by Elizabeth Parker
Big and Small
A life filled forest stretching for miles; oak trees tower over and shelter the creatures below. In the middle of this forest is a small cottage where this story begins. The cottage belonged to a family of five; the Paines. The Paines are a close family made up of Mum, Dad and three children, Jonny, Ruth and Ted. They also had a snuggly, ginger tabby cat that roamed the forest around the house. The Paines were unaware that there were other creatures in their house, creatures that looked quite like them except they were only three inches tall. They were the borrowers. They’re small and quiet and they borrow. Now these borrowers are a family of four, a mum, a dad, and the twin girls; Amazon and Kestrel. The girls had fiery red hair and round, deep blue eyes. They were hard to tell apart and the only way you could is that Kestrel had a large freckle near her left eye whereas Amazon didn’t. The borrowers would usually spend their days roaming around the house when the humans weren’t there, borrowing things they could use. Once Amazon found a Lego car with a motor and on another day, Kestrel found a piece of ripped fabric which she used to make a backpack. When the people were there, they would spend their time trying to improve their house, using the things they had borrowed. These twins always wanted to go outside, but their mum and dad wouldn’t let them as they said it was too dangerous. So, the twins, Amazon and Kestrel, spent their days borrowing and wishing. But one day this all changed.
The sun had just started creeping in their small window when Amazon woke up and gently woke her twin. Kestrel sat up and put on her small but helpful backpack. Amazon put her finger to her closed lips so Kestrel would be quiet so as to not wake their parents up. They knew that they weren’t allowed to go out in the morning but couldn’t help knowing the humans wouldn’t be awake for an hour so they packed some helpful devices like a grappling hook made out of string and metal and walkie-talkies so they could communicate, then they were ready. They tiptoed out and went to explore. Half an hour later, when they got back, the Borrowers home was frantic. The moment the twins were seen by their mother she shouted to her husband, who was searching in their rooms for any clues of where they might have been. They were happy that the twins were back but they got sent to their room for going out without their parents knowing and when they were told not to. The twins were fed up. They did not want to stay in their room all day and then they thought, why don’t we simply sneak out of our bedroom and then go out the house and hide from the humans? So out they snuck. It was totally safe as their parents were in the living room. Once outside their house Kestrel and Amazon hid in one of the many hiding places they knew. They got there just in time as the Paine children bounded down the stairs. Ted asked Jonny and Ruth if they could go out to play. The borrowers heard all of this and made sure they kept a distance from the human children. Ruth opened the front door and the twins could see that the sun had really came up now and was blazing over the forest. They could see two swallows swooping about and a fly with many eyes sitting on the porch.
The twins crept closer whilst the Paine children were being fussed over by their parents with sun-cream and caps. They crept closer still and peered out into the outside world that they had never seen before. It was so beautiful and lively and very different to their normal dusty and empty home. Meanwhile their parents had found out that the twins had sneaked past them again and had ran out to look for them. They searched everywhere, high and low, and eventually came near to the door. Just as they got there the two older children, Jonny and Ruth, raced past nearly knocking Amazon and Kestrel over. The borrower parents started to run shouting for the kids to come back but Amazon and Kestrel didn’t hear. Seconds later the third child came running after his siblings and, not knowing anybody was there, kicked the borrower twins out the house and “Ahhhhhhhh” was the last the mother and father heard of their kids.
Ginger tabbies don’t like borrowers
“Ahhhhhhhh” Amazon and Kestrel were still screaming. But not from the fall but from the massive ginger tabby looking greedily at them. They had landed near the front gate and there was ivy on their left side and a wall on their right. The Paine’s cat, who was always cuddly for his owners, growled then crouched down, aimed and then, pounce. Kestrel pulled her twin out of the way just in time, and then the game began. Kestrel ran screaming and Amazon followed in suit. The cat pounced with every chance growling, hissing and spitting. Large tangled ivy got in the way and the twins constantly had to change course. When the cat had cornered them, they were about to give up when the ivy started to move, Kestrel rubbed her eyes to see if she was dreaming and Amazon just gaped. The ginger tabby noticed it too and hissed at the ivy and swung her claws. While she was distracted a small pair of eyes emerged from a clump of ivy and was lowered down and whispered, “Come quickly” and that’s when Kestrel fainted.
Amazon was shivering with fear and was too shocked to speak. Kestrel had her legs raised by ivy vines so that she would come round from fainting. After a few minutes though, they pulled themselves together and stood up. They were in a large hall made out of ivy and for some reason it felt too large. The ivy people were in the corner murmuring about something and swiftly turned around when they noticed the twins. A man the same height as a borrower with a big ivy leaf on his back and a serious face spoke and said, “who are you?”
“I’m Amazon and this is my twin Kestrel,” Amazon said as if it was obvious.
“Sorry, what are you?” the man corrected.
“We’re borrowers,” they both said in unison proudly.
“Borrowers?” he questioned.
“What are borrowers and what do they do?”
“We borrow things from the humans and make helpful devises out of the stuff we borrow. Who are you?” Kestrel asked.
“I’m Bowman and I’m an ivy person”
“Oh, so you’re the dangerous creatures who live outside. Our parents have told us about you.”
“Dangerous? Na we’re not dangerous, it’s that cat you want to be worried about,” he said whilst tilting his head in the direction of the tabby.
“Well thank you for saving us.”
“Just one question how did you get here if you live with the humans?”
“We got kicked out by a human and want to get back,” Amazon said sadly.
“Oh well we can help,” Bowman said.
“Really?” the twins lifted their heads hopefully.
“Yes, we are taking a trip to the chief.” The man announced.
“But how will we get there?” said Amazon a little confused,
“You’ll see,” Bowman said grinning.
Bowman and the twins were on long ivy vines but were still half a metre above the floor. Bowman whistled loudly. The twins heard a rustle and a chirping, and then boing, three crickets appeared from the jungle like grass below. The crickets with their exoskeleton armour and long antennae greeted Bowman with a bow. Without hesitation, Bowman leapt down on to the cricket nearest to him with an expert landing. Then it was the girls’ turn, they had decided to do it together as they had never jumped from such a height. Anyway, the two crickets kept jumping and saying encouraging words and then, one two three jump! They felt as if they were flying through the air like birds, and when they landed on the back of a cricket with a wobbly shake they hitched on to a reign and saddle and held so hard their knuckles were white. And off they went. The dappled green crickets jumped so high in the grass that they had to kind of jump with it. It was scary at first but after a while they got used to the lunging sensation and started to enjoy it. The sun was shining and the birds tweeted a welcoming song and dragonflies chatted about who had the best wings. The long journey they had thought would be dangerous turned out to be wonderful. While all this was happening the crickets, whose names were Joe Root and Ben Stokes, gave them a tour of the garden. They swerved past the pond and the swing chair, leapt over the garden table and raced round a log. On the journey they saw lots of different minibeasts warming in the sun. After an hour of riding they came to a massive tree “and this is where all the magic happens” whispered Bowman.
The apple tree
A grand tree towered over them dwarfing the other trees that surrounded it. They drooped down as if bowing to the great plant. Bowman explained that this was where they’d be staying and that they should make themselves feel at home. Amazon and Kestrel were wondering the same thing, how are they going to get up. Bowman pressed on a hidden button and a wooden lift was lowered down and he cautiously got on.
“I’m never very certain of this lift” he said which didn’t really help poor Amazon and Kestrel’s confidence. All the same they jumped on, Bowman pressed another hidden button, and up the lift went.
As the lift ascended the twins started to notice the magic that was really in this tree. It was home to many small creatures that they had never seen before and those mysterious beings chattered as if they were one big family and the tree was their home. There were ivy people reinforcing some stairs with vines, some tree folk were discussing the history of the tree and some bark children were playing catch with an apple pip. This was all within the first few floors and there was many more.
At last the lift juddered to a halt and the ivy man led them out to a small door where, to their surprise, the chief came out. They knew it was the chief because of his crown, it was made up of all sorts of materials from the tree. Bowman bowed low and said with his serious face now on again, “Chief, these are the borrowers that we rescued.”
“Hello, I am Chief Twig, I care for every Blade of grass in this garden. Please step into my home, you are very welcome here” said the chief with a wide grin.
Kestrel and Amazon went through the small door and into a cosy living room. They were still in shock from meeting such a highly positioned person.
“H h hello” stuttered Kestrel. “It’s lovely to meet you, your honour” she said whilst bowing. Amazon bowed too.
“There’s no need to bow, it’s just a silly tradition. Please sit down, you must be exhausted.”
Amazon and Kestrel walked over to the chairs and sat down. They finally realised how tired they were. “Here are your keys,” the chief said “You’re welcome to stay as long as you want to. Have some water and I’ll show you to your room.”
After a cup of water, they felt much better and said that they were ready to go. The king led through the door and out into the corridor. Walking behind the king the twins could see that the chief was highly respected and people stepped to the side to let him through. Finally, the twins got to their room: 1,362. They entered a snug little bedroom and collapsed onto a lovely comfy bed that sank a foot down.
“You rest here and I’ll see you in the morning” the chief said, turning the light off and closing the door.
A flight with a robin
The girls woke up after a deep sleep, feeling a little tired but ready to explore. They got up, dressed into some clothes that someone must have laid out for them and went to find the chief. Even though it was early in the morning, it was still quite busy. They could remember the number on the chief’s little door but had to ask a few people where to go. When they got there the chief was awake and sitting in his cosy chair near a grand fireplace.
“Hello and good morning Amazon and Kestrel. As you probably thought, I can’t look after you always so I’ve got you a friend that will look after you and show you around. Her name is Blade and she is a great friend.”
Kestrel said “Oh, okay. When will we meet her?”
“Now,” said the chief. “She will be here in a minute. Please sit down and have some breakfast.”
After a scrummy breakfast there was a light knock on the door. “Come in” said the chief loud enough so the person could hear. In walked a little bark child, obviously nervous by the look on her face. “Ah, Blade you’re here. Nice to see you,” said the chief. “Here are Amazon and Kestrel. These are the borrowers that will be your friends whilst they’re staying here.”
“Hi” said Amazon and Kestrel together smiling as Blade didn’t look very confident.
“Hi” said Blade. “Do you want to follow me and I’ll show you around?”
“Yes please,” said the twins eagerly.
Blade showed them the big hall, the kitchen that mainly smelled of apples and a few of her friends joined them in a ball game. After all of this, Blade said “Have you ever wanted to fly?”
Kestrel said “Yes, of course.”
“Mmmm, I’m afraid of heights but okay,” said Amazon cautiously.
“Okay, this way then” Blade said encouragingly whilst leading them into a room where birds were everywhere.
She led them over to a small hollow where a small robin tweeted happily. “He’s my favourite, he’s called Tazon.”
“Hi Tazon,” said Amazon slowly putting her hand forward. The robin bent his head and let Amazon stroke his feathers. They were grey brown and as soft as clouds.
“Come on, I’ll go and ask if we can have a flight but I’ll need some help to carry the saddles so please could you help?”
“Sure” said Kestrel.
10 minutes later and the girls were all saddled up and hitched on like they were with the crickets.
“And now,” said Blade “all you’ve got to do is kick off the ground and then fly…”
They flew out of large hole at the bottom of the apple tree and went and explored the garden. From up here everything looked different but still very beautiful. They swooped near trees and said “hi” to some of the creatures below. After around half an hour they let the robin have a rest and some food from the bird feeder. Then off they went again. As they flew high up into a tall tree, a blackbird swooped down and picked Amazon off by her shoulders and took her back to its nest. “This is not going to help with her fear of heights,” said Kestrel “we have to save her. But how?”
“Tazon can swoop and do the loopy loop if that’s helpful” said Blade. Blade and Kestrel were thinking of a way to save Amazon from that hungry bird. They had landed on a small branch three metres above the nest and were forming a risky plan.
“We could loopy loop and Amazon could climb on” Kestrel said.
“No because she won’t be able to climb on as we’ll be going quickly.” said Blade sadly.
“I know. Could Tazon hold me by the leg?” Kestrel questioned.
Blade said, “he should be able to. why?”
“OK”, said Kestrel “I’ll be dangling by the leg and I can grab Amazon and swing her up and I’ll swing up after her”.
“Great, sounds like a plan but won’t it be dangerous?”, said Blade.
“Yes, but I’ll be ok” Kestrel said.
Five minutes later they had made sure everything was as safe as it could be and that Amazon would be able to swing up and not go over the other side. After that, they put the plan into action. Tazon swooped down getting the bird’s attention and did two loopy loops. The bird was dizzy and had swooped out of the nest and was trying to pick off the other riders. The robin though, stayed on course and knew what to do. Kestrel and Blade were upside down again and Kestrel tried to reach out and grab Amazon but just wasn’t near enough.
“can you go any closer?” asked Kestrel
“no sorry that’s as close as we can get.” Said Blade.
The blackbird was getting closer still and then suddenly the bird got Blade by the foot. The bark child was thrashing about wildly, trying to get free from the bird’s grip. When the black bird was going in to try and get Kestrel it lost its grip of Blade and she went falling at immense speed, but Tazon knew what to do he dived and swerved up under Blade catching her in his mouth. After that he swung her up and went to get Amazon. He knew this was their last chance to save their friend so this loopy loop had to count. Tazon swooped up and then went down as close as he could.
Blade screamed, “Jump!” and Amazon jumped as high, which was quite high, as she could then Kestrel managed to grab her arm and swing her up so Blade could pull her on the back of the bird. Then Kestrel came after her panting and sweating. They all knew what was coming next; they had to lose the blackbird. Blade tugged and pulled to show Tazon where to go and the twins held the reins (and each other) for dear life. The robin plunged down near the pond skimming the surface of the water elegantly. Then the blackbird followed. It swooped down to the water but while doing this its tail feathers got caught in the water causing it to tumble over to the other side soaking wet. The children were relieved but knew that the bird wouldn’t give up that easily. So, they set of for the tree hole. Meanwhile the blackbird had dried off its wings and was ready to set off again. It could see the robin from where he was and raced forward. Amazon looked around and saw it coming and told Blade and Kestrel. There was only one way to stop him and that was to go somewhere the blackbird couldn’t get. They knew the perfect place, the tree hole. Tazon flew as fast as he could towards the hole, the blackbird right behind. Tazon curled his wings and shot through the hole in the tree like a bullet. The blackbird right behind him spread its wings and lent back stopping just before the hole. It now understood that it had lost and went to find something else to eat that this time wouldn’t run away from him. The girls were safe and sound and had given back their reins and saddles. Then they said goodbye and thank you to Tazon, rewarding him with a hug and a worm, his favourite food. The borrowers and Blade took the lift up and said bye-bye and goodnight then headed in to their different rooms. The twins instantly fell asleep the moments their heads hit the pillow.
Amazon and Kestrel were still sleeping at 9:00 clock. They had agreed to meet up with Blade this morning and play a game called the Spider and the Fly! A loud knock on the door woke the twins with a start. “Hello”, said Amazon sleepily, “Who is it?”. “It’s me Blade”, said their friend, opening the door and stepping into their small bedroom. “Why weren’t you there at the tree?” “Sorry, we were really tired”, said Kestrel yawning. “Everyone’s waiting, come on!” “OK, let’s go!” said Kestrel.
When they got to the branch, there was a group of bark children sitting waiting for the borrowers. They quickly explained the rules of the game. One child was the spider and all the rest were flies. The flies would run around and the spider would try to catch them. If the spider caught a fly they would become a spider too. The last fly is the winner.
The borrowers learn to stay steady on the branch and to dodge the spider without losing their footing and falling the long distance to the ground below. All the children were having fun and enjoying the game. After a while, they were all tired out and Blade’s mum brought them some apple and honey. Blade went running to get the food but she stepped on a loose piece of bark and skidded off the branch. Blade’s mother, screamed and ran to save her, but she was too late.
Amazon and Kestrel heard the commotion and ran to Blade’s mother and asked what had happened. The mother stuttered through tears, “S,s she fell out of the apple tree!” Amazon and Kestrel peered over the edge and saw Blade hanging on to some rope of the horse swing below, screaming for help. Amazon said to the mother, “It’s OK, we’ll save her!” “Kestrel have you got your bag?” “Yes, of course.” Said Kestrel, rummaging through her bag, looking for anything that might help. Then Amazon saw a glint of metal, “the grappling hook!” We can use it to haul up Blade.” “Great idea!” said Kestrel. “Everybody, grab hold of the rope!” instructed Amazon with her loud voice. Everyone listened, taking hold. The twins threw down the metal end a few centimetres from Blade and started swinging it closer. Amazon yelled, “Grab hold!”. The first time they swung it Blade missed but the second time she managed to catch it and held on. Then Amazon shouted again to the bark children, “Pull!” They pulled and pulled and pulled and after about 5 minutes of pulling they hauled Blade back on to the tree branch and gave her a massive hug. Blade hugged her mother too. Pleased to back on solid footing. The twins watched this hug and it made them think of how good their mother was at hugs. Blade’s mother said, “I think this calls for a party!”. The party was great fun, there was cricket music in the background, scrummy apple based food and glow worms provided the bright lights throughout the party. But best of all, in Amazon and Kestrel’s opinion, was the massive banner saying their names.
Amazon and Kestrel headed to their beds, happy but tired. Despite being sleepy they couldn’t get to sleep at the thought of their mother and father. Kestrel could feel the tears building up and as hard as she tried, she could not hold them back. Amazon felt the same. They were both crying for their mother and father when in came the Chief to say goodnight. “Why are you sad, you’re heroes!” “We miss our mum and dad”, cried Amazon.
“Aw, you poor things!” said Chief Twig. “I grew up in this tree and if I were in your situation I would be as sad as you are. Sorry, I didn’t know you were missing your parents. Look, we can’t get you back today as it’s way too late, but tomorrow I will take you there myself. Sound like a plan?”
Amazon and Kestrel nodded, now crying happy and sad tears, as they would see their parents again tomorrow.
Home Sweet Home
Amazon and Kestrel awoke the next morning. They had a tingling sensation in the tummy, they knew something good was going to happen but weren’t sure what. Then they remembered that they would be seeing their mother and father after what felt the longest three days of their lives. Blade came in looking really sad, then a wave of sadness swept over the Borrowers when they remembered that they would have to leave Blade behind. They’d only been friends for 3 days, but it felt like they’d been friends forever and were dreading the moment when they had to say goodbye.
When they got down to the level of the bird hollows and their stood proudly in the middle, the Chief’s kingfisher was saddled and ready to go. The Borrowers would be on Tazon and Blade was coming too.
Amazon and Kestrel were surprised to see the whole garden community there. Bowman stepped forwards and presented them with a badge. It was in the shape and colour of an ivy leaf and must have been a very high honour as the people watching, gasped. Then Chief Twig stepped forwards and said “You are very welcome here, and whenever you feel like it please do come back. I’m going to give you the highest accolade possible, the apple blossom.”
Kestrel put the presents in her backpack for safe keeping and a path parted for them to walk down to their birds. They jumped on and waved through their tears as they went out through the hole. They recognised the route from the first time they were introduced to this wondrous outside world. They got back to the house before they knew it and had to say goodbye to the best friend they’d ever had. They were sad but also desperate to see their parents. It was still early so the humans were not yet up. The Borrowers sneaked through the cat flap, across the thick, soft rug and under the loose floorboard which was the entrance to their house.
The Borrower’s mother was stirring some porridge on the hob looking lost. The father was sat with his head in his hands at the table wishing that their daughters would be standing there at the door. Then, he heard a creak and looked up at the doorway and there stood Amazon and Kestrel! He ran to them giving them the biggest squeeze they ever had and burst into tears. Their mother ran to join the hug. They were back together, the Borrower family.
The twins told their parents about the amazing adventures they had experienced and how the Chief had said that they would always be welcome. “Oh, please can we go there?”, the twins said together. “To visit?” replied their mother. “No, to stay there.”
At first the mother and father were sure they would not go. However, the more the children told their parents about the lovely chief and friends they started to think of the advantages. “but, mum, they’re like us, they just live outside. Imagine having all the friends you could want.” said Amazon.
By the end of the day they had persuaded their parents to move to the apple tree.
They went to bed excited as they were to move the next day. They enjoyed the comfort of being back in their own beds again. They couldn’t believe that just a few days ago that they never been out the front door and now they were going to move into the garden.
By 6am they had packed all the things they could and were waiting for some help. They had asked the Chief if they could have some help to bring their furniture. Lots of ants marched into their home and carried away tables, chairs, beds and other furniture. The ants took the furniture out of the house to where dragonflies and Tazon were waiting. Blade was there too, she was so excited and was jumping around not really helping at all. Bowman was securing the luggage on to the backs of the animals.
Soon their home was empty. The family walk around their house saying goodbye to everything. They were feeling sad to be leaving the only home they’d known but excited for their new tree life.
The Borrower family all climbed to Tazon and waved goodbye to their home. The mother and father were not very confident flying and clutched on to Tazon’s feathers the whole flight.
When they arrived, the whole community was waiting and had decorated the tree to make them feel welcome. Chief Twig stepped forward and welcomed them. Blade’s mother embraced the whole family in turn. Amazon and Kestrel knew that whatever happened they’d always have a friend by their side.