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Hello, I'm Ben. This is my friend dragon.
He's called Barry, and we've been playing
and having lots of fun today
and now we're both pretty tired, aren't we? Mmm.
But I know a bedtime story all about a dragon. Would you like to hear it?
Good. Tonight's bedtime story is called -
Marmaduke The Very Different Dragon, by Rachel Valentine and Ed Eaves.
Marmaduke was different.
The other dragons were purple, with smooth, shiny scales,
but Marmaduke was faded orange, with sticky-out scales.
The other dragons had tiny, neat ears, but Marmaduke's ears,
well, they were enormous.
And while the other dragons loved to fly, Marmaduke didn't.
His wings were different, they were unusual,
and because he didn't want anyone to see them, he never flew.
Marmaduke had always wanted to protect a princess,
but he'd never had the chance.
One day, he asked the other dragons for help.
"You? Ha!" they laughed,
"protect a princess?!
"Marmaduke, you don't even fly.
"Princesses need dragons like us, not you."
Marmaduke wandered sadly through the woods, when suddenly,
he spotted a tower with a beautiful princess
leaning out of the highest window and no dragon protecting her.
"This is my chance," thought Marmaduke.
Trembling, he called, "Erm, excuse me,
"er, I don't suppose...
"I was wondering, could I be your dragon?"
"You're not really a proper dragon, are you?" she sniffed.
"You're not even the right colour.
"My daddy's getting a REAL dragon to keep ME safe."
He turned and ran as fast as he could,
all the way to his cave, where he curled up on his bed.
"I don't like being different,"
he sighed, as a tear rolled down his cheek.
But a long way away,
someone else was being different too - Princess Meg.
The other princesses were quiet,
with pretty dresses and neat hair,
but Meg was loud, with a crazy dress
and very messy hair.
And while the other princesses sat calmly
in their chairs, Meg loved to dance...
in a most un-princess-like way.
None of the dragons wanted to protect Meg, but she didn't mind.
"Who'd want to steal me?!" she chuckled.
"I don't need a dragon."
And Meg was happy, especially today.
Today, she felt like dancing.
She discoed across the drawbridge,
leapt over logs,
twisted through tall trees
and danced away till dusk.
But Meg was having too much fun
and as she boogied through the bushes, she realised she was lost.
Deep in the woods,
in the dark, all alone.
"Help!" she cried.
"Please, help!" But she was so far away
that no-one could hear her.
Or could they?
Because a long way away, there was someone,
someone with enormous ears.
Someone who heard her.
Marmaduke! He leapt out of his cave and galloped through the trees,
dashed across the rocks and hurtled round the bushes.
"I've come to rescue you," Marmaduke puffed proudly.
"Oh, thank you!" cried Meg.
Meg leapt on Marmaduke's back, ready to fly,
but Marmaduke started to run.
"I think flying might be quicker," said Meg.
"I don't fly," said Marmaduke quietly.
"My wings don't look like other dragons' wings, they're different."
"I'm sure they're fine," said Meg kindly.
"Why don't you show me?"
And so, very slowly, Marmaduke opened his wings.
Up, up they went, reaching to the sky,
the most amazing wings Meg had ever seen.
"Those ARE different, gasped Meg,
as they shimmered and sparkled.
"Fantastically different! Beautiful!"
"Really," shouted Meg. "Let's go!" And up they soared.
As they reached Meg's tower, Marmaduke took a deep breath.
"I don't suppose you need a dragon to protect you?" he asked nervously.
Meg shook her head. "Not really.
"You see, I'm not like other princesses."
Marmaduke's face fell.
He turned away sadly.
But then...Meg smiled.
"I would like a friend, though," she said.
"A wonderfully different friend, a friend just like you."
Marmaduke and Meg WERE different.
Fantastically, brilliantly, happily different, together.
The other dragons watched them, shaking their heads.
"Really, they're having too much fun," they grumbled.
"They're far too happy. I wish..." they each muttered,
"I wish that I could be that different."
And that story was Marmaduke The Very Different Dragon.
I think Marmaduke and Meg will be best friends
for a very long time, don't you?
Now it's time for you to cuddle up to your favourite toy
and sink your head into your soft pillow
and dream of dragons and princesses and a land very far, far away.