At the end of this month I'm giving away a paperback copy of:
Velvet Ball and The Broken Fairy. All entries will be placed in a hat and my little grandson will draw the winner. The winner will receive a paperback copy in the post and all other entries may download the eBook for free with a discount code at Smashwords.
To enter just make a comment and your name will go into the hat. (To purchase a copy, the links are on the side bar on the right. Or click on this link: Particia Puddle's Children's Books
Here is an excerpt from the story:
Chapter Three – Bad Manners
“Listen here, baldy. You better give us our doll,” said Rory, an evil grin on his pudgy face.
Velvet gulped and held her hand over the trembling Roseberry. “I haven’t got your doll, but you’ve got my hat. So give it back.”
Rory spun her hat around his finger. “Only if you give us that stupid-looking doll.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Velvet, spotting Mitch and Trevor coming down the track.
“Just give it here!” Rory pulled at her backpack.
She pushed his arm away and darted under a bush. On her hands and knees, she crawled out the other side and scrambled to her feet. As she leaped over a root ball, she tripped and lost her footing. Then she hopped on one leg to regain her balance.
“Yipes,” squealed Roseberry, poking her head out the top of Velvet’s tunic. “Why are you so clumsy? If you’d fallen, you would have squashed me like a pancake.”
“It’s okay,” said Velvet. “Don’t fret. We’ll be at my place soon.” She pushed Roseberry back down the top of her uniform. Then holding her tight, she charged up a dirt track. When she reached the stream, she thundered across the rickety wooden bridge before darting left into the scrub. The branches slowed her pace, but she pushed ahead.
Roseberry stuck her head out again. “It’s a good job you’re wearing a singlet. It’s awful sticky down here.”
“Shush.” Velvet shoved her back down and stopped to listen. The boy’s laughter echoed through the woods. Would they never give up?
“What’ve you stopped for?” snapped Roseberry, bobbing up again. “Keep going!”
Velvet shoved her hands underneath her uniform and yanked the fairy’s feet downwards before taking off again. “Just keep still for a minute.”
“Where are we going?” asked Roseberry in a muffled voice. “It’s taking forever and I’m getting a headache from all the jolting around.”
Huffing and puffing, Velvet headed up a hidden track. “You’ll have more than a headache if those rotten boys get hold of you again.” She wrapped her hand around the fairy to protect her from prickly thicket as she scrambled through low-lying branches
Velvet’s head began to hurt as twigs and leaves scratched her scalp. Her legs ached, but she kept on running. She couldn’t let those creeps get hold of Roseberry. Who knows what they’d do to her.
Blinking the sweat from her eyes, Velvet set her jaw and ran down a narrow path. Just a few more paces and she’d be home. She wriggled through a hedge and came out at the back entrance to her cottage. “Thank goodness.” Wheezing, she bent and over and held her knees as she tried to get her breath back.
“Hey!” yelled Roseberry. “This is just too much. You’re going to squash me to death and you’ve so ruined my hairstyle.”
“Oh, be quiet. At least you’ve got some hair.” Velvet entered her garden through the back gate and smacked a mosquito on her forehead. Pesky little gnats were everywhere.
“Okay, stop already,” moaned Roseberry. “I feel sick.”
Velvet closed the gate behind her and let out a long breath. “Phew.” She’d finally made it home, and she’d actually managed to save the strange little fairy from those bullies. Dropping Roseberry on the soft lawn, she wondered if the whole thing was just a dream.
“What’s the big idea?” Roseberry rubbed her elbow and crawled under a tree. “You could’ve put me down nicely.”
Droplets of moisture dripped from Velvet’s chin as she plopped down beside the fairy. Shaking her head, she wondered why she was bothering to save such an ungrateful little thing.
“I have a bruise now.” Roseberry pouted. “And look at all the leaves in my ponytail.” She plucked them out and flicked them at Velvet.
“Don’t be such a sooky laala.” Velvet, moved into the shade under the huge crepe myrtle.
Roseberry shook her finger. “You may be the one saving us from those nasty boys, but don’t forget, I fell out of a tree. I would’ve kicked their butts if I wasn’t so sore.”
“You?” Velvet held her tummy and laughed. “You can’t even grant one little wish. How would you protect yourself from bully boys?”
“Like this.” Roseberry scrambled to her feet and kicked her legs in the air as she punched her fists about.
“Who do you think you are? A kick-boxer?” Velvet broke into a fit of hysterical laughter. “You look more like my granny when she’s had a glass of sherry.”
Roseberry continued to spar with herself. “Just let me at those twits.”
“You’re all talk.” Velvet grabbed a handful of pink petals that had fallen from the crepe myrtle and threw them at Roseberry. “Let’s go indoors. I’ve had too much sun and I’m getting a headache.” She jumped up, grabbed Roseberry by the waist and walked towards the house.
Roseberry pinched Velvet’s arm. “Let me go!”
“Ouch,” said Velvet. “Can you be quiet until I hide you in my bedroom? Or is that too much to ask?”
Roseberry squirmed about. “Well, I don’t like being dragged around like rag doll.”
Ignoring the fairy, Velvet opened the back door and bumped smack into her mother. Poo! She was supposed to be at work.
Her mother stared at Roseberry, then at Velvet. “Where did you get that strange looking thing? I didn’t think you played with dolls anymore.”
Velvet bit her lip and glanced at Roseberry, willing her to keep still. Then she looked at her mother. “I … I found it in the woods and I kind of liked it, so I brought it home.”
“Where’s your hat?” Her mother frowned. “You know you’re not allowed out without it. And look at the state of your head.” She peered at Velvet’s scalp and raised an eyebrow. “And why weren’t you on the school bus? I waited at the bus stop.”
Velvet shrugged. “That mean Rory and his gang teased me. They took my hat, and my headband. I didn’t want to sit on the bus with them, so I walked home through the woods.” Oh, why did her mother have to notice everything?
“That’s terrible, love.” Her mother put the laundry basket down and hugged Velvet. “I’m so sorry I didn’t get home in time to pick you up. What a shame your father had to work late too, but don’t you worry. I’ll skin them lads alive when I catch 'em.” She grabbed the laundry again and headed to the clothes line. “You’d better put some lotion on your head, sweetie.”
Roseberry started wriggling about and digging her fingernails into Velvet’s hand.
With a sigh of frustration, Velvet bolted through the kitchen and up the stairs to her bedroom. The aroma of fresh baked bread made her stomach growl. She plonked Roseberry onto the patchwork quilt spread across the bed. “Why do you have to keep pinching and scratching me?”
“Because you keep squeezing my belly as if I’m a dish rag.” Roseberry folded her arms.
Velvet shook her head and sat in her wicker chair. “You could’ve kept still for a while. My mum could have seen you.”
“You try being squashed by a giant hand.” Roseberry sniffed the air. “Anyway, I’m starving. What’s to eat?” She stretched out on one of Velvet’s soft fluffy pillows. “I’ll have a nap while you fetch me some food.”
“What do fairies eat?” asked Velvet, rubbing soothing cream onto her scalp.
Roseberry sat up and wrapped her arms around her knees. “Mmm, let me see. How about angel cake with pink frosting? And a caramel malted milkshake?” She licked her lips. “Oh, and I would love a chocolate donut with whipped cream.”
Velvet let out a long sigh. “We don’t have any of that. My mum’s a health nut. But if you’re really a fairy, you could wave your magic wand and make them appear. I love cakes and milkshakes.”
“You already know I can’t do any magic,” said Roseberry, throwing herself back against the pillow. “If I could, your wish would have come true. It’s not fair. I passed all my exams, but at my graduation, I still wasn’t awarded any magical powers. I just got zoomed away.”
“Maybe you didn’t pass your tests after all.” Velvet giggled and put her lotion back on the bedside table. “Anyway, you probably got zoomed away because of your smart mouth.”
Roseberry sat bolt upright. “I’ll have you know, I was the best in the whole class.”
“Sure you were,” said Velvet. “You probably spent too much time complaining instead of learning anything.” She stared at the little sprite. “But it’s not too late. My grandmother didn’t learn to read until she was an adult. Now, I’m going to get us something yummy to eat.” She left Roseberry frowning and took off downstairs to the kitchen.
Wondering what she’d gotten herself into, Velvet grabbed a plate and cut two large slices from the brown loaf on the table. As she covered them in butter and strawberry jam, she sniffed. “Mmm.” The bread was still warm from the oven. She chopped Roseberry’s slice into small pieces and poured a large glass of milk. After placing it all on a small tray, she carried it to her room and set it on the bedside table.
Roseberry was curled up on the bed, but she soon sat up. “What’s that?”
“Wait a minute,” said Velvet, rummaging around her toy cupboard for her old tea set. She couldn’t believe she was playing tea parties with a little sprite. Giggling, she poured some milk into a small plastic cup and offered it to the fairy.
Roseberry grabbed it and took a sip. “Yuck! That’s not a milkshake. I told you what I wanted.” She poured her milk back into the large glass. “What’s to eat?”
“Gosh, you’re rude.” Velvet pushed the smaller sandwich in front of her new roommate. “Here. My mum made the jam, and the bread is fresh out of the oven.”
“Bread and jam?” Roseberry wrinkled her nose. “What sort of food is that to feed The Fairy of Crabtree Forest? Anyway, you lied. You said your mother’s a health nut.”
“Wholemeal bread is healthy.” Velvet bit into her sandwich and munched while she spoke. “I like it. You would too, if you tried it.”
“I don’t want to try your stupid bread,” said Roseberry. “Get me something nice.”
Velvet giggled. “What do pretend fairies eat? Junk food?”
Roseberry grabbed her bread and flung it across the room. “Well, I won’t eat that rubbish.” The sticky bread landed on the dresser and stuck to the mirror.
What an ungrateful spoilt little thing. Velvet shook her head. It wasn’t like Roseberry had anything better to offer. It sure wasn’t going to be easy looking after a broken fairy. But who knew – if Roseberry did get her magic powers, she might be able to grant Velvet a wish. Glancing in the mirror, Velvet imagined herself with her long golden hair back.
“What else is there to eat?” snapped Roseberry. “I haven’t had anything since my graduation breakfast this morning.”
Velvet rolled her eyes. What a cheeky little thing Roseberry had turned out to be. “Why don’t you at least try a little bit of your sandwich?”
Roseberry punched her fist into the pillow. “No! I told you, I don’t like it.”
Blowing out a big breath, Velvet stared at the fairy. Oh, well, at least Roseberry didn’t call her baldy or poke fun at her. She even said Velvet had beautiful green eyes. And after all, it was really nice having someone to talk too. She smiled and took another bite of her bread.
Roseberry pressed her lips together, and then kicked Velvet’s glass of milk off the table. It bounced onto the floor and splashed across the carpet.
A second later, the door flew open and Velvet’s mother walked in. “Velvet, why did you cut into my fresh loaf? There’s plenty left on the other one.” She glanced around the room and stared at the sticky bread stuck to the mirror. Then she frowned and looked at the milk on the floor. “What on earth …”
Roseberry remained still with her foot still in a kicking position.
Her eyes wide, Velvet kept chewing her sandwich. “It … it was an accident.” Crumbs sprayed from her mouth as she spoke and she gagged on her bread. How was she gonna explain the mess to her mother?