gets longer through the afternoon,’ she explained.
‘I wish I had a sundial at home,’ said Katie-Lee.
‘Oh you can easily make one,’ replied the monster. ‘Come on down the ladder now and I’ll give you a stick to make it with.’
‘Whatever are you up to in there?’ shouted Mum.
Katie-Lee came skipping out with a stick in her hand.
‘Felicity has been showing me her sundial,’ she told Mum. ‘It says that it is 3-o-clock.’
Mum looked at her watch. It was indeed just after 3pm.
‘That was a good guess,’ thought Mum.
‘What have you got there?’ she asked.
‘It’s a stick to make a sundial,’ replied Katie-Lee. ‘We must plant it in a pot then we can look to see where the shadows fall.’
Mum knew about sundials but she had no idea where Katie-Lee could have heard about them.
‘That’s a good idea,’ she said. ‘We’ll do that when we get home.’
‘The shadow will be getting long by then,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘It is shortest at 1-o-clock and gets longer and longer as the afternoon goes on.’
Mu didn’t think that was quite right. She thought the shadow would be longest at noon but she didn’t say anything.
Katie-Le carried the stick carefully all the way home.
After a quick drink they went back into the garden to make the sundial. Mum found an old flowerpot and Katie-Lee filled it with plasticine and stuck the stick in the middle.
By this time it was 4-o-clock and the shadow was quite long.
Katie-Lee chalked a line on the ground where the shadow fell and wrote the number 4 at the end of it.
At 5-o-clock Katie-Lee went back outside to chalk another line and number on the patio and at 6-o-clock, when Dad was home from work, she led him out with her and proudly explained what she was making.
Dad was very impressed.
The next day was also sunny and from early in the morning Katie-Lee went out to mark where the shadow fell each hour.
At 12-o-clock Mum thought, ‘Now this will be the shortest shadow, I’m sure.’
But she was wrong. The 1-o-clock shadow was even shorter.
‘Well I never!’ thought Mum. ‘However could Katie-Lee have known that?’
MT Ch6 June Shadow Time.pdf
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Chapter 7 - July - Hot Time
It was July and the day was hot and sultry. Katie-Lee was splashing about in her paddling pool.
‘Getting wet is a good way to keep cool,’ said Mum, ‘I think we’ll give Bella a hosing down today before we go for our walk and then she won’t get so hot.’
‘Dogs do not really like very hot weather.’ she went on. ‘Imagine how you would feel if you had to wear a thick fur coat in this weather!’
Bella was sitting in the shade panting. This weather really was a bit too warm for her.
Mum turned on the hose and Bella ran eagerly under the shower. Not all dogs like water but Labradors, like Bella, were originally bred to help the fishermen of Labrador bring in their nets from the sea - so they love it!
‘Right Katie-Lee, put your trainers on and we’ll go for our walk,’ said Mum.
Mum and Katie-Lee both knew that even on the hottest days it was not a very good idea to go walking in the woods wearing sandals. The ground was rough with lots of sticks and prickles so trainers were much more practical.
‘We should also take some bottles of water with us today in case we all feel thirsty,’ said Mum. ‘Here put this one in your back pack.’
It was hot work walking up the hill to the gate but once they were in the woods under the shade of the trees it was nice and cool.
‘I think we will stay in the woods today out of the sun and not go into the fields,’ said Mum. Let’s see what trees we can recognise.’
‘I know what Oak leaves look like,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘They are sort of wavy around the edge.’
‘Yes, they are,’ said Mum, ‘and most of the trees in this part of the wood are Oak trees. If you look at the bark on the trunks you will see that it is full of cracks and ridges. That is another way to recognise Oak trees,’ she explained.
Mum and Katie-Lee collected lots of leaves of all sorts of shapes. There was just one other that Katie-Lee recognised.
“Felicity showed me one of those!’ she cried, ‘it’s a Sycamore leaf!’
As they walked up the path toward the Monster Trees, Katie-Lee noticed that their leaves were quite different.
‘They look more like Christmas tree leaves, don’t they Mum?’ she said.
“Yes, you are quite right!’ Mum told her. ‘These Yews are evergreen trees which means that their leaves do not fall off in the autumn but stay green all year round.’
‘I wonder if it is cooler under the Monster Trees?’ mused Katie-Lee as she ducked under the spreading branches.
There was a strange huffing noise. It sounded just like Bella panting and Katie-Lee thought for a moment that the dog had followed her. But when she looked round she saw that the magic had happened again and she was in the little round house belonging to Sobersides.
He was sitting on a strange carved wooden chair with his head in his hands - and panting hard just like a dog that had been running.
‘Hello Sobersides,’ exclaimed Katie-Lee. ‘You don’t look very well - are you all right?’
‘Oooo, I’m soooo hot!!!’ moaned the monster.
Katie-Lee could see that Sobersides would have exactly the same problem as a dog in hot weather as he too was covered in a thick coat of fur. She wondered how she could help him and suddenly she remembered what Mum had done with Bella.
“I know what to do to cool you down!’ she exclaimed and she pulled off her back-pack and took out the bottle of water.
“Keep still while I pour this over your fur. That should make you feel much better.’
Katie-Lee splashed the water all over Sobersides’ head and shoulders. He started to feel cooler straight away and rubbed his hands in the wet fur and then over his face.
‘Oh that is lovely,’ he said. ‘Why didn’t I think of that? I feel so much better now.’
Suddenly someone shouted, ‘Cooeee!’ Katie-Lee looked round and there was Felicity!
‘I just came to see how my neighbour was coping with all this heat,’ she said.
‘I had been very miserable,’ said Sobersides, ‘but my friend Katie-Lee has worked her magic again and made me feel much better by wetting my fur - look!’
‘Oh yes, Ducks, that is a very good way to get cool,’ said Felicity. ‘As the water dries it takes heat away from your body. And you can make it happen faster if you use one of these.’
Felicity held out a little fan. It was simply made by folding a piece of paper concertina-wise but as she waved it about Katie-Lee could feel the air swishing past her.
Felicity stood close to Sobersides and waved the fan over his wet shoulders.
“Ooo that feels wonderful,’ exclaimed the monster. ‘Let me do it!’
He took it and fanned himself with a huge smile on his face.
‘Let me show you how to make one for yourself Sweetie-Pie,’ said Felicity and she gave Katie-Lee a sheet of pink paper.
‘First you fold over about 1 centimetre along the edge and press it down hard to make a sharp crease.’ Felicity told her.
‘Next, Sugar-Plum, you fold it back the other way the same distance to make a zigzag. And then you keep folding backwards and forwards until you have made a concertina out of the whole sheet.’
With Felicity helping Katie-Lee quickly got the hang of it and she had soon made her paper into a thin, folded strip.
‘Now then, Lovey-Dove, you fold the strip in half and allow it to spread out into a fan shape.’ said Felicity. ‘If you want you can stick the edges together with glue or fasten them with a staple.’
Katie-Lee held the closed end of the fan and waved it backwards and forwards. It made a gentle breeze.
‘Is it lovely and cool in there?’ asked Mum as she ducked under the branches.
As soon as she did so, Felicity, Sobersides and the little house all disappeared leaving Katie-Lee standing alone holding her water bottle in one hand and a the folded pink paper in the other.
’Oh dear, did you spill the water?’ asked Mum when she saw the empty bottle.
‘No, I didn’t spill it’ replied Katie-Lee. ‘I poured it onto Sobersides’ fur to help keep him cool, like Bella.’
‘And look what I made,’ she added showing Mum the little fan. ‘Felicity taught me how to do it.’
‘It’s amazing how much litter she manages to find under there,’ Mum thought to herself - but when she looked at the fan she could see that it was quite pretty.
When they got home Katie-Lee found some paper and made a fan for Mum and another for Dad.
‘Tomorrow, at school, I’ll show everyone how to make fans!’ she decided.
MT Ch7 July Hot Time.pdf
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Chapter 8 - August - Blackberry Time
It was the last week of the summer holidays and Katie-Lee and her mum were out in the woods picking blackberries. It had been a long, hot, sunny summer and even the brambles in shady places were full of sweet, ripe berries. As usual, Bella was trotting along with them, sniffing at every tree.
Katie-Lee was carrying an old ice-cream carton to put the blackberries in, but it was filling up rather slowly because she was eating almost as many as she collected.
‘Let's try to get the carton half full, then we shall have enough to make a pudding for tea,’ said Mum.
‘Here's a big one, look,’ said Katie-Lee.
She picked it and popped it into her mouth.
‘If you keep eating the best ones it will take us all day to pick enough!’ said Mum.
Soon Katie-Lee's hands (and all around her mouth) were purply-black and her tummy was starting to feel full. She began to lose interest in picking blackberries and ran off to play hide and seek with Bella.
After a while, Mum said, ‘I think we've got enough now. Time to go home.’
‘Let's go past the Monster Trees,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘And let me carry the blackberries.’
Mum put the lid on the carton and handed it to Katie-Lee and they set off up the hill to the trees.
Katie-Lee ran on ahead.
‘I'll go and see if the monster is at home today,’ she shouted back.
‘O.K. I'll meet you there,’ answered Mum.
Katie-Lee skipped up the hill and ducked down under the spreading branches of the monster tree. As she stood up again in the gloom, she found that she could hear the sound of someone sobbing. Looking around her, Katie-Lee realised that the magic had happened again. The dark green branches had gone and she was back once more in the strange little house with the spiral staircase.
This time the crying was coming from behind a door in the curved wall. Katie-Lee walked over to the door and pushed it open.
‘Hello, Sobersides. Is that you?’ she called, as she walked through the doorway into a strange little kitchen.
Sobersides was sitting on a wooden stool in the middle of the floor, with his head buried in his hands. He was wailing sorrowfully. The monster had obviously been baking, as there was flour all over his clothes and a pie dish lined with pastry on the worktop beside him.
‘What's the matter, Sobersides?’ asked Katie-Lee gently.
She went over to the monster and put her arms around him. That seemed to make him cry all the more and it was a while before he managed to answer.
‘I wanted to make an apple pie for my tea,’ Sobersides sobbed.
‘First I made the pastry and put it into my pie-dish then I got out the apples,’ he went on.
‘But when I cut into them I found that they were all bad inside, so now I can't make my pie and I shan't have any tea.’
The monster started to cry again.
Katie-Lee kissed him gently on the nose.
‘Never mind, Sobersides,’ she said, comfortingly. And then, all of a sudden, a good idea popped into her head.
‘I know what you can use to make your pie!’ exclaimed Katie-Lee, ‘Look!’
And she opened the ice-cream carton to show the monster what was inside.
‘Blackberries! My favourite!’ shouted Sobersides.
‘Oh, but those are your blackberries. I can't possibly put those in my pie.’
‘Yes, of course you can,’ said Katie-Lee.
‘I'm sure Mum won't mind really. We can have yoghurt instead for our pudding.’
‘Are you sure,’ said the monster. ‘They do look ever so nice!’
‘Yes, go on, take them,’ said Katie-Lee.
So the monster washed the blackberries carefully under the kitchen tap and tipped them into the pie. Then Katie-Lee helped him to roll out the crust, place it gently over the top and pop the pie into the oven to cook. Almost at once the little house was full of a delicious baking smell and Katie-Lee began to wish she was stopping for tea. But a voice was calling, ‘Katie-Lee!’ and she knew that she had already stayed long enough.
‘It's time for me to go now,’ she said. ‘I think I can hear Mum calling me.’
‘Thank you so much for your help,’ said Sobersides.
‘I feel so much happier now that I shan't have to go hungry after all.’
‘Oh, that's all right,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘I hope you enjoy your tea. See you!’
And as she turned to go towards the door the magic little house faded away and she found herself standing once more under the green branches of the monster tree.
‘Come on, Katie-Lee,’ called Mum. ‘It's time to be getting back.’
The little girl ducked under the branches and ran to Mum carrying the ice-cream carton. But now, instead of it being half full of juicy blackberries, it was quite empty.
‘Katie-Lee!’ shouted Mum. ‘Surely you haven't eaten all those blackberries!’
‘Oh no,’ Katie-Lee answered. ‘I gave them to the monster for his pie.’
‘You and your monster friend,’ she said. ‘He seems to be very convenient sometimes, doesn't he!’
Katie-Lee slipped her hand into her mum's and calling, ‘Come on Bella!’ they set off for home.
‘Never mind, we'll just have to have yoghurt for pudding instead.’ said Mum.
MT Ch8 August Blackberry Time.pdf
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Chapter 9 - September - Harvest Time
It was September, and The Wood seemed to be full of scurrying squirrels. Katie-Lee and her Mum had only been out walking for a few minutes and already they had seen five of them, each one scuttling along, carrying an acorn in its paws.
‘What are they doing, Mum?’ Katie-Lee asked.
‘It's harvest time for the squirrels,’ Mum replied.
‘They are collecting acorns and cob nuts to store away for the winter.’
‘But squirrels don't have cupboards, do they Mum?’ said Katie-Lee.
‘No, you're quite right they don't,’ she laughed.
‘They will hide all the nuts in holes in trees, or in the ground, where they will keep dry and where other squirrels and birds won't be able to find them.’
They walked along the path that led around the back of the hill with Bella trotting alongside as usual. Bella stopped to sniff at every tree and then galloped to catch mum and Katie-Lee, her tail wagging merrily all the while.
It wasn't until they were on the way home that they came down the hill past the Monster Trees. As they approached them, they saw a squirrel rush across the path and duck under the branches of the small Monster Tree.
‘I wonder whether that's where his hidy-hole is?’ shouted Katie-Lee and she dashed in after him.
As she pushed her way between the spreading branches Katie-Lee heard the sound of someone singing.
Shine on harvest moon,
Up in the Sky,’
went the voice.
‘Hello Felicity!’ exclaimed Katie-Lee.
‘Well, well! Hello, Ducky! How lovely to see you again,’ said Felicity.
Once more the thin monster was standing beside the rickety ladder, which Katie-Lee had been up once before. The ladder poked up through the ceiling of Felicity’s workshop.
‘Come with me, Sweetie,’ said Felicity.
‘I was just going up onto the roof to look at the moon through my telescope.’
‘Oooh, that sounds exciting!’ cried Katie-Lee.
She rushed over and Felicity held the ladder for her while she climbed carefully to the top. She found herself on a flat platform surrounded by branches - like a sort of tree-house. In the middle of the platform was a huge telescope pointing up into the sky. All that was surprising enough, but the most amazing thing was that it was night time.
It had been the middle of the afternoon when Katie-Lee had ducked under the branches. Now the sky was black and full of twinkling stars, but it still wasn't really dark, for overhead was the biggest, brightest moon Katie-Lee had ever seen.
‘Wow, what a huge moon!’ she exclaimed.
‘That's the Harvest Moon, Blossom.’ said Felicity.
‘What a funny name. Why is it called that?’ Katie-Lee asked.
‘Well, Poppet,’ explained the monster, ‘this is the time of the year when all the farmers are working hard to gather in the harvest before winter begins. All the fruit and vegetables have to be picked and stored away before the frost comes to kill them.’
‘Yes, and the farmers aren't the only ones,’ interrupted Katie-Lee. ‘We saw the squirrels in the wood. They are collecting their harvest too.’
‘That's right, Flower.’ the monster replied.
‘Well now, Ducks,’ she went on, ‘there is so much to do, that it is difficult to get it all finished during the daytime. But at this time of year the moon is so bright that the farmers and animals can go on working at night and still see what they are doing. This bright moon lets them all finish the harvest in time, so it's called a Harvest Moon.’
‘Can I look at it through the telescope?’ asked Katie-Lee.
‘Yes, of course, Chick,’ said Felicity helping the little girl to climb onto the step at the base of the telescope.
‘It's pointing in just the right direction, all you have to do is look through here.’
And the monster showed Katie-Lee where to put her eye.
The moon looked amazing through Felicity's telescope - so big and so near that Katie Lee could see the dusty plains and craters on it quite clearly.
‘Wow!’ she gasped, ‘it's wonderful!’
And she stood there for ages, spellbound, with her eye glued to the end of the telescope.
But it was cold up there on the roof and the little girl started to shiver.
Felicity noticed and said, ‘Come on, Love, let's go down now and have a mug of cob-nut soup to warm us up.’
Katie-Lee reluctantly left the telescope and clambered down the ladder after Felicity. It was cosy in the room below and the little girl suddenly realised how cold she felt. The monster heated the soup in the microwave and then the two of them sat, to drink it, on stools by the side of Felicity's workbench.
‘I've got a little present for you, Lovie,’ said Felicity when they had finished. And she leaned across the bench and picked up a small tube.
‘It's a little telescope!’ shouted Katie-Lee with glee.
‘Yes, Pet, it is.’ said the monster.
‘It's nothing like as grand as my own but you will be able to look at the moon through it, and the stars too.’
‘Oh thank you so much’ said Katie-Lee. ‘Mum, will be surprised.’
At the mention of the word 'Mum', Katie-Lee jumped off her stool and no sooner had she done so than the magic workshop faded away and she found herself back under the small Monster Tree. A squirrel was just disappearing into the bushes.
‘Did you see where he went?’ asked Mum, poking her head under the branches.
‘No, I forgot all about the squirrel,’ replied Katie-Lee.
‘Look, Mum. Look what Felicity gave me!’ and she held out the cardboard tube.
‘What is it?’ asked Mum.
‘It's a telescope,’ Katie-Lee replied, ‘for looking at the moon. I've just been up on the roof with Felicity looking through her telescope. It was fantastic!’
‘I'm sure it was!’ said Mum.
‘Funny how these old trees seem to fill Katie-Lee's head with fairy stories,’ mum thought to herself.
On the way home Katie-Lee told her mum all about the Harvest Moon and how it got its name.
‘There'll be a Harvest Moon tonight,’ she said, ‘and I'm going to look at it through my telescope.’.
‘I wonder how she knew all that?’ thought Mum to herself.
‘I suppose they must have been talking about it at playschool this morning.’
Sure enough, when night fell, there shone in the sky the biggest brightest moon Katie-Lee (or her mum) had ever seen. Katie-Lee stood at her bedroom window peering through the cardboard tube.
‘You look, Mum,’ she said.
Mum looked through the tube. And do you know, it really did seem to make the moon look bigger!
MT Ch9 September Harvest Time.pdf
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Chapter 10 - October - Chestnut Time
It was a calm October day. Katie-Lee was helping Mum with the gardening. All the summer bedding plants looked very drab. They were losing their leaves and the flowers had all died.
‘It’s time to take them out and put in some bulbs ready for spring,’ Mum had said.
And that is what they were doing.
It was dirty work and so they were both wearing gardening gloves to protect their hands. Katie-Lee had a small pair that Mum had bought especially for her.
‘Put the old dead plants in this big bag,’ Mum told her. ‘The council will collect it next Tuesday for recycling.’
‘What’s recycling?’ asked Katie-Lee.
‘Well,’ said Mum, ‘all the garden waste is put together in one big heap and it turns into compost ready to grow more flowers.’
‘We’ll use some when we plant the bulbs,’ she added.
After the old plants had been cleared away Katie-Lee and Mum planted daffodils and tulips, packing the new compost tightly round to keep them snug for the winter.
‘I hope the foxes don’t come and dig them all up!’ said Mum. ‘I think we shall have to put something prickly around them to keep them away. Foxes do not like to get their feet pricked.’
‘I know,’ said Katie-Lee, ‘why don’t we collect some sweet-chestnut shells in the wood. They are very prickly.’
‘That is an excellent idea!’ exclaimed Mum.
So that is what they did.
The sweet-chestnuts had been falling for a few weeks and some parts of the wood were covered with them. Bella hated walking on the prickly shells and she tiptoed along carefully trying to choose a path where there were not too many.
On their walk that afternoon Katie-Lee and Mum took some bags and they both wore their gardening gloves so that they did not prick their hands when they collected the shells.
‘We’ll take another bag and collect the sweet-chestnuts themselves too,’ said Mum. ’When we get home we can roast them for tea.’
Most of the sweet-chestnuts had popped out of their shells when they fell from the trees. They lay around on the ground, round and shiny all mixed in with the prickly shells.
There were not many sweet-chestnut trees along the path where the Monster Trees grew so Bella was trotting along looking much happier.
When they reached the big tree Katie-Lee peeped inside as usual to see if anyone was at home.
‘Oh no! Whatever shall I do!’ cried a voice.
Katie-Lee looked around and there was Sobersides standing in his little kitchen with tears running down his furry nose.
‘What is the matter, Sobersides?’ asked Katie-Lee. ‘Can I do anything to help?’
‘I don’t think you can help me today, little friend,’ said Sobersides sadly. ‘Just look at my larder!’
The larder was a cool place where Sobersides kept his food but today there was hardly anything in it.
‘The naughty foxes in the woods came into my house and stole all my food,’ explained Sobersides. ‘Each time I bake some tasty pies or cakes I put them in my larder but by the next day they are gone. Whatever can I do to protect my food?’
‘Why don’t you do what my mum does?’ said Katie-Lee. ‘You could put a ring of prickly sweet-chestnut shells all around your house and that would keep them away.’
‘What a good idea!’ Sobersides exclaimed with glee. ‘There are plenty of them in the wood. I could go out now an collect some.’
‘I have some in this bag.’ said Katie-Lee. ‘You can have a few of them but I think you had better collect most of your own because I got into trouble when I let you have the blackberries.’
Katie-Lee held out her bag to show Sobersides the shells that she had already collected and Sobersides put his hand in the bag to take a few.
‘Ouch!!’ he cried as the shells pricked his hand. He pulled it quickly out of the bag.
‘You need something to protect your hands,’ said Katie-Lee. Here, you can borrow my gloves.’
‘Thank you so much,’ said Sobersides. ‘I’ll let you have them back next time you come.’
‘I don’t think you will find any sweet-chestnuts under the Monster Trees,’ sad Mum.
At the sound of her voice, Sobersides’ home melted away and Katie-Lee was back under the spreading branches. She looked around and there were certainly no sweet-chestnuts to be seen.
Mum did not notice that Katie-Lee had lost her gloves until they got home.
Katie-Lee and Mum shook the sweet-chestnut shells out of the bags all around the places where they had planted the bulbs.
Katie-Lee was being careful not to touch any of them with her bare hands.
‘What have you done with your gardening gloves?’ Mum asked her.
‘Oh, I gave them to Sobersides’, Katie-Lee replied and she explained all about her conversation with the monster.
‘I suppose she must have dropped them somewhere,’ thought Mum. ‘Never mind when we go to the woods tomorrow we can look out for them.’
The next day when they reached the Monster Trees Mum peeped under the branches to see if Katie-Lee’s gloves were there. Sure enough, they were neatly placed together under the tree and beside them was a smiley face drawn with sweet-chestnuts.
‘So that’s what she was doing yesterday!’ thought Mum.
‘Thank goodness we found the gloves.’ she said. ‘It is not easy to get little ones especially for children.’
But as she ducked back from under the branches Mum noticed something really strange. There was now a ring of prickly sweet-chestnut shells all around the tree.
‘Isn’t that odd?’ thought Mum. ‘There were none here yesterday! I suppose they must have fallen during the night.’
MT Ch10 October Chestnut Time.pdf
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Chapter 11 - November - Feeding Time
It was a cold, grey November day and Katie-Lee was eating her lunch. It was her favourite - a bacon sandwich and what mum called a monkey’s breakfast. This was made up of lots of fruit cut into hand sized pieces that Katie-Lee could pick up with her fingers to eat. Today there were slices of apple and pear, segments of satsuma and a small banana with the skin peeled back so that Katie-Lee could hold it.
While she ate, Katie-Lee watched the birds. Mum had fixed a bird feeder onto the outside of the window and filled it with peanuts. The blue tits and great tits loved the nuts and they came one after another to collect them. Each bird would pick up a nut in its beak and carry it off to the bushes to eat. They were not very tidy feeders though and lots of nuts got dropped or knocked to the ground around the window.
‘Look at all the birds, Mum!’ said Katie-Lee
‘Yes, I see they are very busy today,’ replied Mum. ‘When the weather gets cold they need lots of food to give them energy to keep warm.’
After lunch it was time for Bella’s walk. It took Mum and Katie-Lee ages to get ready to go out in the winter. They put on padded trousers, winter jackets, warm socks, waterproof boots, woolly hats and last of all thick gloves. But Bella did not need any of that. She just wore her collar and her own cosy fur coat.
As soon as they got outside Bella rushed round to the window to eat up the nuts that the birds had knocked off the feeder. She was a very greedy dog!
‘I wish we could stop her doing that,’ said Mum. ‘She will get very fat eating all those nuts and the birds need them much more than she does.’
There wasn’t much sign of birds in the woods. Selsdon Wood was supposed to be a bird sanctuary but Mum and Katie-Lee never saw many birds there. In the summer they heard lots of them singing up high in the trees but in the winter even the singing stopped. The best place to see birds all year round were the meadows. There were often magpies and crows there wandering around on the grass and sometimes even a green woodpecker.
‘What are they doing, Mum?’ Katie-Lee asked.
‘They are looking for worms to eat,’ replied Mum.
On the way home they walked down the path past the Monster Trees and as usual Katie-Lee ran ahead to peep inside. The trees stood out clear and green now that lots of those around them had lots their leaves.
Under the drooping branches there was a lovely smell of bacon and a familiar voice was singing.
‘Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.’
The thin monster was standing at her workbench stirring something with a big spoon.
‘Hello Felicity!’ called Katie-Lee. ‘What are you up to today?’
‘Oh, hello there, Chicky,’ said Felicity. ‘How lovely to see you again!’
‘Today I am making a seedcake for the birds. Come on over and take a look.’
Katie-Lee stood on tiptoes beside the bench and peeped into the bowl.
It was full of a squidgy mess.
‘All year I have been saving the fat left over when I make bacon sandwiches,’ explained Felicity.
‘And now I’m mixing it up with lots of seeds and nuts to put in there.’
The monster pointed to a row of yoghurt pots standing on the bench. Each had two holes in the side with string threaded through and tied into a loop.
‘When the fat has set hard I will take the pots out and tie them onto the trees with the string. There the birds can come to eat the seedcake where they are safe from the foxes.’ explained the monster.
‘What a good idea! We could do that at home to stop Bella eating all the nuts.’ said Katie-Lee and she told Felicity all about the bird feeder on the window and what happened to the peanuts that go knocked to the ground.
“I can let you have a pot if you like, Sweetheart,’ said Felicity
“Have you been picking up litter again?’ asked Mum as Katie-Lee appeared carrying something in her gloved hand.
‘It’s not litter,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘ Felicity gave it to me.’
Mum inspected the pot and saw that I had a hole in the bottom with string threaded through.
‘That’s an odd thing to be lying about in the woods,’ she thought. ‘I wonder how the string got there? I suppose it must have been something that children have been playing with.’
‘We’ll take it home and put it in the bin,’ Mum said.
‘No, Mum,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘It’s for making a bird feeder. If we mix the peanuts up with some fat they will stick in the pots. Then the blue tits can eat the nuts and they won’t fall on the ground where Bella can get them,’ she explained.
‘I think that child is a genius!’ thought Mum. ‘She has such great ideas!’
When she next went to the shops Mum bought a block of lard and Katie-Lee had great fun squishing it up with her fingers in a big bowl and mixing it with the peanuts and lots of birdseeds, raisins and grated cheese. She then spooned the mixture into Felicity’s yoghurt pot and five more that she had made with Mum. They put them in the fridge for an hour to set hard and when they were ready Katie-Lee and Mum went out into the garden to hang them on the bushes.
It worked a treat! The birds loved them. Now they could feed without spilling any nuts and greedy old Bella would not get fat.
MT Ch11 November Feeding Time.pdf
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Chapter 12 - December - Christmas Time
Katie-Lee was very excited. This morning she had been with Mum to visit Father Christmas in one of the big stores in town. She and Mum were still talking about it as they walked through the wood.
‘The fairy grotto was lovely, wasn't it, Mum,’ said Katie-Lee.
‘Yes, it was very pretty,’ Mum agreed. ‘And Santa's little house was very cosy and snug. Did you like his Christmas tree?’
The trees in the wood were all bare now, and on this gloomy afternoon they stood like skeletons holding their arms up to the grey sky.
‘Hey, look, Mum,’ exclaimed Katie-Lee, ‘there's some holly just like Father Christmas had around his chimney.’
‘So it is!’ said Mum, ‘And it's got red berries on it just like his had.’
‘Mum?’ quizzed Katie-Lee, ‘Why don't the leaves fall off the holly bushes like they do off all the other trees?’
‘Well, holly is a different kind of tree,’ Mum replied. ‘It doesn't lose its leaves in the Winter but stays green all year round, so we call it an evergreen tree.’
‘Can you think of any other evergreens?’ she asked.
Katie-Lee thought hard.
‘Yes,’ she shouted, ‘Christmas trees are evergreen too aren't they?’
‘That's right,’ said Mum. ‘Any more?’
As Katie-Lee stood thinking Lido scampered on up the hill. She watched him go and suddenly shouted,
‘Yes, the Monster Trees are evergreen. And that's where Lido's going. I'll catch him.’
Mum watched as the girl and her dog galloped up the hill and disappeared into the green tent of the Monster Tree
As she entered the tent Katie-Lee heard a sorrowful wailing, and looking around her she found that she was back again in the house of her monster friend Sobersides.
‘Hello, Sobersides. I haven't seen you for ages,’ Katie-Lee cried.
The monster looked up startled. He was sitting on the floor by the fireside holding a big box and surrounded by bits of paper. As usual he seemed very unhappy and big tears were rolling down his cheek.
‘Oh, Hello, Katie-Lee,’ he sobbed. ‘Just look what a mess I'm in!’
‘What are you doing?’ the little girl asked.
‘I'm trying to wrap up this Christmas present,’ sobbed Sobersides. ‘But I'm no good at it. Every time I wrap the paper round the box it just comes undone again.
‘You need something to tie it with,’ Katie-Lee told him. ‘Haven't you got any string or sellotape?’
‘No, I forgot to buy any when I was shopping,’ answered Sobersides and he began to howl even more.
‘Never mind,’ said Katie-Lee. ‘Leave it for now, and let me make you a nice cup of acorn tea.’
‘I'm sure we will be able to think of something.’ she added.
Katie-Lee went into the monster's kitchen and returned in no time with two mugs of tea and a packet of biscuits. She sat down on the floor beside Sobersides, put her arm around him, and handed him his tea.
‘Oh, you're such a kind girl to me,’ said the monster giving her a squeeze. ‘And you're so pretty too. Doesn't your hair look lovely with that red bow?’
‘That's it!’ shouted Katie-Lee, so suddenly that the monster nearly dropped his tea. ‘You can use my ribbon to tie your parcel!’
Oh, I couldn't take your ribbon!’ exclaimed Sobersides. ‘It looks so lovely in your hair, and besides, whatever would your Mum say?’
‘Oh, she wouldn't mind,’ replied Katie-Lee. ‘I'm always losing them anyway, but this time it would be in a good cause.’
She pulled the ribbon out of her hair, undid the bow and smoothed out the wrinkles.
‘Pass me the parcel,’ she said. And taking it from the monster she wrapped the ribbon around it and tied it with a neat bow on the top.
‘That looks lovely,’ said Sobersides.
‘I knew we would manage to think of something,’ said Katie-Lee happily.
‘Who is the present for?’
‘It's for my friend Felicity,’ replied Sobersides. ‘Do you know her?’
‘Oh, yes I do,’ exclaimed Katie-Lee. ‘I often visit her in her workshop. What are you giving her - or is it a secret?’
‘Well, it is a secret really but I don't mind telling you, especially since you've been so helpful. I've baked her a special chestnut cake. She never seems to get any time to do any cooking. She's always too busy inventing things.’
‘Oh, I'm sure she will love that,’ said Katie-Lee.
At that moment, their chat was interrupted by the tinkling of a little bell.
‘That's my doorbell,’ said Sobersides getting up. ‘I wonder who it can be?’
Katie watched as the monster walked over to a long curtain, which hung on part of the curved wall of his little round house. He pulled the curtain aside and opened the little green door behind it.
There, standing on the doorstep was Felicity singing:
‘I wish you a Merry Christmas
I wish you a Merry Christmas
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.’
‘Well, hello Dearies,’ she cried. ‘Fancy finding my two best friends together like this! Happy Christmas to you both!'
She gave Sobersides a big hug and then danced into the room and hugged Katie-Lee too.
‘Hello, Felicity,’ chorused Sobersides and Katie-Lee laughing. ‘We were just talking about you!’
‘Come and have some acorn tea with us,’ invited Sobersides.
‘I'll get it,’ said Katie-Lee, jumping up. And she ran off into the kitchen and was back in no time with another cup.
‘Thanks, Pet,’ said Felicity. ‘And in return here's a little something from me. I just popped round to give Sobersides his Christmas present but I've been carrying yours around with me all week in case I bumped into you.’
She dug into one of the many huge pockets on her overall and brought out two little gifts, each prettily wrapped in silvery paper.
‘Oooh, thank you so much,’ Katie-Lee and Sobersides said together, and they laughed again. ‘Can we open them now?’
‘Of course, Chuckies,’ replied Felicity. ‘I do hope you like them.’
The little girl and the fat monster unwrapped their presents together. Inside the wrappings of each one was a little pebble with a small fir cone stuck to it.’
‘They're weather forecasters, Sweeties,’ explained Felicity. ‘They will tell you if it is going to rain. On fine days the cones will be open, just like they are now, but when it's going to rain the cones will close up tight.’
‘Oh, they're lovely,’ cried Katie-Lee. ‘I shall put mine on my bedroom window ledge and look at it every day.’
Sobersides too, was delighted with his present and gave Felicity hers in return. She unwrapped it and discovering the cake, insisted on sharing it with her friends there and then.
As Katie-Lee ate the last bite of her slice, the little round room began to fade and she found herself sitting on a log under the branches of the Monster tree. Lido pushed his way in and sniffed round, almost as if he was looking for crumbs.
Katie-Lee got up and they went together out onto the path. Mum was just coming up the hill.
‘Look, mum,’ Katie-Lee cried. ‘Look what Felicity gave me for Christmas!’ And holding out her hand she showed her mum the little cone.
‘That's pretty, dear,’ Mum said. ‘What is it?’
Mum knew by now that Katie-Lee liked to pretend that the things she found under the Monster trees were not always what they seemed.
As they walked home Katie-Lee told her mum about her meeting with her monster friends and about how the weather forecaster worked.
Suddenly, as they were chatting, Mum noticed the missing ribbon.
‘Oh dear, Katie-Lee, you've lost your ribbon again!’ she exclaimed crossly.
No, I didn't lose it, Mum,’ said the little girl. ‘I gave it to Sobersides to wrap up his Christmas present to Felicity.’
‘And just what did he give her?’ Mum asked, smiling.
‘It was a chestnut cake and I had some and it was lovely,’ replied Katie-Lee.
As usual, Mum didn't believe a word of it.
But Katie-Lee did put the little cone on her window ledge and, surprise, surprise, when the weather was dry it opened right out but when it rained it shut up tight, just like Katie-Lee had told her mum it would.
MT Ch12 December Christmas Time.pdf
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