Lately instead of proper books at story time for theNoo I’ve been telling him Humpty and Stumpty stories. I forget how Humpty and Stumpty had their genesis but I think he came up with the names himself.
The stories always start like this: Humpty and Stumpty were two hobbits that lived in an old hollow tree down by the river…(1)
What’s in the story depends on theBoy. I say ‘okay then, what do you want to hear?’ He will look around the room, or have a think, then eventually say ‘Humpty and Stumpy (insert activity here)’.
Humpty and Stumpty play with my toy-box
Humpty and Stumpty eat birthday cake
Humpty and Stumpty and the blue car
Humpty and Stumpty go on a bridge
Humpty and Stumpty get small
Humpty and Stumpty sing to me
It’s dreadfully adorable stuff. I basically have to make up a story on the spot and make it interesting. It’s kind of like theatre sports meets a kid’s story circle.
Occasionally, like the Batman TV series, special guest stars make an appearance in the stories. Like Russell from Up and, oddly enough, Santa Claus who at some point in the story gives theBoy presents or suffer egregious accidents when he test-plays with theBoy’s stuff – like his play tool bench – and accidentally cuts off a finger which theBoy then sews back on using his play Doctor’s kit. Humpty and Stumpty also often turn up to our house and either play with theBoy’s stuff, or sing him a song, or eat cake with him. At key moments in the story I reference theBoy's reaction in the story and say “then you said …” and he fills in “YES!”
Here’s a recount of the Humpty and Stumpty get small story (2)
Humpty and Stumpty were two hobbits that lived in an old hollow tree down by the river. One day they were in the attic and going through a trunk that once belonged to Great Uncle Bulgaria (3).
‘Wow, look at this!’ said Humpty, holding up a small bottle.
‘What is it?’ asked Stumpy, excited.
‘I think it’s a magic potion,’ said Humpty. ‘Great Uncle Bulgaria was an adventurer.’
‘There’s no label,’ said Stumpty, examining it.
‘Well let’s be adventurers too! Nothing says adventure like downing the unknown contents from a bottle!’
Humpty and Stumpty each took a big gulp. Suddenly … they started to shrink.
‘Oh no!’ said Humpty (4), ‘we’re getting small!’
Humpty and Stumpty, along with their clothes, shrank down to the size of an apple. They looked at each other then at the large attic around them.
Just then … a rat came into view. With Humpty and Stumpty small the rat to them was the size of a horse!
‘Oh no, a rat!’ shrieked Humpty.
The rat charged across the wooden floorboards of the tree-attic for the boys, who turned and fled.
‘Run for the table leg!’ cried Stumpty. They ran for the leg, grabbed on, and started to shimmy up it. As they made it up off the floor the rat arrived … and it started to climb.
‘It’s after us!’ screamed Humpty.
Stumpty had an idea.
‘Grab on to me!’ he yelled. Humpty reached down and grabbed Stumpty by his shirt front as Stumpty clung with his legs around the table leg.
Stumpty’s day job was a waiter in the local village tavern. Often he was called on to deliver a small dose of cracked pepper. A small dose … from a big pepper grinder (5) which Stumpty wore on his back like a barbarian would wear his overly-compensating sword.
Stumpty reached over his back and pulled free his pepper grinder as the rat climbed below.
‘Hold on!’ he shouted and leaned out. Humpty grunted as he took the weight of Stumpty’s lean, his knuckles whitening at the strain.
Stumpty held the grinder out … then started grinding. Pepper gently rained down onto the rat.
It sniffled. It snuffled. It SNEEZED.
‘ACHOO!’ went the rat, the force of its sneeze dislodging it from the table leg. It fell backwards, twisting and turning until it landed back-first on the floor with a thump. It flipped onto its feet and scurried away for the darkness.
Suddenly Humpty started to grow … and so did Stumpty. They grew and grew and fell backwards onto the floor, landing there once again fully sized.
‘We’re big again!’ said Humpty, ignoring the fact even at his normal size was only the mass of a three-year old boy.
‘Yay!’ said Stumpty.
‘Let’s agree never ever to drink strange liquids from bottles ever again,’ said Humpty.
‘Agreed!’ said Stumpy, giving Humpty a high-five.
So there you go, that’s a typical Humpty and Stumpty story. Nothing that’s ever going to set the Children’s lit world on fire but, well, he seems to like it. In this case the audience of one is the most important audience I have, so it’s totally worth it and I get a massive buzz that he likes it enough to ask for them.
Stories for kids are kewl.
(1) Obviously that’s a copyright issue and at some point they’re going to have to morph into the dreaded term ‘little people’.
(2) It’s not going to be exact to what I tell theBoy because saying something off the cuff is a different process to actually writing it down.
(3) Again another copyright violation fail. I might take a step to the north and make him Great Uncle Romania.
(4) At that point my voice goes into a comedic ‘helium sucked down’ slash Munchkin voice to represent his smaller smallness - remembering of course they’re already hobbits aka little people.
(5) And that is my Red Apple Cigarettes. A constantly re-appearing item in Mikey’s tall tales.