Once upon a time, there was a lovable boy called Cuthbert Nolan. He was on the way to see his Doris Jones when he decided to take a shortcut through Greenwood Forest.
It wasn’t long before Cuthbert got lost. He looked around, but all he could see were trees. Nervously, he felt into his bag for his favourite toy, Mr Teddy, but Mr Teddy was nowhere to be found! Cuthbert began to panic. He felt sure he had packed Mr Teddy. To make matters worse, he was starting to feel hungry.
Unexpectedly, he saw a hysterical tortoise dressed in a purple jumper disappearing into the trees.
“How odd!” thought Cuthbert.
For the want of anything better to do, he decided to follow the peculiarly dressed tortoise. Perhaps it could tell him the way out of the forest.
Eventually, Cuthbert reached a clearing. He found himself surrounded by houses made from different sorts of food. There was a house made from pumpkins, a house made from biscuits, a house made from lollipops, a house made from muffins and a house made from fruit gums.
Cuthbert could feel his tummy rumbling. Looking at the houses did nothing to ease his hunger.
“Hello!” he called. “Is anybody there?”
Cuthbert 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 Cuthbert a fright. A witch jumped into space in front of the houses. She was carrying a cage. In that cage was Mr Teddy!
“Mr Teddy!” shouted Cuthbert. He turned to the witch. “That’s my toy!”
The witch just shrugged.
“Give Mr Teddy back!” cried Cuthbert.
“Not on your nelly!” said the witch.
“At least let Mr Teddy out of that cage!”
Before she could reply, four hysterical tortoises rushed in from a footpath on the other side of the clearing. Cuthbert recognised the one in the purple jumper that he’d seen earlier. The witch seemed to recognise him too.
“Hello Big Tortoise,” said the witch.
“Good morning.” The tortoise noticed Mr Teddy. “Who is this?”
“That’s Mr Teddy,” explained the witch.
“Ooh! Mr Teddy would look lovely in my house. Give it to me!” demanded the tortoise.
The witch shook her head. “Mr Teddy is staying with me.”
“Um… Excuse me…” Cuthbert interrupted. “Mr Teddy lives with me! And not in a cage!”
Big Tortoise 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 Tortoise looked at the house made from fruit gums and said, “No problem, I could eat an entire house made from fruit gums if I wanted to.”
“That’s nothing,” said the next tortoise. “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 Mr Teddy.”
Cuthbert watched, feeling very worried. He didn’t want the witch to give Mr Teddy to Big Tortoise. He didn’t think Mr Teddy would like living with a hysterical tortoise, away from his house and all his other toys.
The other three tortoises watched while Big Tortoise put on his bib and withdrew a knife and fork from his pocket.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Big Tortoise. “Just you watch!”
Big Tortoise pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from biscuits. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.
Eventually, Big Tortoise started to get bigger – just a little bit bigger at first. But after a few more fork-fulls of biscuits, 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 Tortoise.
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 Tortoise never finished eating the front door made from biscuits and Mr Teddy remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
Average Tortoise stepped up, and approached the house made from lollipops.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Average Tortoise. “Just you watch!”
Average Tortoise pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from lollipops. She gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.
After a while, Average Tortoise 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 tortoise!” said Average Tortoise.
“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 Tortoise, as the woodcutter picked her up. But the woodcutter ignored her cries and carried the tortoise away under his arm.
Average Tortoise never finished eating the front door made from lollipops and Mr Teddy remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
Little Tortoise stepped up, and approached the house made from muffins.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Little Tortoise. “Just you watch!”
Little Tortoise pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from muffins. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.
After five or six platefuls, Little Tortoise started to fidget uncomfortably on the spot.
He stopped eating muffins 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 Tortoise into the sky.
“Aggghhhhhh!” cried Little Tortoise. “I’m scared of heigh…”
Little Tortoise was never seen again.
Little Tortoise never finished eating the front door made from muffins and Mr Teddy remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
Tiny Tortoise stepped up, and approached the house made from fruit gums.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Tiny Tortoise. “Just you watch!”
Tiny Tortoise 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.
However, on the next mouthful, the food fell straight out of Tiny Tortoise’s mouth. She tried to stuff in another forkful of fruit gums, but once again, the food fell out. There just wasn’t enough room left in her belly.
“This is just not fair!” declared Tiny Tortoise, and stomped off into the forest.
Tiny Tortoise never finished eating the front door made from fruit gums and Mr Teddy remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
“That’s it,” said the witch. “I win. I get to keep Mr Teddy.”
“Not so fast,” said Cuthbert. “There is still one front door to go. The front door of the house made from pumpkins. 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 tortoises. He won’t last long.”
“I’ll be right back,” said Cuthbert.
“What?” said the witch. “Where’s your sense of impatience? I thought you wanted Mr Teddy back.”
Cuthbert 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 pumpkins 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.
Cuthbert sat down on a nearby log.
“You fail!” cackled the witch. “You were supposed to eat the whole door.”
“I haven’t finished,” explained Cuthbert. “I am just waiting for my food to go down.”
When Cuthbert’s food had digested, he broke off another piece of the door made from pumpkins. 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, Cuthbert was down to the final piece of the door made from pumpkins. Carefully, he toasted it and allowed it to cool just a little. He finished his final course. Cuthbert had eaten the entire front door of the house made from pumpkins.
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 Mr Teddy 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.
Cuthbert hurried over and grabbed Mr Teddy, checking that his favourite toy was all right. Fortunately, Mr Teddy was unharmed.
Cuthbert thanked the woodcutter, grabbed a quick souvenir, and hurried on to meet Doris. It was starting to get dark.
When Cuthbert got to Doris’s house, his threw her arms around him.
“I was so worried!” cried Doris. “You are very late.”
As Cuthbert described his day, he could tell that Doris didn’t believe him. So he grabbed a napkin from his pocket.
“What’s that?” asked Doris.
Cuthbert unwrapped a doorknob made from biscuits. “Pudding!” he said.
Doris almost fell off her chair.