Once upon a time, in a faraway place in the Middle Of Nowhere, a boy called Jim set out on an adventure. He had travelled a long long way, further even than Shackleton had on his epic Journey, and on into the wilderness … but now he realised that he was lost! He found himself in a strange place; a place where Buffalo and Lions played chess with each other; a place where the Cuckoos played the trumpet whilst they glide along on the warm evening’s breeze.
All of a sudden it began to Rain. It was the middle of Summer, it shouldn’t be raining! But it poured and it poured, so Jim ran as fast as his legs would take him until he reached a huge Apple tree. ‘Wow!!’ said a little voice, ‘You’re a REALLY fast runner!!’. Jim spun around, and out from behind the branches up in the tree poked a little head. ‘Who are you?’ said Jim, trying to peek round the twisted old trunk to get a better look. ‘My name is Goth Girl, and this is MY tree!’ came the reply. ‘Oh, I’m terribly sorry, I was just sheltering from the rain, do you mind if I stay a while?’ said Jim, wondering if the little face was going to show herself more clearly. The next thing he knew, the branches began to shake and, quick as a flash, Goth Girl was standing beside him. ‘Yes, I suppose you can keep me company, I’ve been hiding here for AGES’ she said. Jim looked puzzled, ‘but what are you hiding from?’. Goth Girl looked a bit taken aback, ‘haven’t you heard? Mr Dog has escaped from the Dark Satanic Mills and is terrorising everyone!’ she cried, ‘but More Than This, When Mr Dog Bites, he bites anyone! Even Smelly Louie!”.
Jim didn’t know who Mr Dog was, but he didn’t sound very friendly at all. ‘Please, you have to help’ begged Goth Girl, ‘You must be The Fastest Boy In The World, do you think you could run and get the Soldiers from the village?’. Jim thought about it for a moment, then explained ‘but I don’t know where the village is! I’m lost!’. ‘Don’t worry’ said Goth Girl, ‘Tinder will show you, he isn’t scared of Mr Dog because he’s a Ghost!’. Tinder floated down from the tree and greeted Jim with a wiggle of his whiskers and a jiggle of his tail; he was the ghost of a mouse!. Goth Girl stared at him bleakly, tears running down her cheeks, cascading off her chin and down into onto the lush green grass. Jim realised that he simply must help. ‘OK, I’ll do it’ he said, ‘I’ll bring help, I Promise!’. And with that, and with Tinder floating in front of him to show him the way, Jim began to run.
He ran like the wind, faster than he’d ever run before. Faster than a dog. Faster than a lion. Faster than a horse. Faster even than a cheetah! After what seemed like an eternity, Tinder turned to Jim and beckoned over to the left. Jim looked, and ahead of him down the path he could see the dim lights of the village away in the distance. Jim raced down the path, straining every muscle in his body to get there as fast as he could. He arrived in the village and went straight to find the soldiers. Once he told them what had happened, the soldiers headed off towards the tree to rescue Goth Girl. Jim waited anxiously; he hoped they had managed to find Goth Girl and that she was OK!
After a while, Jim heard the sound of marching boots and began to walk towards them. ‘Jim!’ a voice shouted, and up ahead of him, with a beaming smile across her face, was Goth Girl. ‘Thank goodness you’re OK!’ exclaimed Jim, ‘I ran as fast as I could but I was really worried!. ‘I’m fine’ said Goth Girl, ‘but only thanks to you for running all that way and finding the soldiers’ she said, hugging Jim as she talked, ‘I think you should get a medal!’ And, the very next day when they had both had some sleep, that’s exactly what happened. The Mayor of the town, Kate Greenaway, came to find Jim and presented him with the town’s highest honour for bravery, the Carnegie Medal.
Jim was so excited, he couldn’t wait to tell his mum and dad! Now, if he could only remember his way home…
Written by North East Judge Lucy Carlton-Walker. Lucy is the Children & Young Person’s Librarian at Stockton Central Library, Stockton-On-Tees.