By Katherine Woodfine | 23 June, 2020
Last month we gave our listeners chance to collaborate with none other than Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell - by finishing a story she began! Cressida shared a wonderful story-starter with us in our May 2020 episode, and we challenged young writers to have a go at completing it.
We had some fantastic entries to the competition - many thanks to everyone who entered. We're delighted to announce that the winner of our competition is 9-year-old Romy Spreadbury. Take a look at Romy's winning story below:
Horizabel didn’t mean to do it. It was an accident. Well, maybe not an accident exactly but it was all Madam Perfectry’s fault. Madam Perfectry was Horizabel’s tutor in Wizardry, and she had been telling Horizabel off for something that really hadn’t been Horizabel’s fault either. Madam Perfectry had swept majestically out of the room, foolishly forgetting to lock the drawer with the Gorginblast Book of Spells in it. I mean, what was an eleven year old Wizard-in-Training with a healthy sense of curiosity supposed to do in such a situation?
Horizabel paused for a second. She would be in BIG TROUBLE if she was caught.
Something rustled inside her pocket. A high little squeaky voice hissed, ‘Open the drawer, Horizabel…’
Horizabel stepped towards the drawer. She opened it.
Ten seconds later she was still standing, staring. It was as if her eyes had been glued open with superglue. All she could say was, “Oh, oh!” in a high voice. To be fair to her, it was a sight to behold. A brown leather book, bound with what could have been melted gold, with intricate patterns dancing all over it.
The spell was not just broken but full on smashed when the squeaky voice, belonging to Parsnip, said, “Oh yes, very beautiful,” sarcastically.
“You’re too right,” sighed Horizabel dreamily.
“I AM BEING SARCASTIC!” squeaked Parsnip. Parsnip was a rat. Not a dirty smelly one. A pet rat. He was also a failure. Horizabel was meant to have grown his tail, but instead, accidentally (she claimed) made him speak.
She reached in and pulled the book out of the drawer. Horizabel hastily leafed through the delicate pages until she found what she was looking for. She folded the corner down on the page, so gently that no-one would know. She shut the book, and with it tucked under her arm, scrambled up to her room. She opened it again onto the page, and read.
A spell to give anyone magic.
Tail of a monkey,
Wing of a bat
A unicorn’s hoof
And a dragon’s fat
Lava and lightning to bind it well
Together create the Magic Spell.
Horizabel thought she was a failure, so this was perfect to refresh her magic. Tail of a monkey, done. Wing of a bat, done. Unicorn’s hoof, easy enough to get from Cheerfuland. But a dragon’s fat? She hastily looked for her Book of Ingredients. She found it under a pile of wizard dresses and looked at the content. She flicked to the back where it said “Dragon.”
Live in the Endlands
Eat lava and lightning
Sleep for three hours each day
EXTREMELY VIOLENT. DO NOT APPROACH UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY!!
Well, this was.
“Come on,” raged Parsnip, “Let’s go!”
Slipping out of the castle wasn’t easy, but she managed it.
The castle was on the edge of the Dark Deserts, joined stretches of land that had never seen the light of day. As they travelled, Horizabel could hear the growling and hissing of the nocturnal animals, and shrank back into the shadows. Then a storm came. Lightning thrashed down on all sides. They dived for cover (not that there was much, as it was a desert) as lightning struck just where they’d been standing.
“That was close!” said Horizabel cheerfully, much too cheerfully for the situation.
“Way too close!” grumbled Parsnip.
Finally, damp and sweaty, they came to the edge of the desert, and the Pine Forest in Cheerfuland.
Horizabel ran towards a tree. “We can sleep here.”
The night was long and she tossed and turned in her makeshift bed. In the morning, an unsettling whinnying and shaking was coming from the bottom of the tree. A unicorn was crashing into it, shaking it around. Horizabel came down from the tree.
“Well, that should make getting a hoof a lot easier!”
Using wood from the tree, and Parsnip’s teeth, they made a comb. They gifted it to the unicorn, along with a small silver hand mirror she had stolen from her father. Unicorns are very vain. They set off with a unicorn’s hoof in their backpack.
Meanwhile her father was pacing up and down his room, muttering. “I knew she was careless, but running away is a whole new level!” Then Madam Perfectry’s dreadful shriek pierced the air.
“The book is gone!”
Horizabel and Parsnip walked through the forest, until they neared the Endlands.
Quietly, Parsnip said, “You know the Happyhunter?”
Sure as day, the Happyhunter dragon, which lives on the Endland Border, was growling fiercely.
“SO YOU HAVE COME TO ME!” he boomed.
“Y-y-yes,” stuttered Horizabel, “for your fat!”
“A wizard in training I presume?” said the dragon, licking his lips maliciously. “And no, you can’t have it. I get far too many requests. You’ll have to fight me for it.” He let out a mighty roar.
“Or we could just get it the easy way!” said Parsnip, leaping down from the dragon’s back.
“Hey, thief!” called the dragon.
They ran and ran. They went back through the Pine Forest and Dark Deserts and back to the castle.
Horizabel sprinted up the stairs to her room and threw the ingredients into the cauldron with the others. She grabbed a jar of lava and went to the lightning chamber. She poured the lava onto the floor, placed the cauldron on top, and waited.
Then a small fork of lightning hit the cauldron, which started bubbling. Horizabel scooped up a small glass of the liquid and drank it. It tasted sour and sweet at the same time, and warm slipping down her throat.
There was a puff of smoke.
“Well?” said Parsnip.
Pop over to the DTRH Instagram channel if you'd like to see Romy's story being read aloud by our very own Imogen Russell Williams! We'll also be sharing some of our other favourite competition entries there. Or have a listen to Episode 73 for lots more creative inspiration from Cressida Cowell.