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Hello. I'm Tom.
I've had a fun day playing with my friends. Have you?
Sometimes it can be hard to make new friends.
And that's what Oliver finds out in tonight's bedtime story.
Would you like to hear it?
Fantastic! It's called Oliver And Patch.
And it's by Claire Freedman and Kate Hindley.
Oliver had just moved to the big city.
It felt strange,
and his old home in the countryside seemed far, far away.
"I miss the green fields," Oliver sighed.
"I miss the wide open spaces. Most of all, I miss my friends."
One morning Oliver felt restless.
Even though the rain was pouring down like silver needles,
he wanted to be outside, to explore.
People hurried by, unseeing and unlooking.
Oliver glanced about wondering which way to go, when, suddenly,
he saw it, bright as a poppy in a cornfield.
A small, soggy, white ball of a dog trailing a streak of red leash.
He was all alone, just like Oliver.
"Hello," said Oliver.
"Are you lost?"
He looked at the little dog's collar tag.
"Patch," it read.
Oliver looked around.
No-one was calling for their little lost dog.
"What shall I do with you?" Oliver said to Patch.
"I can't leave you on your own."
Before he knew it, Oliver had the lead in his hand
and Patch was trotting along beside him.
Oliver and Patch had a wonderful day getting to know each other.
For the first time since moving to the city, Oliver felt happy.
But, as dusk fell, Patch became sad.
He sat on Oliver's desk, by the window, and gazed out longingly.
Somewhere out there,
in the rain-hazy twinkle of the city night lights, was his real home.
Oliver woke the next morning to scratchy scuffling noises.
"Oh, Patch!" Oliver laughed.
They played all day long.
Hide and seek.
Bury the biscuits.
Curl up and cuddle - their favourite.
Watering the garden(!)
But at bedtime, Patch seemed sad again.
And even though it made him feel wobbly,
Oliver knew he had to do the right thing.
So the next day he made some posters.
He secretly hoped no-one would see them.
He stuck up the posters and asked at some shops and houses.
"No, I've never seen that dog before," the shopkeeper said.
"No-one I know is missing a dog," said his neighbours.
Days slipped by and nobody called.
Oliver began to believe that Patch would be his dog forever.
He bought him a cosy red blanket and lots of toys.
It was as if they'd always been friends.
One morning, it was gently drizzling, Oliver and Patch went exploring.
They wandered down a narrow street,
past tall iron railings by an ancient church.
Suddenly, Patch barked.
He tugged hard on the lead and broke free.
"Patch!" Oliver called, "Patch!"
Breathless, Oliver reached the tiny park, hidden away like a jewel.
A girl was sitting on the swings, sad and alone.
Oliver looked at her red coat and red boots, and he knew.
The little girl was hugging Patch, hugging and hugging.
Oliver tried to be brave, but his world had turned grey again.
"Hello, I'm Ruby,"
the girl said, smiling at Oliver.
"Have you been looking after Patch for me?"
"It's been lovely, said Oliver," trying hard to smile back.
"But I'm really going to miss him."
Then he had a thought.
"Ruby, do you think, maybe, you and Patch
"would like to visit me one day?"
"We'd love to," said Ruby.
"But why don't we go and do something together right now?"
"Woof!" barked Patch, "Woof, woof!"
Oliver and Ruby laughed.
At that moment, the sun burst out.
The pavement shone as a million raindrops glistened like gold.
The city looked beautiful.
And Oliver realised he hadn't lost a friend, he had found another one.
That story was called Oliver And Patch. I hope you enjoyed it.
Lucky Oliver made two new friends.
I think they're going to have lots of good times together.
Now, it's time for you to get cosy in bed.
Perhaps you'll dream about new friends YOU might make.
I'll see you again soon. Sleep tight.