Once upon a time there was a gracious boy called Tristan Olsson. He was on the way to see his Tommy Cox, when he decided to take a short cut through Slipperyham Park.
It wasn’t long before Tristan got lost. He looked around, but all he could see were trees. Nervously, he felt into his bag for his favourite toy, Donkey, but Donkey was nowhere to be found! Tristan began to panic. He felt sure he had packed Donkey. To make matters worse, he was starting to feel hungry.
Unexpectedly, he saw a fluffy cat dressed in a green skirt disappearing into the trees.
“How odd!” thought Tristan.
For the want of anything better to do, he decided to follow the peculiarly dressed cat. Perhaps it could tell him the way out of the forest.
Eventually, Tristan reached a clearing. He found himself surrounded by houses made from different sorts of food. There was a house made from courgettes, a house made from cakes, a house made from fruit gums and a house made from jelly babies.
Tristan could feel his tummy rumbling. Looking at the houses did nothing to ease his hunger.
“Hello!” he called. “Is anybody there?”
Tristan looked at the roof on the closest house and wondered if it would be rude to eat somebody else’s chimney. Obviously it would be impolite to eat a whole house, but perhaps it would be considered acceptable to nibble the odd fixture or lick the odd fitting, in a time of need.
A cackle broke through the air, giving Tristan a fright. A witch jumped into the space in front of the houses. She was carrying a cage. In that cage was Donkey!
“Donkey!” shouted Tristan. He turned to the witch. “That’s my toy!”
The witch just shrugged.
“Give Donkey back!” cried Tristan.
“Not on your nelly!” said the witch.
“At least let Donkey out of that cage!”
Before she could reply, three fluffy cats rushed in from a footpath on the other side of the clearing. Tristan recognised the one in the green skirt that he’d seen earlier. The witch seemed to recognise him too.
“Hello Big Cat,” said the witch.
“Good morning.” The cat noticed Donkey. “Who is this?”
“That’s Donkey,” explained the witch.
“Ooh! Donkey would look lovely in my house. Give it to me!” demanded the cat.
The witch shook her head. “Donkey is staying with me.”
“Um… Excuse me…” Tristan interrupted. “Donkey lives with me! And not in a cage!”
Big Cat ignored him. “Is there nothing you’ll trade?” he asked the witch.
The witch thought for a moment, then said, “I do like to be entertained. I’ll release him to anybody who can eat a whole front door.”
Big Cat looked at the house made from jelly babies and said, “No problem, I could eat an entire house made from jelly babies if I wanted to.”
“That’s nothing,” said the next cat. “I could eat two houses.”
“There’s no need to show off,” said the witch. Just eat one front door and I’ll let you have Donkey.”
Tristan watched, feeling very worried. He didn’t want the witch to give Donkey to Big Cat. He didn’t think Donkey would like living with a fluffy cat, away from his house and all his other toys.
The other two cats watched while Big Cat put on his bib and withdrew a knife and fork from his pocket.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Big Cat. “Just you watch!”
Big Cat pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from cakes. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.
Eventually, Big Cat started to get bigger – just a little bit bigger at first. But after a few more fork-fulls of cakes, he grew to the size of a large snowball – and he was every bit as round.
“Erm… I don’t feel too good,” said Big Cat.
Suddenly, he started to roll. He’d grown so round that he could no longer balance!
“Help!” he cried, as he rolled off down a slope into the forest.
Big Cat never finished eating the front door made from cakes and Donkey remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
Average Cat stepped up, and approached the house made from fruit gums.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Average Cat. “Just you watch!”
Average Cat pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from fruit gums. She gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.
After a while, Average Cat started to look a little queasy. She grew greener…
A woodcutter walked into the clearing. “What’s this bush doing here?” he asked.
“I’m not a bush, I’m a cat!” said Average Cat.
“It talks!” exclaimed the woodcutter. “Those talking bushes are the worst kind. I’d better take it away before somebody gets hurt.”
“No! Wait!” cried Average Cat, as the woodcutter picked her up. But the woodcutter ignored her cries and carried the cat away under his arm.
Average Cat never finished eating the front door made from fruit gums and Donkey remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
Little Cat stepped up, and approached the house made from jelly babies.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Little Cat. “Just you watch!”
Little Cat pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from jelly babies. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.
After five or six platefuls, Little Cat started to fidget uncomfortably on the spot.
He stopped eating jelly babies for a moment, then grabbed another forkful.
But before he could eat it, there came an almighty roar. A bottom burp louder than a rocket taking off, propelled Little Cat into the sky.
“Aggghhhhhh!” cried Little Cat. “I’m scared of heigh…”
Little Cat was never seen again.
Little Cat never finished eating the front door made from jelly babies and Donkey remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
“That’s it,” said the witch. “I win. I get to keep Donkey.”
“Not so fast,” said Tristan. “There is still one front door to go. The front door of the house made from courgettes. And I haven’t had a turn yet.
“I don’t have to give you a turn!” laughed the witch. “My game. My rules.”
The woodcutter’s voice carried through the forest. “I think you should give him a chance. It’s only fair.”
“Fine,” said the witch. “But you saw what happened to the cats. He won’t last long.”
“I’ll be right back,” said Tristan.
“What?” said the witch. “Where’s your sense of impatience? I thought you wanted Donkey back.”
Tristan ignored the witch and gathered a hefty pile of sticks. He came back to the clearing and started a small camp fire. Carefully, he broke off a piece of the door of the house made from courgettes and toasted it over the fire. Once it had cooked and cooled just a little, he took a bite. He quickly devoured the whole piece.
Tristan sat down on a nearby log.
“You fail!” cackled the witch. “You were supposed to eat the whole door.”
“I haven’t finished,” explained Tristan. “I am just waiting for my food to go down.”
When Tristan’s food had digested, he broke off another piece of the door made from courgettes. Once more, he toasted his food over the fire and waited for it to cool just a little. He ate it at a leisurely pace then waited for it to digest.
Eventually, after several sittings, Tristan was down to the final piece of the door made from courgettes. Carefully, he toasted it and allowed it to cool just a little. He finished his final course. Tristan had eaten the entire front door of the house made from courgettes.
The witch stamped her foot angrily. “You must have tricked me!” she said. “I don’t reward cheating!”
“I don’t think so!” said a voice. It was the woodcutter. He walked back into the clearing, carrying his axe. “This little boy won fair and square. Now hand over Donkey or I will chop your broomstick in half.”
The witch looked horrified. She grabbed her broomstick and placed it behind her. Then, huffing, she opened the door of the cage.
Tristan hurried over and grabbed Donkey, checking that his favourite toy was all right. Fortunately, Donkey was unharmed.
Tristan thanked the woodcutter, grabbed a quick souvenir, and hurried on to meet Tommy. It was starting to get dark.
When Tristan got to Tommy’s house, his threw his arms around him.
“I was so worried!” cried Tommy. “You are very late.”
As Tristan described his day, he could tell that Tommy didn’t believe him. So he grabbed a napkin from his pocket.
“What’s that?” asked Tommy.
Tristan unwrapped a doorknob made from cakes. “Pudding!” he said.
Tommy almost fell off his chair.