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A big snake called Penelope.
Hello! My name is David.
Do you like animals?
I hope so because I'm going to read you a story about animals anyway.
And one animal in particular.
A big snake called Penelope.
It's called There's A Snake In My School!
The pictures are by Tony Ross and I wrote the book.
So I should be really good at reading it.
Are you ready?
Then I'll begin.
Mr Bright had told all the children in his class it was
Bring Your Pet To School Day.
Everyone rushed into the playground to meet the animals.
There was a stupidly cute gerbil,
a tiny goldfish,
a fat cat,
a 100-year-old tortoise,
and a tall dog.
Last to arrive - as usual - was a little girl called Miranda.
She was riding on the back of an enormous, slithery snake.
"Meet Penelope, my pet python!" announced Miranda.
On seeing the snake, the other children screamed.
Miranda loved being different.
She always stood out at school
with her individual take on school uniform,
her cartwheels down the corridors,
and her funny answers in class.
"What ended in 1945?"
A python is a rather unusual pet.
But Miranda and Penelope had so much fun playing together.
For the little girl, the snake would pretend to be a balloon,
a scarf, a hula hoop,
a telescope, a trombone,
and sometimes, when they were both feeling particularly mischievous,
a third arm.
"Come and give her a tickle!"
But the other children were too scared.
Penelope was a python, after all,
and pythons eat people.
All the pets were frightened too.
The large dog yanked on his lead, sending his tiny owner flying.
The goldfish tried to hide behind some water.
The tortoise made a rather slow run for it.
The cute gerbil flashed her gnashers.
And didn't look so cute any more.
The fat cat just carried on napping.
Miranda slid down her snake.
The little girl tickled her python under the chin and the snake smiled.
"See, she's very friendly."
Soon, everyone was gathered around to marvel at Penelope.
The python loved the attention
and made a climbing frame for the children to climb on,
steps for them to step up,
and a fireman's pole for them to slide back down.
Penelope even helped the children learn their numbers,
although she could only go up to nine.
This was turning into the best day of school ever.
But then, Miss Bloat, the Headmistress,
thundered into the playground.
"There's a snake in my school!" she shouted.
Miss Bloat didn't like animals much...
"It's um... I-i-it's Bring Your...
"P-p-pet To School Day," spluttered Mr Bright.
"And Penelope is my pet!" said Miranda.
"Miranda! I should have known you would have to be different.
"A snake is not a pet. It's a menace!" snapped Miss Bloat.
"Mr Bright, all these filthy beasts are confiscated."
All the girls and boys shouted, "No!"
As the Headmistress stuffed their pets
into the lost property cupboard.
Except for Penelope the snake.
Miss Bloat had other ideas for her.
"This disgusting thing is coming with me," bellowed the Headmistress.
With that, she dragged the poor python
along the corridor to her office.
"Where are you going to put Penelope?" asked Miranda.
"In the bin!"
Miss Bloat crammed the snake into her bin and slammed the lid shut.
Then, she plonked herself down on top so the python couldn't escape.
The bin rattled and rattled
but Penelope was trapped.
"A snake in my school indeed, get back to your lesson!"
Downstairs in the classroom, tears rolled down Miranda's cheeks.
All the children were sad to have had their pets taken away
but no-one was sadder than Miranda.
The little girl feared she would never see Penelope again.
At the end of the day, Miranda dashed upstairs to
Miss Bloat's office to try to make her change her mind.
There was no answer.
So, slowly, Miranda pushed open the door.
Only to see Penelope sitting in the Headmistress's chair.
Miranda ran towards her pet and gave her a humongous hug.
Miss Bloat was nowhere to be seen.
So the girl grabbed the key on the desk,
ran to the lost property cupboard as fast as she could, and unlocked it.
The animals were overjoyed to be set free.
MEOW! WOOF! CHIRP!
Then, Miranda and all the pets slid down Penelope's back,
into the playground.
The children shouted, "Hooray!"
Penelope entertained everybody again.
She made a see-saw for them to see-saw on,
a swing for them to swing on,
a wheel for them to roll in,
and a skipping rope to skip with.
Penelope even helped some of the younger children with
the alphabet, although it was hard to do an X.
As for Miss Bloat, she had completely disappeared.
So Mr Bright was made Headmaster.
Now the children were allowed to bring in all their favourite animals
whenever they wanted.
The school became home to every sort of fantastic creature.
An ostrich, a giraffe,
a tiger, a gorilla, an elephant,
a kangaroo, a crocodile, a grizzly bear,
and even a colony of penguins.
But the star attraction was always Penelope.
Though had Miranda noticed there was
something different about her python.
There was a bulge. A big bulge in the snake's tummy.
A bulge in the shape of...
And Miss Bloat still lives inside Penelope to this day.
But don't worry. She's got used to it.
I think the school sounds much more fun
now Mr Bright is Headmaster, don't you?
I'll be back soon for another bedtime story but until then,
I hope you have delightful dreams about all sorts of animals.
# Time has come to say good night