Olivia is a little monkey who lives with her Mummy, Daddy, older brother Pip, older sister Violet, and the family dog Biscuit, in a house near the middle of town. Olivia’s Daddy works in an office; her Mummy draws pictures for magazines; and Pip and Violet go to school.
Olivia is friends with everyone, but her best friends live in an old people’s home, the Honeypot Home for the Retired. The Honeypot Home is in the big house next door to Olivia’s house. Olivia often goes to see the old people who live in the Honeypot Home. She sits with them in the garden when it is warm, or in their big sitting room when it is chilly.
Olivia has two very best friends at the home. One is an old monkey called Boris. Olivia and Boris enjoy going into town together; having cups of tea at cafes and sampling different cakes. Boris is interested in gardening, and Olivia likes to chat to him while he tends the plants in the Honeypot Home’s garden.
Her other best friend is Blossom, an old lady monkey, whose room is on the top floor of the Home. Blossom says Boris has green fingers, which is Blossom’s little joke because Boris’s fingers are brown. Blossom’s room is full of interesting trinkets and a birdcage for Joey her budgerigar.
- Sports Day.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Every summer Pip’s school held a Sports Day on their playing field. Pip liked Sports Day. This year he was in the sprint race. A sprint is a race where you have to run very quickly, but not very far. Pip’s best friend, Jamie, was in the same race and Pip wanted to win. He liked Jamie, but he still wanted to win the race. Olivia was helping Pip to train for his sprint race.
Oliva had to see how long it took Pip to run from the top of the lawn, to the path at the bottom of the lawn. It wasn’t as far as the real race would be, but Pip said he needed to practise his flying starts. Jamie was a fast runner and Pip knew he would need to get ahead at the very start of the race, then hope that Jamie couldn’t catch him up.
For his flying start Pip crouched down when Olivia said, ‘On your marks.’
When Olivia said, ‘Get set,’ Pip went up on his fingertips and toes.
When she said, ‘Go,’ he sprang forward and began to run as fast as he could, arms pumping, in a straight line with his eyes focussed on the finishing tape at the end of the race.
You didn’t slow down when you reached the finish line, you ran through the tape as fast as you could, then slowed down on the other side.
Every afternoon when Pip got home from school, he and Olivia went into the garden to practise. Olivia had to press one button on Pip’s watch when he started to run and another when he finished. Then Pip wrote his time down to see if his flying starts were getting quicker.
Soon the big day came. Mummy and Olivia went to watch Pip run. Boris and Blossom came as well to cheer Pip on.
When the boys were called for their sprint race, Olivia was pleased to see that Pip was in the middle lane. Pip had told Olivia that he liked to run in the middle of everyone so he could see where the other runners were and whether or not he was ahead of them.
Pip crouched down for his flying start and when the teacher said, ‘Go,’ he flew away, ahead of all the other boys.
‘Run, Pip, run,’ shouted Boris.
‘Keep going, Pip,’ shouted Mummy and Blossom.
Olivia held her breath.
But Jamie was catching Pip up. He really was a fast runner. Would Pip’s flying start be good enough to hold Jamie off?
Pip and Jamie crossed the finish line at exactly the same time.
It was a draw.
Pip and Jamie both won, and both got a yellow rosette with a number 1 in the middle. Olivia was pleased. She knew that without Pip’s flying start, Jamie probably would have won the race. Pip would be very happy, and Jamie would be a bit surprised.
Then the Headteacher made an announcement.
‘Please will any toddlers who want to join the toddler’s race, assemble at the starting line.’
‘Would you like to have a race, Olivia?’ asked Mummy.
Olivia wasn’t sure. Would she be good enough to run in a race?
‘Go on, Olivia. Have a try. I know you’re a fast runner,’ said Boris.
So Olivia and Mummy made their way to the starting line.
Out of the corner of her eye, Olivia could see Pip and Jamie looking at her and clapping.
‘Run, Olivia, run,’ they shouted.
Olivia went into the middle of the toddlers. She remembered that Pip said that was the best place to be.
The teacher said, ‘On your marks,’ and Olivia crouched down to get a flying start.
‘Get set.’ Up on her fingertips and tip toes.
‘Go.’ Off Olivia headed in a straight line down the track, eyes on the finish line, arms pumping.
She could hear Mummy, Blossom and Boris cheering, and Pip and his friends chanting, ‘O-LIV-IA. O-LIV-IA. O-LIV-IA.’
She ran on through the tape just like Pip did, then slowed down and turned round to see where the other runners were.
Everything behind Olivia was in chaos. Toddlers were running sideways across the track with their grown-ups chasing them, some had toddled off the track completely and were hiding among the spectators’ chairs, some toddlers had fallen over and were crying, others were sitting down on the grass just looking around. One Mummy picked up her toddler and ran with it towards Oliva. That toddler came second.
Mr Thomas, Pip’s teacher, was the judge. Mr Thomas shook Olivia’s hand and gave her a yellow rosette with a number 1 in the middle. The rosette was exactly the same as Pip’s and Jamie’s.
‘Well done, Pip’s little sister,’ laughed Mr Thomas. ‘I can see who you’ve been training with.’
Mummy came to collect Olivia and took her back to where Blossom and Boris were sitting. Blossom and Boris were both clapping.
‘You ran so fast,’ said Blossom, ‘I didn’t know you knew how to do a flying start.’
‘Pip showed me how.’ said Olivia. ‘Listen for an announcement, Blossom. If they have a sprint for old people, you can do a flying start too.’
‘Good grief,’ laughed Blossom. ‘Now that would be a sight to see.’