Ribticklers!: Funny Stories

ISBN 13: 9780753461396

Ribticklers!: Funny Stories

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9780753461396: Ribticklers!: Funny Stories

From a rajah with big ears to an orphan with enormous feet, all sorts
of hilarious characters populate the pages of this humorous anthology.
Michael Rosen has selected thirty-nine zany tales from around the
world. With stories by a stellar ensemble of classic and contemporary
writers such as Roald Dahl, Margaret Mahy, and James Thurber, this
hilarious introduction to the finest in comic writing will make readers
laugh until their sides ache!

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Michael Rosen is a best-selling poet and writer for children, as well as a recognized authority on children's literature. His books include The Kingfisher Book of Children's Poetry, The Kingfisher Treasury of Funny Stories, and Walking the Bridge of Your Nose. He is also the author of the best-selling We're Going on a Bear Hunt.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One


NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF


JAN MARK


"ROBIN WON'T GIVE you any trouble," said Auntie Lynn. "He's very quiet."


Anthea knew how quiet Robin was. At present he was sitting under the table,
and, until Auntie Lynn mentioned his name, she had forgotten that he was
there.


Auntie Lynn put a shopping bag on the armchair.


"There's plenty of clothes, so you won't need to do any washing, and there's
a spare pair of pajamas in case—well, you know. In case . . ."


"Yes," said Mom firmly. "He'll be all right. I'll call you tonight and let you know
how he's getting along." She looked at the clock. "Now, hadn't you better be
getting along?"


She saw Auntie Lynn to the front door, and Anthea heard them saying
goodbye to each other. Mom almost told Auntie Lynn to stop worrying and
have a good time, which would have been a mistake because Auntie Lynn
was going up north to a funeral.


Auntie Lynn was not really an aunt, but she had once been at school with
Anthea's mom, and she was the kind of person who couldn't manage without
a handle to her name; so Robin was not Anthea's cousin. Robin was not
anything much, except four years old, and he looked a lot younger; probably
because nothing ever happened to him. Auntie Lynn kept no pets that might
give Robin germs and never bought him toys that had sharp corners to dent
him or wheels that could be swallowed. He wore hoods and stocking caps in
the winter to protect his tender ears and a knitted undershirt under his shirt in
the summer in case he overheated himself and caught a chill from his own
sweat.


"Perspiration," said Auntie Lynn.


His face was as pale and flat as a saucer of milk, and his eyes floated in it
like drops of cod-liver oil. This was not so surprising, as he was full to the
back teeth with cod-liver oil; also with malt extract, concentrated orange
juice, and calves-foot jelly. When you picked him up, you expected him to
squelch, like a hot-water bottle full of half-set gelatin.


Anthea lifted the tablecloth and looked at him.


"Hello, Robin."


Robin stared at her with his flat eyes and went back to sucking his woolen
doggy that also had flat eyes, of sewn-on felt, because glass ones might find
their way into Robin's appendix and cause damage. Anthea wondered how
long it would be before he noticed that his mother had left. Probably he
wouldn't, any more than he would notice when she came back.


Mom closed the front door and joined Anthea in looking under the table at
Robin. Robin's mouth turned down at the corners, and Anthea hoped that he
would cry so that they could cuddle him. It seemed impolite to cuddle him
before he needed it. Anthea was afraid to go any closer.


"What a little troll," said Mom sadly, lowering the tablecloth. "I suppose he'll
come out when he's hungry."


Anthea doubted it.


Robin didn't want any lunch or any dinner.


"Do you think he's pining?" said Mom. Anthea did not. Anthea had a nasty
suspicion that he was like this all the time. He went to bed without making a
fuss and fell asleep before the light was out, as if he was too bored to stay
awake. Anthea left her bedroom door open, hoping that he would have a
nightmare so that she could go in and comfort him, but Robin slept all night
without a squeak and woke up in the morning as flat-faced as before. Wall-
eyed Doggy looked more excitable than Robin did.


"If only we had a real backyard," said Mom as Robin went under the table
again, leaving his breakfast eggs scattered around the plate. "He might run
around."


Anthea thought that this was unlikely, and in any case they didn't have a real
yard, only a little paved area at the back and a stony strip in the front, without
a fence.


"Can I take him to the park?" said Anthea.


Mom looked doubtful. "Do you think he wants to go?"


"No," said Anthea, peering under the tablecloth. "I don't think he wants to do
anything, but he can't sit there all day."


"I bet he can," said Mom. "Still, I don't think he should. All right, take him to
the park, but keep quiet about it. I don't suppose Lynn thinks you're safe in
traffic."


"He might tell her."


"Can he talk?"


Robin, still clutching wall-eyed Doggy, plodded beside her all the way to the
park, without once trying to jam his head between the library fence or get run
over by a bus.


"Hold my hand, Robin," Anthea said as they left the house, and he clung to
her like a leech.


The park was not really a park at all; it was a garden. It did not even pretend
to be a park, and the notice by the gate said king street gardens, in case
anyone tried to use it as a park. The grass was as green and as flat as the
living room carpet, but the living room carpet had a path worn across it from
the door to the fireplace, and here there were more notices that said keep off
the grass so that the gritty white paths went obediently around the edge,
under the orderly trees that stood in a row like the line at a bus stop. There
were bushes in each corner and one shelter with a bench in it. Here and
there, brown holes in the grass, full of raked earth, waited for next year's
flowers, but there were no flowers now, and the bench had been taken out of
the shelter because the shelter was supposed to be a summerhouse, and
you couldn't have people using a summerhouse in the winter.


Robin stood by the gates and gaped, with Doggy hanging limply from his
mouth where he held it by one ear, between his teeth. Anthea decided that if
they met anyone she knew, she would explain that Robin was only two, but
very big for his age.


"Do you want to run, Robin?"


Robin shook his head.


"There's nothing to be afraid of. You can go all the way around, if you like, but
you mustn't walk on the grass or pick things."


Robin nodded. It was the kind of place that he understood.


Anthea sighed. "Well, let's walk around, then."


They set off. At each corner, where the bushes were, the path diverged. One
part went in front of the bushes and one part around the back of them. On the
first circuit Robin stumped glumly beside Anthea in front of the bushes. The
second time around she felt a very faint tug on her hand. Robin wanted to go
his own way.


This called for a celebration. Robin could think. Anthea crouched down on the
path until they were at the same level.


"You want to walk around the back of the bushes, Robin?"


"Yiss," said Robin.


Robin could talk.


"All right, but listen." She lowered her voice to a whisper. "You must be very
careful. That path is called Leopard Walk. Do you know what a leopard is?"


"Yiss."


"There are two leopards down there. They live in the bushes. One is a good
leopard, and the other's a bad leopard. The good leopard has black spots.
The bad leopard has red spots. If you see the bad leopard, you must
say, 'Die, leopard, die, or I'll kick you in the eye,' and run like anything. Do
you understand?"


Robin tugged again.


"Oh, no," said Anthea. "I'm going this way. If you want to go down Leopard
Walk, you'll have to go on your own. I'll meet you at the other end.
Remember, if it's got red spots, run like crazy."


Robin trotted away. The bushes were just high enough to hide him, but
Anthea could see the tassel on his hat doddering along. Suddenly the tassel
gathered speed, and Anthea had to run to reach the end of the bushes first.


"Did you see the bad leopard?"


"No," said Robin, but he didn't look too sure.


"Why were you running, then?"


"I just wanted to."


"You've dropped Doggy," said Anthea. Doggy lay on the path with his legs in
the air, halfway down Leopard Walk.


"You get him," said Robin.


"No, you get him," said Anthea. "I'll wait here." Robin moved off reluctantly.


She waited until he had recovered Doggy and then shouted, "I can see the
bad leopard in the bushes!" Robin raced back to safety. "Did you say, 'Die,
leopard, die, or I'll kick you in the eye'?" Anthea demanded.


"No," Robin said guiltily.


"Then he'll kill us," said Anthea. "Come on, run. We've got to get to that tree.
He can't hurt us once we're under that tree."


They stopped running under the twisted boughs of a weeping ash. "This is a
python tree," said Anthea. "Look—you can see the python wound around the
trunk."


"What's a python?" asked Robin, backing off.


"Oh, it's just a big snake that squeezes people to death," said Anthea. "A
python could easily eat a leopard. That's why leopards won't walk under this
tree, you see, Robin."


Robin looked up. "Could it eat us?"


"Yes, but it won'...

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