Finlay and Oscar are brothers aged eight and six and their cousins are Archie and Freddie, also eight and six. Finlay and Oscar have a cat called Pickles and Archie and Freddie and Henry their dog.
Their mum and aunt is Emily and one day when she went into town, she saw a secondhand bookshop she hadn’t seen before in St Giles Passage.
Emily went in, looked around and saw a book on a shelf that jumped off the page at her, or so it felt.
It was full of amazing pictures and its title was, ‘The Land You Sometimes See’.
All the boys loved stories and at times got together in each others’ homes to hear them read, or read them themselves. “I think the boys would love this”, she thought to herself so bought it and took it home.
That afternoon as it happened, Oscar and Finlay’s cousins had gone round to play and so Emily gave them the book to read.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and so Oscar, Pickles, Finlay, Archie, Henry and Freddie sat on the blanket, the boys with a glass of orange each.
Pickles was fast asleep, occasionally stretching out and giving a purr whilst Henry looked around at the boys, this way and that, giving out an occasional “Woof!”
Finlay said, “Would you like Archie and me to read the book. We’ll make sure you see the pictures ?” Oscar and Freddie thought that was a great idea and happily settled back on the blanket.
The pictures in the book were amazing and so realistic. It was hard to believe they were just pictures. Henry looked from side to side and Pickles – just stretched.
Finlay started reading. “This book is called ‘The Land We Sometimes See'”. He cleared his throat and continued, “This is a story of an amazing Land which occasionally readers can travel to. When you really begin to see, that’s when you can travel to Sometime Land”.
Finlay turned to the next page and handed the book to Archie, so that he could carry on from where he’d left off.
There was a vivid picture which spread across both pages from one side to the other. It was remarkable. As the boys looked, they could see more and more things in it. A forest with a whole range of different trees. There were ferns of various heights and greens, plants of extraordinary colours and a small pond in which the boys saw the occasional frog and toad. “Wow! ” the boys said together. With that, Freddie commented, “It looks so real I feel as if we could actually walk in there”. There was a strange “WHOOOSHING” sound and suddenly the boys and Henry were standing on the softness of a forest floor. They could just about still see Pickles fast asleep on the blanket where they’d left him behind.
As they listened, they could hear the wonderful sounds of birdsong, like no other birdsong they’d heard before. The sound of an owl, a few parrots, then other wildlife. Monkeys in trees and the scuffle of an otter by the pond.
Archie had always been an adventurer and said, “Listen, we’re all together so let’s go and explore !” Ahead of them was a large, tall, bark-covered tree and when they got nearer they could see something written in old-fashioned writing pinned to it. The boys got nearer , Henry ran round and round in small circles, racing ahead to take a look.
Once there Archie read, “Feel the bark on the tree, what happens next you will see”.
The boys used their hands to rub the scrubby, rough bark and Henry, always a little crazy, brushed his tail backwards and forwards , then rubbed his nose in the dried leaves on the forest floor.
Suddenly at the side of the tree, a large door began opening outwards. It creaked on its hinges and Henry’s ears stood straight up, his face looked a bit like a startled rabbit !
The boys tiptoed closer and found the door had revealed steps leading down. They were lit by the most wonderful golden light.
“Let’s go down” said Oscar. “I’ll go first”, said Finlay and in a line one behind the other, the boys and of course Henry, made their way down the stone steps to a vast room beneath. Freddie was so excited, he ran and over took them all, almost tripping over Henry on the way. “Wow, wow, wow !!!” he said.
The walls were covered in crystals and fossils and the floor was like glass. The colours of the room changed from red to orange to yellow to green to blue to indigo to violet. Like a rainbow.
It was magical and the boys’ surroundings were extraordinary.
Hanging from the ceiling like long shiny fingers were stalactites and standing up from the floor were stalacmites. Archie explained what they were. “How did you know that?” asked Freddie. “Well”, said Archie, “Stalactites have to hold on tight and stalacmites might fall over”. “That’s cool”, said Oscar.
Then they noticed Henry going crazy in a corner of the room. He was going round and round one way, then going back the other. He jumped up and seemed to be pointing to something. Yes he was ! Pinned to the wall was another notice which read, “Make musical notes of the Star Wars theme, then you’ll find another scene”.
The boys thought for a moment then Oscar said, “We could play notes on the stalactites and stalacmites” . “That’s a great idea !” said Archie.
Henry ran towards them with a straight piece of wood in his mouth. He dropped it in front of the boys and then looked up at the stalactites and down at the stalacmites. “Good boy Henry! We can use it like a drum stick !” Henry scampered off again and again, bringing each boy a piece of wood.
They took it in turns to try out the sound of each dripping finger of rock which either came down or stood up around them. Finlay said excitedly, “I think I’ve got it !”
He’d worked out the notes and each boy took a different finger of rock to play. Together they created the theme of Stars Wars then slowly, over in the corner, another large door gently opened.
Henry was first to make his way through. “Hold on Henry!” said Archie. Henry’s nose was twitching and running; then his face puckered up and he let out an enormous sneeze. Some of the leaves on the ground rose up and flew in the air, Henry’s sneeze was so strong.
“Look”, said Freddie, “There’s some more writing “.
The four of them got closer and together read what it said. “Can you find five different smells then each of you ring the bells”.
The scene in front of them was amazing. In this room there was a floor made out of wooden pine floorboards and long table tops created from rectangles of marble around the walls. On the table tops were fantastic, differently shaped and coloured glass jars topped with crystal lids and right at the far end, five golden bells with shell handles.
Archie was first to lift the lid off the jar. He carefully put his nose over the top and sniffed. “It’s peppermint” he said. The other boys came and smelt the jar too. “Peppermint!” they all agreed. Henry bounded across . “Do you want a sniff too Henry ? ” asked Oscar. Oscar lifted the lid and Henry sniffed – and gave another enormous sneeze.
One by one the boys lifted the lids on the next four jars. There was lavender,rose petals, lemon, vinegar and burnt toast. Then they remembered the last task on the list. “Each of you ring a bell”. The boys held a bell each in their hands and Henry held one in his mouth. “One two three go !” said Finlay.
As they rang the bells, the most incredible sounds echoed around the room and from the opened jars, curling scents soared up to the ceiling.
Over in the corner they now saw another flight of stairs leading upwards but before that, another note.
“I’ll read it this time”, said Freddie. He got closer, they all gathered round and this is what it said, ” At the start of this story it said see and look. Go upstairs, look around, it’s the last page in your book”.
Henry couldn’t wait and hurtled his way up the stairs like a tornado. Freddie like a whirlwind followed after Henry and when they got to the top, they both stopped in their tracks. The other boys followed and stopped in their tracks too.
Before them was the most breath-taking, awesome scene they’d ever seen.
They remembered what the sign had said, “See and really look “.
They were standing at the edge of a small lake, blue water lapping at the edge of the yellowy sand. Small crabs with polished shells scampered this way and that. On the other side of the lake, tall eucalyptus trees with curtain-like leaves, danced together in unison. In the sand were nuggets of gold and silver, fistfuls of diamonds glittering and shining. “Just look at that Oscar !” said Finlay. “”It’s amazing isn’t it ?” said Archie. Henry unusually for him, just stood still taking it all in, wagging his tail.
Then Henry got up, rummaged around in some bushes and came back with a cluster of large, ripe, purple blackberries in his mouth.
Suddenly there came a WHOOOSHING sound again and in a fraction of a second, the boys were back on the blanket. Pickles opened an eye and purred then Emily came out of the backdoor.
“Have you started reading the book yet boys ?” she asked.
The boys looked at each other . They knew the things they’d touched, seen, heard and smelt . They’d used their senses in a way they never had before. If they told Emily, they knew she wouldn’t believe them.
Then they looked at Henry….. Henry !!!!
He was sitting amongst them on the blanket and in his mouth – a cluster of large, lush, juicy blackberries !
Wherever did you get those from Henry ? There aren’t any blackberry bushes around here” , said Emily.
Henry looked at the boys and in his own doggy-toothed way smiled. Pickles opened an eye and purred. The boys looked at one another and said, ” Thanks Mum, thanks Auntie, it’s the coolest, greatest book we’ve ever read and we’ve been to a Land we never thought we’d go !”
“I’m so glad you enjoyed it boys. You’ve found we can travel the world in books and go to places we’ve never been before,” said Emily.
“Yes Mum, yes Auntie, ” said the boys. ” WE KNOW !“
We can travel to different places, see, touch, hear, feel and taste things through our imaginations.
We can do all these things with a good Tale !!!!!