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Short Stories for Children or all Ages: BillywiseBillywise

 
From a mole-back hole
in the oldest oak,
deep in the heart
of the fern-brushed wood…
a scritch, a scratch,
a tap, a crack!
 
A pale egg split…
and Billywise crept out of it.
 

‘Who are you?’ murmured moth

from the shadowy glade.
‘You’re not rough,
you’re not tough,
just a small ball of fluff…

you wouldn’t make anyone afraid!’

 
‘Who am I?’ whispered Billywise,
safe in his shady nest.
But his mother, fondly feeding him, said,

Hush! Just eat and rest!’

 

You will grow, you will prowl,

you will slide through the air;
you will swoop, loop-the-loop,
you will stare, you will glare ...
as silently as moonlight
you’ll glide through the midnight air.
 
 
But Billywise just blinked in fear
and whispered,
‘I won’t dare!
 
Next night,
whilst his mother searched for food…
 

‘Who are you?’ squeaked squirrel,

peering from a branch nearby.

‘You can’t catch me,
I’d beat you on any tree –

and it doesn’t look as if you’ll ever fly!’

 
‘Who am I?’ whispered Billywise,

huddling in his nest.

But his mother, fondly feeding him, said,

‘Hush!Just eat and rest!’

 

You will grow, you will prowl,

you will slide through the air;
you will swoop, loop-the-loop,
you will stare, you will glare ...
as silently as moonlight
you’ll glide through the midnight air.
 
But Billywise just blinked in fear
and whispered,
I won’t dare!
 

Before long there were three

in the oldest oak:

Billywise, Jennyhowlett and Pudge.

 

And they grew.

 

Billywise cried, ‘Please,

why are those two there?

Do I have to share?

This really is a squash and a squeeze!’

 

They pushed and wriggled,

they squeezed and wiggled

until, at last, they slept.

 

They slept all day,

then watched their mother fly away

as the sunlight stole from the wood…

And they grew!

They grew and they GREW,

and soon Billywise

dreamt of space.

 

He longed to swoop,

loop-the-loop,

to slide though the air,

as silently as moonlight

to glide through the midnight air.

 

But…

did he dare?

 

One night,

when the moon was high overhead,

Billywise stepped up to the edge of the nest,

with searching eyes and wings outspread.

 

And his mother said,

 

If you tried,

you could glide!

 

Spread your wings to the side,

fix your ears on the night,

let the stars light your flight

and aim for the moon!’

 

 

You’re an OWL, Billywise!

You can dive, you can prowl,

you can slide through the air;

you can swoop, loop-the-loop,

you can stare, you can glare!

 

 

JUMP, Billywise!

 

As silent as moonlight,

glide through that midnight air!

 

Billywise breathed deeply

spread his wings to the watching wood

and cried,

 

‘I’m an owl,

I dare, I dare!’

 
 
 
 

Judith Nicholls; Jason Cockcroft 

Billywise 

London, Bloomsbury Children Books, 2002

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