Previously published, UK only
I hold all rights to the stories in this book. Picture rights
belong to the illustrator, Louise Armour-Chelu.
Fenella Minella lives with her mum and dad and Smudge the cat in a big old house in a village with one long street. There's a door in the side of the house which opens into a little cottage where Fenella Minella's dad sells antiques, and next door to that lives her best friend Polly Kettle.
In these six stories a lot of odd things happen to Fenella Minella, and sometimes there's a little bit of magic in the air. I have two further Fenella Minella stories that have never been published.
One of the published stories may be read below.
FENELLA MINELLA AND THE TOOTH FROG
One bedtime, Fenella Minella had a sore throat.
'You're a little hoarse,' her mother said as she fluffed up her pillows.
'No I'm not,' said Fenella Minella. 'I'm a little girl.'
'Well, you've certainly got a frog in your throat tonight.'
Fenella Minella gulped. 'What's a frog doing in my throat?'
'Probably trying to get some sleep,' her mother answered. 'I'll make some hot honey and lemon to help him along, shall I?'
While her mother was down in the kitchen, Fenella Minella felt her throat, very carefully. 'It's not jumping about,' she said when Mum returned with the hot honey and lemon.
'The frog in my throat.'
'Well, it's only a little frog. Little frogs in throats try not to get themselves noticed. Now sit up and drink this down to the last drop and with any luck it'll have hopped out by morning.'
'You know my tooth?' Fenella Minella said while she was sipping the drink.
'The one that came out today? Yes, what about it?'
'The tooth fairy will come tonight, won't she? Because I need another pearl for my necklace. I've only got three so far.'
'She hasn't let you down yet, has she?' her mother said. 'Have you washed all the blood off and put it in the box?' Fenella Minella nodded. 'Well, there'll be a pearl there in its place in the morning, sure as eggs are eggs.'
Now usually, when a child's tooth falls out and the child leaves it beside its bed, a fairy comes in the night and takes the tooth away and leaves a coin in return. But Fenella Minella had a very unusual tooth fairy. In exchange for each tooth that Fenella Minella put in her little red tooth box the fairy left a perfect white pearl. Her mother said that when Fenella Minella had enough pearls she would be able to make a necklace, which she could wear every day for the rest of her life and feel very rich. Fenella Minella was looking forward to the day when all her teeth had fallen out.
In the morning when Fenella Minella woke, the first thing she did was look in the tooth box to see if the tooth fairy had been. Her mouth dropped open.
'Mum! Mum! My tooth's gone and there's no pearl!'
Her mother came in.
'Oh I think you'll find there is,' she said with a knowing smile.
'No! Look! There isn't!'
Fenella Minella held the little red tooth box upside down and shook it. It was quite empty.
'Well that's odd,' her mother said, looking about her. 'It must have dropped out somehow.'
They looked among the books and games and bits and pieces on the blanket chest beside the bed. The pearl wasn't there.
They looked on the floor in front of the chest. It wasn't there either.
Then they got down on their hands and knees and looked under the bed.
'So that's where Thin Ted got to,' said Fenella Minella. She pulled Thin Ted out from under the bed and picked a ball of fluff off his nose.
Her mother sat back.
'No pearls under there. Not even any oysters.'
Then she tilted her head and gave Fenella Minella a long slow look through half closed eyes.
'You're not playing games with me are you, miss?'
'No, Mum, honest.'
'Hm! All I can say is that I know a pearl was left in your tooth box.'
'You can't know,' Fenella Minella said. 'The fairy might have forgotten to leave one this time.'
'Not this fairy,' her mother said, getting to her feet. 'Well, I daresay it'll turn up sooner or later.'
'What if it doesn't?'
'Then you'll have to wait till the next tooth.'
'But that's not fair!'
'You'd better keep looking then, hadn't you? And if nothing else, your throat seems better today. I told you that frog would be gone by morning, didn't I?'
Suddenly, Fenella Minella had a brilliant thought. 'What if the frog jumped out of my throat and stole my tooth?'
Her mother laughed. 'Fenella Minella, what an imagination you've got!'
It was Saturday, and after Fenella Minella came back from the gym where she was learning to do backward rolls, V-sits, cartwheels and handstands, she had the whole afternoon to herself. The only trouble with having the whole afternoon to herself was that she wanted to share it with someone, and the only person she could think of to share it with was Polly Kettle, but Polly Kettle was away this weekend, so that was that.
'What can I do, Mum?' she said every ten minutes for the first hour after lunch.
'You haven't looked at all your birthday presents properly yet,' her mother said.
'I don't want to look at things, I want someone to play with.'
'Well it can't be me, I'm afraid, I'm helping in the shop.'
Fenella Minella wandered in and out of the shop for half the afternoon, but her mother and father were busy talking to customers most of the time, and every time her mum saw her she said: 'Found that pearl yet?'
'Still looking,' said Fenella Minella, who wasn't.
In the end she went out to the garden hoping that something interesting would happen there. She stood for a minute in the sunshine, waiting. When nothing interesting happened she sat down on the crazy paving by the fish pond. She watched some ants for a minute or two, then she picked up a stick and poked at the ground for another minute or two, then she made shapes with her shadow hands for a further minute or two, then she leaned over the pond to count the fish. It wasn't a large pond and although the fish kept rushing about and she had to keep starting again, she was soon sure that she'd counted them all. She counted nine fish. There should be sixteen.
Smudge the cat wound himself round her legs.
'Smudge,' said Fenella Minella, 'if you've been at those fish again...'
'Meow?' said Smudge, as if to say 'Who, me?', and wandered off.
Fenella Minella leaned over the pond again, and looked at her reflection in the water. She pulled her lips back and ran the tip of her tongue over her new gap. It was all smooth and it squished when she poked it and she couldn't imagine ever getting used to it, though Mum said there'd be another tooth along quite soon, a brand new one, and then she would forget she'd ever had a gap.
Fenella Minella fell to wondering about the pearl that hadn't been in her tooth box that morning. Why hadn't the fairy left a pearl? She hadn't been particularly bad this week, she was sure she hadn't. And anyway, Mum said it didn't matter how bad you were, if you lost a tooth you got a pearl, that was the rule. Her mother knew this for certain because she'd had the same tooth fairy when she was little and she had always received a pearl in exchange for a tooth.
'CROAK! CROAK! CROAK! CROAK! CROAK!'
Fenella Minella sat up as Smudge the cat bounded after a small green frog, which was hopping away for its very life. The frog only just escaped by jumping onto a lily pad in the pond, but then the cat lay down at the side of the pond and stretched out a paw. The frog on the lily pad, gulping hard, had its back to Smudge and had no idea it was still in danger.
Fenella Minella jumped up and rushed round the pond. Smudge just lay there looking all innocent.
'You leave that frog alone, Smudge. Or else.'
With a disappointed glance at the frog, Smudge slunk away, to sulk in the sun with his eyes shut.
Fenella Minella knelt down by the pond. 'It's all right, frog, nasty old cat's gone now.'
Then Fenella Minella had one of her thoughts. 'You're not the frog that was in my throat last night, are you? Because if you are I want a word with you. You can't just hop in and out of people's throats whenever you feel like it, you know. Besides, it makes them sore.'
'CROAK?' gulped the little green frog.
'And another thing,' Fenella Minella went on. 'There's something missing from my room. Something important. Do you know anything about that, frog?'
The frog, which hadn't stopped gulping since it landed on the lily pad, now gave a much larger gulp - and something popped out of its mouth and fell at its feet.
'What's that?' said Fenella Minella.
And with this much louder croak, the frog hopped off the lily pad and away from the pond until it was lost from sight.
Fenella Minella looked at the thing that had popped out of the frog's mouth onto the lily pad. It was small and round and perfect and it gleamed in the sunshine.
'Well I never,' said Fenella Minella.
Later, Fenella Minella said: 'Mum, you know my pearl?' She held it out in her palm. 'I was right. The frog in my throat took it.'
'Oh, and how do you know that?'
'Because the pearl got stuck in the frog's throat, and when it coughed it up it gave it back to me for saving it from Smudge in the garden.'
'Oh, Fenella Minella,' her mother laughed, 'you do have an imagination! I can't wait to tell your father that one!'