Your children can read along as they listen to short story writing contest winner, Jack’s Dream. This episode, written by Chantal Jackson-Barchan and read by the star of Sherlock and Doctor Strange Benedict Cumberbatch, will be released on Spotify and Apple Podcasts at 6pm on June 18th, or you can listen here:
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by Chantal Jackson-Barchan
It was the start of the school holidays and Jack... was bored.
He lay back on the grass in his garden and dozed. The sun was warm on his face and it was very quiet. The silence was interrupted suddenly with a voice.
Jack sat up with a start. He looked around the garden. His parents were inside the house, he was alone outside. He heard the sound again.
“Hello?” Jack spotted a bee walking slowly beside him on the garden path.
“Are you talking to me?!” exclaimed Jack.
“I don’t see anyone else around,” said the bee. Jack peered closer at the bee as it crawled along slowly.
“Why are you walking instead of flying?”
“I got myself trapped in your conservatory a few days ago. Searching for an open window I was. I didn’t seem to spot the open door. I’m ever so tired now. Could you help me please?”
“Yes of course, what can I do?” Jack asked.
“If you mix some white sugar with a little water, it will give me a boost of energy and I can get back to work” explained the bee.
“Right away!” said Jack so he jumped up and ran into the kitchen. There, he carefully measured the sugar, mixed it with water and placed it on a spoon.
He went back into the garden and placed it gently on the floor where the bee could get it. He watched as the bee sipped eagerly.
“Excellent,” said the bee. “I’m very grateful. I feel much stronger now. Ah, I see you have a lavender plant, my favourite!” Jack watched as the bee took off and headed for the lavender plant.
Jack smiled, feeling pleased with himself and turned around. He stopped and gaped in amazement. He was met with a flurry of excitement in the once silent garden. It had come to life! Sparrows and robins called to him and a squirrel scampered up to him.
“We need help too!” they all chattered excitedly at the same time.
“Wait”, said Jack. “One at a time. You,” he said, pointing to the sparrow perched on the edge of the birdbath. “What can I do for you?”
“Well, firstly this birdbath is beautiful and looks lovely in your garden, but I can’t use it” said the sparrow sadly.
“Why ever not?” asked Jack, surprised.
“The water is too deep. Not all birds can swim very well and there is a risk we could drown! If you take out some of the water, I’ll be able to use it”. Jack looked around the garden for something to use. He spotted an empty plant pot. He went over to the birdbath and started to scoop the water out. The water sloshed around and he poured the excess water into the nearby plants. At once he heard a grateful chorus of replies.
“Thank you, that water was lovely”, said one plant.
“Just what I needed, I was ever so thirsty” gushed another.
“You’re very welcome” said Jack making up his mind that he would pay more attention to watering the house plants too.
“Is that better now?” Jack asked the sparrow. He watched as the sparrow dived right in, dipping in and out and splashing about.
“Wonderful” said the sparrow. “I’ll visit every day now and I’ll tell my friends to come too. Don’t forget to change the water once in a while”.
“I won’t,” promised Jack, happy with the result. “Right, who’s next?”
“Hello there”, said the squirrel. “I’m actually here for a friend of mine, a hedgehog. She said she loves your garden but she can’t get in. Hedgehogs are nocturnal so she’s not here at the moment”.
“Why can’t she get in and what does nocturnal mean?” asked Jack.
“There is a small hole in the fence which is perfect for her to come in but it is blocked. Nocturnal means to only come out at night”.
Jack walked along the garden fence.
“Yes, right there” cried the squirrel, hopping up and down. Jack saw there were logs and sticks blocking the hole in the fence. He picked them up and carefully placed them in the corner of the garden.
“Ooh, a log pile!” Jack heard.
“Where did that come from?” he wondered out loud.
“Down here!” Jack looked down and saw a group of insects. There were ants, centipedes and beetles.
“Please leave that wood here”, begged the insects. “This is the perfect home for us!”
“Ok”, said Jack, happy to have helped again. “Is that hole ok for your hedgehog friend?” he asked the squirrel.
“Oh yes, she’ll be very pleased. She’s been wanting to visit your garden for weeks! Please could you leave some water out for her? Not milk though, hedgehogs don’t like milk” said the squirrel.
“No problem” replied Jack. “Anybody else?”
“I have a request,” said the robin sitting on the top of the fence.
“Yes?” asked Jack.
“Thank you for having a bird feeder in your garden but I can’t use it.”
“Why ever not?” asked Jack in surprise. “It’s right here”.
“It’s much too low,” said the robin. “Birds need the feeders placed up high, away from predators. Ideally placed near to a tree”.
“What are predators and why do you want the bird feeders placed beside a tree?” Jack enquired.
“Predators are animals who might want to eat us! Like your cat,” the robin replied, looking around nervously. “We see her prowling all the time. We like the feeders placed near to trees so we can easily escape if we need to”.
“Wow,” said Jack in surprise. “I didn’t think about all that when I put the feeder out. I’ll move it right away.” He carefully removed the feeder from the hook. He looked around the garden, searching for a suitable position. “What about over there?” he asked, pointing to the fence on the other side of the garden, right beside the pear tree.
“Perfect!” said the sparrow.
“I’ll just need to get a footstool,” said Jack. “I’ll be back in a minute.” Jack went into the conservatory, located the footstool and carried it outside. He placed it under the pear tree.
“Be careful,” warned the robin.
“I will,” said Jack as he climbed on to the footstool. He carefully hung the feeder on a hook in the fence. “How’s that?” he asked the robin.
“Brilliant!” said the robin, helping himself to the tasty bird seed. “Thank you, Jack”. <mouth full>
“You’re very welcome,” Jack replied. He looked around the garden. It was a lot calmer now and all the animals were happy in their own little sections of the garden. Feeling happy, Jack went indoors. Suddenly he heard a voice.
“I noticed you helping all the animals outside”.
“Bella!” exclaimed Jack.
His black and white cat eyed him lazily from her cosy perch on the radiator.
“I could do with some exercise,” said Bella. “Just can’t seem to get the motivation to get up”. She yawned and stretched.
“I’ve got just the thing,” said Jack as he jumped up. “Wait here”. He returned in a few moments with a large cardboard box and a small ball. He put the ball in the box. “How about this?”. Bella looked at the box.
“It doesn’t look like much fun to me”.
“Try it, please” asked Jack. “If you do, I’ll get you some catnip,” he added. Those were the magic words! Bella jumped from the radiator into the box. She scrambled in the box trying to get the ball. Jack laughed as the ball went flying from side to side inside the box and Bella went flying trying to catch it! She continued playing for a little while.
“Phew, I’m tired now,” puffed Bella. “I could do with a nap”.
“See, good exercise,” chuckled Jack. “I’ll get your catnip later, I promise,” he said as Bella curled up, ready for another long snooze. He stroked her fondly and soon heard her purrs of delight.
“Don’t forget me”. Jack watched as his beloved dog Anna padded it up to him. She was a small Golden Retriever who loved to play.
“Silly, I would never forget you. Come on, let’s go and play”. Together they went back into the garden. Jack had great fun throwing the stick while Anna jumped around, catching the stick in her mouth and returning it to Jack. “I’m tired now,” puffed Jack. “I could do with a rest”.
Jack was dozing then awoke with a start. He was on the grass in his garden. He sat up quickly.
“Wow, that was a great dream.”
But then he looked around.
There was a bee hovering on the lavender, a sparrow was splashing in the birdbath, he could see a small hole in the fence, insects crawled happily in the log pile and a robin was eating the birdseed. He glanced indoors and spotted a cardboard box below Bella.
To his left, Anna snoozed in the sun, the stick lying beside her. Had it really just been a dream?