The Two Little Pigs in hardback

I’m sure I must have told you that The Two Little Pigs is available in paperback but what’s new is that you can now get it in hardback!

This would make a beautiful vegan birthday present for a little one who likes stories about animals 😀

And with that we wish you many happy storytimes ❤

The Two Little Pigs

is available in hardback for £12.50,

*

in paperback for £3.50,

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and can be read for free right here 😀

Have a great day! 😀

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Prices correct at time of writing.

vegan, vegan storybook, vegan books, vegan children, vegan children’s books, juvenile fiction, vegan fiction, vegan rhyming story, books, stories, vegan children’s stories, animals, animal rights,

 

Educational colouring book

Here is a wonderful educational colouring book:  Colour By Nutrients.

It is at once a resource for artistic indulgence and an educational tool.  Divided into chapters of different vitamins and minerals, the book illustrates which foods contain significant amounts of each.  The authors are happy for teachers and parents to photocopy the colouring pages for use in the classroom.  All in all a delightful way to learn about nutrition.

This 120-page book is approximately 19 x 25 cm.

You can buy it here, it’s not expensive 😀

Or if you’d rather get the e-version and copy or print the pages yourself, it’s free to download here:  Colour By Nutrients pdf 


We think that learning about good nutrition to build a strong immune system is more important than ever, so we’re thrilled to be able to do this.

Stay well.  Stay clean.  Stay compassionate

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vegan, plant-based, vegan children, nutrition, school, home-education,

Reflecto Girl #7 – OUT NOW!

Reflecto Girl #7 is now available in paperback!

And not only does it have a great story,

there’s the added bonus of a yummy cake recipe at the end 😀

Get yours now while stocks last! 😉

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vegan comics, vegan storybooks, vegan children’s books, animal rights comic,

40% off!

Our butch friend, Kurt, is eager to share the new Maddicts paperback with you 😀

This portable little A5 book is available from our Lulu shop and, for a limited time only, you can get 40% off!

It can be yours for just £3!!!!

Ok, gotta run – I know a few library shelves that are screaming out for these babies! 😀  Thanks Kurt, you were great 😉

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ps  When you go to our Lulu shop, if the prices are not displayed in your country’s currency, just click on the Cart at the top right of the screen and then you can click the flag and select which country you’re shopping from 🙂

Maddicts is a vegan graphic novel, suitable for readers aged 12 and up, also available to read here.

vegan, vegetarian, animals, animal rights, satire, horror, thriller, vegan books, vegan children’s books, vegan story books, books, vegan comics,

 

Vegan Story Time #8: The Two Little Pigs

Listen to The Two Little Pigs 😀

Want more stories?  Check out the Story Time page 😀

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vegan, vegan story, vegan story books, vegan children’s story, read aloud, audio books, books, children’s books, animals, pigs,

Vegan Christmas Market

Feeling Christmassy? 😀

Then don’t miss the Be The Future Market Christmas Special!

All you have to do to win a beautiful vegan story book is roll the dice and get an even number 😀

But

they’ll all be wrapped in Christmas paper so you won’t know which one you’ve won 😀

It’s 50p a go and there’s a prize every time!

ie if you roll an odd number you get a booby prize 😀

But of course it’s not just us there – there’ll be loads of stalls filled with wonderful vegan gift ideas and yummy things to eat.

So come on down to Stoke Newington, North London, and have a lovely time at the Be The Future Vegan Christmas Market – we look forward to seeing you there 😀

Click here for full details of how to get there 😀

Have a great weekend! xx

Story Books for Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner and if you’re looking for something different, something special for the little ones in your life, you can’t go wrong with these lovely books from our little Lulu shop 😀

There’s the Luke Walker collection – humorous juvenile fiction for readers aged 8 to 108,

Colourful picture books and rhyming stories for the younger set,

and even a colouring book which teaches how nutritious plant food is.

Plus there’s all the Brave Girls comics (Reflecto Girl, Megan & Flos, and Venus Aqueous) not pictured here and more coming soon.

Just pop over to the shop and have a browse – quick before it’s too late!  If the prices shown aren’t your national currency, just click on the cart and select what country you’re shopping from by clicking on the appropriate flag.

They are beautiful books – I promise you won’t be disappointed 😀

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vegan, vegan children, vegetarian, vegan children’s books, vegan stories, vegan story books, Christmas, Christmas gift ideas, vegan Christmas

The Two Little Pigs in paperback

If you enjoyed The Two Little Pigs you might like it in paperback 😀

It’s very cute 😉

If you do, you can buy it our little Lulu shop 😀

(if the link takes you to a shop with foreign currency, just click on ‘cart’ and then on the flag and you can choose what country you’re shopping from)

Have a lovely weekend 😀

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vegan, vegan children’s book, vegan children’s story, rhyming story, books, children’s books

An Unordinary Lion (an unthinkable truth)

Here is another bright and fun rhyming story for little children from Dragana Vucic Dekic (author of The Not-So Crazy Cow).

It’s about a lion who, unable to hunt due to an injured paw, is forced to sit still and watch the world go by.  In doing so he notices that the other animals around him, those he used to call prey, fuel their bodies with plants.

The more he watches his neighbours, the more he admires them.

So much so that he decides to follow their example and adopt a plant-based diet himself 😀

An Unordinary Lion  is a very enjoyable happy story, beautifully illustrated by Szucher Agnes.

Of course the writer doesn’t believe that a lion could just choose to go vegan, but by using the lion as the central character in this story she makes the subliminal point that, unlike natural carnivores, we can choose.

I woke up this morning with this story in my head and it struck me – the reason we find it so hard to convince the human population to go vegan, despite the fact that doing so would solve so many world crises, is because those in charge, those in control of education and mainstream media, consider the idea unthinkable.

In 2006 Al Gore, former American Vice President, made the film An Inconvenient Truth about the human impact on climate change.  In the same year the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation published the results of an investigation which concluded that animal agriculture produced more greenhouse gases than all transport put together.

The preface to the UN FAO report begins:

“The in-depth assessment presented in this document of the various significant impacts of the world’s livestock sector on the environment is deliberately termed Livestock’s Long Shadow so as to help raise the attention of both the technical and the general public to the very substantial contribution of animal agriculture to climate change and air pollution, to land, soil and water degradation and to the reduction of biodiversity.  This is not done simply to blame the rapidly growing and intensifying global livestock sector for severely damaging the environment but to encourage decisive measures at the technical and political levels for mitigating such damage.”

Of course there have been no decisive measures taken at the political level.  No one wants to touch it.  An Inconvenient Truth doesn’t mention animal farming or suggest transitioning to a plant based diet, but perhaps that’s because Al Gore didn’t know then.  Perhaps he hadn’t read the UN report yet.  People were hopeful, therefore, that the issue would be front and centre in his 2017 sequel  An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power.  Tragically it isn’t.

Rachel Krantz, lead writer for Mercy for Animals, criticised Gore for not highlighting the easiest and most effective thing people could do to save the planet:

“The link between our diet and the environment is both direct and strong.  To give you an idea, if every American committed to just one meat-free day a week, the impact would be equivalent to switching all our gas-powered cars to hybrids. … Important facts about the link between animal agriculture and the environment are left out of the documentary.  Perhaps the filmmakers thought that mainstream viewers couldn’t handle the truth,”

According to a discussion between plant-based advocates which I saw on television some years ago, that’s exactly right.  One of them met Al Gore, who himself went vegan for environmental reasons, and he asked him why he hadn’t drawn attention to animal agriculture’s devastating effects on the environment in the film.  He was told – because people wouldn’t be able to handle it.

So that’s it?  The planet must die because people cannot conceive of a bacon-buttie-less world?

Come on Al Gore, make a new film – a completely honest one.  You could call it  An Unthinkable Truth.

I understand that lions, except the Unordinary Lion, can’t live without meat.  But humans?  Come ohn!  Many of us have already proved that we can.  And if the rest of us don’t do it, that’ll be the end of that.

Let the Unordinary Lion be your inspiration.  Eat plants to save the world 😀

New Book: Chickpea Runs Away

Here is a gorgeous children’s book by Sarat Colling, with beautiful illustrations by Vicky Bowes and published by Vegan Publishers

Chickpea is a darling baby on a dairy farm who has been taken away from her mother and kept confined in a barn with others like her until it’s time for a frightening journey to somewhere bad.  Inspired by numerous real-life tales of cows fleeing captivity, Sarat’s story describes Chickpea’s split second decision to leap the fence and run for her life.

This heart rending story ends happily when Chickpea finds new friends and embarks on a new free and natural life.  A touching tale which shines a light on the harsh reality of animal farming without being too graphic, and inspires compassion for all animals.

This copy is available to borrow at Oh My Goodness vegan cafe library, Eastbourne 😀

Available in hardback (40 pages) and as an eBook

Price: $17.99 hardback, $7.49 eBook

Language: English
ISBN-10: 1940184487
ISBN-13: 978-1940184487

Available from Vegan Publishers and all good booksellers.

Vegan Cafe Library!

library post

Oh My Goodness vegan cafe at the Enterprise Centre behind the station in Eastbourne is now providing a free library of gorgeous vegan comics and story books 😀  You can help yourself to any book, or as many books as you like, take them home and bring them back when you’re finished with them.  It’s a simple as that!

Plus there’s also free fairy tales to keep, and puzzle pages, jigsaw puzzles and colouring books to enjoy while you’re waiting for your food!  What a brilliant cafe!  The food is also awesome 😀

Delicious food.  Free library.  Free fairy tales.  Wordsearches.  Crosswords.  Colouring Books.  Jigsaw puzzles.

Now that’s what I call a great venue!

Go on, treat yourself!  Get on down to Oh My Goodness vegan cafe, Enterprise Shopping Centre, Station Parade, Eastbourne, E. Sussex, BN21 1BD – and borrow some comics! 😀

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vegan, vegan books, vegan cafe, vegan food, vegan jigsaws, vegan colouring books, vegan venues

Vegan Life Magazine: August 2019

Vegan Life is a great magazine – written by vegans for vegans 😀 and this month they put us in it!!!!!

We are so excited to show you – a feature all about Violet’s Vegan Comics!!! – two full pages of writing, plus a couple of illustrations!  If you’ve already read it you might have thought it was just one long waffle from me talking about our stuff but I was actually answering questions posed by the magazine interviewer, they just didn’t print the questions 😀

Miranda was so excited she posed for a picture with the mag as soon as she saw it, but now that we’re famous I thought it would be a good idea to give her a disguise so that she doesn’t get mobbed by fans 😀

Of course it’s not all about us 😉  There are loads of scrumptious recipes, interviews with activists and animal advocates, news about the rise of veganism in the mainstream and tons of positive vegan lifestyle inspiration.  There’s loads more on their blog too 😀

And if you like the mag – which I know you will – you’re gonna love their live event!

Vegan Life LIVE takes place on the 14th and 15th of March 2020 at Alexandra Palace in London.  There’ll be talks and cookery demonstrations and so many stalls full of yummy vegan products.  Check out some of the highlights of their event in 2017 to get an idea of what to expect 😀

14-15 of March.

Be there! ❤

😀

The Not-So Crazy Cow

Here is an adorable book for little ones: The Not-So Crazy Cow by Dragana Vucic Dekic.

The Not-So Crazy Cow is a humorous, rhyming story about a cow who believes that the grass is greener somewhere else. Despite having royal treatment in her homeland of India, she longs to discover the big world. One day, she packs her bags, puts on her best hat, and sails from India to Europe. One wise stork tries to warn her of the upcoming challenges, but the cow follows her adventurous spirit to discover this for herself. Her journey is full of unexpected situations and very soon, the cow starts missing her homeland. This amusing book also presents an important question: who is crazy here? The cow or the world who treats her as if her life doesn’t matter?

This bright and colourful, energetic tale, told entirely in rhyme and filled with beautifully quirky illustrations by Szucher Agnes, is an absolute delight.

A gem for tiny tots who will love the funny, happy pictures and pick up the subliminal message that cows deserve to be valued and esteemed the whole world over.  Don’t worry, the not-so crazy cow returns home safely at the end 😀

I think this book would make an ideal gift for little non-vegans because the story’s not overtly vegan but it sows a precious seed that might inspire them to question the choices of their non-vegan caregivers in the future.

You can find out more about the author and her humorous picture books that bring across a positive message by encouraging empathy between all living beings, by going to her website: momthemuse.com

Author:  Dragana Vucic Dekic

Illustrator:  Szucher Agnes

Genre:  picture book/stories in rhyme

Recommended for pre-schoolers

Published July 2019

Format:  Paperback (43 pages) and Kindle Edition (20 pages)

ASIN:  B07VD6YGN5 (Kindle)

ISBN-10: 1077863551
ISBN-13: 978-1077863552
Paperback Dimensions: 21.6 x 0.3 x 21.6 cm

Paperback Price:  £8.22

Available from Amazon 😀

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vegan, vegan book, vegan children’s book, vegan picture book, vegan rhyming story, vegan children, animals, animal rights, cows, humour, illustration, books

The Dragons of Durga

The Dragons of Durga is an epic novel by Simone Spearman.

It’s a slow, gentle tale, beautifully told with detailed, poetic descriptions that transport you to a magical, imaginary world.  The story takes place in an ancient time. Long before anyone can remember, long before history was recorded, back when magnificent dragons still walked the Earth.

Spearman describes the different species as tribes – the Human tribe, the Dragon tribe, the Feline tribe, – all of whom live in co-operation and harmony.  The Dragons have a special relationship with Human children whom they teach and mentor, but this only lasts until they come of age.  Humans of age only get to commune with Dragons at the Midsummer celebration, to which every tribe of Durga is invited.  The picture is wonderfully idyllic until the unthinkable happens and a vision of the future reveals a world without dragons.

A myriad of characters – Dragons of all shapes and sizes, a winged Cat, an unpredictable Rat, a Human girl who can change into any animal, a Human boy who blames the Dragons for a past tragedy – embark on an epic adventure, all working together to ensure the survival of the Dragon tribe.

And it’s a big hunk of a book – 538 pages!!!  It took me a good few weeks to finish it because unfortunately I only have time to read at the end of the day, just before I go to sleep, but it certainly made me look forward to bedtime.  I loved this book.  It’s wonderful to have quality literature in which the protagonists are plant-eaters who fight for peace, harmony and equality among species.  I love the dragons, I love the children, I love the weird and wonderful names they had and the innovative use of capital letters.  Thank you Simone L Spearman.

Author:  Simone L Spearman

Illustrator:  Jason Weaver

Genre:  Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy & Magic

Recommended for readers aged 8 and up

Published in August 2017

Format:  Paperback (552 pages) & Kindle

ISBN-10: 0999278207
ISBN-13: 978-0999278208
Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.5 x 20.3 cm

Available from Amazon in the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and Japan.

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vegan, vegetarian, vegan children’s story, veggie kids, vegan children, vegan children’s books, animal rights, vegan fiction, books

Change the World with Rose and Chili

Here’s a cute little children’s book by Malte Hartwieg 🙂

Change The World With Rose And Chili has been written for little children who don’t know the truth about where their food comes from, and it explains in simple terms that animals are not here for our use, they are here for their own reasons.

With adorable illustrations, Malte Hartwieg takes Rose and her best friend Chili on a journey to an imaginary world where, one by one, Rose meets individuals who are suffering because humans use them for food or clothing: a fox who has no coat, a sheep who has been robbed of her wool, a chicken bereft of eggs and a cow with no milk for her calf.  At every meeting Rose is moved to help these individuals by giving them her warm clothes or finding plant-based foods to replace the animal-based ones, and the imaginary world becomes a brighter, greener, happier place.

By the end, when Rose and Chili return home, Rose has learned how easy it is to change the real world: simply eat plants instead of animals.

This book needs to be on the shelves of nurseries and pre-schools everywhere so that little ones can learn, before they get brainwashed into accepting the status quo, how simple it is to change the world.

Just lovely 😀

Author/Illustrator:  Malte Hartwieg

Genre:  Juvenile fiction/picture book

Recommended for reading to pre-schoolers

Published July 2018

Format:  Paperback (24 pages)

ISBN-10: 1722463449
ISBN-13: 978-1722463441
Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 0.2 x 21.6 cm

Available from Amazon in the UK, Europe, USA, Canada and Australia

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vegan books, vegan children’s book, vegan children’s stories, animals, animal rights, vegetarian

Healthy Eating for Life FOR CHILDREN

From the Foreword by Neal Barnard, M.D.:  The writing of this book was motivated by the observation that many parents are unclear about how best to nourish their children at different stages of development.  Well-intentioned parents like you want to do the very best for the long-term health and well-being of their children.  They need help knowing where to begin.

Our hope is that by assembling an expert panel of doctors and nutritionists and by providing well-researched, easy-to-read information on healthy eating during childhood, we can help you promote excellent health for your children throughout their lives.

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Boy I wish I’d had this book when my children were little, then I wouldn’t have been misled by my GP who pleaded with me not to make my baby vegan, saying that children need dairy for at least their first five years!  I was very young, inexperienced and, since it was way before the internet, there was no one else to ask.  It was another eleven years before we had enough information to understand that he was wrong, and our transition from vegetarianism to veganism left us feeling better than ever.

But that didn’t prevent us being misjudged by another GP when I took my youngest to the doctor when she was about 11 because she was getting recurring headaches.  I’d assumed she was suffering from migraines but as soon as the GP heard we were vegan she sucked in her breath over her teeth and said with confidence

“Calcium deficiency!”

I insisted that that wasn’t it, we get enough calcium from our fruit and vegetables, but she would not be dissuaded from her conclusion and sent us away after telling us to take some multi-vitamins, without doing any tests or examination.  Some months later, thanks to a good  GP advising us to go the optician and see if the headaches were due to a need for glasses, it was discovered that there was haemorrhaging behind her eyes caused by a benign brain tumour.

The world and medical practitioners are so much more enlightened nowadays though aren’t they?  Thanks to the internet and such widely available information shared online by vegan individuals, groups and organisations.  So you’d think that no one would be in danger of getting the kind of bad advice we got back then.

I was shocked to discover a few weeks ago that that’s not true.  A friend of mine took her eleven and a half month-old baby for her ‘one year review’ by a Health Visitor at a children’s centre in Brighton and was told she should be transitioning her baby off breast milk and onto cows’ milk – for the calcium!!!!!!!

Thankfully my friend knows better but lots of people, like me all those years ago, will be swayed by this shockingly bad advice.  That’s why this book is brilliant.  Because it comes from the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, written by Amy Lanou, Ph.D. who is Nutrition Director of the Physicians’ Committee (or she was when this was first published back in 2002 – oh I wish I’d had it then!) and got her doctoral degree from Cornell University, readers can rest assured that the book can be relied upon.  And it’s got so much!  From a healthy pregnancy to healthy breast feeding to healthy nutrition for your child for the rest of his or her life, this book tells you everything you need to know 🙂

And it even provides you with a ton of healthy delicious recipes:

I bought this one for my friend, but now I’m going to get another one for me!

Author:  Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine with Amy Lanou, Ph.D.

Genre:  Non-fiction, Plant-Based Nutrition

Recommended for teens and up

Format:  Paperback (272 pages) and Kindle Edition

Published:  February 2002

ISBN-10:  0471436216

ISBN-13:  978-0471436218

Dimensions:  15.5 x 1.9 x 22.7 cm

Available from the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine and Amazon

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nutrition, health, vegan, vegetarian, books, non-fiction, plant-based nutrition, children, raising healthy children, healthy pregnancy, nursing mothers, healthy breastfeeding, raising vegan children, food, healthy eating, healthy recipes, healthy recipe book, vegan recipe book

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

We love Louis Sachar (whose name rhymes with cracker – in case you were wondering) and after reading Fuzzy Mud I decided that it qualified as a vegan book for children 🙂 It doesn’t use the v-word but the main protagonist seems to be a plant-eater (there is no mention of any meat/fish/egg or dairy in her diet) and the grippingly entertaining story is wrapped around a vitally  important environmental message.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that Louis Sachar was veg*n but I have no idea whether he actually is.  Anyway, this book qualifies so I wanted to share it with you 🙂

The story is about Tamaya who has a scholarship to a posh school and walks there every day with Marshall who is a year older than her (they’re pre-teens I think). They never go through the woods because there are creepy rumours about a strange guy who lives there.  And they’ve been told not to.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the woods a laboratory is developing a new “green” fuel, made of artificially engineered living micro-organisms, aka ‘fuzzy mud’.  Well,  one day, after being challenged to a fight by the school bully, Marshall decides, for his own safety, to go home via the woods.  Tamaya doesn’t want to go that way but she’s not supposed to walk home alone so she follows him.  And that’s when it gets really scary!

I’m not going to tell you anymore (and don’t spoil it for yourself by reading the Amazon blurb because it gives too much away) because you should get the book and enjoy the whole thing from the beginning 🙂

Author:  Louis Sachar

Genre:  Juvenile fiction/thriller

Recommended for readers aged 8 and up

Format:  Paperback (256 pages) and Kindle Edition and Audio Download

Published:  August 2016

ISBN-10:  1408864754

ISBN-13:  978-1408864753

Dimensions:  19.7 x 1.3 x 13.1cm

Available from Amazon and undoubtedly other bookshops and libraries 🙂

Chickpea runs away!

This story really needs to be told.  Pre-order the book here to help with production costs ❤

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animals, farmed animals, cows, animal rescue, animal rights, books, children’s books, vegan, vegetarian, vegan children’s books, illustrated books, illustrations

 

Love Unity Voice

Check out the new vegan online magazine LUV4All – 25 fantastic articles from vegans around the world. There’s so much fascinating and inspiring stuff to read – I’m reading one article a day. Like this one: Nation Rising by Sheanne Moskaluk, about a Canadian campaigning group who are demanding their government stop subsidising animal farming and instead spend their tax dollars helping animal farmers to transition to crop farming.  You can watch a video of highlights of the protest speeches and interviews at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada.

There’s an article by Katrina Fox about a new law in Missouri which bans the use of ‘meat’ terminology to describe any food products that haven’t come from a slaughtered animal.  It means that vegan brands could face imprisonment or a fine of up to $1,000 if they use words like ‘sausage’ or ‘hot dog’ on their packaging or describe their products as plant-based ‘meat’.  It’s absolutely crazy and of course is whole heartedly supported by the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, because they want to ‘protect the integrity of their products’!!!!!!

Honestly, this mag has so much – you can read about activism, animal rescue, health, athletics, lifestyle, raising vegan kids, there’s even an article about Violet’s Vegan Comics 😉 It shares veganism from all walks of life, everyone playing to their strengths and being part of the solution.  This is only the second edition (the first came out in May this year) so if you don’t want to risk missing it in the future, make sure you subscribe in the top right hand corner of the Home Page 😀

 

New Bookshop Open Now!

We’re very excited to tell you that we’ve just opened our new bookshop, right here at Violet’s Vegan Comics! 😀

We do have quite a lot of titles now you know 😉

So,  if you’re in need of some new bedtime stories, or you’ve got some adventure-loving kids who are partial to exciting comics and stories, or maybe they’d prefer a colouring book, or a notebook, or someone’s birthday’s coming up, you don’t have to go to Amazon, you can get them right here at Violet’s Vegan Self-Service Bookshop 🙂 “What d’you mean, self-service?” I hear you ask.

Well, our bookshop is a little old fashioned for a web shop, in that nothing’s automated.  There’s no basket and no one’s going to add up your total for you, you’ve got to do it yourself.  It’s what you might call a minimalist shop.  No added extras, just a load of book images with prices on, a contact form, and a paypal button at the bottom 😀

You’ll see when you get there, it’s all explained and very straightforward, but basically you just choose which books you want, add up the total in your head, add £2.50 shipping to your total and pay the Grand Total through Paypal after telling us what you want using the contact form.  Simple.

The other thing that makes our shop rather old fashioned is that there’s no NEXT DAY DELIVERY.  In fact there’s unlikely to be a next week delivery.  Remember the days when you were told to allow 28 days for delivery?  That was normal right?  That was to be expected.  Well, when you remember that you’ll be pleased to learn that when you order books from us they’ll probably be with you in a couple of weeks 🙂

They’re printed on demand you see, in America.  So if you’re ordering from America they might be with you the same week.  It just depends how far they’ve got to travel.  We’ve found that our orders reach us in the UK in about two weeks. Yes, in fact, every order we’ve placed has been with us two weeks later.  I don’t know how long they’ll take to other countries, but hopefully we’ll find out soon 🙂

So you’ve got to wait a bit longer than you’re used to.  But so what?  What’s your rush?  These books are worth waiting for 😀

And the up-side?  Well, the up-side is that you can order them from anywhere in the world.  You can only get them from Amazon if you’re in America or Europe but we’re happy to send them anywhere 😀

So, next time you’re looking for vegan children’s books, give our selection a browse  – there’s something for everyone 🙂

See the bookshop link in the top menu 😀

A lovely time was had by all

HART’s inaugural vegan potluck event on Hornby Island was a roaring success – not surprising when you look at the feast that all the attendees put together 😀

Everybody kindly wrote a list of ingredients to put with their contribution so that food intolerances could be avoided, although it was all vegan of course 🙂

There were thirty attendees including a couple of holiday makers from off the island and, well, if you take a look over here you get the whole story from the person who put it all together: Sarat Colling, founder of Hornby Animal Rights Team.

The same event also played host to HART’s first pop-up library and we’re thrilled to see some of our books among the collection.  Some of the attendees became library members and the first books were loaned.  Anyone who is within reach of Hornby Island, BC, will be delighted to learn that more pop-ups are planned and will be publicised via the website – so subscribe if you don’t want to miss it.

If you don’t want to wait for the next pop-up to join the library, you don’t have to.  If you’re a local, you can check out the list of books for loan and then email hornbyhart@gmail.com with the title(s) you wish to borrow and your contact information.  They will arrange a time to leave the books for pick up in HART’s box at the Co-op Free Post.

Such a great idea 🙂 I hope lots of people will be inspired to do it in their area so that we’ll all be in reach of one 😀

The Rebel Gang and the Number Ciphers book trailer

Ooh, The Corporation is investigating a group of people they suspect of trying to overthrow the government!

Check it out! 😉

You can read The Rebel Gang and the Number Ciphers here,

and if you want the book, you can buy it here 😀

Animal Advocacy Pop-Up Library

Molly the cow who escaped the slaughterhouse and ran into the forest

The above is the gorgeous profile picture of HART: Hornby Animal Rights Team, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to animal advocacy and education, on Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada.

On Friday March 30th, just two days from now, HART will be holding their first event – a community vegan potluck at New Horizons.

In addition to the vegan feast and short film, HART’s first event will also launch their animal advocacy pop-up library.  The library books will be on display for browsing and borrowing, and people will have the opportunity to become library members.

The pop-up library is a brilliant idea! 😀

They are planning to cycle from place to place with a trailer full of wonderful animal-friendly books, fiction and non-fiction, for children and adults, and be the most eco-friendly mobile library you can imagine.  You can read their books at the event or take them home and return them later 🙂

Quite a few of our books are among the HART Animal Advocacy collection, I’m very excited to tell you, so if you’re in the area, take the opportunity to get over there and borrow something, and make some new friends while you’re at it 🙂

If you’re not in the area, as most of us aren’t unfortunately, why not think about setting up your own Animal Advocacy Pop-Up Library in your community?  It’s such a brilliant idea don’t you think?  You can contact HART via their website or email them at hornbyhart@gmail.com for more info about how they’re doing it.

The witch’s spell and how to break it

Wicked Witch

The Wicked Witch’s Plan To Get Rid Of Everyone, a new version of the fairy tale The Wicked Wicked Witch and the Ruinous Manipulation by Maud Earnshaw, illustrated by Beatrice Wilberforce, includes instructions about how to break the witch’s spell at the back 😉

Available from Amazon in the UK, Europe, USA and Canada

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vegan children’s book, vegan fairy tale, vegan children’s story

Good instincts

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 16 continues from yesterday:

Mum opened the bedroom door.

“Luke, don’t you want to help decorate the tree?”

“erm, no thanks,” he said without looking at her.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you sure?  You haven’t been yourself since we went to the Maybury Centre.”

Luke didn’t say anything.  Mum tried again.

“What happened to upset you?  I thought you’d like it there.”

Luke let go of his trains, sat back and looked at her.

“I’m fed up.”

“Why?”

“Coz I’m fed up of grown ups not doin’ what they say.”

Mrs Walker waited for more.

“Maybury is a animal sanctry wot says it teaches people to be kind to animals.  A man from Maybury even came to give a talk at school to tell us not to keep animals in small cages, or let them have puppies.”

“Okay,”

“So why do people whose whole job is lookin’ after animals and teachin’ other people to look after ’em prop’ly, still let animals be killed for food?  Why don’t they care about them animals?  Why do they on’y care about some animals?”

“What makes you think …”

“They sell dead animals in their cafe.”

“Really?  That does surprise me.”

“If I can’t trust people whose job is lookin’ after animals then I can’t trust nobody.  ‘cept myself!”

“Ooh, that’s hard.  No wonder you’re fed up,” said Mum sympathetically.

“And Joe,” he admitted.

“Well, that’s something.  But you know Luke, you shouldn’t give up.  You should tell them how you feel.  You should tell them you are offended by their decision to sell meat in their cafe.”

“I did tell ’em.”

“Good.  And what did they say?”

“Nothin’ sensible.  Jus’ said it was okay coz it was rangin’ and stainable.  Rubbish!”

“Tell them again.  Write them a letter.”

“What’s the point?  They won’t take no notice o’ me.”

Mrs Walker was sorry her son felt so discouraged.  It was a terrible thing to lose your faith in humanity at such a young age.

“The thing is,” she told him, “you never know when someone might listen.  The only thing you can be sure of is that if you don’t say anything, they definitely won’t get the message.”

Luke looked at her and didn’t say anything.

“Come with me, come and help decorate the tree,” she said.

When they got to the living room Jared and Dad already had things well underway.  The tree was gleaming with glittery gold and silver tinsel and different coloured shiny baubles.

“Mm, pretty good,” said Mum, “but it’s missing something.”

“The star for the top,” said Jared, “I’m just about to do it.”

“Something else,” said Mum and she left the room.

A moment later she was back with a small box from the kitchen.  She handed it to Luke.

“No Christmas tree is complete without a few sweet treats,” she said, smiling.

Luke looked in the box.  It was full of chocolate Santas.  On the wrappers were the words:

Moo Free Organic Chocolate,

DAIRY FREE, GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN

Luke’s jaw dropped and his eyes lit up.

“Are these for me?”  he asked.

“No, greedy boy, they’re for all of us!  Why don’t you hang them on the tree?”

“But, … how come …?”

“I found your leaflets,” Mum explained.

“What leaflets?”

“The ones stuffed in the back pocket of your black cords; the black cords you shoved under the bed and forgot about I don’t know how long ago.”

“Oh, I wondered where they were.”

“Well I found them and I checked the pockets before putting them in the wash, and there were these leaflets.  One with a picture of a cow on the front entitled ‘The Dark Side of Dairy’ and one with a cute little brown and white piglet on the front entitled ‘Think Before You Eat’.”

“And you read them?”

“And I read them.”

“And that’s why …?”

“Yes it is,” she paused for a moment, searching for the right words.  “Luke,” she went on, “you have good instincts.  When you started this crusade for animals you did it on instinct.  You hadn’t been told any of the shocking facts and figures that are in those leaflets, you just knew it wasn’t right.  And you did something about it.  You spoke out bravely and you acted.  You broke the rules when you felt you had to and you endured punishments, but you never wavered; you never stopped fighting.”

Luke nodded.  He wasn’t sure why his mum was explaining something that she must have known he already knew, but he waited.  It would become clear eventually.  She continued.

“So I don’t want you to give up hope now.  I want you to know that if you keep trying, you will make a difference.  You have already made a difference for Curly and Little Squirt and the rabb.., er, the damsons, but even more than that, you’re a good influence on other people.”

Now, those were words Luke never thought he’d hear from his mother.

“You have been a good influence on us.”

At this point she took his hand, led him into the kitchen and opened the freezer.

“What d’you fancy for Christmas dinner?” she asked.

Luke looked in the freezer.  It was full – Mum always did a big shop for the Christmas holidays – and there were quite a few unfamiliar boxes and cartons.  He lifted them out one at a time to read the descriptions:

Cauldron Wholefood Burgers

Made with Chickpeas, Cauliflower, Aduki Beans, Broad Beans, Spinach, Onions, Garlic & Potatoes

Cauldron Wholefood Sausages

Made with Grilled Vegetables (Peppers, Courgette, Onion), Beans & Wheat

Cauldron Aduki Bean Melt

“The combination of aduki beans, spinach and mushrooms deliciously filled with mango chutney and carefully coated in breadcrumbs gives a satisfyingly moreish taste.”

Biona Red Lentil Sun Seed Burger

A flavoursome vegan burger made with red lentils, pumpkin and sunflower seeds with a subtle hint of spice. Made using all natural, organic ingredients and free from artificial colours or flavours. Perfect loaded with your favourite burger toppings, added to salads or dipped in sweet chilli sauce as a tasty and nutritious snack.

Can be eaten hot or cold.

Dee’s 6 Leek & Onion Vegan Sausages

The perfect partner to velvety mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, our Leek and Onion Sausages will become an instant family favourite on your weekly menu.

Dragonfly Organic Bubble & Squeak Tatty

Our Tatty is a vegetarian burger that has a real bubble & squeak feel about it, made using locally sourced cabbage and onions

Linda McCartney Vegetarian Country Pies

Vegetarian pie made from a shortcrust pastry base, filled with rehydrated textured soya protein in a rich onion and beef-style gravy, topped with a puff pastry lid.

Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausage Rolls

Vegetarian Cumberland sausage-style filling wrapped in puff pastry.

And there were three flavours of luxury organic vegan ice cream:

Booja Booja Hazelnut Chocolate Truffle, Booja Booja Raspberry Ripple and Booja Booja Caramel Pecan Praline.

Luke was no longer fed up.  He smiled broadly at his mum.

“Are these for all of us?”

“Yes they are.  For all of us,” she said happily, “and I got them from Besco’s.  They sell them in mainstream supermarkets Luke and that just shows how much progress you’re making.  That’s what happens when you speak out and you keep speaking out.”

Mrs Walker was treated to a rare hug which lasted a good half minute, and then Luke ran from the kitchen.

“Where are you going?” she called after him.

“I’ve got some letters to write!” he said.

Happy Christmas everybody!

We hope you have a good one!

❤ ❤ We’ll see you in the New Year! 😀 ❤ ❤

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vegan, vegetarian, vegan children, veggie kids, animals, animal sanctuary, Christmas, children’s story, vegan children’s story, children’s book, vegan children’s book, juvenile fiction, hope

A penchant for wandering off

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 16 continues from yesterday:

“Luke!  There you are!” called Mum, “you do have a penchant for wandering off.”

Luke had no idea what a ponshon was but decided to take her word for it.

“Look what I’ve got!” she said.  She sounded excited.  “I won it!  Well, I bought so many tickets I almost bought it!”

Luke looked at the slightly torn, slightly scratched, slightly coming apart at one end, box she was carrying.  He could hardly believe it.

“Is that the same as ..?” he asked her.

“Exactly the same!” she said.  She sounded so happy.  “Here you are darling, this is yours.”

She was holding a Hornby R.793 King Size Electric train set.  It was exactly the same as Grandad Pete’s.  Grandad Pete was Mum’s dad and he loved trains.  He was a volunteer fireman at his local steam railway and he used to let Luke ride the engine with him when they visited at Easter and August bank holiday.  His Hornby train set had three locomotives – a King Henry VIII, a Class 29 (type 2) Bo-Bo, and a Class 3F Jinty Tank.  Plus it had coaches, wagons, trackside accessories and buildings.  It was brilliant.

Whenever they went to visit Grandad Pete, Luke and Grandad went up to the loft and played with the train set for hours.  It was always set up.  Always ready to play.

Grandad died the day after Luke’s seventh birthday.  He left Luke the train set in his will because he wanted it to go to someone who loved it as much as he had.

Sadly, Mum, because of an unfortunate series of events which were of no interest to Luke, accidentally backed over it with the car.  Luke had been devastated.  Mum equally so.  She couldn’t replace it because they didn’t make them like that any more.  And Luke didn’t want just any train set.  But now she’d found one.  And it really was exactly the same as Grandad’s.  Luke was momentarily lost for words.  He looked up at Mum’s glowing face.

“Thank you,” he tried to say but the words caught in his throat.  He was overwhelmed.  “Can we go home and set it up?” he asked.

“Now?” she asked, “are we done here?”

“I’m done here,” he replied.

***

On Christmas Eve, Luke pulled down the peak of his blue engine driver’s cap, blew his whistle and called,

“All aboard!”

The train pulled out of the station.  It picked up speed and smoothly rode the tracks through Lego town, across the Scarf-River bridge, under the Bed-Tunnel through Bed-Mountain, and onto the Blue Pillowcase Coast.  When it got to Seaside station it stopped to pick up Batman, Spiderman and a couple of soldiers on leave, before continuing on its journey to the end of the line.  There was a near accident when a giant brown and white dog stepped onto the track but tragedy was averted when a quick-thinking observer lured the animal out of harm’s way with a Digestive.

Outside, a car door slammed.

“Luke, Jared – Dad’s home.  He’s got the tree!” Mum called from downstairs, “come down and help me decorate it.”

Jared thundered down the stairs.  Luke was too busy.  Batman was late for a job interview – the train must keep going.  As it sped towards the old suspension bridge, the driver noticed two of the shoe lace suspenders had snapped, and the others looked like they’d struggle to take the strain.  He applied the brake but it was too late, the train was going too fast, it wouldn’t be able to stop in time.  Suddenly Spiderman climbed out of the window and ran along the roof of the train to the front.  He spun his web and ….

Mum opened the bedroom door.

“Luke, don’t you want to help decorate the tree?”

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Story concludes tomorrow 🙂 or you can read the whole chapter right now 😉

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vegan, vegetarian, vegan children, veggie kids, animals, animal sanctuary, Christmas, children’s story, vegan children’s story, children’s book, vegan children’s book, juvenile fiction

Looking for a squashed cupcake

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 16 continues from yesterday:

When he got to the cafe he decided to pop in.  He knew that 87p wouldn’t ordinarily get him a cupcake but, since the end of the day was approaching, they might have made them half price.  Or maybe there was a squashed one that nobody else wanted.  It was worth a look.  He stepped inside and picked up a menu.  That was somewhat disturbing.

This animal sanctuary, this place of love and compassion, of respite and rescue; this place whose slogan, “We care about the well being of every animal”, was written across every sign and above every doorway, was selling dead animals in its cafe.

Luke spoke to the lady behind the till.

“Why are you selling meat?”

“Erm, well, it’s on the menu,” she replied.

“But why is it on the menu?”

“Because it’s a cafe,” she said, not knowing why he was confused.

“It’s a animal sanct’ry cafe,” Luke pointed out, “and meat is dead animals.”

“Ahh,” she replied, finally understanding where he was coming from. “All of our meat is from local, free range farms.”

“What does that mean?”

“It’s sustainable.”

“What does that mean?”

By this time a queue had formed behind Luke and when the manager saw that it wasn’t moving, he came over.

“Is everything okay over here?” he asked the lady on the till.

“Oh, yes, erm, this young man has a question about the menu,” she told him.

The manager steered Luke away from the counter.

“How can I help you?” he asked.

Luke started again.

“Why do you sell meat here?”

“Because people want to eat it,” the manager answered.

“But what about the animals who get killed for your meat?”

“Well, …”

“And your eggs?”

“Ah, the eggs …”

“And cheese and milk and ice cream?”  Luke was getting louder and people were starting to look.

The manager spoke quietly in an effort to diffuse the situation.

“I assure you that all the meat, eggs, fish, and dairy sold here comes from local free range farms with sustainable practices.”

Luke was exasperated.

“That’s what she said!”

“Yes.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that it doesn’t come from factory farms where animals are kept in small cages.  The animals are well looked after and are free to walk around.”

“Until they’re killed,” said Luke.

“Er, yes,” said the manager.

“And are the killin’ sheds free range?”

“Er, no,” the manager admitted.

“Are they special killin’ sheds or are they the same killin’ sheds what the factory farm animals go to?”

The manager knew a lot of eyes were on him and for a few moments he didn’t say anything.  Luke, however, had plenty more to say.

“They’re the same horrible killin’ sheds aren’t they?  And them animals is the same as the animals who you look after here; who you say you love; who you say should be treated kindly.”

At this the manager felt he had a good come-back.  He answered with confidence.

“Ah, no, we don’t sell the meat of any of the species who live at the sanctuary.  Only beef and pork and fish.”

Luke looked at him with disdain.

“And,” the manager added with a smile, “we do have vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.  We’ve got something for everyone.”

Luke was bitterly disappointed in what he had thought was a wonderful place.  That this was happening made absolutely no sense to him.  He was so sick and tired of adults saying one thing and doing another.  The manager, taking his silence as an end to their debate, turned to walk away.  Luke touched his arm and said,

“So, you know about veggietareun food, you know there’s no need to eat animals, but you still have ’em killed because some people like eatin’ ’em.  And Maybury says it wants to teach people how to be kind to animals but it doesn’t set a good example of not eatin’ ’em.  It lets people think it’s okay to eat ’em.  It pretends it’s not cruel to eat ’em so people keep on doin’ it.  So it’s your fault when people keep on doin’ it coz you could ‘ave told ’em not to and you didn’t.”

He turned and walked out.  He didn’t want a cake any more.

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Story continues tomorrow 🙂 or you can read the whole chapter right now, no waiting 😉

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vegan, vegetarian, vegan children, veggie kids, animals, animal sanctuary, Christmas, children’s story, vegan children’s story, children’s book, vegan children’s book, juvenile fiction

The beginning of the end

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

And here is the beginning of Chapter 16, the final chapter of the second book, More Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er

Luke Walker and the Maybury Christmas Fayre

Luke reached for it at the exact same time as Jared.  They scowled at each other.

“Let me have it.  I saw it first,” Luke insisted.

“We saw it at the same time,” Jared argued, “and I’m the oldest so you have to do what I say.”

“I do not,” said Luke emphatically.

“Boys!” Mr Walker halted their squabbling, “what’s the trouble now?”

“I want to get this for Mum,” explained Luke, “I saw it first.”

“No he didn’t!” argued his brother, “I saw it first and I want to get it for Mum.”

The item in question was a dainty ceramic ornament depicting Little Bo Peep with a lamb – an ideal Christmas gift for anyone’s mother.  Dad took it off them and asked the lady how much it was.

“All the small ornaments are 50p,” she told him.

Dad looked at Jared and appealed to his better nature.

“Luke doesn’t have much money Jared, so this is all he can afford.  You’ve got your paper round money so you’ll be able to find something else.  Let your brother have this one.”

Jared shrugged.

“Okay,” he agreed and wandered off to the home-made jam stall.

Luke pulled a sticky fifty pence piece out of his pocket and handed it to the lady. She wrapped the ornament in tissue paper for him.  Dad smiled.

“Your mum’ll love that Luke, nice find.”

“Where is Mum?” Luke asked.

“Where d’you think?” said Dad, grinning.

“Tombola!” they both said at the same time.

This was the first time they’d been to the Maybury Christmas Fayre and it was pretty good.  There were lots of stalls where you could buy Christmas presents for reasonable prices – some things were second hand, some were home-made.  There were games, like Mum’s favourite, the Tombola, where you had to get a ticket ending in 5 or 0 to win a prize, and some which had a prize every time like the lucky dip or Luke’s favourite where you paid 50p for a jar wrapped in Christmas paper without knowing what was in it.  If you were lucky it might be a jar full of sweets or marbles; if you were unlucky it might be full of tea bags.  But even that wasn’t a complete loss because it could be a Christmas present for someone.  Nan liked tea.  There was also a cake stall, a raffle, and a dog show to see who was the prettiest dog and who was the cleverest dog and who was the most obedient dog.  Luke knew that Dudley wouldn’t enjoy that because he was the type of dog who had no interest in performing.  He was clever, but didn’t feel it necessary to prove that to anyone.  He was his own dog and Luke respected that.

The other good thing about the Christmas Fayre was that it was in aid of helping animals.  Maybury Centre for Animal Welfare was a sanctuary where they looked after horses and donkeys and sheep and chickens and tortoises and anyone else who needed help and came their way.  They also rescued dogs and cats and rabbits and guinea pigs who’d been abandoned or neglected or cruelly treated, and they found happy new homes for them.  Luke was very glad that his Christmas shopping money was going to such a good cause.

By three o’clock Luke had done all his shopping and was very happy with what he’d got for everyone: Little Bo-Peep for Mum; gloves for Dad; football book for Jared; jar of tea for Nan; bowling DVD for Grandad; and a jar of marbles for Joe. Plus he’d been lucky enough to score a jar of gobstoppers and a really cool stainless steel whistle for himself.

Luke had 87p left so while Dad went to find Mum, he decided to have a final look round.  In doing so he came across a man wearing climbing gear standing behind a table with a pen and a long list of names and numbers.

“Sponsor me to abseil down the clock tower?” he solicited.

“What’s that?” asked Luke.

“Abseil means to descend down the side of a building on a rope.”

Luke looked confused.

The man tried again to explain.

“So, I’ll stand on the top of the tower wearing this harness attached to a rope which will be doubled through a loop. And I’ll jump off the top and bounce my feet on the side of the tower, going down bit by bit, sliding the rope through my hands until I get the bottom.”

“Yeah, I get what you mean, but why would you do that?”

“To raise money for Maybury.”

“But why don’t you get sponsored to do somethin’ useful, instead of abstainin’.”

“Abseiling,” he corrected. “Raising money is useful for Maybury.  They can do a lot of good things with it.”

“Yes, but if the thing you got sponsored for doin’ was useful as well, like you could get sponsored for pickin’ up litter, then you would get money and at the same time you would have done somethin’ really useful.”

The man looked over Luke’s head at the elderly couple approaching his table.

“Sponsor me to abseil down the clock tower?” he asked them.

Luke moved on.

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Story continues tomorrow 🙂 or you can read the whole chapter right now, no waiting 😉

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vegan, vegetarian, vegan children, veggie kids, animals, animal sanctuary, Christmas, children’s story, vegan children’s story, children’s book, vegan children’s book, juvenile fiction

The Christmas Market

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 15, the denouement :

At ten forty-five on Tuesday morning, Luke and Joe climbed aboard the school minibus and grabbed two of the back seats.  Tania and Isabel grabbed the other two.

“This should be good,” said Isabel.

“Yeah, I need to get something for my mum and something for my grandad,” Tania replied.

“Is that all?” Isabel was impressed, “I’ve still got to do all mine.”

The engine started.

“Okay everybody,” Thomas shouted from the front, “seatbelts on.  Off we go!”

Luke and Joe pulled their lunch boxes out of their bags.  Isabel laughed.

“We’ll be there in ten minutes,” she said, “you shouldn’t spoil your appetites – I bet there’ll be some delicious Christmas food at the market.”

“Nah, we’d rather eat now,”  said Luke as he bit into his blueberry muffin.

Tania looked over at their lunches and it reminded her of something she’d been meaning to tell them.

“Thomas is a veggie.”

“Is he?” said Joe.

“I think so.  I saw Mrs Tebbut offer him one of her homemade mince pies yesterday and he asked if they had vegetable suet in them.  She said she wasn’t sure so he said no thank you.”

“He’s cool,” said Luke approvingly.

“Yeah,” Joe agreed, “it’s good he works in our class and dint stay with Ms Robinson.”

***

The Christmas market was really crowded.  It stretched the whole length of Fish Street which had been closed to traffic.  Mr Beardsley told everyone to make sure they were always in sight of himself or Thomas.  They were not to go off anywhere by themselves.

There was a Christmas tree at the car park end of the street, huge and covered in twinkling white lights.  Next to it the Salvation Army band played Christmas carols and the whole atmosphere was happy and festive.  The first stall sold reindeer food at a pound a bag, for anyone who wanted to leave a treat for Santa’s friends on Christmas Eve.

At the second stall, if you weren’t short of cash, you could buy a hand-calved Buddha.

The third stall looked more fun – they were selling robots playing snooker.  Luke thought he wanted one but forgot about it as soon as he saw the bird whistles on the next stall.  He’d always wanted to be able to communicate with birds.

The fifth stall sold snake-length marshmallows; the sixth sold Turkish Delight; the seventh had models of owls and elephants in jars; the eighth sold rock crystal lamps; the ninth had reindeer-shaped planters. Before long the market lost its charm for two boys with no money.

“Let’s go over there,” Luke suggested, pointing to an empty bandstand on the lawn behind the stalls.

“Mr Beardsley said we’re s’posed to stay in sight,” said Joe.

“We will be,” Luke assured him, “we’ll be able to see everybody from up there.”

The boys squeezed between the chocolate scissors stall and the cannabis incense stall and climbed onto the raised platform of the bandstand.  They sat comfortably with their feet dangling and tucked into their sandwiches while they watched the merry throng.

“This is good,” said Luke smiling, “I don’t mind shoppin’ if I don’t have to actually shop.”

By the time they’d finished their lunches their classmates were out of sight and Joe felt they should try to catch up.  Luke disagreed.

“No, we might get lost.  We should wait coz they’ll have to come back this way.  Look, I can see the minibus from here.”

“That’s not our minibus.  Ours doesn’t have a green stripe down the side.”

“Doesn’t it?” said Luke, a little thrown.  “Oh, well, they’ll still have to come back this way.  I think we should wait.”

They only had to wait for another quarter of an hour before they saw a couple of familiar faces.  Tania and Isabel were hurrying across the lawn towards them.

“There you are!” said Isabel, gasping for breath.

“Luke! – You’ve got to come!  They’re selling reindeer skins!” said Tania.

“And reindeer burgers!”

Luke and Joe, crestfallen, climbed down from the bandstand and followed the girls to the far end of Fish Street, where all the food stalls were. Luke was sad but not surprised to see what looked like hundreds of people eager to indulge in deep fried flesh foods, jostling to hold their positions in the queues.

“Say something!” Tania implored.

“What d’you want me to say?” Luke asked.

“Tell them they’re despicable to kill reindeer!  Tell them it’s sick to sell reindeer burgers at Christmas!”

In addition to the stalls selling reindeer, there was one selling inferno cheddar (cheese laced with chillies); another was selling turkey sausages spiced with chilli and paprika; another was using a cute-looking model pig to sell pork scratchings.

“You can tell ’em that if you want,” Luke said, loud enough to be heard by anyone who wanted to listen, “an’ I agree with you, but it won’t do any good.  Not while there’s so many stupid people who want to buy this stuff.”

“Who’s stupid?” said a large man in the spicy sausage queue.

“You lot,” said Luke unapologetically, “all you lot in these queues.”

“Is that right?” he said slowly, turning to face Luke with eyes narrowed.

Tania and Isabel blushed and took a step back.  Joe looked at his feet.  Luke didn’t move.

“Yeah,” said Luke, “Don’t you think it’s stupid to pay for somethin’ what’s killin’ the planet?”

A few more people turned to listen.  Luke went on.

“Well, I call it stupid coz animal farmin’ kills the sea and the rainforests and makes more greenhouse gases than cars an’ planes an’ all transport put together!”

“Says who?” asked the man sceptically.

“Said the United Nations.  Over ten years ago.”  He paused briefly to let them absorb it before concluding.  “Yeah, it’s pretty stupid to spend your money on killin’ the planet you live on.  You’re killin’ yourselves.  An’ your children.  An’ your children’s children.”

Luke was surprised and disappointed to get almost no reaction to his shocking revelation, but he didn’t give up.  He had more.

“An’ I should say it’s pretty stupid to let people starve coz you paid for their food to be given to seventy billion farm animals, just so you can eat meat an’ cheese.  Yeah, anyone who pays for that is pretty stupid alright.  And selfish.”

The large man laughed stupidly.

“But it tastes so good!” he scoffed and turned back to wait for his sausage.

In the silence before the conversational hubbub rose again, three or four people walked away from the food stalls.  Luke turned back to Tania and Isabel.

“See, there’s no point tellin’ people they’re horrible for sellin’ horrible things.  They don’t care.  They’ll sell anythin’ if people’ll pay ’em for it.  It’s the people what pay for it who make it happen.  If they didn’t buy it, no one would sell it.”

The girls nodded.  Isabel looked guiltily at the half-eaten bag of pork scratchings in her hand and quickly tossed it in the bin.  All four children walked back to the bandstand to look out for the rest of their class returning to the minibus.  When they were back in their seats on the bus, Tania made a declaration.

“I’m going to make an early new year’s resolution,” she paused for effect before announcing, “I’m going vegan!”

“Me too,” said Isabel, smiling.

Luke looked wonderingly at Joe.  Joe nodded.

“D’you want to join our secret society?” they asked.

  • Good Spirit, your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life! I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”

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Christmas is just around the corner, for Luke as well.  Join us tomorrow for the beginning of a Christmassy final chapter of the second Luke Walker book 😀

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vegan, vegetarian, Christmas, veggie kids, vegan children, vegan children’s stories, vegan children’s book, fiction, juvenile fiction, animals, environment, humour, adventure, activism

Everything was tidy except Mr Beardsley’s desk

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 15 continues from yesterday:

The chairs were turned upside down on the desks; the bins were empty and the paint pots were washed up and stacked on the draining board.  Everything except Mr Beardsley’s desk was swept and dusted and tidy.

Mr Beardsley’s desk was always a mess – he said it was the only way he knew where to find anything.  Luke decided to see if there was anything worth finding.  There were post-it notes, pencils, pens, two coffee mugs, a pencil sharpener, a stopwatch, a calculator – a calculator?!

“One rule for them, another rule for us!” thought Luke.

There were two piles of exercise books – blue maths ones and yellow history ones.  Luke sought out his own for a sneak preview of his grades.

“He hasn’t even marked ’em yet!” he grumbled, exasperated, “what’s the point of makin’ us hand ’em in on Friday if you’re not gonna mark ’em ’til next week?!”

There was nothing else of interest on top of the desk so Luke tried the drawer.  It was unlocked.

“Aha!”  He lifted out a large hardback diary, “let’s see what you’re gonna make us do next week.”

He dropped the dog-eared book onto the desk and opened it to the first week of December.

Monday was left blank so Luke, cleverly imitating Mr Beardsley’s handwriting, wrote:

On the Tuesday page was a barely legible scribble which seemed promising:

The Wednesday page foretold a spelling test and a fire drill.

The Thursday page confirmed what Luke already knew: there would be a full dress rehearsal of the Christmas concert in front of the rest of the school and the senior citizens from the village. He smiled, knowing that meant no lessons.

The Friday page contained a still more glorious statement:

  • “Yo ho there! Ebenezer!”

Luke flinched at Kenny’s very loud portrayal of Fezziwig and knocked over one of the mugs which was still a quarter full of cold coffee. Thankfully, his reflexes were second to none and in slamming the diary shut he ensured the rest of the desk stayed more or less dry. He carefully placed the book back where he’d found it and rejoined his fellow Thespians.

***

“Will you check on Curly ‘n’ Squirt for me after school?” Luke asked Joe on Monday afternoon as the credits rolled at the end of Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

“Yeah, why? Another rehearsal?”

“Yeah. I’ll be glad when it’s over an’ done with.”

“Not long now.”

“Thank goodness!” said Luke with relief, “I think it was a mean trick them tellin’ us we can be in the play without tellin’ us we wunt be doin’ the practices in lesson time.”

“It was,” Joe agreed, having had to give up a lot of his own free time to paint the scenery.

Mr Beardsley switched on the lights and clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention.

“Wakey wakey everybody, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. It’s nearly half past three, so let me just remind you to bring your Christmas shopping money tomorrow. Full school uniform is compulsory – we don’t want to lose anybody.”

The bell rang loud and long, precipitating a riot of excited voices and chair legs scraping the floor.

“Exit quietly please,” he requested, “see you tomorrow.”

“I haven’t got any money,” said Joe to Luke confidentially.

“Me neither,” Luke replied, “but that doesn’t matter. It’ll still be good to get out of school for a few hours.”

Luke and Joe went their separate ways.

“See ya.”

“See ya.”

***

Luke made himself comfortable in the middle of the row of chairs at the back of the hall. He put his bag on the chair to his left, his coat on the chair to his right and his feet on the chair in front of him. He took out his reading book and his notebook, popped his gobstopper back in his mouth and, keeping one ear open for the approach of his cue, read.

  • “Your reclamation, then. Take heed! Rise and walk with me!”

After reading page 71 he wrote:

After reading page 78 he wrote:

After re-reading page 69 he wrote:

  • “Remove me! I cannot bear it!”

  • “I told you these were the shadows of the things that have been. That they are what they are do not blame me!”

After reading page 80 he wrote:

  • “… but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

Luke swiftly returned his books and his gobstopper to his bag and hurried to stage left. It was time for the Third Spirit.

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See you Monday for the next instalment 😉

But if you don’t want to wait, you can read the whole of chapter 15 now 😀

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Luke, it’s your line!

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Are you sitting comfortably? 

Then we will begin chapter 15: Luke Walker and the school play

  • “I am here today …”

“Tonight.”

  • “I am here tonight to warn you, that you ‘ave yet a chance and hope of escapin’ my fate. A chance and hope of my procturin’, Ebenezer.”

“of my procuring.”

  • “Of my procurin’ Ebenezer.”

  • “You were always a good friend to me, thank’ee!”

  • “You will be haunted by three spirits.”

  • “Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?”

  • “It is.”

  • “I—I think I’d rather not.”

  • “Without the visits, you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls One.”

  • “Couldn’t I take ’em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?”

“Don’t move that, it’s mine!”

“Luke! It’s your line.”

  • “Expect the second on the next night… hey! Leave it I said!”

“Luke!”

“That’s my bag!”

“She’s only putting it in the cloakroom, it’s in the way out here, someone might trip over it.”

“Oh.”

“Can we please finish this scene! Go from ‘Couldn’t I take ’em all at once’.”

Butler pulled a face at Luke who reciprocated.

  • “Couldn’t I take ’em all at once and have it over Jacob?”

  • “Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate. Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!”

Ms Robinson breathed a sigh of relief.

“Okay, that’ll do. Well done for getting the lines memorised both of you, but try to put a bit more feeling into it. Simon, remember you’re really scared, and Luke, don’t forget to rattle your chains and try to make your voice sound more ominous.”

Simon laughed.

“I don’t think Luke knows what ominous means,” he said with a smirk.

“Yes I do!” Luke replied indignantly.

Ms Robinson elaborated.

“Try to sound menacing, sinister. Make your voice deeper if you can.”

“I knew what you meant!” Luke lied, flashing Butler his most withering scowl.

“Okay Luke, take a break,” said Ms Robinson, “Simon, get in position for scene 3.  First Spirit – where are you?”

Luke went to the cloakroom to find his bag. He didn’t trust anyone else with it – there was important stuff inside. He was relieved to find it safe on his peg, looking as though it hadn’t been tampered with. He confirmed this with the retrieval and measurement of his gobstopper – it was the same size it had been an hour and a half earlier when he’d put it in the zip pocket. He put the large sweet back into his mouth, took an orange plastic chair from the stack in the corner, and sat down to read his book. It wasn’t really his book, he’d borrowed it from the library, but it was so good that he thought he’d get his own copy if he got any book tokens for Christmas. The funny thing was, if Mr Beardsley hadn’t given them the book report assignment, he might never have picked it up. Its cover, a boring photograph of a corn field with a mountain behind it, would not normally have caught his attention, but its title – The Sustainability Secret – was intriguing. The word ‘secret’ had made him think of spies, secret agents, action and adventure, so he’d put the book on his ‘maybe’ pile and checked it out. He checked out seven books that day and after first trying and giving up on the other six, he decided, unequivocally, that The Sustainability Secret would be the subject of his book report. It turned out not to be about spies or secret agents but it was engrossing. He read it, and re-read it, every chance he got. Even when he was supposed to be watching rehearsals.

Participation in the school play had annoyingly failed to get him out of lessons because rehearsals were scheduled for after school and at weekends. On top of that Luke had had to spend an enormous amount of his free time learning his lines. Well, not an enormous amount, but some. As it turned out Luke was very good at memorising lines. Not only his own but those of everyone else in the scene. This was a very valuable skill to have and he determined to put it to more productive use in future. For example, there were lots of important facts in The Sustainability Secret that he wanted to commit to memory. A lot of it was scientific stuff which was harder to memorise but he wrote things down, over and over, until they stuck.

After reading page ten he wrote in his secret society notebook:

After reading page eleven he wrote:

  • “Good Heaven! I was bred in this place. I was a boy here!”

Butler’s voice could really carry.

Finding it difficult to concentrate, Luke closed his book and put it away.

“If they’ve on’y jus’ got to ‘I was a boy here’ it’s gonna be ages ’til I’m on again.”

He considered popping out to see Curly and Squirt but since time passed quicker when not at school he knew it was too risky. If he missed his cue again everyone would moan at him. He decided instead to hang out in the classroom. Pupils weren’t really allowed in the classrooms without adult supervision, not since the “mindless vandalism” of class 6, but Luke felt that since he wasn’t a mindless vandal, the rule didn’t apply to him.

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

Enjoy your weekend 😀

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Easy for seasoned outlaws

To read the rest of the Luke Walker stories, click here 😀

Chapter 14 continues from yesterday:

A noisy, activity-filled party with only two adults in attendance was easy to sneak away from.  It hadn’t even been difficult to get the matches from Mr Beardsley’s desk drawer.  Fortunately there had been no rain for a couple of weeks so it didn’t take long to find ample dry twigs and fir cones in the churchyard over the road.  Now all they needed was a big stone each and that would be no problem either because Luke remembered seeing some different coloured pebbles, curiously arranged in the shape of a fish, close to the church entrance.  They’d just been left there.  No one was using them.

It was just after nine o’clock and very dark in the churchyard.  Two owls hooted back and forth.  Every so often bats flew overhead between the bell tower and the vicarage.  Now it really felt like Halloween.  The children made themselves comfortable on the ground near the oldest gravestones they could find.  Covered in lichen, the writing on them was almost illegible.

Making sure there was nothing flammable nearby, Luke built a small fire with the twigs and fir cones on the crumbling horizontal stone base of one of the graves.  He had no trouble getting it going with the few scraps of paper found in Mr Beardsley’s desk drawer earlier.

As their teacher had told them, the game was simple.  On Halloween night, participants made a fire and when the fire burnt out they placed a ring of stones in the ashes, one for each person.  The following morning they would check the circle and if they found any stone displaced, it was said that the person it represented would die before the year ended.

Luke drew a circle in the ash with another stick.  Their pebbles were easy to distinguish from each other.  Luke’s was the biggest and the darkest.  He put it in the twelve o’clock position, closest to the gravestone.  Joe’s was a little smaller and had a notch on one side.  He placed it at nine o’clock.  Isabel’s looked like it had a nose, hers was placed at six o’clock and Tania’s, the smallest of them all, was placed at three o’clock.

“What was that?” Isabel turned suddenly to look behind her.

“Just a rabbit prob’ly,” said Luke, “or a badger.”

“Or a fox,” added Joe.

The boys looked around eagerly, hoping to see some majestic nocturnal wildlife.  They weren’t so lucky.

“We’d better get back,” said Tania, looking at her watch, “it’s nearly five to ten.”

“Wait!” whispered Luke as he ducked behind a tree, “that’s my dad!”

The churchyard was a short-cut between the school and Luke’s road so he might have known his dad would come this way to meet him.  Everyone laid low until he’d passed.

“My mum’s probably at the school by now too,” said Tania.

“They’ll all be there, waiting outside the classroom for us,” said Isabel anxiously, “how will we get back in without them seeing us?”

Luke and Joe smiled at each other.  For seasoned outlaws like them, this wasn’t going to be a problem.

“Follow us,” said Joe, and they led the girls to a little known entrance to the school which was always left open when the caretaker was around so that he could duck out quickly for a smoke without going past the kitchens or the offices.  The door led to the school hall which had a connecting door to Mrs Tebbut’s classroom which shared a cloakroom with Class 5A.

“Don’t tell anyone about this,” Joe added as an afterthought.

Without raising suspicion all four of them rejoined the rest of their class as they emerged from the party. They parted with a secret promise to meet early Saturday morning and check on the fire circle.  Each agreed to wait until they were all together before they looked.

When all children had been collected Mr Beardsley and Thomas returned to the classroom to clear up the mess.  They were tired but it had been fun; they were glad they’d done it.

“Excuse me,” Mrs Butler put her head round the door.

“Oh, hello,” said Mr Beardsley, “are you looking for your plate?  It’s in a stack in the sink.  I’ll wash it up and send it home with Simon on Monday.”

“Er, thank you, no, I’m looking for Simon.  Did he leave with someone else?”

Mr Beardsley’s jaw dropped.  Filled with dread he looked at Thomas.  Thomas shook his head.  At that moment the classroom door opened again and Simon walked in.

“Simon!  Where have you been?” his mum asked, awash with relief.

“Looking for you,” he lied, “shall we go?”

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Chapter 15 starts tomorrow 😉

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Changing the subject

To read the rest of the Luke Walker stories, click here 😀

Chapter 14 continues from yesterday:

Luke decided to change the subject.

“Where shall we put these then?” he asked.

“Not here,” said Mr Beardsley, “or they might get eaten.  Put them on my desk behind the screen.”

The boys did as they were told and made their way through small huddles of various royalty, warriors and poets, a couple of Shakespeares and a Jesus.  No sooner had they placed the food on the desk than Mr Beardsley asked Joe to give him the treacle scones and string so that he could set up the game.  They would be starting in about ten minutes he told them.  Music was already playing and a few people danced self-consciously in the middle of the room.

“This one’s for you Joe,” came a familiar voice through the speaker when the record changed.

Luke and Joe looked around to see Simon Butler behind a turntable across the room, dressed in a short blonde beard; a gold fitted jacket zipped up to his neck; short gold trousers fastened below the knee; long socks and large-buckled shoes.  He thought he was so cool because Mr Beardsley had let him be the DJ.  The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum by Fun Boy Three filled the room and Butler laughed excessively at his own joke.  Luke and Joe paid him a visit.

“So glad you took my advice Joe,” he said privately, “you look even more like a loon than usual!”

“I’m Pythagoras,” said Joe, holding up the right-angled triangle he’d made out of three rulers.

“Oh, yeah, I know you think so, lunatics often think they’re somebody famous,” he chuckled smugly.

“I’m not a lunatic! I am Pythag…”

“What are you s’posed to be anyway?” Luke interrupted their pointless argument to draw attention to Butler’s ridiculous ensemble.

“Sir Walter Raleigh,” Butler confessed without shame.

Luke cast his best contemptuous glance at his arch enemy and said nothing.

“Okay, switch the music off now Simon, it’s time for the games to begin,” Mr Beardsley called across the room.

Mr Beardsley and Thomas had put out four small tables at intervals around the room.  They were set up with different traditional Halloween games.

“Take it in turns to play the games at each table,” Blackbeard instructed, “have fun!”  He was the kind of teacher who didn’t believe in too much control.  He liked to give the children enough room to find their own way and, since he’d already explained the games in class, he chose not to recap.  “You can put the music back on now Simon,” he added.

“This table is for apple bobbing,” said Thomas who, unlike his colleague, preferred to make sure things were being done properly.  “One at a time.  Katia – you go first.”

Luke and Joe decided to come back later for apples and wandered over to see what was on the next table.  Joe’s treacle-covered scones, with long lengths of string tied to them, were suspended above the table and dangled at different heights.  Queen Elizabeth I and Boudicca were already tucking in.  With hands held behind their backs, Tania and Isabel tried to bite the scones and every time they got a nibble, the sticky pendulums swung away and then back, bumping their noses, their chins, their cheeks and their hair.  Boudicca, being less concerned about her appearance than the Queen, finished her scone first and bowed her grinning, sticky head in gratitude for the applause of her peers.  Queen Liz, dignified in defeat, shook her opponent’s hand and went to the sink to wash her face.

“Us next!” said Luke, standing beside the table and leaning forward.  “Go!” he shouted before Joe was ready, and tried to grab an untouched scone in his teeth.

Joe hurried to join in but found himself at a disadvantage when one scone stuck to his thick beard, just below his bottom lip, and prevented him from getting close to any other.  Thomas laughed and reminded Joe that he couldn’t use his hands but he needn’t have said anything because Joe was not a cheater.  Luke was the clear victor, finishing his scone in just four bites, and afterwards Joe was allowed to manually detach his scone from his beard and eat it normally.  There were less hairs on it than one might expect.

At the next table were small plates with chunks of barm brack on them, cut from the fruit breads that Luke and a couple of other people had made.

“I’ve got a coin!” said Isabel as she broke up her piece with a fork, “that means I’m going to be rich!”

“I think you’re s’posed to just bite it,” said Joe, “it might not work if you pull it apart like that.”

“I don’t wanna risk choking!” Isabel explained sensibly.

“Plus it’s dirty,” added Tania, “money’s really dirty you know.  Just think how many people have touched it without washing their hands.”

Joe had already bitten into his chunk of barmbrack and discovered that he too had a coin.  He spat it quickly into his hand.

“It’s not dirty,” Luke assured him, “don’t ya think I washed ’em before I put ’em in?”

“Is this the one that you made?” Joe asked, a little relieved.

“Yeah,” said Luke confidently, “well, it looks …, yeah, definitely.”

Luke bit into his piece of bread and found only currants and orange peel.

At the next table were three large dishes of colcannon, accompanied by a stack of small bowls and spoons.  The game was the same.  If you found a coin it meant you would be rich; if you found a ring it meant you would find true love.  Luke hadn’t had any rings to put into his baking, and he’d put all his spare coins into his barm brack, so he loaded his bowl from the colcannon he’d made himself, knowing that the only thing he was in danger of finding was a pile of delicious grub.  Thoughtful as always, he didn’t spoil the game for the others by telling them that.

A few minutes later, Luke, Joe, Tania and Isabel, all happy in spite of finding nothing but cabbage in their mash, found their newly stimulated appetites craved more and made their way to the long table.  It was a good job they hadn’t left it any longer as many of the other children were already digging in and the good stuff was going fast.  Luke took a large paper plate from the pile and filled it with roasted sweetcorn, monkey nuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, bonfire toffee and … oh no, Joe got the last toffee apple.

“Oh, do you want it?”  Joe offered when his hand reached it just before Luke’s.

“Nah,” said Luke, trying to sound casual, “it’s yours.”

“We’ll share it,”  Joe decided.

Luke smiled.

“Okay.”  This was a good party.

Then he noticed something bad on the table.  Something not in keeping with the celebration.  Something odious.  Something which was in shockingly bad taste: Scotch eggs.

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story continues tomorrow 🙂

but if you can’t wait you can read the whole of Chapter 14 now 😉

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Not Mr Darcy

To read the rest of the Luke Walker stories, click here 😀

Chapter 14 continues from yesterday:

“Not Mr Darcy!  Mr Wilberforce!” Luke insisted.  “I don’t want to look like some posh bloke from Priden Precipice!”

Mrs Walker pulled the black trousers, white ruffled shirt and long black coat from The Village Players’ costume trunk.

“William Wilberforce would have dressed like Mr Darcy Luke, these will be just the thing,” she assured him, “I’ll just give them an iron.”

“Okay,” Luke tentatively agreed, “but what about Joe?  Is there anythin’ in there that Joe can wear?”

Luke’s mum set up the board and plugged in the iron.

“Who’s he going as?” she asked.

“Depends what costumes you’ve got,” said Luke, keeping an open mind.

Mum had only recently joined the local amateur dramatics group so she wasn’t sure what costumes they’d got.  Most of them were a bit worse for wear but they were lucky to be allowed to use them.

“See for yourself,” she suggested, “have a rummage and see if anything captures your imagination.”

Luke rummaged.  Pink tights, brown tights, knickerbockers, caterpillar costume, spider costume, Cheshire Cat costume, blue dress with white pinafore.  So far not so good.  Red ball gown, green ball gown, yellow ball gown, purple tutu, red clown shoes.  Really not good.

“Rubbish!” said Luke ungratefully, “it’s all rubbish!”

Mum sighed and switched off the iron.

“Luke – don’t just throw them around like that!  You’re lucky we’ve been allowed to borrow these,” she said, exasperated.

Luke was sorry.  He just wanted to find something good for Joe to shut Butler up.  He helped Mum pick up the costumes and re-fold them.

“Sorry,” he said.

She pressed her lips tight together and looked him in the eye.

“That’s alright,” she said.  Then, just as she was about to put the folded pile back in the trunk, she noticed a couple of things Luke had missed.

“What about these?” she said.

“A nightgown and a Father Christmas beard?” said Luke, unimpressed.

“Not a nightgown, a robe,” she explained, “men used to wear these in the olden days, especially in hot countries.”

Luke’s blank expression indicated he needed another clue.

“Who’s that maths guy you like?”

Still blank.

“Vegetarian?  Triangles?”

“Pythagoras!”

“Yes!” Mum smiled, “I bet he would have worn something like this.  And he probably had a long white beard when he got old.”

“Yeah!” Now Luke was excited, “We’ll both be veggietareun people from history!  Joe can be Pythagoras and I’ll be William Wilberforce’s ghost!”

“Why not just William Wilberforce?  Why do you have to be his ghost?”

“Coz it’s a Halloween party.  Ya know: Ha-llow-een.  It’s all about ghosts and scary stuff.”  He thought his mum would have known that.

“Yes, but you’re all going as people from history.”

“Yes.”

“So they’re all dead.”

“Yeah.”  There really was nothing confusing here.

“So why doesn’t Joe go as Pythagoras’s ghost?”

“It’s supposed to be someone who’s dead.  So he’s Pythagoras.  The man.”

“Yes, I see, so why aren’t you the man?”

“I’m going to be William Wilberforce’s ghost.”

“Not man?”

“No.”

“But if you’re a ghost why isn’t Joe going to be a ghost.  Or if he’s the man, why aren’t you the man…?” She caught sight of her own reflection in the mirror and paused, wondering why she kept asking questions to which there could be no satisfactory answer.

“Can you iron this one as well please?”  her son asked, handing back the white robe, “I’m goin’ to phone Joe and tell ‘im.”

***

On Friday 31st of October at 7.08 pm, Luke and Joe said goodbye to Luke’s dad at the school gate and walked towards the classroom carrying their contributions to the party food.  Luke had followed the Halloween recipes given to him by Mr Beardsley for barm brack (a kind of fruit bread) and colcannon (mashed potatoes mixed with cabbage).  Mum had helped a bit.  Joe brought the treacle-covered scones he’d made with Janet’s assistance, using another of their teacher’s traditional recipes.  He’d also remembered the string.

Mr Beardsley’s classroom was almost unrecognisable.

Hanging from the ceiling were two large imitation crystal chandeliers, covered in cobwebs and emitting a very dim, creamy light.  Long dark-purple velvet curtains replaced the Venetian blinds that usually hung in the windows, the bottoms of which sat in folds on the floor around large pumpkins carved with grotesque gargoyle faces.

The boys approached a long table at one end of the room.  It was draped in a ragged, dark red table cloth whose dusty hem skimmed the dusty parquet.  On it fifteen white candles stood tall on three candelabra, complete with realistic-looking orange and yellow tissue paper flames and untidily littered with long drips of dry wax.  Various plates and bowls of food, brought by the children, were set upon the table.  Luke and Joe added theirs.

“No, not on there boys,” Mr Beardsley startled them, suddenly appearing as he did.  “Those are for the games, remember?”

Luke and Joe looked at their teacher and then at each other and laughed.  Mr Beardsley had really pulled out all the stops for this party.  His already lofty frame appeared even taller than usual, and his apparently-severed head rested in front of his chest, supported by his left arm.  Atop the severed head sat an enviable black hat, with wide upturned brim and a sinister-looking white skull and cross-bones on the front.

“Who are you supposed to be?” asked Luke.

“Can’t you guess?” teased his teacher, rubbing his brand new coal-black beard.

“No,” said Luke.  Joe also shook his head.

Mr Beardsley tutted.

“Boys, boys boys,” he said, shaking his head, “don’t you ever listen to my lessons?”  he asked rhetorically. “I’m Blackbeard.  Remember?  The famous pirate who was beheaded in 1718?”

“Pirate?” said Joe, looking daggers at Luke.

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story continues tomorrow 🙂

but if you can’t wait you can read the whole of Chapter 14 now 😉

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Not even pretending to listen

For all the Luke Walker chapters so far click here 😀

Here begins Chapter 14: Luke Walker and the Halloween Party

Luke, Joe, Isabel and Tania looked at the circle and gasped.  They hadn’t believed it could happen.  Now that it had, they were scared.

“That’s it then,” said Luke eventually, “I’ll prob’ly be dead by Christmas.”

***

Three days earlier everything had seemed so ordinary.  Boringly so.  Class 5A were doing History.  History was sometimes interesting, sometimes exciting and often-times boring.  This particular lesson seemed like it was going to fit into the last category.  Mr Beardsley was talking whilst writing on the board, which meant he had his back to the class, which meant very few people were even pretending to listen.

“… historians believe that many of these traditions originate from Celtic harvest festivals, but others are of the opinion that it has always been a Christian ….”

“T,” whispered Luke.

“No,” said Joe, as he drew a diagonal support on the gallows.

“F,”

“Yes,” said Joe and filled in the Fs.

“Ooh, two Fs!  Is it coffee?”

“No,” and he drew the noose.

Mr Beardsley rambled on and Luke found it disturbed his concentration.  He felt sure he was close.  There couldn’t be that many words with double F.  Then the teacher said something that caught his attention.

“… Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, which is why it was traditional to eat certain vegetarian foods on this special day.  In particular they ate apples, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.”

“What’s he talkin’ about?” Luke asked Joe.  Joe looked at him blankly.  Isabel Jessop tapped him on the shoulder and passed him a note which said ‘Halloween’.

Luke nodded a thank you to her.  He pushed the note across to Joe.

“Halloween is a veggietareun day!  We’d better listen coz he might want us to explain things to the others.”

Joe nodded and smiled uncomfortably.  He’d never been called upon to explain anything to anyone and the idea didn’t appeal to him.  However, realising that if any explanations were needed his friend would certainly provide them, he regained his composure.  The boys watched their teacher and listened.

All Hallows’ Eve, otherwise known as All Saints EveAllhalloween or, nowadays, just Halloween, begins the three days of Allhallowtide during which people remembered saints and martyrs and other dead people.”

“Oh my gosh!” thought Luke, “it seemed like it was gettin’ int’restin’ so we stopped playin’ an’ now it’s borin’ again!”

“… such as roasted sweetcorn, roasted pumpkin seeds, toffee apples,…”

“Toffee!  Is it toffee?”

“No,” said Joe, drawing the condemned man’s circular head.

“… and they would enjoy these foods at Halloween parties where they’d also play some fun games.”

Mr Beardsley had their attention again.

“So I thought we could have a Year 5 Halloween party.  We’ll invite class 5B and play some of these traditional games.”

A buzz of excitement filled the room.

“When?” someone shouted.

“On the 31st of October of course.  The day after tomorrow.  Friday.”

“Where?”

“Here.  At seven o’clock ’til ten.  I’ll send a note home to your parents today.”

Mr Beardsley was so disorganised.  Luke liked that about him.

“Will it be fancy dress?”

“Indeed it will, but stop shouting out and let me finish.  I’ll answer any questions you still have at the end of the lesson.”

***

Friday’s party was eagerly anticipated by everyone.  It was going to be historical.  They were going to play traditional games and eat traditional food – which they would have to make from scratch over the next couple of days.  Mr Beardsley had given them recipes to take home.  And they needed costumes.  There was a lot to do and very little time in which to do it.  Luke and Joe talked about it while they put on their coats and boots at the end of the day.

“I’m going to be a pirate,” said Joe.

“You can’t be a pirate, it’s not historical.”

“Isn’t it?”

“No, it’s made up.  Like in Peter Pan.”

“Pirates are real,” Isabel couldn’t help pointing out when she overheard their conversation.

“Not Long John Silver, or Captain Hook, or someone with a parrot on ‘is shoulder,” Luke clarified.

“What are you comin’ as then?” asked Joe.

“William Wilberforce’s ghost,” said Luke proudly.

“Ooh, good one,” said Tania as she returned to Isabel the scarf she’d borrowed.

“I’m coming as Queen Elizabeth I,” she added, shaking her auburn curls.

“Who can I be?” Isabel wondered aloud.  The girls walked away in deep discussion.  Luke and Joe were not far behind.  Joe was disappointed that he couldn’t go as a pirate.

“What can I go as then?” he asked his friend.

“Go as a lunatic from one of those old asylums,” suggested Simon Butler who’d appeared from nowhere, “then you wouldn’t need a costume!”  And he laughed so loud on his way out that Mrs Tebbut shouted ‘PIPE DOWN OUT THERE!’ from the classroom next door.

Luke scowled.

“Idiot Butler!  Not even s’posed to be in this cloakroom,” he hissed under his breath.  “Don’t worry,” he told Joe, “you’ll be somethin’ better’n ‘im!”

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Don’t go far away, the story continues tomorrow 😀

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“Quickly! Before they see you!”

For all the Luke Walker stories so far click here 🙂

For the whole of Chapter 11 click here 🙂

Chapter 11 continued from yesterday:

The police car was between him and the officers so he kept his head down and crept up to the rear door. He tried the handle.  Nothing happened.  He tried it again.  It should have opened.  He’d seen Dad do it a hundred times.  A car’s back doors were only locked on the inside.  The black-haired lady looked out the window, shook her head and spoke almost inaudibly.

“What are you doing?  Go away!  Quickly!  Before they see you!”

Luke didn’t listen.  He was determined to rescue her.  This lady was a righteous warrior like himself; a fighter for justice; a fellow animal stick up for-er.  He would rescue her or die in the attempt.  He tried the door again.  It clicked open.  It was like dad’s car!

At that moment the ice cream van pulled up between the police car and the police officers, thus enlightening the black-haired lady on the reason for her arrest.  The ice cream seller leaned out his window to talk to the officers.

“Get out!  Quick!” Luke urged the lady.

The two of them ran as fast as they could back into the market and out the other side towards the trees.  When they reached cover they slumped down behind the trees and caught their breath.

“I’m sorry I got you in trouble Jessica,” said Luke.  The lady grinned.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Luke.”

“Not Luke Walker by any chance?”

“Yeah, how’d you know?”

“They’ve been calling your name on the Tannoy for the last hour and a half.”

“Oh yeah, that’s why I had to hide.”

The lady laughed.

“Oh, it all makes sense now.  It wasn’t the police, it was your family trying to find you.”

Realisation flickered across Luke’s features.

“Oh,” he said, feeling a little guilty for forgetting about Nan and Grandad.  “I’m sorry I got you in trouble,” he apologised again.

“Hey, listen, getting blamed for what you did won’t do my reputation any harm at all,” the lady said with a chuckle.  Luke smiled.

“Anyway,” she went on, “I’m free and clear now.  Thanks for rescuing me.”

Luke looked at the lady and thought she could be trusted.

“Would you like to join my secret society?” he asked.

“I like the sound of that!  Especially if this is the kind of stuff your secret society gets up to!”

“Good,” said Luke, “there’s on’y me an’ Joe so far but that’s good coz no one else knows about it.  So don’t tell anyone.”

“I won’t,” the lady agreed.

“Nobody.”

I won’t,” she laughingly assured him.

“How will I get in touch with you?” Luke asked.

The lady took a pen out of her pocket and wrote a phone number on the back of Luke’s hand.

“Any time, day or night, you can reach me on that number,” she said, standing up, “and my name’s Kris.” She smiled at his mild confusion. “I’d better get out of here before they start searching the woods.  Will you be alright?  Will you be able to find your people?”

“Yeah.”

“Go to the organisers’ table, they’ll be able to get hold of them for you.”

Luke wasn’t sure.

“Don’t worry, the police aren’t looking for you.  It’s safe.  Go and find your people,” she urged him and then she started away, going deeper into the trees.

“Oh, don’t forget your jacket,” Luke called after her.

“Keep it,” she said, smiling, and left.

Luke walked back through the market to the organisers’ table and informed them that he was Luke Walker.  Nan’s mobile was called and she and Grandad were there to fetch him in next to no time.  Nan ran at him, hugged him and then smacked his bum.

“You horrible boy!  Why would you do this to us?  We’ve been worried sick!  Where have you been?”

“I’m sorry,” he said sincerely, “I was jus’ shoppin’ and I lost track of time.”

“Shopping!  You weren’t supposed to go off by yourself!  You were supposed to stay with us!  You knew th…”

“What did you buy?” Grandad interrupted.

Luke looked at him and thought for a moment.

“A wheelbarra …” he said, turning full circle to look for it.  And there it was, lying on its side, just a few metres away.  “This one,” he added, going to fetch it.

“And a jacket by the look of it,” said Nan, a little calmer now.

“Oh yeah,” Luke smiled, “and a jacket.”

Come back tomorrow for Chapter 12 😀

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Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er (the first eight chapters); More Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er (chapters nine to sixteen); and Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er: my privut notebook are available from Amazon in the UK, Europe, the USA and Canada 🙂 but if you’d prefer to mail order them through us, get in touch 😀

  

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Strong and determined

For the stories so far click here 🙂

Chapter 11 continued from Friday:

With a wheelbarrow full of three different leaflets which told the truth about the dairy industry, Luke headed for the car park.  The wheelbarrow was heavy and the cars were parked quite close together on uneven ground, so it was rather difficult to stop the barrow from tipping.  But Luke was strong and determined so he only lost control of it a couple of times, and on those occasions the cars he grazed were already scratched anyway.  He put one leaflet under a wiper blade, on the windscreen of each car.  He’d seen it done before with car-wash flyers in the supermarket car park.

Some wipers were easy to lift, some of them required a bit of force, a couple of them came off, but when that happened he was luckily able to find a window or a sunroof open so he tossed the leaflet inside. Considerate as always, he tossed the wiper blade in with it.

After some time – he had no idea how much – Luke had leafleted most of the cars in the car park.  He had intended not to miss a single one but when he saw an angry man, waving a wiper blade, fast approaching his position, he decided that discretion was the better part of valour and retreated behind the long queues for the portaloos.  He had almost half a box of leaflets left and wanted to use them.  It wasn’t long before he found an opportunity.

The ice cream van was parked close to the line of trees which skirted the market.  It was doing a roaring trade.  Luke felt that it wouldn’t do any trade at all if there was any justice in the world.  He was sure it wouldn’t if everyone knew the truth.  That thought gave him an idea.  This idea, he was well aware, was not, strictly speaking, legal.  But it was moral and that meant he was right to do it.  He would do what Robin Hood would have done, whatever the consequences.  He was an outlaw after all.

He left his wheelbarrow in the shadows behind the trees and ran back to a craft stall he’d seen earlier. The lady on the craft stall was demonstrating how to make paper maché models.  She was doing the ‘here’s one I made earlier’ bit, revealing a stiff, hollow, paper pig ready for a coat of paint. The tub of wallpaper paste that she’d been using in an earlier part of her demonstration was tucked away under her stall.

“I jus’ need to borra a bit,” Luke told himself, “I’ll bring it back before she misses it.”

Within minutes he was pasting leaflets all over one side of the ice cream van, unseen by the ice cream seller or his treat-seeking customers who stood in line on the other side.  He worked fast, knowing he might be spotted and stopped at any moment.  At the same time he was encouraged by a feeling that some great spirit was watching over him, enabling him to complete his mission unhindered.  The spirit of Robin Hood?  It couldn’t just have been luck that he’d been able to get his hands on exactly what he needed for this job.  The label on the side of the tub of paste read:

MELROSE WHEATPASTE

suitable for paper maché, scrapbooking

wallpaper application & billboard posters

NON TOXIC * STRONG * DRIES TRANSPARENT

WARNING: WHEATPASTE POSTERS, ONCE APPLIED, ARE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE.

It couldn’t have been more perfect.  Luke fearlessly pasted over colourful illustrations of lollipops, ice cream cones, and a happy cartoon cow who bore no resemblance to her real-life counterparts.  The van’s lies were soon obliterated by pages of facts and figures about the cruel reality of dairy farming, including miserable photographic proof.  When the side of the van was completely covered in leaflets, as high as Luke could reach, he stepped back to see the full effect.  It was good.

Unable to believe how well this was going, Luke slipped unseen, back the way he’d come.  He re-emerged from behind the line of trees when he reached the craft stall and returned the paste.  Then he tucked the remaining four leaflets in his back pocket and pushed his empty wheelbarrow from stall to stall, looking for Nan and Grandad.  He looked for ages until eventually he came close to the organisers’ table and heard his own name over the Tannoy.

“Would Luke Walker please go to the ice cream van.  Would Luke Walker please go to the ice cream van, near the car park and the toilets.”

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Story continues tomorrow 🙂

To read the whole of Chapter 11 now, click here 🙂

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Way of the world

For chapters 1 to 10 click here 🙂

Chapter 11 continued from yesterday:

He smiled broadly as he considered how fortuitous this outing had turned out to be; how lucky it was that this week of all weeks he’d needed a wheelbarrow.

***

Nan and Grandad loved to go to car boot sales, antique fairs and flea markets.  They would drive for miles to get to them and rarely a Sunday went by without Nan acquiring a ‘new’ old plant pot, or handbag, or garden bench, or record or book or who knows what.  So, when Luke decided he needed a few tools for his allotment – a rake, a bucket or two, and a wheelbarrow – he asked Mum to ask Nan if he could go with them that weekend.  She said yes, as long as he behaved himself and didn’t eat or drink anything in Grandad’s car, or put his feet on the seats.

“Will she ever get over the chocolate biscuit/chewing gum incident?” he thought. “It wasn’t even my gum – it had got stuck on my shoe because of a dropper and the chocolate crumbs … ”

Anyway, he promised to be good, and it was arranged.

Six days later, Luke was sitting in the back of Grandad’s car; seatbelt on; feet on the floor; no food or drink whatsoever.  They turned into a farm lane and drove past a field of grazing cows, one of whom had a baby with her.  They waited in a long queue of cars approaching the flea market and Luke was able to watch mother and baby for a few minutes.

He could see how attentive the mother was to her baby and how the baby followed his mother wherever she went.  It was nice to watch.  Then he saw two farmers with a wheelbarrow walk over to them and lift the baby into it.  The baby cried out for his mum and the mum tried to get to her baby but one of the farmers obstructed her so that the other one could wheel the barrow away.  He walked briskly, almost breaking into a run to get to the gate as quickly as possible and the mother cow hurried after them, calling all the time to her baby and him calling back to her.  The farmer with the wheelbarrow got through the gate and closed it and the other one climbed the fence.  They put the calf into a trailer and drove away in the Land Rover that towed it, along the track that bordered the field, until they got to the road and were soon out of sight.  The whole time the mother cow was running along the edge of the field, trying to keep up with them, calling for her baby.  When the trailer was out of sight she just stood at the fence and called and called, a most miserable, pining sound, as she watched the direction in which they’d fled, pleading for her baby’s return.

“Where are they takin’ ‘im?  Are they gonna bring ‘im back?” Luke desperately asked his grandparents.

“What love?” said Nan.  She hadn’t been watching.

“The baby cow!  They took ‘im away from ‘is mum!  Why did they do that?  When will they bring ‘im back?”

“They won’t,” said Grandad, matter-of-factly.

“What?! Why not?” Luke demanded.

“The farmer keeps cows for their milk.  He needs to sell as much milk as possible so he can’t have the calves drinking his profits can he?  He’s got to make a living.  Way of the world Luke, you might as well get used to it.”

Luke was outraged.  He’d known instinctively that it wasn’t right to steal a cow’s milk and was certain it couldn’t be natural to drink it if you weren’t a baby cow, but he’d had no idea that farmers actually kidnapped babies away from their mothers; that a mother who’d done nothing wrong, who was giving him her milk, was not even allowed to keep the baby who made the milk possible.  And the baby – what would happen to the baby?

“Does everybody know this?  Does everybody know what the horrible farmer is doin’?” Luke felt that surely people wouldn’t buy the milk if they knew.

“He’s not horrible Luke,” Nan tried to explain, “cows are not people, they don’t have the same feelings and emotional attachments that we have.”

“Yes they do!  Din’t you see?  Din’t you see ’em together?  They love each other!”

“Luke,” Nan answered quietly, “the farmer’s got to earn …”

“I could earn a livin’ stealin’ other people’s jewel’ry and sellin’ it to someone else, but if I did that you’d tell me off!”

“It’s not the same …”

“Too right it’s not the same coz I wun’t be kidnappin’ someone’s baby!”

While Luke fumed Grandad reached the car park and they all got out of the car.  Luke couldn’t stop thinking about the cow baby and the cow mum crying for each other.  He trailed slowly behind his grandparents, very unhappy in the realisation that this was the way of the world and there was nothing he could do about it, not really, not for that baby or that mum.

“Grown ups always say ‘you must be good’, ‘you must be kind’ and then they do things what they know is unkind,” Luke mumbled frustratedly to himself, “they don’t follow their own rules, so they can’t expect me to follow ’em.  They should follow my rules – mine make more sense, mine do what they say instead of just say and not do!”

And so, as he railed against the world, he wandered away from his grandparents and browsed the stalls alone.  He wasn’t worried.  He’d find them later.

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Story continues on Monday 🙂

To read the whole of Chapter 11 now, click here 🙂

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And here begins chapter 11: Luke Walker and the ice cream van

For chapters 1 to 10 click here 🙂

Luke Walker and the ice cream van

Set apart from the rest of the flea market was a stall that was of great interest to Luke.  Standing behind it was a lady wearing black eye shadow and black nail varnish.  She had long, straight, jet black hair and her khaki jacket had lots of badges on it which said things like “MEAT IS MURDER” and “A FISH IS NOT A VEGETABLE” and “NOT YOUR MUM” written above a picture of a man suckling from a cow.

“Where’d you get those?” Luke asked the lady.

“These?  Oh, different places.  This one I ordered from a website,” she said, indicating the one with the suckling business man, “and these I got from VegFest.”

“What’s VegFest?”

“It’s a weekend event with lots of stalls and talks by veggies and veggie companies.  They have them a couple of times a year in different cities like London and Brighton.”

Luke had never met another vegetarian before, apart from Joe, and he’d had no idea there were enough of them to warrant weekend events like that.  He was impressed.

“Are you interested in becoming vegan?” the lady asked as Luke browsed the leaflets on display.

“Vegan?” said Luke, “That’s not a real word!  I’m a veggietareun and I wun’t be nothin’ else!”

“Well that’s good, but why are you a vegetarian?  Is it because you don’t want animals to be killed?”

“Of course,” said Luke.

“Well then, it might interest you to know that animals are also killed to supply you with milk and eggs,” the lady explained, with patience.

“I know that, that’s why I don’t eat ’em because I’m a veggie-tareun!” said Luke, slowly, with emphasis.  Not patience.  “Veggie (that’s short for vegetables) tareun (that means someone what eats ’em).  I on’y eat vegetables, which means things what grow after bein’ planted in the ground.”  It must be acknowledged that Luke was good at explaining things.

The lady looked as though she now understood and was very pleased about it.

“That means you’re a vegan young man, well done!”

Luke was unswayed.

“I’ll stick with words what make sense, thanks.”

The stall-holder smiled again.  The word didn’t matter.  Then she realised the boy had been browsing for a good few minutes and no responsible adult had materialised.

“Who did you come here with?” she asked, “is your mum or dad or somebody around here somewhere?”

Luke nodded.

“Mmm, somewhere.”

He continued browsing.  There was a lot of interesting stuff.  People needed to know this stuff.

“Where do you get these leaflets from?” he asked the lady.

“Why?  Do you want some?  You can take what you want,” she replied generously.

Luke couldn’t believe his luck.

“Just take ’em?  As many as I want?”

“Yes,” the lady assured him, “they need to get out to the public; people need to know this stuff.”

“Yes they do!” said Luke, gratified to have found a kindred spirit, “have you got a box?”

“You want that many?” the lady raised her eyebrows, “it’ll be quite heavy if you fill a box. How will you carry it?  How will you get it home?”

“I’ve got a wheelbarra,” said Luke, proudly pointing to a rusty old one he’d bought for 50p ten minutes earlier, “an’ I’m not takin’ ’em home.”

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Chapter 11 continues tomorrow 🙂

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The lentil hotpot gambit and other clever tricks

For the whole story click here 🙂

The conclusion of Chapter Ten:

For dinner his mum had cooked lamb chops.  After getting to know Curly and Squirt, Joe couldn’t bring himself to actually bite into one but when no one was looking he cut a piece off and hid it in his pocket. Then he shoved some mashed potato in his mouth.  After swallowing, he started making retching noises.

“Joe!  Do you have to make that revolting noise?” his mum asked with disgust, “what’s the matter?”

Joe jumped up from the table and ran to the toilet.  Mrs Currant was close behind so he had to be quick. He tipped the pre-opened tin of lentil hotpot, that he’d hidden behind the toilet, into the bowl and then leaned over it and made vomiting noises.  Mrs Currant caught up.

“Oh, Joe, have you got a stomach bug?  I hope the rest of us don’t catch it!”

Joe looked up at her.

“No,” he said pathetically, “I think I’m allergic to meat.”  He bit his lip as he remembered Luke had told him not to tell her he was allergic, but to let her work it out for herself.

Mrs Currant looked in the toilet, saw the orange slop and thought with revulsion how different a person’s food looked when it came back up from how it looked when it went down, only moments before.  She looked at her son, he did look pale.

“Okay, you go and lay down.  I’ll bring you a glass of water and a bucket.”

“So far so good,” thought Joe and went to bed, hungry.

In the morning, he was even hungrier but knew he had to ditch one more meal.  As it was Saturday, breakfast consisted not only of cereal, but also fried eggs on toast.  First the cereal – Joe tipped the choco pops into his bowl and covered them with cows’ milk.  He put a spoonful into his mouth and immediately spat it back and grabbed his throat.  He gasped.

“I can’t breathe!” he whispered desperately as he bent his head to his knees and reached in his pyjama pocket for Luke’s mum’s blue eyeshadow.  He rubbed his fingertip into the colour and smeared it across his lips before lifting up his head to reveal it to …. no one.  The room was empty.  His dad had taken his plate into the living room to watch the news and his mum had gone to get the paper from the front door. Joe continued to hold his breath, hoping his mum would return before he was forced to exhale.  Just then the kitchen door opened and his older sister, Janet, walked in.

“That better not be my eyeshadow,” she warned him.

“It’s not,” he assured her, forgetting not to breathe just as Mrs Currant re-entered the kitchen.

“Mum, Joe’s messing up my eyeshadow.”

Mrs Currant looked at Joe then screwed up her face and shook her head.

“That’s not yours.  Yours is more turquoise,” she said and sat at the table to read the paper.

Part two was a bust.  Joe loaded his plate with eggs from the pan and toast from the rack before stealing himself to proceed with part three of the plan.  He sat down and reached into his other pyjama pocket to get the stinging nettles hidden there.  While his mum read her horoscope and Janet searched the fridge for jam, Joe quickly and bravely rubbed the nettles on his forearms and neck before hiding them again in his pocket.  The pain was immediate.  It stung a lot.

He chopped and mashed one of his eggs with his fork to make it look as if he’d eaten some of it.  Then, as he noticed the white bumps starting to appear on his arms he said,

“Mum! Mum!” and rubbed his arms and neck furiously with the palms of both hands.

Mother and daughter both looked at him.

“How on earth did you get stung in here?” Janet said in high-pitched disbelief.

“I didn’t,” Joe argued, in genuine distress, “I’m allergic to eggs!”

“Stop rubbing it like that, silly boy!”  Mrs Currant grabbed a tea towel from the drawer and ran it under the cold tap.  “Here, put this over the bumps, keep them cool ’til they go down.  And maybe have a look in the garden for a dock leaf to rub on it.”

“It’s not stingers,” Joe protested, “I’m allergic to eggs!”

“Honestly Joe,” said his mum, shaking her head and returning to the horoscopes, “only you could get stung at the breakfast table.”

“Boys,” said Janet derisively.

Joe had had enough.  His skin was burning and itching and stinging – he was in real pain and they still didn’t listen.

“I’M A VEGETARIAN!” he shouted.

“Joseph Currant!  How dare you raise your voice to me?!” said Mrs Currant, shocked by his impertinence.

“Keep the noise down in there!  I’m trying to watch the news!”  Mr Currant yelled from the living room.

“And now you’ve upset your father,” his mother went on.

Joe looked at his hands.

“I don’t want to eat meat no more,” he said quietly, “or eggs or fish or milk, or cheese,” he finished, getting quieter with every word.

“Oh, I get it,” Joe’s mum said, knowingly, “you want to be like your little friend don’t you?” she peered at him over the newspaper. “You don’t have to copy everything he does you know.”

“No, that’s not …” Joe tried to explain.

“I know what it’s like, it’s not that long since I was at school myself you know.  Of course I was vegetarian, long before it was fashionable,” she boasted.

“Why’d you stop then?” Joe wondered.

“But then I married your father and you can’t imagine him giving up his sausages and his bacon can you? Ha! I’d like to see the woman who could pull that off!”

“Mm,” said Joe.

“Talking of which, I bet you haven’t thought this through, – if you do this you won’t be able to have fish fingers any more.”

“I never eat fish fingers.  I don’t like …”

“And no more ice cream, or cake,”

“You can get special ice cream and …”

“Oh my boy, you don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for!”

Joe looked at her, holding his breath.

I know what you’re letting yourself in for – been there, done that!”

She studied him through squinting eyes.  Joe said nothing.  She seemed to be considering it.  After a couple of minutes she made a decision.

“Well, alright.  But I’m not making special meals just for you.  You can have whatever we’re having with some extra vegetables instead of the meat.  Is that acceptable Your Highness?”

Joe looked up and smiled.

“Yes,” he said, “thank you.”

His mum returned the smile and ruffled his hair.

“Boys,” she said, slowly shaking her head.

Joe pressed the damp tea towel against his throbbing skin and smiled.  Janet scrunched up her nose and stuck out her tongue at him.

“I give it a month!” she whispered.

Joe just carried on smiling.

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More Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er (chapters 9 to 16) is available in paperback now from Amazon 😀

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Back to the drawing board

For the whole of Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er, Chapter Ten click here 🙂

Chapter 10 continued from yesterday:

“But what will I eat today?” he asked, disheartened.

Luke was busy thinking.

“What?  Oh, you can share mine,” he said generously, and they continued on to school.

As luck would have it they wouldn’t be short of food that day because class 4 was having a cookery lesson and that meant they’d all brought ingredients with them.  They were making scones.  Mrs Tebbut never allowed the boys to work together on these things and insisted on choosing their partners for them.  As a result, Luke found himself sharing a table with Penelope Bittern.  Penelope was very particular about doing things properly.

“Don’t put any of your stuff on my half of the table,” she instructed, “I can’t let it contaminate my stuff.”

Luke was affronted.

“There’s nothing wrong with my stuff,” he told her, “it’s clean.  It’s new packets – haven’t even bin opened – look!”

She lifted her arm to shield her side of the table from the sealed bag of flour he thrust towards her.

“You can’t put that near my stuff!” she sounded panicked.  “I might be allergic!”

“Allergic to what?”

“I’m allergic to raisins and kiwi fruit so …”

“I ‘aven’t got no raisins or kiwis!”

“Sooo, my mum said we’re playing it safe ’til they know for sure what else I’m allergic to.  I’m having tests.”

“Well, you’ve got the same stuff as me,” Luke couldn’t abide hypochondriac drama queens, “flour, sugar, margarine – so if you’re allergic to mine you’re allergic to yours.”

“But my ingredients have been specially kept separate from things that might give me allergies – like milk, eggs, peanuts – and …”

“You can be allergic to milk?”

“Yes, lots of people are, which is why…”

“And what happens to you if you eat it, if you’re allergic?”

“Well, that depends,” she was gratified he was finally listening to her. “I think it’s different for different people.  It depends how serious their allergy is.”

“It can be serious?”

“Yes.  Some people die if they eat something they’re allergic to.  Even just a tiny bit of it.  Even if it’s so tiny you can’t hardly see it.”

“Okay, now I know you’re makin’ it up.  No one’s dyin’ from a tiny bit of peanut!  You’re just a ‘ttention seekin’ hypochondrian who’s makin’ stuff up to get the whole table to ‘erself!”  That was disappointing. Luke went mentally back to the drawing board.

But Penelope wasn’t finished.

“They do!  Their throat swells up so they can’t breathe!  My mum told me and I think she should know ’cause her brother’s allergic to nuts and he has to carry a life-saver injection with him all the time in case he accidentally eats one.”

“Really?” That sounded real.  Penelope didn’t have enough imagination to make up something as cool as that.  “What other things might happen to someone who ate somethin’ they were allergic to?”

Penelope patiently answered Luke’s endless questions and he, in return, took great care to keep his ingredients away from her half of the table.  By the end of the lesson Luke knew how to make Joe’s mum listen.  The hard part, however, would be persuading Joe to do it.

***

Joe swallowed his last bite of overdone scone and made a face that suggested he wasn’t enjoying it.

“Not good?” asked Luke.  His had been delicious.

“What?  Oh, yeah, the scone’s good, it’s your idea I don’t like.”

“Drastic times, drastic scissors,” Luke reminded him, “I know it’s not very nice but it’ll be worth it won’t it?  You need to make it look real or it won’t work.”

Joe was still reluctant.

“But I don’t see why I can’t just do the lentil hotpot thing.  I could do that.  And the not breathin’ thing – I can hold my breath longer ‘n most people.”

“You have to show you’re allergic to all three things – milk, eggs and meat – so you have to have three different allergic reactions to be convincin’.  Jus’ think yourself lucky you’ve never liked fish, otherwise we’d have to come up with four reactions.”

Joe nodded and took the bag Luke handed him.  Luke patted him on the back.  It was important to give moral support to your soldiers.

“You can do it,” he said encouragingly.

Joe walked home from Luke’s house, dreading what he had to do, but determined to do it.  Luke was right.  It would be worth it.

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Story concludes tomorrow 😀

Click here for all ten chapters of Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er

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Chapter Ten starts here: Luke Walker and the allergic reactions

For the stories so far click here 🙂

Chapter Ten: Luke Walker and the allergic reactions

Luke was hesitant. If he made a mistake now it could cost him the game.  Janeway was a good card. She had a lot of Starfleet Authority and was also very cunning.  But which to choose, that was the important question.

“Come ohn,” said Joe, “it’s borin’ when you just sit there.  Choose one.”

“Okay, erm, I choose …” he hesitated again.

He really needed to win this round. He took a deep breath, looked Joe in the eye and said,

“Janeway. Cunning: 45.”

Joe looked at his next card and smiled.

“Worf. Cunning: 49.”

“Blast! I knew I should have chosen Starfleet Authority! What’s Worf’s Starfleet Authority?”

“I’m not telling you that!” said Joe, laughingly holding his cards close to his chest.

“Well, it can’t be higher than Janeway’s.  She was Captain.  Worf wasn’t captain was he?”

Luke consoled himself with the notion that he would have won if Joe hadn’t rushed him.  If he’d just been able to think about it for a bit longer he would certainly have chosen Starfleet Authority instead of Cunning.  Joe really should learn not to rush people, it’s not sportsmanlike.  Luke had one card left. It was Joe’s turn to choose the statistic.

“Neelix. To Boldly Go: 20.”

“What?!” Luke looked at his card in disbelief.  “Neelix can’t be better than Spock at boldly goin’!”  He sighed and handed it over.  “Spock. To Boldly Go: 15”

“Yesss! I have triumphed! The cards are mine, all mine, ha ha ha haaa,” Joe revelled in his rare victory.

“I’m hungry,” said Luke, pretending not to care.

“Me too,” his friend agreed and they took out their lunch boxes.  Joe peeked apprehensively between the two slices of Hovis Best of Both which made up his sandwich.  Sadly the peanut butter he’d hoped for was not present.  Luke was adding crisps to his Marmite and beetroot sandwiches.

“The crunch makes ’em extra good,” he explained.  Then, “uh oh, has she done it again?”

Joe nodded as he removed two slices of ham and bit into his plain bread and margarine.

“You’ve got to tell ‘er,” said Luke, tipping a few of his crisps into Joe’s lunch box.

“I have told her, she won’t listen!” Joe complained, “I said I’m not eatin’ meat or cheese no more and she said, ‘course you are!’ and that was that!  She won’t listen.  It’s okay, I just put it in the bin when she’s not lookin’.”

“What about your dad – you could tell ‘im to explain it to ‘er.”

“He won’t.  He just says ‘ya mother knows best’ and ‘listen to ya mother!’.  I’ll just have to be vegetarian in secret ’til I leave home.”

Luke frowned.

“That doesn’t sound like a good idea.  It’ll be pretty borin’ jus’ livin’ on bread an’ marg..”

“That’s okay,” said Joe as he took another bite, “thanks for the crisps,” he added.

“That’s it!  That’s what we’ll do!  Outlaws have to help each other!”

“What?”

“I’ll tell my mum I’m more hungry and I need a bigger packed lunch, with an extra sandwich an’ an extra bag o’crisps an’ an extra cake an’ an extra apple … then I can give half of it to you!”

Joe liked that idea.

“Yeah! Thanks Luke. D’you think she’ll do it?”

“No problem,” said Luke confidently.

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Story continues on Monday.

Have a lovely weekend 🙂

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Luke Walker and the secret society: the conclusion

For the whole of chapter 9 click here, for chapters 1 to 8 click here 🙂

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He knew he had to do something but since the shop man suspected him of throwing away five hundred KFC leaflets that Jared was supposed to have delivered on his paper round last week, he needed to keep his head down for the time being. Luckily he belonged to a secret society of animal stick up for-ers so he could delegate. He decided to write a message to Joe. No one would suspect Joe.

As soon as he got home he rushed up to his room and took out his code-maker. After some time he wrote on a scrap of paper:

When translated it would read:

He sealed it in a small brown envelope and wrote on the frontAs soon as he’d dropped it through Joe’s letter box he was satisfied the job would get done. Joe was the most faithful, dependable person he knew. He needn’t give it another thought.

***

Tuesday morning, the first day back to school after teacher-training day, Luke overslept. Teacher-training days always left him muddled as to what day it was and, thinking it was still the weekend, he’d turned over and gone back to sleep after Mum woke him. Dreading the moaning and complaining that were inevitable from Mrs Tebbut, Luke opened the classroom door at twenty two minutes past nine. There was a lot of moaning and complaining going on but none of it directed at him. In fact, no one even noticed him come in. Mrs Tebbut was very agitated, talking to the caretaker at the front of the room.

“It won’t come off?” she was very put out.

“I’ve tried everything,” he explained, “hot soapy water with a scouring sponge; vinegar; lemon juice; bicarbonate of soda; everything I could think of that wouldn’t damage the glass.”

“So what can I do? I need to be able to see out the back!”

“Maybe you could call a valeting service. They might have special kit that could get it off – maybe a steam cleaner.”

Luke slid into his seat next to Joe and quietly asked what was going on. Joe looked worried.

“I got your message,” he mumbled, trying to suppress an involuntary smile.

“Oh, good, have you done it?”

“What do you think?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t pass the shop this morning.”

“What are you talkin’ about?”

“What are you talkin’ about?”

“Your message, I’ve done it – that’s why she’s so cross,” Joe whispered, trying not to look guilty.

“Why would she be cross about it?” Luke was confused. So was Joe.

“What did you expect? Of course she’d be cross – I used the brown stuff. Why did you want me to do that anyway?”

“What brown stuff? What are you talkin’ about?!” Luke’s irritation hurt Joe’s feelings. He’d successfully completed his first solo mission for the secret society and couldn’t understand Luke’s reaction. By this time Mrs Tebbut was thanking Mr Pine for trying to help and calling the class to order.

“I did what you asked!” Joe hissed, “I thought you’d be a bit more grateful!” and he passed his translation under the desk to Luke. It read:

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Chapter Ten coming soon – WATCH THIS SPACE!

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The new book, More Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er, containing chapters 9 to 16 of Luke’s adventures is now available 😀 

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Luke Walker and the secret society continues …

When Joe was clear about how to do it, he went home to make one for himself.

“Don’t tell anyone!” Luke reminded him on his way out.

After hearing the front door close, Luke stood at the window and watched Joe walk out of the cul-de-sac feeling full of optimism. Now there were two of them. He’d always known he could rely on Joe, and had benefited from his help a couple of times already, but it was really something to know that his best friend now properly understood that animals needed sticking up for every day; and that sometimes you have to be sneaky about it.

“Luuuke! Come and do the drying up please!” Mum’s voice called from downstairs.

“In a minute,” he called back. He just needed to wash up the saucer of paint before it dried.

“Now!”

On the other hand, perhaps it was prudent to go down right away.

***

Once the drying up was done, Luke hung out with the damsons in the garden for a while. He gave them yesterday’s left over salad, and supervised to make sure Rusty didn’t eat it all. She was one naughty rabbit! Ash could look after himself but Scratcher was never quick enough and Rusty would pinch her share given the chance. Luke made them a clean bed, and picked them some raspberries that were too high up on the canes for them to reach before coming back inside to get Dudley for his walk.

“Wear your mac,” said Mum, “looks like rain.”

Luke grabbed his Spiderman cagoule from the hall cupboard and called his dog.

“Dudleeeey. Dudleey. Dudley!”

Finally the sleepy boy emerged from Luke’s room at the top of the stairs and trotted down, tail wagging. Was that mud? Luke couldn’t think where Dudley could have been to get one of his paws muddy – it hadn’t rained yet. But not too worry, it would dust off the carpet when it dried.

Outside it was breezy and the purplish-grey sky looked ominous but Luke and Dudley weren’t afraid. They walked briskly to the allotments to see Curly and her beloved lamb, Squirt, and check they had everything they needed. Little Squirt, who wasn’t so little any more, came running up to meet them and he and Dudley ambled off to play together. The big allotment plot provided them with plenty of grass and clover to eat but Curly knew Luke was carrying treats and nuzzled against his leg until he gave her the carrots he’d brought. Then he refilled their water trough by stretching the long hose from Dad’s plot. In the big shed Luke mucked out the droppings and made a deep, fresh bed of clean hay. Mm, it smelled good. Curly looked in to see what he was up to.

“I just tidied up,” Luke told her and he plopped down on the soft hay and rolled around in it. The sound of raindrops on the roof made it extra cosy and Curly decided to join him. She settled herself into a comfortable spot and started chewing – mostly hay but occasionally hair.

“Ow!” Luke yanked his head away and sat up to stroke her. She liked that. Suddenly the rain started coming down hard, sending Dudley and Squirt for cover. They rolled in the hay to dry themselves off, and then the four friends sat together and watched the downpour. The storm was powerful and awe-inspiring. It was exciting to be so close to it.

The rain lasted for almost an hour and when it stopped Luke and Dudley made a break for it. With any luck they would be home before it came down again. That wouldn’t keep them dry though. When they reached the village shop a passing lorry relocated a giant puddle at the edge of the road to the exact spot in which Luke and Dudley were standing. Dudley promptly shook. Luke got wetter. Dripping from head to toe, he noticed a card in the shop window. It read:

“Blimin’ breeders!” thought Luke, “them babies’ll prob’ly be left in small cages all on their own. An’ there’s already too many pets who don’t get looked after prop’ly! When I’m Prime Minister I’ll make it against the law for humans to breed!”

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This chapter concludes tomorrow but if you want to finish it now click here 🙂

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