Once upon a time there was a brave girl called Miraya Aggarwal. She was on the way to see her friend Myra Allen, when she decided to take a short cut through Awfulpool Forest.
It wasn’t long before Miraya got lost. She looked around, but all she could see were trees. Nervously, she searched her bag for her favourite toy, Henry the Hippo, but Henry the Hippo was nowhere to be found! Miraya began to panic. She felt sure she had packed Henry the Hippo. To make matters worse, she was starting to feel hungry.
Unexpectedly, she saw a haairy bear dressed in a red skirt disappearing into the trees.
“How odd!” thought Miraya.
For the want of anything better to do, she decided to follow the peculiarly dressed bear. Perhaps it could tell him the way out of the forest.
Eventually, Miraya reached a clearing. In the clearing were two houses, one made from potato and one made from Pizza.
Miraya could feel her tummy rumbling. Looking at the houses did nothing to ease her hunger.
“Hello!” she called. “Is anybody there?”
Miraya looked at the roof on the closest house and wondered if it would be rude to eat somebody else’s chimney. Obviously it would be impolite to eat a wholehouse, but perhaps it would be considered acceptable to nibble the odd fixture or lick the odd fitting, in a time of need.
A cackle broke through the air, giving Miraya a fright. A witch jumped into the space in front of the houses. She was carrying a cage. In that cage was Henry the Hippo!
“Henry the Hippo!” shouted Miraya. She turned to the witch. “That’s my toy!”
The witch just shrugged.
“Give Henry the Hippo back!” cried Miraya.
“Not on your nelly!” said the witch.
“At least let Henry the Hippo out of that cage!”
Before she could reply, the haairy bear in the red skirt rushed in from a footpath on the other side of the cleaning.
“Hello Big Bear,” said the witch.
“Good morning.” The bear noticed Henry the Hippo. “Who is this?”
“That’s Henry the Hippo,” explained the witch.
“Ooh! Henry the Hippo would look lovely in my house. Give it to me!” demanded the bear.
The witch shook her head. “Henry the Hippo is staying with me.”
“Um… Excuse me…” Miraya interrupted. “Henry the Hippo lives with me! And not in a cage!”
Big Bear ignored her. “Is there nothing you’ll trade?” he asked the witch.
The witch thought for a moment, then said, “I do like to be entertained. I’ll release him to anybody who can eat a whole front door.”
Big Bear looked at the house made from Pizza and said, “No problem, I could eat an entire house made from Pizza if I wanted to.”
“There’s no need to show off,” said the witch. Just eat one front door and I’ll let you have Henry the Hippo.”
Miraya watched, feeling very worried. She didn’t want the witch to give Henry the Hippo to Big Bear. She didn’t think Henry the Hippo would like living with a haairy bear, away from her house and all her other toys.
Big Bear put on his bib and withdraw a knife and fork from his pocket.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Big Bear. “Just you watch!”
Big Bear pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from Pizza. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.
Eventually, Big Bear started to get bigger – just a little bit bigger at first. But after a few more fork-fulls of Pizza, he grew to the size of a large snowball – and he was every bit as round.
“Erm… I don’t feel too good,” said Big Bear.
Suddenly, he started to roll. He’d grown so round that he could no longer balance!
“Help!” he cried, as he rolled off down a slope into the forest.
Big Bear never finished eating the front door made from Pizza and Henry the Hippo remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
“That’s it,” said the witch. “I win. I get to keep Henry the Hippo.”
“Not so fast,” said Miraya. “There is still one front door to go. The front door of the house made from potato. And I haven’t had a turn yet.
“I don’t have to give you a turn!” laughed the witch. “My game. My rules.”
The woodcutter’s voice carried through the forest. “I think you should give her a chance. It’s only fair.”
“Fine,” said the witch. “But you saw what happened to the bear. She won’t last long.”
“I’ll be right back,” said Miraya.
“What?” said the witch. “Where’s your sense of impatience? I thought you wanted Henry the Hippo back.”
Miraya ignored the witch and gathered a hefty pile of sticks. She came back to the clearing and started a small camp fire. Carefully, she broke off a piece of the door of the house made from potato and toasted it over the fire. Once it had cooked and cooled just a little, she took a bite. She quickly devoured the whole piece.
Miraya sat down on a nearby log.
“You fail!” cackled the witch. “You were supposed to eat the whole door.”
“I haven’t finished,” explained Miraya. “I am just waiting for my food to go down.”
When Miraya’s food had digested, she broke off another piece of the door made from potato. Once more, she toasted her food over the fire and waited for it to cool just a little. She ate it at a leisurely pace then waited for it to digest.
Eventually, after several sittings, Miraya was down to the final piece of the door made from potato. Carefully, she toasted it and allowed it to cool just a little. She finished her final course. Miraya had eaten the entire front door of the house made from potato.
The witch stamped her foot angrily. “You must have tricked me!” she said. “I don’t reward cheating!”
“I don’t think so!” said a voice. It was the woodcutter. He walked back into the clearing, carrying his axe. “This little girl won fair and square. Now hand over Henry the Hippo or I will chop your broomstick in half.”
The witch looked horrified. She grabbed her broomstick and placed it behind her. Then, huffing, she opened the door of the cage.
Miraya hurried over and grabbed Henry the Hippo, checking that her favourite toy was all right. Fortunately, Henry the Hippo was unharmed.
Miraya thanked the woodcutter, grabbed a quick souvenir, and hurried on to meet Myra. It was starting to get dark.
When Miraya got to Myra’s house, her Friends threw her arms around her.
“I was so worried!” cried Myra. “You are very late.”
As Miraya described her day, she could tell that Myra didn’t believe her. So she grabbed a napkin from her pocket.
“What’s that?” asked Myra.
Miraya unwrapped a doorknob made from Pizza. “Pudding!” she said.
Myra almost fell off her chair.