PART 7

Robbo’s story: dumpa’s the problem

characters

 

Robbo

  • Patient
  • Helpful
  • Responsible
  • determined

 

Callie

  • Ø Robbo’s sister
  • Ø Adamant
  • Ø Observant
  • Ø Hot-tempered

 

 

Dad

 

  • Ø Robbo’s father
  • Ø Concerned
  • Ø Fatherly

 

 

 

 

 

Mum

 

  • Ø Motherly
  • Ø Strong willed
  • Ø concerned

 

 

Roy

  • Robbo’s stepfather
  • Loves picking on Callie
  • Gets angry very quickly
  • bully

 

 

 

 

 

Dumpa

  • Ø Robbo’s half-brother
  • Ø Three years old
  • Ø Mischievous
  • Ø Loves his dad very  much

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

synopsis

                        Robbo’s parents broke off when he was

six. Whenever his dad visits them, the adults

end up in arguments. Finally, dad stopped his

visits. Robbo and  Callie had to visit his house

which was cold and horrible.

 

 

 

 

Callie hated her stepfather Roy whom

she called the Beard. He started to interfere

with a lot of things. Both the children love

their half brother, Dumpa. Dumpa adores Roy.

One day, Roy left the house after a row with

Mum. Dumpa missed him a lot. The children

made a plan so that their Dad and Mum can

bump into each other at the arcade. Everything

worked out as planned but not for long. Soon

Mum and Dad had their usual argument. Both

kids were baffled with their attitudes.

 

 

 

 

 

The children did not give up hope.

Infact, they tried something else. This time their

plan worked. Mum and Dad had something to

hand over to each other. So, the children were

pretty sure that their parents would patch up. At

that time, Mum got cheesed off with Roy.

Unfortunately Dumpa’s the problem.

He is  three years old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day Roy caught Callie pushing her bike

down the very narrow space between the bushes

and the car. Roy warned her but as she was in a

hurry, she took the short cut. In her anger, she

told Roy that he had no rights to tell her what to

as he was not her father. He caught her by the

wrist and swung her around. Then in a stern

voice, he told that it was his car. As the

argument was in progress, Mum intervened. Roy

was furious as to why he did not have the right

to correct her. All the while, he had been running

for the girl too.

 

 

 

All mum’s terms ended with Roy

insisting he had every right to make Callie to do

what he told her. Mum was worried that Callie

might start to hate him. As days went by, things

were getting worse and worse. Roy decided not

not to do anything to people who were not civil

to her. He refused to drive them to Hawksmoor

Hill with their toboggans. Callie was

disappointed. Roy was as stubborn as Callie.

 

 

 

Roy was busy clearing out the shed.

Dumpa was trailing in the snow. Mum called a

few times but Dumpa refused to come inside.

Even when Mum went to persuade Dumpa in,

the little one refused to come inside. Roy was

adamant and refused to help Mum get Dumpa

into the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, Robbo was sent to persuade Dumpa

to come inside. Robbo tried to trick Dumpa but

was unsuccessful. Next, he turned to Roy who

assured that Dumpa was wrapped up perfectly

warm. Roy too, refused to get into the house

which was icy cold towards him. As Robbo stood

there for long, Roy let Dumpa to get into the

house. Dumpa agreed with a price of a strawberry

rocket from the freezer. Dumpa was to get into the

house after he had finished it.

 

 

 

The ice lolly did not melt in the icy air.

So Mum decided to fetch Dumpa in but afraid of

triggering another argument with Roy. Roy told

the truth that Roy felt unwelcome in that house.

Mum was flabbergasted with such a remark.

Robbo persisted and finally Mum agreed with

her reasoning. Callie can never seem to get along

with Roy and Mum was stuck in the middle.

 

 

 

 

Despite all the persuasion, Callie never

wanted to compromise with Roy nor accept him

as part of the family. When Mum knew that

Callie should move in with her Dad. Before that

she went a dozen times to make sure Callie’s

favourites were in the house. Mum also read out

a list of duties for Dad. Robbo and Callie felt

their Mum needed a holiday after all the work

but again Dumpa was the problem. The children

volunteered to look after Dumpa with Dad’s

approval.

 

 

 

Practice A

 

Write short answers for the following.

 

  1. Who is the Beard?

 

………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

  1. Who is the sweetest child in the whole world?

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

  1. Why did Roy actually go away to his mother’s?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. Where was Callie pushing her bike that Roy disapproved?

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

  1. What did Robbo take with him to give Dumpa?

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. Why did Callie and Robbo volunteered to look after Dumpa?

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

Answer

  1. Roy
  2. Dumpa
  3. He had a row with Mum.
  4. Pushing her bike down the very narrow space between the bushes and the car.
  5. A pair of gloves.
  6. So that their mum can go for a holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice B

What are these people from the novel saying?

Rearrange the words  to make correct sentences.

Then match the sentence to the person who says it.

 

 

1. snap  boy,  Don’t  Hope.  at  the 

 

 Mum

2. real  a  in You’re  family.

 

3. daughter?  Because not  she’s  my

that   it?  Is

 

 Callie

4. go  Let    Roy!   please!   Callie    at     of     once,

 

5. sitting   drive    house!    It’s   our   our   in    In  By   garden!

 

Roy

6. throw   you   for   I’ll  balls    head-butt.  to

 

7. your    please,    Callie.  Brush   hair,

like    rat’s   It    nest.  looks    a

 

 Dumpa

8. home   soon?  Dada coming

 woy  come   Make  Wobbo!  back   now,

 

Robbo

9. argue.   Lots   people   of

doesn’t   think.   what    It    probably    mean  you  

 

10. you  .  skip  Dad,    drag    off    arcade    get     new   

soccer    Look,    weekend    to    the    your     boots.

with     Mum      the     to     and        

 

Dad

Answers

 

1. Don’t snap at the boy, Hope, Dad
2. You’re in a real family Mum
3. Because she’s not my daughter? Is that it? Roy
4. Roy! Let go of Callie at once, please! Mum
5. It’s sitting in our drive. By our house! In our garden! Callie
6. I’ll throw balls for you to head-butt. Robbo
7. Brush your hair, please, Callie.  It looks like a rat’s nest Roy
8. Dada coming home soon?  Make Woy come back now, Wobbo! Dumpa
9. Lots of people argue. It probably doesn’t mean what you think. Robbo
10. Look, you skip the weekend with Dad, and drag Mum off to the arcade to get your new soccer boots. Callie

 

 

Practice C

Read the extracts from the novel and answer the questions below.

 

1.

I had a go. I took the tiny pair of dry gloves Mum handed me, and went

outside. The freezing wind gusted straight down the neck of my jacket. It was so

cold, I played my best card first.

‘Dumpa, if you come in, I’ll throw balls for you to head-butt.’

Dumpa just shook his head. I turned to Roy.

‘Mum’s worried about him. She wants him back inside.’

 

 

  1. What did Mum give Robbo for Dumpa?

 

………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

  1. What does the phrase played my best card mean?

 

………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

  1. Where is Dumpa?

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. Do you think Dumpa should get  into the house? Give a reason for your answer.

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………

 

 

 

2.

‘They’re not all little spats,’ I persisted. ‘Roy did walk out on us for a

whole week.’

Mum flushed.

‘That was quite different. That was –‘

Glancing at Callie, she broke off. But Callie met her eye.

‘I know what you were going to say. That was about me.’

Mum nodded. ‘It isn’t easy,’ she said. ‘You get upset with him. He gets

upset with you. And I’m stuck in the middle.’ She shook her head. ‘Never mind.

It’s just a matter of time, I’m sure.’ 

 

 

  1. How many days was Roy away?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. He gets upset with you. Who does the he refer to?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. What does Mum mean when she says I’m stuck in the middle?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. Do you think it is easy to adapt to a new dad or mum? Give a reason.

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

 

 

 

3.

Dad followed her back into his new cosy sitting-room.

‘You’ll need a holiday after all this work.’

‘Fat chance,’ scoffed Mum. ‘You could look after Robbo, of course.

But Dumpa’s the problem.’

I looked at Callie. Callie looked at me. She knew she owed me one.

Like Dad, she knows it hasn’t been easy for Mum, over the last few weeks,

telling the school, explaining to her friends, comforting me.

‘We could look after Dumpa here,’ she said.

 

  1. Who is You  in the line “You’ll need a holiday after all this work?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. What was the problem that Mum had?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. Who agreed to look after Dumpa?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. After hard work, it is good to have a holiday. Give a reason why one should have a holiday.

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Answers

 

  1. a.         A pair of gloves / A tiny pair of dry gloves

b.         Tried my best

c.         Outside the house

d.         Yes, because it is cold outside.

 

  1. a.         Seven days

b.         Roy

c.         He was angry with Callie

d.         Yes, because it is good to have a dad / mum to replace our own dad / mum

No, we can never replace our own dad and mum with anyone.

 

  1. a.         Mum

b.         Who would take care of Dumpa

c.         Callie and Robbo

d.         It will make us feel relaxed.

 

PART 6

PIXIE’s Story: THE PAINS IN MY LIFE

characters

 

Pixie

  • Honest and truthful- tells her true feelings without pretending
  • Sensitive- does not like to be called “Pricilla”
  • Emotional- bursts into tears during argument

 

 

 

 

 

Sophie

  • Outgoing- often goes out for sleep-overs.

 

 

 

Hetty

 

  • Intelligent – gets good grades for her homework
  • Patient- she patiently goes over the mathematics questions

with Pixie

  • Kind- she does not mind helping Pixie with homework
  • Understanding and obedient- she follows her parents orders to

sleep wherever they ask her to.

 

Dad

  • Quiet- he keeps to himself
  • Indifferent- does not bother to interfere with the problems

others face in the family

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucy

 

  • Ø Understanding- tries to adapt and make things work
  • Ø Kind- she takes care of Pixie
  • Ø Responsible- She looks after the family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

synopsis

Pixie stays at her father’s place during

weekends fortnightly.  Her Stepmother is

Lucy she has two step sisters. They are Sophie

and Hetty. Dad promised her that she would

have a own room but Hetty and Sophie had a

terrible quarrel that it was decided that Hetty

moves out of her sister’s room into Pixie’s

room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pixie hates Hetty’s habits. Hetty drives her

mad. She hates the way Hetty cocks her head on

one side and fiddles with her hair, the way Hetty

sniffs when she reads and roll the cat over the

carpet like a sausage. Most of all she hates the

way Hetty teases her name- Priscilla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hetty was good at Maths and has good

natural manners. She is also good with

animals. She gets “Excellent” written by her

teacher for her homework. Pixie thought of

ways to get her out of the room. Pixie

started to do things to show the room is haunted.

 

 

 

 

 

Pixie started to tell ghost stories about the room

but Hetty did not get scared. So Pixie tried to

disturb her by asking her maths questions. Hetty

went through each problem with Pixie- Pixie

wasn’t  even trying to listen but she must have

understood because on the next week she actually

got the comment as “Well done!” from her

teacher.

 

 

 

 

Next, Pixie tried the silent treatment to get

Hetty out of her room. Pixie had expected Hetty

to go back to Sophie’s room but Hetty went to

her mother and told her what was going on.

Lucy, her stepmother came to her room and

talked to her. They argued – each one of them

poured their hearts out. In the end they cried

their eyes out and hugged each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucy moved Hetty’s bed back into Sophie’s

room. Pixie is happy now- at least she is not

pretending any more and everyone knows how

she feels. Hetty no longer calls her ‘Pricilla’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pixie comes down more often and when she

needs help with her homework, Hetty helps her.

Hetty can explain things well. Pixie’s teacher

even said that if she keeps on like that, she might

get promoted to the next level.

 

 

In return, Pixie tells Hetty ghost stories. Hetty

likes to  listen to ghost stories.  After listening

to the stories, she goes back to her room.

Sometimes, when Sophie goes to sleep over at

a friend’s house, Hetty will sleep in Pixie’s room.

They drag the Hetty’s mattress into Pixie’s room.

Dad hears them giggling and suggests that

they leave the mattress on Pixie’s floor, but

they just ignore him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice A

 

Write short answers for the following.

 

  1. What is Pixie’s real name?

 

………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

  1. Which two sisters had a big quarrel?

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

  1. List all the things Hetty does that irritates Pixie?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. What happened when Pixie gave Hetty the silent treatment?

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

  1. What was the outcome of Lucy’s talk with Pixie?

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

 

Answer

  1. Pricilla
  2. Hetty and Sophie
  3. The way Hetty cocks her head on one side and fiddles with her hair, the way Hetty sniffs and the way she rolls the cat over the carpet.
  4. Hetty told her mother about it.
  5. Hetty moved to Sophie’s room. Pixie is more understanding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice B

 

Complete the boxes for Lucy and Pixie by filling them with the correct statements each of them had said.

LUCY

                        PIXIE

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

  1. No, she is not. Not to me. Not really.
  2. But don’t you think that’s true for pretty well everybody in the world?
  3. After all, I’m not used to sharing a bedroom with someone who isn’t family.
  4. I’m talking
  5. Not properly
  6. I hear there’s a bit of problem between you two.
  7. We didn’t get to choose.
  8. And, I didn’t choose you, either.
  9. That’s different… Quite different
  10. We both try.

 

 

Answer:

LUCY PIXIE
But don’t you think that’s true for pretty well everybody in the world? No, she is not. Not to me. Not really.
Not properly

 

After all, I’m not used to sharing a bedroom with someone who isn’t family
I hear there’s a bit of problem between you two I’m talking

 

And, I didn’t choose you, either We didn’t get to choose.

 

We both try.

 

That’s different… Quite different

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice C

Read the extracts from the novel and answer the questions below.

 

1.

And I can’t stand Hetty Payne. I just can’t stand her. I’m not too keen on Sophie,

to be fair. But Hetty drives me mad. I hate the way she cocks her head on one side

and fiddles with her hair. I hate the way she sniffs without noticing whenever she’s reading. I even hate the way she rolls the cat over the carpet like a sausage. But

most of all I hated the way she teased me about my name. ‘Lunch-time, Pricilla!’

she’d yodel up the stairs.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. What is the relationship between Pixie with Hetty and Sophie?

 

………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

  1. What does the surname “Payne” symbolize to Pixie?

 

………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

  1. How does Pixie feel about Hetty?

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. What irritates Pixie the most? Why?

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.

Can Hetty Payne explain things? Can camels spit? My stepsister can explain

things till hell freezes over. I stood there, bored out of my mind, while she went

through each problem, and why you have to tackle it the way you do, and where

it’s easy to go wrong. I got so bored I even started listening (and some of it must

have accidentally stuck, because a week later, for the first time in my life, I found

a neat little “Well done!” on my maths test). But it was still pointless. Hetty didn’t

even seem to notice me wasting hours of her time, let alone mind.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. What was Hetty explaining?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. What was Pixie’s plan when she asked for Hetty’s help?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. Why did Pixie say that “…it was pointless”?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. Explain why Pixie came up with a plan in the first place?

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.

“Do you?’ she raised her eyebrows. ‘You insist you’re not family(and here she

imitated my scornful voice) ‘but you certainly have no idea how to behave as

a guest. You sit and take. You never stir yourself to offer to help with anything.

And in all the time that you’ve been coming, you’ve never so much as offered

me a daffodil picked off a council roundabout!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Who is the person who raised her eyebrows?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. Describe in your own words what you understand by the term ‘scornful’ as used in the extract?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. What was Pixie’s weakness?

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

  1. Explain why the two of them are having the conversation as in the extract.

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Answers

 

  1. a.         Hetty and Sophie are Pixie’s stepsisters

b.         Payne symbolizes ‘pain’ as Pixie does not like her stepsisters

c.         Pixie cannot stand Hetty’s habits.

d.         When Hetty calls her name ‘Pricilla” because she does not like to be called as Pricilla

 

  1. a.         mathematics problems

b.         she wanted to waste Hetty’s time and irritate her

c.         Hetty was not irritated and she did not even mind helping Pixie

d.         She wanted Hetty to move out of her room/ she does not like sharing a room with Hetty

 

  1. a.         Lucy/ Pixie’s stepmother

b.         being abusive, insulting- to hurt the feeling of the other party

c.         she does help around the house/ she is selfish/ does not appreciate

d.         Hetty informed Lucy that Pixie is not talking to her, so Lucy came to talk things out with Pixie

Ralph’s Story: A Tale of Three Stepmothers
Ralph has two brothers, two half-brothers, one half-sister, three stepbrothers, one stepsister,three stepmothers, one stepfather, two step-grandmothers and a step-grandfather. Living in a big family is no joke. After school on Mondays and Thursdays, he goes directly to Dad’s place. His mum or his step dad, Howard sends him. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, he goes straight to his Mum’s place. At times, he will be lost not knowing where to go. The lunchboxes help. M for Mickey Mouse and Mum, D for Dumbo and Dad. If he is lost, he has to look at his lunch box to confirm his destination. Edward and George are his brothers. The boys liked Annabel, stepmother No. 1. The only problem was she never left the boys alone with their dad.
Edward and George hated this. Dad and Annabel spent all their time kissing and cuddling. Annabel was always on a diet. She disapproved of coffee. So the boys had to drink Dandelion tea every morning. She loved to read out her star sign forecast in the mornings and again in the evenings. Sometimes, she even tried to look at Edward and George to tell their aura. However, the boys would deny anything she said.
Yet, their dad would not feel embarrassed.
One day, Brandy, Ralph’s cat was sent over as their Mum was varnishing the hall. The three boys took Brandy in a cage. Edward had made it from a broken milk bottle crate and bits of wire. Annabel was annoyed and blamed them to be cruel as Brandy did not have room to breathe. Dad distracted her by pointing out that they were out of bread. Annabel insisted in baking. The poor boys were starving to death. So, they went to the shops. They boys ate three large loaves and before they came home, they brushed away the crumbs. Dad was praising of how the dough had risen.
When Annabel left it on the table, Brandy leapt up on the table and sniffed the dough. Then, Brandy lifted its paw and patted the dough. Next, Brandy curled himself comfortably into the dough. Annabel went mad. Dad tried to stick up for Brandy. The spell between Annabel and Dad was broken. In the end, Annabel ran off with someone and Dad searched high and low to get the divorce papers signed.
The boys did not miss her as she was more of dad’s girlfriend than a real stepmother.
Dad then focused his attention on Janet, who was more keen on rules. However, Dad liked it. Edward and George did not mind as they were able to spend ample time with Dad. On the other hand, Janet was busy rushing her children to the doctors, dentist and school.
Janet’s own children, Tom, Joe and Doug and Ann moved in with the three boys.
Tom and Ann could get along with Ralph but not Joe and Doug. Mum and Howard though Janet was wonderful. Janet could draw up proper schedule and Mum hardly bothered as she found Janet was easy to deal with. Due to the rules, Ralph knew he could pick up rules in no time if he was ever anywhere. Finally Janet left. She got fed up with
Mum and Dad as they were taking advantage of her. Dad kept fixing up work trips on the days the boys were there. He told Janet that she had four children and another three would not make any difference. Mum started sneaking Victor’s romper suit hoping that Janet would come across them and get the stains out before sending them back. So, Janet left. The boys had a wonderful time after that. Unfortunately, it was only for a short period of time. Stepmother Number 3, Flora, came into the picture. Edward met her lying on Dad’s patio with hardly any clothes on. She had the cheek to tell Edward to cover up as she was enjoying the sun. George met Flora when they went shopping. Flora was dumping treats like strawberries, kiwi fruits, waffles, Belgian chocolates into the trolley. Dad was looking into the wallet, gloomily. Ralph went the next day. When he rang the bell, Flora opened and enquired. Ralph introduced himself. Flora blew her top as she did want to be a nanny. She took Ralph out for a Chinese Dinner and to watch a film. Then she met some friends and went to a coffee bar. At that time, Ralph informed his Dad of their whereabouts. Dad was furious and scolded Flora. Flora was cool and told him not to dump the children on her before checking her schedule. Ralph thought she was wonderful although she did all sorts of terrible things to him. Flora was pregnant and she ate only mint sauce sandwiches. Ralph was worried that his half sister or half brother would not be well taken care off by Flora. She did not know how and Ralph decided to help her out. The others usually teased Ralph. Most probably, Flora would settle in with this family.

Colin’s Story: The Bluebird of Happiness-
Colin describes his stepfather whom he calls dad. He has thought of him as his biological father all the while. His dad looks like him. His dad has dark hair with some grey patches around his ears. His dad used to roll his own cigarettes out of tobacco in a tin. His dad calls him by many nick names- Col, Collie, Sonny-boy, Buster, Mr Bluebird. Colin’s mum works in a shop. His dad walks him to school and back. His dad got him his tea and took him to the park. At the park, he used to swing as high as the bar, he swings back in such a way that his dad would call him –The Bluebird of Happiness.
Then, Colin’s mum took him and moved away. It happened when Colin’s father had gone to spend a day with his sister. Two friends of his mum came with a van and packed everything. Then they went off. At first, he thought his dad will join them later. Colin was not happy- school mates would snigger when he did not understand things. Mum found a job at a canteen. She would be busy doing household chores when she came home. Mum was too busy to listen to him. He compared her with his dad- his dad used to talk to him and remembered names of his friends and teachers. Colin asked his mother many times about his dad. He wanted to know when his dad will come home.
His mother did give him a hint about his father not having a proper job. He realized later that his mother did not leave any clues for his dad to follow. He then wrote a letter to his dad. But there was no reply.
Every night, Colin would take the tobacco tin out of the toe of his boot and put it under his pillow. Then, he would hum his favourite song which was also his dad’s favourite. He would stay awake for hours talking to his dad. He pretended that his dad was there. Colin said that it was as if his mother thought that whatever is happening is actually happening only to her. Then one day when he returned home from school, he realized that his mum had thrown away his boots. The boots were too small for him but she did not know that there was a tobacco tin hidden in there. He did not bother to tell her because she wouldn’t have liked it.
It has been five years, eight months and seven days and Colin still remembers hit dad. He secretly writes his dad’s name and his old address on the forms at school. Colin also tries to save money- he does three paper rounds. He will not try to look for his dad now- perhaps someday when he has enough money.
Colin hums slowly and when asked to sing, he says that he is saving the words till he finds his dad. It was his favourite song- The Bluebird of Happiness. His friend Ralph consoled him by saying that someday Colin will find his dad.

Claudia’s Story: Green Pyjamas
Claudia’s Mum and Dad quarreled a lot.One day, her Dad was gone to Granny’s house. However, he dropped by for tea. Claudia overheard the name “Stella”. Her Mum and even Granny had a row with Dad. Dad usually met Claudia at Granny’s. She missed her Dad so much. The times spent with her Dad kept flooding back. She wanted things back the way they used to be. For the first time, Claudia had a separate Christmas. Later, she was introduced to Stella who was just plain and mousy. Claudia thought her mum was a whole lot better-looking than Stella. Claudia was rude when they went for a walk. Once back, they quarreled and the next day, Dad moved out of Granny’s house straight into with Stella.
Claudia met her Dad off and on. Stella stayed out of it. She only made some light conversation with Claudia like asking about her friends and school. Those moments she would be thinking of her mum doing the house chores. After talking to her friend, Shreela, Claudia stopped blaming Stella. Dad and Stella arranged a party for their friends. Claudia was sent there for the day. Politely, she excused herself from the party and stayed in her room. Stella was relieved. Out of curiosity, Claudia decided to eavesdrop. She wore the green pyjamas given by Stella as it was the exact shade of green of the giant fern. She sat beside the fern and listen to everything the adults downstairs were talking.
The guests spoke about everything except about Mum, Dad, Stella or Claudia. Nobody praised Stella for the food nor even spoke to her. Claudia found that very rude as her Mum was not there. Claudia, unable to stand the treatment Stella was getting, made a grand appearance at the party and thanked Stella for the beautiful pyjamas she had brought for her. Finally, everyone started noticing Stella. As for Claudia and Stella, this was the starting point.Stella would teach Claudia how to quilt, read maps, change electric plugs and how to skate.

The five children are waiting in an old house for the rest of their school group to arrive. They come across an old manuscript written by a boy who ran away when his mother remarried after his father’s death.
Richard’s Story-
Master Richard’s father had a fever. His mother tried her best to coax his father to eat something- but it was of no use. Richard asked George the gardener about his father. Richard calls him Mr Digby. Mr Digby did not answer him but hugged him hard instead. Lucy the maid sat by Richard’s bedside. When Richard asked if it was going to be today,she placed her finger on his lips and said “Hush! Don’t even speak of it. Little Charlotte called out to Richard and told him that Papa wanted to see him. He dashed as fast as he could. He came across Reverend Coldstone but did not stop although he was asked to. The reverend was angry. His mother was waiting at the doorway and reminded him not to cry. His father asked him to be good to his mother and sister. His last words were –“Obey your mother’s wishes to the letter.’
At the chapel, Mr. Coldstone consoled his mother. Richard heard him say -“When you are mine…”. Richard studied at Mordanger school. He hated it there. Now he was home. Charlotte realized that Richard hated his stepfather. Richard accuses that Charlotte had forgotten about their father. Charlotte denied it and advised him not to accuse Mr Coldstone as the murderer when their father died of fever. Nevertheless,
Richard had decided to leave the three of them.
Richard wrote in his diary that he worked in a ship. Whenever he wrote about Mr Coldstone, he refered to him as the ‘black bat’. Twice his ship stopped at his hometown and he visited his home only to stand like a trespasser. It had been a long time since Richard had been home. Suddenly, he saw a note on the Captain’s table. He found out that his mother and stepfather had died. Charlotte wrote him a letter. In the letter, Charlotte wrote that things had been difficult as their mother spent a lot of money looking for him and they all suffered Mr Coldstone’s anger. Charlotte married Charles Devere although she did not love him because he had money and was willing to spend it to look for Richard. This would be the only letter from her.

About the Author

Anne Fine was born and educated in the Midlands, and now lives in  County Durham. She has written numerous highly acclaimed and prize-winning books for children and adults. Her novel The Tulip Touch won the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year Award; Goggle-Eyes won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award and the Carnegie Medal, and was adapted for television by the BBC; Flour Babies won the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year Award; Bill’s New Frock won a Smarties Prize, and Madame Doubtfire has become a major feature film starring Robin Williams.

 Synopsis 

            This novel is a tale that is both funny and moving. Five children are stranded together for the night in a tower of creepy, dark old Harwick Hall. In that stormy night, the children uncover the story of Richard Clayton Harwick which is very disturbing. It is a tale of a boy who of many years ago learned what it was like to have a truly wicked stepfather.

            Richard Clayton Harwick’s long hidden journal provides an inner tale that triggers off, one by one, each of the stories of the listening children. It turns out eventually that they all have step parents, some kind, some bad, some just plain wrong and so they tell each other their stories. After listening to Richard’s story, each of the five tells his or her own. Their stories are powerful and intensely moving tales of children struggling with change and shifting family conditions

            Claudia’s story shows things well on the way to a happy ending. Claudia feels disloyal to her mum whenever she has a good time with her father and his new girlfriend, Stella. Thus, she is unfriendly towards Stella. Finally, in front of her Dad’s friends who are rude to Stella, she compliments Stella and makes everyone notice the lady.

            Colin’s story is moving. Colin’s seems the saddest. He had someone he thought of as his father and now he misses him so badly that it hurts. Colin’s mother leaves the only father Colin has known, a man she lived with for many years, and in her attempt to create a new life for herself does not see that Colin has been torn from a man he loves. Colin loves his stepfather, but hasn’t seen him for five years, and is obsessively determined to find him.

            Ralph’s story, though merry, is as complicated as a maze. He has three stepmothers to deal with. All of them are different in their ways. In addition, he has a lot of stepbrothers, stepsisters, half brother and half sisters to accept in his life. Ralph cannot keep track of which parent’s house he should go to after school each day, so his parents develop a lunchbox system: the Dumbo lunchbox means Dad’s house after school; the Mickey Mouse one directs him to his mother’s.Towards the end, we can see that he is anxiously waiting for his little half sister or half brother to be born.           

Pixie has to deal with two really irritating sisters. She hates to go over her dad’s house twice in a month. She feels that everyone is pretending to be in a happy family when thay are actually not. She has to deal with two really irritating stepsisters and father who pretends he doesn’t notice how difficult things are for her.Soon, Pixie discovers that her stepmother and stepsisters aren’t any happier about the situation than she is. She learns to adapt to the situation. One of her step sisters teaches her mathematics and in return she tells ghost stories.

Robbo and his sister, Callie find that their half sister, Dumpa is the problem. Both their Mum and stepfather, Roy keep on arguing. The arguments are mainly due to Callie.  Callie never seems to see eye to eye with Roy. Both Mum and Roy are committed with each other just because of Dumpa, their three year old son. Eventually, Callie moves out to her Dad’s place and that solves the problem

            Each of their stories is different, but through the act of telling, and through the responses of the other children, each one learns more about his or her life. 

Plot 

The plot of a novel comprises of the series of events that make up the story. It shows the events and thoughts which make up the novel’s basic structure. It shows the arrangement of ideas and / or incidents that make up a story.

Climax – turning point

 

Rising Action – problems and conflicts are revealed

Exposition – characters and setting are revealed.

Falling Action – resolutions to conflicts solved

Resolution – final outcome

 

Introduction    

Exposition

One stormy night, five children are thrown together in a creepy  tower, dark old Harwick Hall.

Rising Action

They explore the tower

Climax

The discover Richard Clayton Harwick’s room which is in a tower off the tower.

Falling Action

The find the long hidden journal that belongs to Richard Clayton Harwick.

Resolution

They decide to read the journal as they never get the chance to peep into other people’s life.

 

(Richard Harwick’s Story)

Exposition

Richard’s father had fever and eventually he died.

Rising Action

Richard’s mother remarried. She married Mr. Coldstone who was a cruel man.

Climax

Richard left home as he was not happy with the situation.

Falling Action

Richard found the note on the captain’s table. He realized that his family was looking for him. He returns home and finds a letter written by his sister, Charlotte. In the letter, Charlotte reveals all the difficulties they had had to undergo. He realized that his mother was searching for him.

Resolution

He has to make a decision whether he should leave again.

 

(Claudia’s story) 

 

Exposition

Claudia’s Mum and Dad quarrel a lot

Rising Action

Dad leaves the house to stay with Granny and later moves to Stella’s. Claudia is sent to Stella’s house all of a sudden and on that day Dad and Stella are having a party. Claudia excuses herself politely to be in her room during the dinner.

Climax

Wearing the green pyjamas given by Stella, she parades and makes a grand appearance at the party. She informs Stella that she likes the pyjamas.

Falling Action

Everyone starts noticing Stella and make a conversation with her.

Resolution

Claudia is happy for Stella.

 

(Colin’s Story)

Exposition

Colin lives with his mum and a man he assumes to be his father. He calls him ‘Dad”

Rising Action

Colin and his dad spend a lot of time together. His dad walks him to and fro from school and takes him to the park. Colin loves his dad very much.

Climax

Colin’s mum leaves the house and moves to another place. She finds a job at a canteen

Falling Action

Colin misses his dad very much. He even pretends to talk to him.

Resolution

He waits for the day when he will be able to find his dad.

 

(Ralph’s Story)

 

Exposition

Ralph has a big family. He has three stepmothers to deal with.

Rising Action

He manages to tolerate all of them

Climax

Flora, Stepmother number three is pregnant

Falling Action

He plans to help Flora to take care of his half sister or half brother.

Resolution

With the help of Mum, he sorts out the baby’s clothes.

 

(Pixie’s Story)

Exposition

Pixie goes over her father’s place twice in a month

Rising Action

Pixie hates her stepsisters’ habits

Climax

Hetty moves in Pixie’s room

Falling Action

Pixie and Lucy tells each other their feelings

Resolution

Pixie learns to adapt to the situation

 

(Robbo’s Story)

Exposition

Robbo’s parents have splited up long ago

Rising Action

His sister Callie hates Roy, their stepfather. Frequent quarrels are seen in the house.

Climax

Roy is very adamant and refuses to speak or do things for the step children as before

Falling Action

Callie decides to move to Dad’s place.

Resolution

Mum helps to set up Dad’s home so that it would be comfortable for Callie.

Conclusion   The children feel proud to relate their stories. Everyone’s story is different. The message is not about solving the problems, but about simply dealing with them. Several of the stories are quite poignant, one is funny, and none reach a final resolution by the end–one, in fact, is left hanging rather ominously. But all of the children have had a chance to express what they’re feeling, and to realize (along with readers) that they are not alone.

Plot summary

A group of children are spending the night in the creepy Old Harwick Hall, as part of a school trip. They are placed into certain groups, and Claudia, Colin, Ralph, Pixie and Robbo find themselves together. None of the group members are really best friends, but throughout the night they discover a secret that the old mansion has kept hidden for years, and they suddenly find themselves coming closer together and discovering why they were put in a group with each other. They are all wondering why they are put together, when they discover that they each had two different addresses on their permission slips, one for their mother’s home and one for their father’s home. Each child comes from a divorced family. At least one of their parents has married again. Some children have to deal with either stepbrothers, stepsisters, or blood related siblings. They each in turn tell each other about how their parents broke up. It uncovers many mysterious questions.

Characters

The group of school-children are the main characters in this novel. Each one has a difficult time at home, with divorced parents, or evil step-fathers. The children are Claudia, Colin, Ralph, Pixie and Robbo. They are all different, but find out they are linked in some way. 

Theme 

Theme refers to the central idea in the story. It is the main message that is more global in scope.  It is the idea or point of a story formulated as a generalization. There are many themes in the novel.

 

  • a.     All pain eventually heals and we have the power to change things for the better. 
  • b.     Sheer determination of a child can give strength and purpose. 
  • c.      Children lack choices and real opportunity to speak frankly and openly about their feelings and situations to the adults around them 
  • d.     Adults should look around them and listen

 

Setting

The setting provides the background of the story. It refers to the place where a particular event takes place. It also refers to the time of the event.

Introduction

  1. In the bus that takes the children to Creepsville.
  2. At the tower where the children are going to spend the night.
  3. In Richard Clayton Harwick’s room where they find the journal.

 

Part 1  

  1. Harwick’s house
  2. Moredanger School
  3. Ship

 

Part 2

  1. Mum’s place where Claudia lives.
  2. Granny’s house
  3. Stella’s home.

Part 3

  1. First home
  2. Park
  3. Second home

Part 4

  1. Mum’s place
  2. Dad’s place
  3. The streets where they go to buy bread and mint sauce

Part 5

  1. Dad’s place

Part 6

  1. Mum’s place.
  2. The porch where Callie pushes her bike
  3. Outside the house when Roy cleans the shed.

Conclusion

  1. The tower

Moral Values

  • Do not look down on others
  • Do not give up easily when we are faced with problems
  • We must try to accept things the way they are and make the best out of it.

 Point of View

Point of view is the perspective from which a story is told. The author creates a narrator to tell the story. It is through the narrator’s perspective that readers learn what is happening in a story.

The introduction of the story is written in the third person’s point of view.  It is told through the eyes of the author, Anne Fine. All the other parts are told in the first person’s view.

Tone and Mood

Tone refers to the author’s attitude or position toward the action, characters, narrator, subject and even readers of the story.  To determine the tone of a story, the reader must examine the language the author uses and decide what effect the author’s diction and syntax creates.

 In this novel, the author recognizes and validates the anger many children feel when the adults who should be caring for them cause their lives to spin out of control, and then expect them to just adjust and be happy. It’s not all happy endings here, but it does have the taste of reality.

  Language and Style

It was quite chilling at first, but the rest of the book (which was the children telling stories) was written in a very life-like way, as if it really was young children speaking.