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This is definitely a read aloud story, so you may like to either copy it into your word processor or print it straight from the page. To copy, simply hold down the Ctrl key and tap a and then c. Open your word processor or text editor and, again holding the Ctrl key, tap v.
Then you can format the pages as you wish, perhaps adding some of your children's drawings.
In a lovely house with a garden in front and a cubby around the back lived the three Bears. No, they weren’t brown and furry or black and furry or even white and furry. They weren’t that sort of bear. Of course not! That sort of bear lives in Canada or Russia or the zoo.
You can’t have that sort of bear living in a lovely house with a garden in front. Well, can you? They’d wreck it in no time.
Bear was their name, just like Green or Baker. You don’t expect the Greens to be green, do you? You don’t imagine that the Baker family gets up in the middle of the night and starts making bread?
People only think that the Bears were bears because they’ve never bothered to look in the phone book and find out that Bear is quite a common name—much more common than Mouse or Pterodactyl.
So. The three Bears lived in their lovely house and did most of the things that most families do.
The father Bear was not called Father Bear. That would be terribly old-fashioned. Sometimes he was called Mr Bruce Bear, because that was his name, but mostly he was just called Bruce, or Dad, or Daddy.
The mother Bear was not called Mother Bear. She was called Mrs Mavis Bear, or Mrs Bruce Bear, or Mavis, or Mum. Sometimes, about bedtime, she was called Mummy. Mummy was her favourite name, actually.
Unfortunately, the youngest Bear was called Baby Bear. That was not his name. His name was Andrew, but because there were no smaller Bears, no one noticed that he was five, and didn’t wear nappies or suck dummies or cry about nothing and get away with it. They just went on calling him Baby Bear. It was very embarrassing.
Mr Bruce Bear worked at the railways, but at the weekends he did useful and clever things around the house. He cleaned the guttering and mowed the lawns, and made special things from timber.
He made Andrew a special chair. It matched all the other dining chairs, but it was taller, so that Andrew didn’t need to use a cushion. Andrew was pretty fond of his special chair.
Mrs Mavis Bear worked in a doctor’s office, typing up bills and finding things for people. She was always home before Andrew, though, and she often made him little cakes or biscuits to eat after school.
Andrew Bear went to school every day, and he liked it a lot. He liked lunchtime best, because he and his mates had fun building cubbies and finding ants’ nests and throwing grass at each other.
The inside part of school was fun, too. Andrew liked painting, and clay, and it was good when the whole class had to find out about the different countries where some of the children’s parents had been born, especially when they had a special day for trying out the food. He liked his teacher, Mrs Simkins. She wrote stories on his drawings and helped him to write words himself.
What Andrew didn’t like was Ethelinda Penny-Cress. Ethelinda lived three houses up from Andrew, and she was just horrible! She had long beautiful hair and blue beautiful eyes, and she had more new clothes than anyone else in the class. She always said ‘Please,’ and ‘Thank you,’ when she was talking to grownups. She used very rude and unkind words when she was quite sure that only another child could hear. All the teachers liked her very much, but the children didn’t like her at all.
Ethelinda would put up her hand and say
‘Oh, Mrs Simkins, I don’t like to tell tales, but Michael’s chewing bubble gum,’ or ‘Oh, Mrs Simkins, I don’t like to tell tales, but Belinda is playing with her Barbie doll.’
Sometimes Ethelinda pinched people, so that they’d yell and everyone would look at them, and sometimes she’d stick her leg out so that people would trip over and feel silly. Whenever Mrs Simkins looked around, Ethelinda would be sitting up straight and working quietly. If anyone told on Ethelinda, the teachers thought they were making it up. Ethelinda got away with everything.
One day, Ethelinda wagged, and everyone knew, because she boasted about it, but she went up to Mrs Simkins and said,
‘I was very sick yesterday, but Mummy couldn’t write a note because she was sick too.’
Mrs Simkins said ‘That’s all right Dear,’ and wrote ‘ill’ on yesterday’s roll. Nobody told. Mrs Simkins might have thought they were just being mean.
One morning, the Bears had breakfast as usual. Yes, they did have porridge, but they didn’t go for a walk while it cooled. For one thing, they didn’t have time for that sort of thing in the mornings, and for another, anyone knows that what you do about porridge that’s too hot is put on cold milk and give it a stir. Besides, if you were rude enough and wicked enough to go into someone else’s house when they were not at home, would you be likely to steal their porridge? There are plenty of really nice people who only eat porridge because it’s good for them. A bad person wouldn’t think of eating it.
What was left out that morning was a double batch of chocolate fudge slice. Mrs Mavis Bear had just finished icing it, and she left it on the dining-room table with a clean tea towel over the top. Andrew’s grandmother was coming to visit, and Mrs Bear wanted everything to be ready when she arrived.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed already, Ethelinda had decided to have another day off. She knew that the Bears left their windows open for fresh air, so she’d decided to sneak in and find out what the inside of Andrew’s house was like.
Somebody may have told you that the Bears had three beds, and that they all slept in one room. Now that would have been just plain silly, because everyone knows that fathers can be very unreliable about making beds, and mothers don’t want to make two beds every morning. Mr and Mrs Bear had one big bed, just like everyone else.
Another thing that everyone knows is that little boys leave things like marbles and skate-boards on their floors, and no-one wants to stand on those things early in the morning, so, of course, Andrew Bear had his own bed in his own room.
It was a nice room, and Andrew liked it a lot. It had shelves for his books and toys, and a big basket for his dirty clothes. There was a blackboard that Mr Bear had painted right on the wall, with a proper blackboard ledge that held lots of chalk.
Ethelinda waited until she was fairly sure that all the Bears had left the house, and she knocked on the door to be quite certain. Then she went around to the back, and climbed through the laundry window.
She had a good look around the laundry and bathroom, and she turned the hot water on full blast in the shower. She tried on Mrs Bear’s lipstick and drew a face on the mirror with shaving cream.
She went to the kitchen and looked in all the cupboards, and drank some milk out of a carton from the fridge. She ate a couple of apples and put the very large cores back on the fruit dish. As she was practising catching grapes in her mouth—she wasn’t much good at it, and grapes rolled everywhere—she noticed the tea towel on the dining-room table. When she looked under it, there was the beautiful chocolatey fudge slice!
She sat on one of the ordinary chairs, but it was too low, so she climbed onto Andrew’s special chair and sat up to the table. The chair was just the right height, so she sat there for a while, eating the yummy slice and spilling crumbs over the table and the floor. When she started to feel bored, she grabbed three more pieces and tried to climb down.
Over went the chair. It banged hard on the slate floor and the backrest broke right off.
Ethelinda went to explore the bedrooms.
The big bed was excellent. Without taking her shoes off, she began jumping on it as if it were a trampoline. In the dressing table mirror, she could see herself flying up and down. She soon realised that the pillows were stuffed with feathers, so she pulled out big handfuls and threw them into the air. She pretended that she was a bird flying through a snowstorm. By the time she was sick of doing that, the whole room looked as though there had been a snowstorm.
In she went to Andrew’s room. She drew monsters on the blackboard, and tried to make the chalk bump and squeak the way it did for Mrs Simkins. She rode the skateboard around the room a few times, then turned the dirty clothes basket upside-down to stand on while she looked in the high cupboards.
Well, we all know what happened next, don’t we? She rolled herself up in Andrew’s doona and went to sleep.
* * * * * *
Because Grandma was coming, Mrs Bear wanted Andrew to come home early so that he could have a quick shower and put on some smart clothes. She picked him up from school at half-past two, and they walked home together. As she was about to put her key into the lock, she heard the shower running. She and Andrew peeped into the window of the big bedroom. There were pillows and blankets all over the floor, and everything was covered with feathers.
They ran to the Bakers’ house, next door.
‘Oh, Sally,’ wailed Mrs Bear, ‘will you let me ring Bruce? We’ve had burglars, and I think they’re still in the house. The shower’s running.’
While Mrs Bear rang Mr Bear, Mrs Baker made a pot of good strong tea. She made Mrs Bear drink two cups while they waited for Mr Bear to come home. She gave Andrew some ice cream with rainbow sprinkles on it.
Just as Mr Bear arrived, a police car pulled up. Mrs Baker, Mrs Bear and Andrew went out onto the footpath. Two policemen stepped out of their car and walked up the Bears’ front path, following Mr Bear. Andrew felt excited and rather important. He was quite upset about the burglars, though. It’s no good having your house burgled just so that you can tell everyone that two policemen came to your house, is it? Not even if the whole school is going to be asking you to tell them about it next day.
Mr Bear opened the door for the policemen. Andrew came a little bit behind, so that he could look after Mum and Mrs Baker.
There was no-one in the shower. There was no-one in the laundry. There had definitely been someone in the dining room.
‘Someone’s been standing on my chair,’ said Mr Bear. There’s mud all over it.’
‘Someone’s been on my chair, too,’ said Andrew, ‘and they’ve broken it.’
He decided that having burglars was awful.
‘Never mind, son,’ said one of the policemen. ‘We’ll catch them for you.’
‘Look at that!’ said Mrs Bear. ‘Someone’s been eating my chocolate fudge slice. It’s nearly all gone. And just look at the mess on the floor!’
From room to room they searched the house.
‘It looks as though someone’s been chasing an elephant around in our bedroom,’ said Mr Bear. ‘Everything’s everywhere; they must have been looking for hidden valuables. They’ve even ripped the pillows open.’
Mrs Bear pulled a drawer open and checked her jewellery.
‘They’re strange burglars,’ she said. ‘They’ve made this frightful mess, eaten enough cake for six hungry men, but they haven’t touched my diamond earrings. The camera is still here, too, and Bruce’s expensive new clock radio.’
Andrew was glad that Mum hadn’t lost her earrings, but he was wondering what terrible things might have happened in his room. He went to find out.
There was a lot of scribble on his blackboard, his skateboard was upside-down in the doorway, and his dirty clothes were in a heap on the floor. There was also a large lump under his doona. He tiptoed over to investigate. He lifted up the corner of the doona and gasped in surprise.
Someone’s been in my room,’ he yelled. ‘Someone’s even been sleeping in my bed. And she’s still here. And it’s Ethelinda Penny-Cress. Here she is!’ Everyone rushed into Andrew’s room, getting in each other’s way as they all tried to fit through the door at once. They made a terrific noise, and Ethelinda woke up.
Yes, I know what you’re expecting to happen next, but don’t forget that Ethelinda was used to having grown-ups think that she was perfect. She never did anything wrong when adults were watching, so she wasn’t about to jump out of a window in front of Mrs Bear, Mr Bear, Mrs Baker and two policemen.
She sat up, rubbed her eyes, and said, in a funny, dreamy sort of voice,
‘Oh, dear. Wherever am I? I must have been kidnapped and brought to this strange house.’
She opened her blue eyes very wide and made herself look as beautiful as possible.
‘Well, well,’ said the policeman who’d tried to comfort Andrew earlier, when he’d seen his broken chair. ‘We’ve been expecting to find a burglar, and found a kidnap victim. What’s your name?’
‘My daddy calls me Goldilocks,’ Ethelinda answered. ‘I forget my other name. The kidnappers hit me on the head before they put me into a big bag and brought me here. I suppose that made me lose my memory. I don’t remember anything since I kissed my mummy good-bye this morning.’
The policeman turned around and faced the wall. His shoulders were shaking. The other policeman raised an eyebrow at Mr Bear.
‘Perhaps we could leave this in your hands for the time,’ he said. ‘ We must get back to the station and report the kidnapping. It’s a very serious matter, you know.’
Ethelinda looked pleased. Then she looked worried. Her face had gone very pale. She put her hand over her mouth and ran from the room.
‘Looks as though the kidnappers made her eat more than was good for her, too,’ said Mr Bear. ‘Do you know her mother’s work number, Mavis?’
Mrs Bear shook her head, but Mrs Baker said ‘I do,’ and went out into the hall. Soon they heard her talking on the telephone.
‘Eloise? This is Sally Baker. I’m calling from the Bears’ place. Ethelinda is here and there’s ... well, a bit of a problem. Oh, no, she’s quite all right; well, a little bit off colour, but nothing to worry about. Do you think you could pop over fairly soon? It would be a help. Thanks, Eloise.’
Andrew went to look for Ethelinda. She was sitting on the edge of the bath. He gave her a wet washer.
‘Come on,’ he said. ‘You can lie on the sun-room couch.’
He put a big towel under her head, just in case.
Outside, a horn tooted and a car door slammed. It must be Mrs Penny-Cress. It wasn’t. It was Grandma. Everyone rushed out to meet her. Mrs Baker started going home, but Mr Bear called out to her.
‘Can you bring your children over, Sally? We’ll be having a bite to eat."
Andrew gave Grandma a big hug and said
‘Gee, Grandma, how you’ve grown.’ (This was called “Getting in first”.)
He carried her case and bag into the spare room.
He went into the kitchen, where Mum was telling Grandma all about the ‘burglary’. While the tea was being made, Mr Bear came in with some flat white boxes. They were filled with wonderful things from the cake shop.
‘I thought we should have a “we haven’t been robbed” party,’ he said.
Then he took some screws and two tubes of glue out of his pocket.
‘Don’t worry about your chair, Mate,’ he told Andrew. ‘It’ll be as good as new.’
By the time that Mrs Penny-Cress arrived to hear the worrying news about Ethelinda, the Bears, the Baker children and their mother and Andrew’s jolly little grandmother were all sitting around a party table, and Andrew was biting into a huge chocolate eclair that was oozing with cream and had three big red cherries on top.
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