Childs’ play: Two more stories

In case you missed the last post: we’re looking for illustrators of any age. Whether you’re looking for something for your locked-down children to get stuck into, or you fancy it yourself, here’s a collection of stories by my friend and poetry collaborator, Andy Blackford. It’s more than unlikely that this could end up as and actual book. We think it will stay as a webpage story. But what we’re inviting is book covers, title pages or moments from a story. Whatever catches your imagination. To kick it off I asked one illustrator, Kate Rolfe, to inspire you with two of hers. If you want to be involved and want more detail, (especially about the resolution I’ll need for the images) contact me at and I’ll get back to you pretty well straight away. I’ll be accepting your illustrations until the end of August, and posting them as they come in. After the deadline, Andy Blackford will choose the ones he likes best, and they’ll then form part of the story text. Basically, we’ll be choosing the best overall book cover, a title page for each story and up to three images in the body of each story.


Magpies can’t resist shiny stuff.  Silver paper, 5p coins, the Crown Jewels. 

When Malcolm the Magpie collected heaps of silver paper and 5p coins, nobody minded much.

But then, one day, he came home with the Crown Jewels.

His wife, Maureen, said, “Those belong to the King!  When he notices they’ve gone, he’ll be cross.”

But Malcolm just winked. “He won’t know it was me!”

Next day, the King knocked on the Magpies’ tree.  “I see you’ve got the Crown Jewels up there.” 

“What?” called Malcolm. “These old things?”

“Don’t worry”, replied the King.  “It’s just that whoever has the Jewels is the King.  So, er, well done!” 

“Me?  KING?” squawked Malcolm. “Brilliant!” 

The ex-King flew off to Barbados. “This is more like it!” he said, as he lay on the beach in the sun. 

Back home, King Malcolm made lots of new rules.

Everyone had to live in trees…

….and sleep in nests…

…and eat worms. 

 By and large, the People didn’t like it. 

So one morning, when Malcolm was still asleep, Maureen wrapped up the Crown Jewels in a handkerchief. Then she set off for Barbados.

The ex-King was fed up, too.  Nobody called him Sir anymore. 

Also, it was very hot. He tried to buy an ice cream. But he forgot that Malcolm had all his jewels, and he couldn’t pay. The man made him give the ice cream back. 

Maureen flew across the sea for three days and three nights. The jewels were very heavy. ‘I wish the King collected something a bit lighter,’ she thought. ‘Like stamps. Or feathers.’

At last she saw an island ahead. It was Barbados.

The King was sitting on the beach. He was hot and grumpy. But when his jewels landed plonk! on his beach towel, he was happy again. “Holidays are no fun,” he said, “if they never end.”

Next day, the King knocked at the Magpies’ tree. “I’ve got my jewels back!” he called.  “So you’re just an ordinary magpie again.  Sorry!”

The People cheered. “We’re not sorry! God Save The King!”

“I’m not sorry, either,” Malcolm whispered to Maureen.

“Nor me,” said Maureen.  “I think we’ll stick to silver paper in future.”


When Royston the penguin burst out of his egg in Antarctica, there was only one thing on his mind.

He lay on his back in the snow and stared at the gulls, wheeling and soaring high above.‘I was born to fly!’ he told his mum and dad.

‘Don’t be silly,’ said his dad. ‘Penguins forgot how to fly thousands of years ago. Stop wasting your time staring at the sky!’

So Royston went to see the albatross. ‘Show me how to fly!’ he said.The albatross frowned. ‘Your wings are a bit short,’ he replied. ‘Are you sure this is a good idea?’

‘I’m sure,’ Royston insisted. ‘Ok, watch me!’ said the albatross. And he ran across the ice, faster and faster, beating his wings. Then he rose slowly into the air.

 ‘Brilliant!’ squawked Royston. But when he tried it, he just ran and ran ‘til his legs got tired and then he fell over.

For days, he tried to fly. He even collected feathers and stuck them to his wings to make them longer. But nothing worked. 

In the end he sat down and cried. The albatross felt sorry for him. ‘Why don’t you hop on my back and I’ll take you for a ride.’P 

The albatross dived and climbed and swooped and wheeled and soared. Royston was so scared, he just closed his eyes and hung on. ‘This is horrible!’ he whispered to himself.  ‘I’ll never try to fly again!’

Then the albatross turned quickly and Royston slipped off his back. He tumbled head over heels through the air. ‘Oh no!’ cried his mother, far, far below.

Then he splashed into the sea and sank down, deeper and deeper. ‘I’m going to drown!’ he thought. But then he flapped his little wings and suddenly he was shooting up again.

He dived and climbed and swooped and wheeled and soared.‘I’m flying UNDERWATER!’ he cried. (But only bubbles came out).

When he bobbed up on the surface again, the albatross smiled. ‘Even I couldn’t do that!’ he said. All the penguins were cheering. ‘Well done, son!’ cried his dad.

(Stories Copyright Andy Blackford 2020)

Two more tomorrow. Tell your chums.

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