Category Archives: LITERARY RAMBLES

STORIES/POEMS

some mine, some not.

I WON!!!

pbfest win

I WON a query critique from James McGowan of the BookEnds Literary Agency at yesterday’s #PBFest on Twitter.

Whoop Whoop!!

Many thanks to James McGowan, Justin Colon of #PBChat and the #PBFest Family

Best way to start the day!!😀

Share your writing wins this month!

Making Picture Book Magic

making picture book magic

This month of July, I’m really thankful for this course: Making Picture Book Magic by Susanna Hill.

I can’t put into words how much it means to me.

The ideas I’ve gotten just from receiving the daily lessons in my mail: Out. Of. This. World. 💫💥

The feedback from Susanna is really helpful, encouraging and quick.

The course fee is pocket-friendly @ $139 only for a month.

Try it out.

Thank me later.

For more info, visit:

https://susannahill.com/for-writers/making-picture-book-magic/
It’s definitely the best thing I did for my #picturebook writing career this month.

What steps have you taken towards achieving your career goals?

The Mystery of Shelf 12L pt 5

Continued from here

Ada’s eyes came open slowly, widening with every second until her eyebrows almost touched her forehead.

The waterfall stood before her in all its glory.

Seven rivers of rushing foamy water gushing towards the cliff and plunging many meters into the pool below with a thunderous roar. The first four and the last drops had gleaming white water while the fifth and sixth had water adorned with shining yellow streaks as if they had been kissed by the sun.

They could barely see the pool as the water pounded the rocks at the bottom creating moving clouds of water which seemed to fight against themselves before tumbling into a river which flowed a channel into the forest. A thick fog rose the foot of the waterfall almost all the way to the top making it impossible to see the bottom of the waterfall and the pool.

Ada took a step closer to the cliff and she felt the cold spray from the mist and the cold wind that seemed to push her aback, keeping her away from the cliff..

“It’s wonderful!!!!” she shouted trying to be heard over the deafening roar of the water

Zigi smiled and held up his camera.

Ada quickly threw her arms in the air and wore her brightest smile. This picture was especially for Iphie and the girls.

Zigi took her and dragged her away from the waterfall.

“We have a thousand and one things to see and do and almost no time left. We have to go!!?”

Fun facts about Agbokim

It’s located 3.5 hours by road from calabar

Swim in the bowl in the dry season and you may catch some fish.

The cave palace, mostly closed during the rainy season as a result of the water, houses the spiritual prince and princess of the area.

to be continued …

see you same time next week …

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The Mystery of Shelf 12 L Pt 4

Chapter 2

Agbokim Falls

Continued from here

 

This time, the tumble down the tunnel wasn’t so bad. She was still slammed into the walls of the tunnel over and over again but the wind wrapped around her body like a soft cushion, shielding it from the hard walls of the tunnel. Ada squeezed her eyes shut and screamed all the way down. Suddenly, the tunnel threw her up with a giant belch and she landed on her bum smack in the middle of a forest. She opened her eyes slowly. There were giant trees all around her. Some tall and skinny, some tall and fat enough to be a house, some with lush green leaves, some without. All of them seemed to be trying to touch the sky and for the longest time, they all seemed to be dancing as they swam before her eyes. Shaking away the feeling of dizziness, she got up slowly, dusted her clothes and turned around to explore when whoosh! Something heavy rammed into her from behind and she fell flat on her face. Zigi’s square glasses landed next to her right cheek.

“Phew! Sometimes the tunnel ride is even more fun than the sight!”

He felt on the ground, right next to her eye for his glasses, picked them up, put them on and rose. “Here …” he offered her his hand “Get up, we don’t have a lot of time”

Ada spat a blade of wet grass out, ignored his hand and stood. “At least say sorry”.

“For what?” He perched his glasses on his nose.

“You knocked me down! You could have hurt me badly”

“No, the wind knocked me down and I fell on you. So blame the wind”

“Oomph!” Ada stormed off.

 “Careful, there are man-eating vines ahead and scary steps!” he shouted at her back. She kept walking. “There are two bottomless pits too! You can fall to your death!”

Ada stopped instantly. He ran up to her, grabbed her hand and started walking. “Sorry. Can you hear the birds?”

Ada listened and then she heard the distinct harmonious chirping of birds. It sounded like they were whistling one song in unison.

“There are many types of birds here. Bird watchers come here a lot.”

He dragged her through the lush green forest to a narrow path going downhill with wet slippery steps covered with a bed of green leaves and bracketed on both sides by hundreds of green and brown hairy vines.

Ada stopped.

“Come” he tugged at her hand. “We have to hurry. There’s a lot to see and we have to get back to school soon. Hold on to the vines”

He led her carefully but quickly down the path. They had walked for about ten minutes when suddenly the sound of thunder claps filled the air.

Ada stopped and pulled her hands out of his. “What’s that?!”

“Come on! It’s the waterfall, we’re almost there” he grabbed her hand again and continued walking.

But the thunderous sound seemed to be coming closer and closer.

Ada stopped. “I want to go back! I don’t like that sound! It’s scary. I want to go back”

“I thought you wanted to see a waterfall! Some of them are really loud!! This one is one of the loud ones. It’s the sound of the falling water! Don’t worry, it’s just water, Come!”

“No! She turned around and started walking back up the hill.

“I promise. It’s not scary! It just really loud but it’s not scary. And you’ll take a picture to show Iphie and her friends!”

Ada stopped.

“Ada, just imagine the look on Iphie’s face when she sees your picture. But you can’t take the picture if you go back now and without a picture, no one will believe you!”

She turned around.

“Good! We’re almost there” He grabbed her hand and ran so she wouldn’t change her mind.

The sound of the water was almost ear-piercing now. Ada swallowed and started trembling. Maybe I should just go back.

As if Zigi heard her, he stopped. “We’re here. Close your eyes.”

Ada stopped and squeezed her eyes shut immediately. Then she blocked her ears with her hands too. Zigi grabbed her elbow. They took twenty steps and stopped.

“Now, open your eyes”

 

 

to be continued …

see you same time next week …

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The Mystery of Shelf 12 L pt3

 

Continued from here

Ada opened her eyes slowly, trying to get used to the bright light in the room. She rubbed her head and swayed on her feet. The slide down the twisted tunnel made her head spin. It was worse than a roller coaster ride, she felt like she had been tossed around over and over again in a giant blender.

Slowly she made out the shape of a boy in front of her. “Who are you?”

He was about her height, he wore square glasses and he was completely bald, like a chicken without feathers! He just stared right back at her. She rubbed her head again and looked around.

“What is this place?”

It was much like the library upstairs, but the books were older, browner, bigger and the room was brighter, dustier, deserted.

The boy with no hair smiled. “This is the Room of Knowledge”

He took her hand pulling her towards the center of the room. “You wanted to learn about waterfalls right? Come, I’ll show you”

He stopped at a shelf labelled W and he pulled an old dusty brown book from the stack of books on one of the rows. “Come, help me”

Ada held one end of the book and together they pulled the large book off the shelf and onto the floor. The boy sat cross-legged in front of the book and tapped the space next to him. Ada looked at him and then the shelf and then the mouth of the tunnel.

“My name is Zigi. Break will be over in 30 minutes. If you want to see the waterfalls, sit down, we don’t have time”

She sat.

Zigi flipped the pages of the book. All of a sudden, sounds of thrashing water filled the room. Ada sat up and looked around but Zigi kept flipping the images.

“Can’t you hear that?”

“What?” He looked up and looked around, his large eyeballs turning in his face. They heard nothing. Ada was confused. He flipped another page. The sound came again, louder this time.

That!”

“Oh, that!” Zigi smiled and turned back to the book. He kept flipping pages until he got to the page he wanted. “Now look”

Ada jumped up “You heard it right? What’s happening?”

“Look!!!” Zigi shouted pointing at the book.

Then Ada looked at the book. There were pictures of huge waterfalls splayed across the pages.  Ada stared at the book, then at Zigi. The sounds seemed to be coming from the waterfalls in the book! She shook her head and took two steps back.

“Zigi. What’s that? What kind of book is that? What is this place? I want to go”

Zigi smiled and flipped the pages some more. More pictures of waterfalls came up and the volume of the sounds that filled the room, seemed to rise and fall depending on the size of the waterfalls on the pages. “These waterfalls are in Nigeria! There are so many and this book shows all of them. It tells you everything you need to know about all of them. But do you know the best part?” he stopped, looked at her and smiled harder. “It takes you to all of them”

“What do you mean?”

Ada took a step forward and stared at the strange book. The pages seemed to come alive. She stared at the waterfall closest to her. It was called Agbokim Waterfalls. It was beautiful she thought. She could hear the sounds from the waterfall. A gust of wind flung her plaits across her face.

“Touch it” Zigi said “Touch it”

Ada looked at him, then the book. Slowly, she walked towards Zigi, she knelt next to the book and touched the page. Suddenly a hole appeared where her finger had been and a violent gust of wind rose from its mouth and sucked her into the page!

to be continued …

see you same time next week …

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The Mystery of Shelf 12 L pt2

 

Continued from here

It was the biggest library she had ever seen. Rows and rows of books from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. Just books! Small books, big ones, flat ones, thick ones, old ones, new ones, hardbacks, paperbacks! She had never seen so many books in one place at the same time. Her old school’s library was a small dark room with two white plastic tables, six white plastic chairs and twenty-three old books. Ada stood on a spot and spun, staring at all the books in the topmost shelf, her neck bent backwards so much that it looked like it would break. Then she looked down at the rest of the library. Where was her mystery writer, Z? She looked around. There were so many shelves, she didn’t know where to start from.

How can anyone find anyone in this place? she wondered. She looked at the note again. It didn’t say where she was supposed to meet Z. She started walking through the shelves, looking at the letter boxes at the top of each shelf.

“A .. B .. C .. D .. ”

Four shelves and four minutes later, no one walked up to her and no one had said anything to her. Ada looked at the note in her hand again. This time, she studied it wondering if she had missed something.

“Hmmm. Why are the 12 and L darker than the other letters?”

She looked up at the huge clock on the wall. It was 11:58 am. Just beneath the clock, there was a huge chart with the alphabets and numbers 1 -20. Suddenly, Ada’s eyes popped and she knew where she was supposed to meet Z.

She folded the note, pushed it into her pocket and hurried towards the center of the library. Just as she stopped in front of the shelf marked 12 L, a loud bang shook the library! Ada jumped and turned away from the shelf looking around. Everyone else seemed calm, like nothing happened. Then the bang came again and again and again.

Oh! It’s only the clock she thought. It’s 12 o’clock!

She heaved a sigh of relief and counted with the clock.

“ … 7.. 8.. 9.. 10.. 11.. 12 ..”

Then from no where, two hands came out of the shelf 12 L, covered her mouth and dragged her into the darkness!

 

 

to be continued …

see you same time next week …

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The Mystery of Shelf 12 L pt1

Chapter 1

12 L

“A real waterfall? A real-life waterfall?!” Iphie jumped up, hands on hips, “It’s not true Ada or whatever your name is! There is NO waterfall in Nigeria! It’s only in America and London that you can find things like that! I’m going to another seat, Gennie! Bisi! Let’s go! I don’t have time to sit with people who are not intelligent!” She picked up her school bag and stomped away.

Ada stared at her, her mouth wide open. Suddenly she heard someone laughing behind her. She turned around to see a girl with nice chuku and colourful glass beads that danced as she laughed. She was shaking and wiping tears from her eyes. The name on her tag read ‘Joy’

“Close your mouth joor!’ The girl named Joy said. “Don’t mind her! She doesn’t know anything. She’s a stupid girl. Miss Suo said she’s a fool that doesn’t know that she’s a fool” she laughed harder.

Ada’s eyes opened wider than her mouth.

The girls in this school are mean. I don’t like this school. She thought

“Joy! Iphie is not stupid! YOU are stupid!” the one named Bisi shouted from the back of the class, pointing her forefinger at Joy. “Everybody knows there’s no real waterfall in Nigeria!” She had a huge scowl on her face.

Joy laughed harder. “Chicken Brain!”

“Who are you calling Chicken Brain?!” Bisi jumped up, hands on hips. Ada looked from one girl to the other.

Joy clapped her hands and laughed harder “No one! I’m just singing a song” and she sang to the tune of ‘Old MacDonalds Had a Farm’

Someone has a chicken brain, chicken chicken brain (2x)

With a cuckoo here and a cuckoo there

Here a cuckoo, there a cuckoo, everywhere a cuckoo

Someone has a chicken brain, chicken chicken brain

Everyone in the class burst into laughter. Bisi’s eyes immediately filled with tears.

“Girls are so stupid.” A boy sitting directly behind Ada said to his neighbour and they laughed too. Ada stared at the boy. His name was Osa.

They are all mean. They are all mean. They won’t stop insulting themselves. I don’t like this school

Suddenly the laughing stopped abruptly, and all the girls and boys sat up and faced the front of the class. The class was so quiet that you could hear the sound of Bisi’s angry breaths from the back.

Ada turned slowly away from Osa back to the front of the class. She looked at the classroom door. A woman stood there. She was a tall skinny woman with tight chuku that drew her tiny eyes towards her hair, lips that were so thin they looked like two lines drawn with a very sharp pencil and a pointed nose with a shiny tip. She was frowning so much that her eyebrows were almost touching.  She looked like a bird, a very angry bird.

“Good morning Ms. Emem” The class chorused.

“Stand up all of you, raise your hands, close your eyes and open your mouth! You’ll stay in that position for 10 minutes!”

Through half-shut eyes, Ada watched as the rest of the class quickly obeyed the teacher. Ms. Emem walked round the class immediately, her heels tapping hard against the floor as she slapped backs, raised hands higher in the air, making sure they all obeyed her instructions.

“My class is always the noisiest class in the whole school.” She muttered as she walked to her desk.  “Stupid children”

Ada squeezed her eyes shut as she walked past her.

I don’t like this school

Her eyes twitched and lips trembled. She didn’t want to cry, she knew the other kids would laugh at her. I don’t like this school. I want to go back to my old school. I don’t like this school. I don’t like it. 

“Sit!!” Ms. Emem barked from her chair and they hurriedly put their hands down and thanked her. When she sat on her chair, Ada felt something. It was a piece of paper. A note. She turned back and looked around. No one was looking at her, no one smiled. She wondered how the paper got to her chair and who put it there. Slowly she unfolded it and read:

 

There are waterfalls in Nigeria.

Meet me at the library by 12.

Don’t be Late.

Z.

 

 to be continued …  

 

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Half Hour Hauwa

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CHAPTER ONE

THE PROBLEM

Hauwa Habeeb had a big fat problem and if she didn’t fix in 30 minutes, she would be in big fat trouble.

The problem lay at her feet, and she stared at it as if if she stared long enough, it would fix itself. There were five small pieces and one big pot-shaped piece of what used to be the beautiful vase that her daddy bought just yesterday. It was a huge flower vase, almost as tall as she was and she was tall for her age: 3 feet 6 inches at 8 years and 1 month. It was also very colourful, with lots of beautiful flowers painted on it: red roses, pink hibiscuses, orange lilies, yellow sunflowers, etc.

The vase was the only beautiful thing in the Habeeb parlour. Mr. Habeeb was a lecturer and Mrs. Habeeb was a stay-at-home mum so the Habeebs were not very rich. There were only three ugly furry armchairs, one wooden table, one old television that looked like a shoe box, one wooden grandfather clock with termite bites all over it, one old standing fan that sounded like a generator, and three ugly, heavy, towel-like curtains, in the Habeeb parlour and they were all either black or grey in colour. It was a rather dull parlour. The flowers on the vase made the parlour look nice and colourful yesterday.

Those beautiful flowers lay in broken pieces at Hauwa’s feet now and she could see her daddy’s angry face in them as clearly as if he were standing in front of her. She imagined all the things he would do to her. Maybe he would shout at her? No, not maybe, he would definitely shout. Ummm, maybe he would also flog her? No, not maybe, he would definitely flog her. Then mummy would flog her too because she had told her like 500 times to stop playing in the parlour. Maybe they would also take her story books, or make her eat beans or garri every day or make her do more house work or oh no!! Stop her from watching TV. No cartoons! Hauwa wilted. Her chin dropped and tears welled up in her eyes. Flogging and no cartoons! Horrible! The end of the world!

“Baaaaang!!!!! Baaaaang!!!!! Baaaaang!!!!! Baaaaang!!!!! Baaaaang!!!!!” screamed the grandfather clock and Hauwa’s head pooped up to look at it, her eyes as wide as the saucers mummy used to serve tea when they had special guests.

“O! Oo!! It’s 5 o’clock!! Daddy will be back in 30 minutes! O! Oooooo!!”

Mr. Habeeb liked to come home to relax in his favourite furry armchair in the parlour every evening. He drove into the compound at 5:30 on the dot every day and parked his black Volkswagen beetle under the mango tree outside. Then he walked into the house and straight to the parlour to read the newspaper, watch TV and drink beer. In 30 minutes, she would hear the tutututu tutututu sound of his beetle as it parked and then the tip tap of his shoes as he dusted them on the mat outside the door to keep the sand from getting into the house. She scratched her head and looked around the parlour for ideas.

“What to do? What to do?” she looked at the broken pieces again and smiled hard “Maybe I can stick them together with glue!!!!” She dashed to her room like Mr. Festu, the most wicked teacher in the world, was chasing her with his scary cane made of guava stick. Her art box was under her bed.

Grabbing the tube of glue from the box, she ran back to the parlour, locking the door quietly behind her. She didn’t want anyone to come in even though mummy had gone to the market with Grace, the help and Yewande, her 16-year-old sister was probably in her room, talking on the phone, as usual. She picked up two pieces of broken glass, one in each hand, poured a lot of glue over them and pressed them firmly together, and then she counted.

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10”

On the count of 10, she pulled her hands away from each other and ….

… to be continued

The Land of Story-Books, a Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson

At evening when the lamp is lit,

Around the fire my parents sit;

They sit at home and talk and sing,

And do not play at anything.

Now, with my little gun, I crawl

All in the dark along the wall,

And follow round the forest track

Away behind the sofa back.

There, in the night, where none can spy,

All in my hunter’s camp I lie,

And play at books that I have read

Till it is time to go to bed.

These are the hills, these are the woods,

These are my starry solitudes;

And there the river by whose brink

The roaring lions come to drink.

I see the others far away

As if in firelit camp they lay,

And I, like to an Indian scout,

Around their party prowled about.

So, when my nurse comes in for me,

Home I return across the sea,

And go to bed with backward looks

At my dear land of Story-books.

Mike Teavee, a Poem by Roald Dahl

Mike Teavee by the Oompa Loompas (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

The most important thing we’ve learned,

So far as children are concerned,

Is never, NEVER, NEVER let

Them near your television set —

Or better still, just don’t install

The idiotic thing at all.

In almost every house we’ve been,

We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.

They loll and slop and lounge about,

And stare until their eyes pop out.

(Last week in someone’s place we saw

A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)

They sit and stare and stare and sit

Until they’re hypnotised by it,

Until they’re absolutely drunk

With all that shocking ghastly junk.

Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,

They don’t climb out the window sill,

They never fight or kick or punch,

They leave you free to cook the lunch

And wash the dishes in the sink —

But did you ever stop to think,

To wonder just exactly what

This does to your beloved tot?

IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!

IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!

IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!

IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND

HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND

A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!

HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!

HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!

HE CANNOT THINK — HE ONLY SEES!

‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,

‘But if we take the set away,

What shall we do to entertain

Our darling children? Please explain!’

We’ll answer this by asking you,

‘What used the darling ones to do?

‘How used they keep themselves contented

Before this monster was invented?’

Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?

We’ll say it very loud and slow:

THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,

AND READ and READ, and then proceed

To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!

One half their lives was reading books!

The nursery shelves held books galore!

Books cluttered up the nursery floor!

And in the bedroom, by the bed,

More books were waiting to be read!

Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales

Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales

And treasure isles, and distant shores

Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,

And pirates wearing purple pants,

And sailing ships and elephants,

And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,

Stirring away at something hot.

(It smells so good, what can it be?

Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)

The younger ones had Beatrix Potter

With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,

And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,

And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-

Just How The Camel Got His Hump,

And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,

And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,

There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-

Oh, books, what books they used to know,

Those children living long ago!

So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,

Go throw your TV set away,

And in its place you can install

A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

Then fill the shelves with lots of books,

Ignoring all the dirty looks,

The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,

And children hitting you with sticks-

Fear not, because we promise you

That, in about a week or two

Of having nothing else to do,

They’ll now begin to feel the need

Of having something to read.

And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!

You watch the slowly growing joy

That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen

They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen

In that ridiculous machine,

That nauseating, foul, unclean,

Repulsive television screen!

And later, each and every kid

Will love you more for what you did.

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/mike-teavee/

Watch a video clip from the movie here: https://youtu.be/RcyyDYucIXk