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Where Has Mum Gone?

by Pipperhaye 

Posted: 18 January 2009
Word Count: 1682
Summary: Here are the first three chapters, following the adventures of two little puppies. I would really appreciate any comments or recommendations, as this is the first book I have written for children.

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Chapter 1
Whistling through the narrow cracks in the puppy’s wooden kennel, the bitter icy March wind tickled Bonnie’s little golden nose making it twitch.

All alone Bonnie lay curled up in a tiny round golden ball, her little legs and tail tucked in tightly in a desperate effort to stay warm. She looked over sadly to her three big brothers, Yapper, Whinger and Long Legs all snuggled up together into a mass of chocolate fur with Long Legs lying across Yapper and Whinger. Smudge as usual was happily crouched in a corner chewing on an old bone, his tiny chocolate tail wagging furiously with pleasure.

Bonnie was the first to hear Mum jump into the puppy pen. Leaping up she ran towards her, but like a herd of Buffaloes, her brothers charged across the kennel. With a vicious shove Long Legs (who decided a long time ago as the largest pup to take on the role of ‘Pack Leader’) pushed little Bonnie aside, snapping “Get out of my way, let me through”

Bonnie unable to keep her balance tumbled over and yelped when Yapper and Whinger clambered on top of her, scratching her soft pink tummy with their sharp little claws to reach Mum.

Recovering her balance Bonnie pleaded to her brothers “Please let me in, I’m hungry”.

“Wait your turn, we were here first” Snarled Yapper.

“Yeah, get out of it, scram you stupid mutt” Growled Whinger

“Smudge where are you, Smudge?” Sitting alone Bonnie called to her only friend.

Bonnie soon realized Smudge was buried beneath his greedy brothers and could do nothing to help her.

Though she knew Mum loved and cared deeply for all her little puppies Bonnie was glad when Mum turned to the unruly boys and let out a warning Bark, telling them to behave. But Bonnie loved best of all Mums’ extra loving licks and snuggling up under her curly golden ears to stay warm.

But something was wrong; Bonnie noticed that Mum was coming less and less to see her. Her three naughty brothers now had a field day, teasing, biting and bullying her.

Thank goodness there was playful Smudge thought Bonnie. She loved to run around in circles playing chase with him, but her favourite game of all was tug with one of the many toys they had to play with. Poor little Smudge would snap and growl back at his brothers, when they started picking on her, but the boys especially Long Legs usually took no notice and would just tell him to ‘shut up’.

Chapter 2

No matter how hard she tried, Bonnie couldn’t stop shivering, if only she could sneak past her brothers she’s be able to cuddle up next to Smudge. Placing one paw in front of the other she started to creep round them.

“Ouch” Bonnie jumped and yelped as Long Legs sunk his long sharp teeth into her leg.

“Get out of the way there’s no room for you here, ‘Ginger Mutt” Barked Long Legs.

“I just want to get past, anyway you wouldn’t have done that if Mum were here, she’d have bitten you back” Bonnie whimpered.

“Yeah yeah, but hey guess what you stupid pup, she’s not, so move NOW”

“What’s going on, can’t a guy get some sleep?” Moaned Whinger

“ Oh be quiet Whinger, it’s just the Ginger Mutt being a pest as usual” replied Yapper as laughing he grabbed Bonnie’s golden tail between his teeth.

Shaking her little tail from side to side he growled, “You heard Long Legs, get out of it”

Running over to Smudge as fast as her little legs would carry her she was not really sure if it was the cold winter air or her brothers bullying that made Bonnie start to shiver again.

Bonnie felt Smudge nuzzle up against her “ It’s OK Bonnie. I’ll keep you warm”.

“Why am I so different from everyone else and why do they hate me so much?” Cried Bonnie.

Bonnie couldn’t stop the tears, she just felt so lonely since Mum had disappeared “Where is Mum?” Cried Bonnie “why has she suddenly stopped coming to play and cuddle us to keep warm?”

Giving Bonnie a reassuring lick Smudge said “I don’t know where’s she’s gone, but I’ve been thinking, we need to try and find her she can’t be that far away.”

“Oh Smudge, if only we could, but how?” Asked Bonnie.

Smudge twitched his little brown nose (something he always did when faced with a problem), then jumped up proudly replied, “I’ve got it, just stick close and follow me.“

Drawing closer to Bonnie he whispered “I have a plan but you must be ready to follow me and run for your life when I say so, no arguments!”

Bonnie could feel her little heart racing and suddenly felt very scared as she thought - was it possible, did Smudge really know how they could find their Mum?

The noise of the bolt on the kennel door being drawn back was the signal to all the little puppies since Mum had disappeared, that Pat was coming in with their dinner. A mad stampede of puppies dived towards her, tumbling over each other with yelps of pleasure “Food glorious Food YIPPEE!”

Smudge leapt in front of Bonnie “Wait Bonnie, you’ve got to stay close to me and get ready to move when I say.”
Bonnie was just about to explain to Smudge that she wanted her dinner, when Smudge barked
“NOW BONNIE - RUN come on follow me”
“But what about dinner, I’m hungry?”
Smudge gave a little growl “we’ll get plenty to eat when we find Mum, come on its now or never – RUN”

Chapter 3

As fast as their tiny four legs could carry them Smudge and Bonnie skidded between Pats legs and hurled themselves out of the kennel door. Long Legs, Whinger and Yapper didn’t notice anything happening, they were too busy filling their fat little tummies with food, but Pat let out an almighty scream “ PUPPIES COME BACK”.

By the time Pat had frantically re-locked the kennel and turned to chase after the little puppies they were nowhere to be seen.

With puppy hearts ready to burst, their little paws pounded over the rough stony track. Sharp bracken scratched against their soft furry coats as they tightly rounded each bend. On and on they ran, until Bonnie could run no more and collapsed on to her side panting and struggling to take in each breath.

Smudge realizing Bonnie was no longer with him, turned and ran back to her side.

“Bonnie, we have to keep going, or we’ll be caught and never find Mum” he managed to say in-between breaths.

It took a few moments before Bonnie could reply “I’m sorry Smudge, just give me a few minutes. Do you know where Mum is? We’ve run an awfully long way; perhaps we should try calling her?”

“Silly girl, that’ll alert everyone to where we are; we need to find her scent and follow it”. Smudge immediately put his nose to the ground and started walking round in circles sniffing the ground.

Bonnie knew Smudge was a very intelligent little pup, but she did wonder what would happen if they couldn’t find Mum’s scent. She decided it’d be better to say nothing yet not wanting to upset Smudge and joined in sniffing along the edges of the pathway.

“Come on, let’s cut across this field I can see another path down the hill” suggested Smudge.

“Er Smudge - that’s no field, it’s a cliff and it’s awfully steep, I don’t think it’s a good idea; we could slip and hurt ourselves.”

“Don’t worry It’ll be all right if we go slowly.”

As Bonnie placed one paw gingerly in front of the other she struggled desperately to keep her balance. It didn’t help much having her four little legs shaking so badly. Smudge although he wouldn’t admit it, seemed to also be having trouble climbing down the steep cliff face.

Then without any warning it happened. Smudge who was slightly ahead of Bonnie, let out a piecing yelp and tumbled over and over down the cliff. His legs were flying in every direction, but he just couldn’t stop himself from falling until with a load thud his frail little body slammed against a large rock.

Although now some distance from Bonnie, she could hear his whimpers of pain and as fast and safely as possible she quickly made her way to his side.

“Smudge, what have you done? Don’t try to move let me check you over first.”

With his head laid down on the damp ground Smudge let Bonnie sniff around his bruised body trying very hard not to whimper too loudly.

Bonnie didn’t want to alarm Smudge and said nothing when she saw the blood on his back left paw. Instead she gently started to lick the paw to clean it, discovering a viscous thorn embedded in the pad. She knew Smudge would not be able to walk unless she could remove the thorn.

“Oh Smudge, I know why you fell, you’ve trodden on a thorn. I’ve got to try and pull it out. I’m sorry, but it’s going to hurt, if I don’t you’ll never be able walk anywhere.”

Smudge looked up into Bonnie’s golden face and knew she’d do everything to help him and not leave him here all alone.
The pain shot up his leg he closed his eyes and tried to remember the good times when they were all happily playing with Mum. He could feel Bonnie’s teeth gently tug at the thorn Ouch, it was so painful he thought

There you are Smudge, all done” Bonnie whispered in his ear, she then gave a few more licks to clean Smudge’s now throbbing paw.

Gently Smudge raised his sore battered body and placed his wounded paw onto the ground. Although it still hurt, the awful stabbing pain had gone.

“Thank you Bonnie, you’re a true friend, perhaps I should let you lead from now on” smiled Smudge.

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Comments by other Members

Issy at 23:01 on 22 January 2009  Report this post
Hi Pipperhaye, welcome to the group. I have just got in and now have a show review to write, but I had a quick look at chapter 1 and very much liked the concept. I will give it the detailed read and comments it deserves tomorrow.

Congratulations on writing your first book for children.

Issy at 00:06 on 24 January 2009  Report this post
Hi Pipperhaye,

Have now read through and think you have a charming story for younger readers, and also with a marvellous doggy background, one which will get them involved in Bonnie's adventures. She's an absolute golden sweetie, the smallest of the litter, and young children will relate very strongly to being the smallest in the cut and thrust of family life, especially if they have older siblings.

There is also another possible theme in that of children being bullied, and of the development of strong friendships as they leave home for first school etc.

I do think though that the way it is written will need some more work doing. It's chapter one where the main changes are required in my view. Here are my ideas:

1) Chapter one reads more like a summary of a chapter rather than the actual story and could do with some more scenes written as the occur. A crucial one would be where the brothers are being horrible to Bonnie and would report exactly what was happening, what everyone said, and what Bonnie did. This will be a painful scene, I am sure, which will pull at the heartstrings, but will put the reader strongly in Bonnie's court. Another crucial one would be the introduction of Smudge as her friend and rescuer, what exactly he does, so that the reader comes to know him, something about his character, and to see him as a relief after the painful bullying scene with the others. This will definitely reduce some of that pain.

2)It is usually best to start with the main character for this age group - the reader or read to will want to identify quickly with her and may well lose interest by starting with the owners or parents or view. In my opinion the bullying scene would probably be the place to begin,but alternatives would be a cosy mother and daughter scene, or even a playful scene with Smudge, if you prefered to start in a softer way.

3) I would respectfully suggest that from the start everything is from Bonnie's viewpoint, her emotions, how they colour what she is seeing. This is mainly Ok apart from the first few paras, and where it switches to what Smudge realises.

4) I loved the bit with the wind whistling, and the sadness it brings, and Smudge's mysterious plan to get out. I also liked the bit about removing the thorn. I feel that if the nasty scene is set up at the beginning these later, delightful and friendship making scenes will be very much stronger in relief.

5) I know one of the big things with writing children is "show not tell" but I don't personally think that too many more scenes are needed, and there has to be quite a bit of "tell" for this age group otherwise it is going to be too long and complex - I was fine with the description of the running away, getting out of breath, their legs working hard.

6) I wondered if the title was just a working title, as it does actually suggest a traditional "lost my mummy" picture book story, whereas this is a very nice chapter book for early readers. I'm not very good at titles, but WWers are good at suggesting them if you want to put a note on the general forum

I hope that this is helpful, please do ignore anything that isn't and I do look forward to more.


PS I mean the Private Members Forum - if you want to get other suggestions for a title.

Pipperhaye at 10:34 on 24 January 2009  Report this post
Thank you so much Issy - this is exactly what I needed to hear. The title is a 'Working Title' will certainly look into Private Members Forum.

Re 1st chapter, I understand and agree with your comments and shall work on this.

Again Many Thanks for your help.

Issy at 13:31 on 24 January 2009  Report this post
Great, look forward to the next.

Just post a query in the Private Members, give a brief rundown of some of the story, title ideas so far. Members love brainstorming titles!

All the best

Pipperhaye at 15:41 on 25 January 2009  Report this post
Hi Issy

Revised the first couple of chapters, when you have a moment will greatly appreciate your input. It was quite tough, trying to remove scenic and unnecessary descriptions. Still feel it needs quite a bit more work, but perhaps you can advise. Many Thanks

Issy at 22:15 on 27 January 2009  Report this post
This is great, so much more immediate, and yes, the reader will adore Bonnie and feel for her with those nasty brothers. Also, for Smudge because he stands by Bonnie and is just so downtrodden.

The brothers are really nasty now, not surprised that it was so difficult to write.

I do think a bit of editing is needed, nothing much, just a change of sentence structure to make it simpler for the young reader or read-to.

Have taken the liberty of suggesting the following:

Whistling through the narrow cracks in the puppy’s wooden kennel, the bitter icy March wind tickled Bonnie’s little golden nose making it twitch.

Would suggest:

The bitter icy March wind whistled through the narrow cracks of the puppys' wooden kennel, and tickled B
Bonnie's little golden nose, making it twitch.

All alone Bonnie lay curled up in a tiny round golden ball, her little legs and tail tucked in tightly in a desperate effort to stay warm.

Would suggest:

Bonnie lay curled up all alone,...

Bonnie was the first to hear Mum jump into the puppy pen. Leaping up she ran towards her, but like a herd of Buffaloes, her brothers charged across the kennel.

Would suggest:

Bonnie was always the first to hear Mum jump into the puppy pen. She would leap up and run towards her....

(Just to put it into the more distant past. Children might still have difficulty with the reverting to the memory but I can't see any way round it. Alternatively, could say Bonnie was thinking how she was always the first....")

Before this sentence, readers might need to be told that the scene was back at the draughty kennel.

No matter how hard she tried, Bonnie couldn’t stop shivering, if only she could sneak past her brothers she’s be able to cuddle up next to Smudge. Placing one paw in front of the other she started to creep round them.

Would suggest a change in structure:

Bonnie places one paw in front of each other and started to creep round them.

Anyway, that's the sort of thing I was thinking of. Would also suggest looking at the adverbs and make sure they are definitely needed. Otherwise coming on really well with the elements of the story all in the best places. Will be very interested to see what other people think, and it might be an idea later on, when people here have had a chance to comment, transfer the posting to the Young Children's for ideas there.

Good luck, looking forward to the next with all the doggy snippets.

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