I’m thrilled to be able to share with you an exclusive preview of a brand new Olivia Monkey story, with all-new illustrations from the wonderful Alessandra Covino.
Keep your eyes peeled for a brand new Olivia and the Proverbs book, coming soon…
I’d love to hear your feedback – please do read it with your children and let me know what they think of Olivia’s latest adventure too.
Olivia and the Maze
PROVERB: A person’s a person, no matter how small. (Dr Seuss.)
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.
One Sunday afternoon Olivia and her family went to visit a big Stately Home in the countryside. Boris went with the Monkey Family because the Stately Home was surrounded by beautiful grounds, and Boris wanted to get ideas about different types of plants for the Honeypot Home’s garden.
The grounds that were opened to visitors that day included a walled garden. The walled garden was a secret garden because it had a tall red brick wall all the way around it. You went into the garden through a secret door built into the wall. Inside the secret garden were lots of different flowers and plants. There were tall hollyhocks and colourful lupins in the borders, cream and pink magnolia bushes in every corner and honeysuckle and climbing roses rambling across the walls. At one end of the walled garden were square patches of brown earth with neat green rows of vegetable plants and herbs, and in the middle of the secret garden was a pond with a statue of a fish squirting water out of its mouth.
Olivia thought that anyone who had such a beautiful secret garden would be very lucky.
After a while the Monkey family left the secret garden to walk on the paths around the Stately Home. At the back of the Home, they saw a sign pointing to ‘The Maze’. The family walked down the path towards ‘The Maze’ to see what it was like.
The Maze was a big square of lawn with lots and lots of tall hedges on it. In between the hedges were little paths. You had to go into the entrance of The Maze, and then walked along the paths between the hedges to try and find the way out. Some of the paths didn’t go anywhere and ended at a hedge, others went different ways, zig zagging around corners, so that after a while you couldn’t remember which way you were going.
There was a viewing platform high up above the back of the maze, where you could stand and watch all the people walking around in the maze.
Mr and Mrs Monkey went into the conservatory to look at the exotic orchids, and Boris took Olivia and Mr Wolf into the maze. Pip and Violet went up on to the viewing platform to watch them.
Boris and Olivia went this way and that way among the hedges. It really was very confusing and much more difficult that you’d think to try to remember which way you were going.
Suddenly Olivia looked down. Mr Wolf had been holding her hand, but now he had disappeared. Where was he? She looked behind her, but he wasn’t there. She looked along the sides of the hedges. Maybe he was caught on a branch, but she couldn’t see him anywhere.
‘I’ve lost Mr Wolf, Boris,’ she said.
‘When did you have him last?’ asked Boris.
‘When we came in the maze. Where’s he gone? He’ll be frightened.’
‘It’s alright, Olivia,’ said Boris. ‘We’ll have a look for him now. Let’s go back the way we came.’
‘But which way did we come?’ said Olivia.
She began to call, ‘Mr Wolf. Mr Wolf.’
Olivia lay down on the grassy path and looked beneath the bushy parts of the hedges either side of her. There, a few grassy paths away, she could see Mr Wolf’s woolly hat with the pink pom-pom on. Mr Wolf was lying on his back, looking up at the sky.
‘I can see him. I can see him,’ she called, and began to crawl under the hedges towards Mr Wolf.
‘Wait a minute, Olivia. I can’t get down there. Come back,’ said Boris.
Bur it was too late. Olivia was off, crawling quickly under the hedges to rescue Mr Wolf.
She soon got to him and picked him up to give him a cuddle.
‘Don’t worry, I’m here,’ she told Mr Wolf. ‘It’s alright, you’re not lost. Don’t worry.’
She stood up and brushed some leaves from Mr Wolf’s jumper.
‘It’s alright, Boris, I’ve found him,’ she said.
But where was Boris? She looked around. She’d rescued Mr Wolf from being lost, but now Boris was lost.
She could hear Boris shouting, ‘Olivia, can you hear me?’
‘I’m here, Boris,’ Olivia called. ‘Come this way.’
‘Olivia dear, just listen,’ Boris called back. ‘Bend down again, look under the hedges and see if you can see my shoes: then come back under the hedges towards my shoes.’
Olivia lay down on the grassy path. A little way away she could she Boris’s boots with Boris standing in them. She tucked Mr Wolf inside her T-shirt and crawled back under the hedges towards Boris.
‘Well, thank goodness for that,’ said Boris, when Olivia emerged from under the hedge right next to him. ‘Now let’s get out of this maze before we get lost again.’
Then they heard Pip and Violet shouting form the viewing gallery. ‘Boris, where are you? We’re getting bored. Can you come out now please?’
‘We’d love to come out, but we’re lost,’ laughed Boris. ‘Can you help us?’
‘We can’t see where you are,’ shouted Violet.
‘Wait a minute,’ Boris called back.
‘Can I borrow Mr Wolf please,’ he asked Olivia. ‘He can be our guide.’
Olivia took Mr Wolf out from inside her T-shirt and gave him to Boris.
Boris carefully hooked the back of Mr Wolf’s jumper over the end of his walking stick, and then held his walking stick with Mr Wolf sitting on the end, high above his head.
Olivia could hear Pip and Violet laughing.
‘Hurray. We can see Mr Wolf,’ they shouted. ‘Listen carefully, Boris. Go straight ahead to the end of the path you’re on at the moment, and then turn right.’
Mr Wolf led the way, and Boris and Olivia followed.
‘Now go left, and then right straight away,’ shouted Pip. ‘If you walk to the end of that path, you’ll seen the way out ahead of you.’ And they did and they could.
‘Well, thank goodness for that,’ said Boris as they went out of the maze.
He lifted Mr Wolf gently off the end of his walking stick.
‘That’s more than enough excitement for me for one day,’ Boris laughed, passing Mr Wolf back to Olivia.
‘Me too, Boris,’ said Olivia.
‘Me too, Olivia,’ whispered Mr Wolf.