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Hello. I'm Maggie.
I've come to read you a bedtime story. Are you ready?
Tonight's story is one of my favourites -
Ruby Nettleship And The Ice Lolly Adventure.
It's by Thomas and Helen Docherty.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Then I'll begin.
This is Ruby Nettleship. She likes climbing and sliding,
running and jumping, and when she isn't doing these things,
she's dreaming of adventures.
In the park by Ruby's house, there was an old,
falling apart playground.
The slide didn't slide, the roundabout wouldn't go round,
and the see had lost its saw.
The only thing that worked was the swing,
and there was always a big queue of children waiting to swing on it.
One hot afternoon, Ruby and her friends
had been waiting for ages, when...
Crash! The swing came unswung.
There was nothing to play on, and the children began to wander home.
"Come on, let's go," called Ruby's friends.
But something about the playground made Ruby want to stay.
Without the other children, the playground felt sadder than before.
"No-one cares," mumbled Ruby to herself
as she tugged at the broken swing.
"If this was my playground,
"there'd be loads of brilliant stuff for everyone to play on."
Just then, she was interrupted by the tinkle of an ice cream van.
It drew up right next to Ruby.
"Not many people today,"
remarked the lady in the ice cream van cheerfully.
"The swing broke," explained Ruby.
"Well, that won't do," said the lady. "Here, have an ice lolly."
She handed Ruby a lolly in a green wrapper.
"It's my last one."
Ruby took the lolly. "Thank you," she remembered to say.
But when she looked up again, the ice cream van had vanished.
"That's strange," thought Ruby, turning her attention to the lolly.
It was green like the wrapper, but it seemed to glow from the inside.
She took a bite. It tasted delicious, so she took another one.
The letters P and L appeared at the end of the lolly stick.
Ruby ate the rest of the lolly quickly
and held up the stick to examine it. It read: "Plant me."
"I wonder what will happen if I do," thought Ruby.
No-one was about, so she pushed the lolly stick
firmly into the ground, covered it up, and waited.
Almost immediately, Ruby felt a rumbling in the ground beneath her.
She watched in amazement
as a multicoloured shoot pushed its way through the soil.
It shot up into the air, nearly hitting her on the nose.
Once it had grown to twice Ruby's height, it sprouted new branches
that twisted and turned into a beautiful swing.
"Wow," cried Ruby.
She climbed on board and launched herself into the air.
As Ruby started to swing, more shoots appeared.
They quickly sprouted into ladders and poles
that blossomed and bloomed with swings and slides.
Ruby was swinging so high that she could see over the whole city.
"I bet no-one else is having this much fun," she thought.
Then Ruby had an idea.
As if it read her thoughts, the playground flowered
all over the park and spilled out into the street.
The first thing Ruby did was pick up all her friends
and the children that lived nearby. "This way," shouted Ruby,
and they headed off towards the town.
On the way, they dropped in at the zoo
to see if any of the animals wanted to come out and play.
After that, they visited the supermarket
and made a giant trolley rollercoaster.
By the time they got to the centre of town,
the playground was full to bursting.
Even the grown-ups had got out of their cars,
put down their shopping, forgotten about work and joined in the fun.
Soon, the whole city ground to a halt.
"Now what?" Ruby wondered.
As if in answer, the playground twisted round,
heading towards an important looking building.
Before Ruby had a chance to say anything,
she was tipped gently through an open window.
She found herself standing in front of a huge door
with "The Mayor" written on it.
"Now I'm in trouble," thought Ruby.
There was nothing else to do. She took a deep breath and knocked.
"Come in," said a voice that sounded vaguely familiar.
"I didn't realise your playground
"was going to take over the whole city,"
remarked the lady sitting behind the desk.
"I'm sorry," said Ruby.
"All I wanted was a place for everybody to play
"where no-one had to wait for the swings."
"I see," the lady replied. "Perhaps you'd better go home for your tea,
"and I'll see what I can do."
"OK," Said Ruby, sneaking a quick glance out of the window.
"Thank you," she remembered to say.
But when she looked back, the lady behind the desk had vanished.
Suddenly, Ruby felt very hungry, so she climbed out of the window,
whispered one last word to the playground.
As everybody slipped home, it untangled itself from the city
and disappeared back into the ground,
leaving everything as it had been before.
"You're back late," said Mum when Ruby got home. "Sorry," replied Ruby.
"There was a big queue for the swing." Ruby's dad shook his head.
"Something should be done about that playground."
Ruby smiled to herself.
"Maybe someone will."
And of course, Ruby was right.
SOUNDS OF CHILDREN PLAYING
That story was called Ruby Nettleship And The Ice Lolly Adventure.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Now, off to bed you go.
It's time for a big, long sleep and some happy dreams.
Perhaps tomorrow, you can go to the playground.
Sleep tight, and I'll see you soon.