Last week we announced that Papa G’s FING: A MODERN FAIRYTALE is our Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category: over 250 free titles, over 500 quality 99-centers, and hundreds more that you can read for free through the Kindle Lending Library if you have Amazon Prime!
Now we’re back to offer a free Kids Corner excerpt, and if you aren’t among those who have downloaded this one already, you’re in for a treat!
by Papa G
Ulrich Von Strudel has got no knees, but this is the least of his problems.Awful, terrible, despicable things are going to happen to this poor boy.
And just when he thinks things couldn’t possibly get any worse.
He discovers there’s a monster hiding in his closet.FING is a heart warming modern fairytale about the benefits of staying positive even when faced with the vile Mrs Lipstick!
One Reviewer Notes
“Very cute, relatable story for younger children. Short enough to read in one sitting, but divided into chapters if you’d rather break it up. The illustrations are a nice touch.” – Amazon Reviewer
And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:
Ulrich Von Strudel was born without knees. Now this may have been a huge problem for most children, but Ulrich was the happiest little six-year-old that you could wish to meet. With blonde curly hair, big blue eyes, a cheeky smile, and infectious laugh, he was a joy to behold.
Of course his lack of knees meant he had to walk and run completely straight legged, swinging one leg round and then the other—a strange sight—but Ulrich, a very resourceful young chap, always made the best of bad situations. His mother said to him from a very early age, “Remain positive, Ulrich, no matter what life throws at you. If you stay positive, things will always get better.” So that is what Ulrich did. Whenever there was a game of football or tag, Ulrich was always an eager and willing participant.
Now I could fib to you and say that Ulrich was good at these games, but he was not. He doesn’t have knees, after all. But as they say, it’s taking part that counts, and Ulrich always took part. Sometimes his school mates would let him catch them or let him score a goal—which gave Ulrich great joy and proved to him that if he stayed positive, things would always get better.
So all in all, Ulrich Von Strudel had a happy life, but as he waited in the snow at his boarding school gates for his parents to pick him up for the Christmas holidays, things were about to change…for the worse.
Peter Dietrich, a tubby third year, came running red-faced and sweaty up to Ulrich. “Ulrich, Ulrich, come quickly. The headmaster wants to see you immediately in his office,” Peter panted.
“But my mum and dad will be here at any moment,” Ulrich said, looking anxiously down the road.
“Don’t worry, Ulrich. I’ll wait here with your things and tell your parents where you are when they arrive.”
So Ulrich waddled off to the headmaster’s office, wondering what could be so important on the last day of term.
“Take a seat, Ulrich,” Mr. Schmidt, suggested when Ulrich arrived. Ulrich declined, as getting up and down out of chairs was tricky.
“I just got off the phone with your family lawyer, Mr. Snodgrass, and it’s not good news, I’m afraid.”
“What is it?” Ulrich’s stomach was tying knots.
Mr. Schmidt looked pityingly at young Ulrich. “It’s your parents. I am afraid they failed to return from their expedition to the Congo. According to their guide, they were captured by cannibal pygmies.”
“Yes. Cannibal pygmies. I am afraid your parents have been eaten, though the official term Mr. Snodgrass used was “missing, presumed dead.” I am very sorry, Ulrich. Can I get you something—a cup of tea perhaps?”
Ulrich stood there stunned. “Eaten?” he said, too shocked to cry.
“Yes, now pull yourself together, Ulrich, I don’t want a scene. Stiff upper lip and all that. With your parents gone, you will now become the Baron Von Strudel, head of your father’s estate. It’s a big responsibility I know, but don’t worry, no one expects a six-year-old to run things alone, and Mr. Snodgrass has arranged for your only living relative to assist you. Your great-aunt will be here any moment to pick you up.”
“Mrs. Lipstick!” Ulrich shouted. “Oh, sir, can I not stay here at school?”
“No, Ulrich, we are closing for the holidays.”
“What about an orphanage?” Ulrich pleaded.
Mr. Schmitt got up from his desk, went to Ulrich, and patted him on his shoulder. “Now come on, young man, I am sure Mrs. Lipstick cannot be that bad.”
But Mrs. Lipstick was that bad and much, much worse.
A black car that looked like the kind an undertaker would drive, screeched to a halt in front of the thoroughly miserable Ulrich as he stood shivering in the snow at the front gates of Wilhelm College. A blacked-out window slid open, allowing smoke to waft toward him. “Get in,” Mrs. Lipstick screamed.
Ulrich picked up his bags, opened up the back door, and slid them across the bench seat before getting in himself. Getting into cars was tricky for Ulrich. He literally had to throw himself in head first, then slide across before turning over to sit sideways, resting his back against his bags.
“Thank you for picking me up, Mrs. Lipstick,” Ulrich said with a slight tremble in his voice.
Mrs. Lipstick, a vile, thin woman with straggly grey hair and dark soulless eyes, always wore bright red lipstick that seemed to make her yellow teeth positively glow. She turned, sneered, and pointed a long, pale claw-like finger at Ulrich. “You listen to me, you horrible, smelly little boy, I don’t want to hear a peep out of you all the way to your house. It’s bad enough that I have had to drop everything five days before Christmas and come and look after you. I don’t want to listen to your snivelling as well.” And with that she turned around and lit another cigarette before putting her foot on the gas pedal. The car lurched away, pushing Ulrich back in his seat with the force of the acceleration.
Von Strudel Manor was about an hour away, but the way Mrs. Lipstick drove, it took barely thirty-five minutes. She cursed and gestured rudely to other motorists that got in her way. As she swerved round corners and overtook cars, flinging her vehicle this way, then that way, Ulrich slid about on the back seat and gave some thought to the terrible situation he found himself in. Eaten! he thought. This could not be. His dad was brave, clever, and strong. He wouldn’t allow pygmies to eat him and his mom. No, Mr. Snodgrass had said they were missing, presumed dead. That meant there was still hope. Ulrich remembered his mother’s words and resolved himself to remain positive, and things would surely turn out for the best.
As Ulrich and Mrs. Lipstick arrived at the front steps of Von Strudel Hall, she slammed on the brakes, skidding to a halt before the large stately home and throwing poor Ulrich off the back seat and into the foot well where he banged his head on the floor.
Mrs. Lipstick got out, slammed the car door, and stood there, arms crossed, tapping her foot impatiently. Ulrich managed to open the door and crawl out on his hands, landing face first in the gravel with a grunt. Then using the car as support he pulled himself to his feet.
Mrs. Lipstick groaned and rolled her eyes. “My goodness you are disgusting.” She rushed over to Ulrich, putting her pointy nose right in his face. “Now you listen to me, you little brat, because your reckless parents went swanning off to Africa and were stupid enough to get themselves eaten, it’s poor me who has to pick up the pieces. I have to look after your father’s affairs and unfortunately you!”
Ulrich tried not to pull away from Mrs. Lipstick’s hideous breath as she continued berating him. “Now little boys are fowl, dirty creatures who I find utterly repulsive. Little boys smell like fish and poo. It makes me sick to my stomach, and I can smell it a mile away. So to allow me the peace and quiet that I need to run this estate, there will need to be some rules.” At last Mrs. Lipstick straightened. She put her hands behind her back and started pacing. “Rule number one,” she screeched. “Little boys should NOT be seen and should definitely NOT be heard.”
“But—” Ulrich tried to interrupt, but Mrs. Lipstick glared at him.
“Rule number two,” she continued. “There will be one meal a day—breakfast, served at 10:00 a.m. sharp. That is it. If you break these rules, you will not live to regret it. Now get your things and go to your room.” Ulrich got his bags, his head held low.
“And by the way, I want you to go to the attic. Your own bedroom is far too close to the one I will use, and I would not be able to sleep with the smell of stink-boy.” Mrs. Lipstick smiled an evil, sinister smile.
Ulrich’s shoulders slumped. The attic room was the only room on the second floor; it was dark, cold, and bare with only a hard bed, a closet, and a tiny window. Forlorn, Ulrich started making his way up the two flights of stairs, which was hard work when you have got no knees.
Ulrich sat on his bed stunned, just staring at the walls of the dank attic room, thinking of the most miserable day he was having and hoping against hope that his parents were still alive and would yet rescue him from this horrid nightmare. When it started to get dark, Ulrich decided it would be best to go to sleep and put an end to this horrible day. He got undressed, all except his socks because the bare floor boards of the attic were bitterly cold. Next he pulled on his favourite aeroplane pyjamas from his bag, then went and looked out of the tiny window.
Ulrich was unsure of the time, but the sky was only just getting dark. He could still see the fast flowing Uber River that ran at the bottom of the garden, and as he peered into the gathering darkness, he tried to remain positive. Life was tough enough when you have no knees, but the fact that his parents had probably been eaten and that he had been left in the care of the vile Mrs. Lipstick made it hard to stay positive. But Ulrich’s mother had promised him that if he stayed positive, things would always get better.
He shook his head, then went and sat on the bed to take off his socks. He was a master at touching his toes, and getting his socks off was one of the few tasks he found easy. Being that he had nowhere to put them, he threw them at the closet door.
As soon as they landed on the floor, something in the closet rustled. Ulrich held his breath. There was a shuffling, and Ulrich’s eyes went wide with terror. Then there was a snuffling. Finally, on this most terrible of days, things got just that little bit worse. The wardrobe door opened a bit, then a black, furry claw came out slowly. Blindly feeling around the floor, it found Ulrich’s socks, grabbed them, and shot back into the wardrobe. As Ulrich sat on the bed, mouth open wide in a silent scream, there came an awful, dreadful sound to poor Ulrich’s ears, a sniff, sniff, sniiiiiffffff.
Ulrich, in a moment of shear panic, did something he could never have imagined doing—he screamed out for his great-aunt. “Mrs. Lipstick, Mrs. Lipstick.”
There was a loud “Aaaagh!” then the thump, thump, thump of Mrs. Lipstick storming up the stairs.
The attic door flew open, and Mrs. Lipstick rushed in, her face almost as red as her horrid thin lips. “I told you, dirty little boys should not be seen or heard. It was rule number one, and there are only two rules. Are you stupid as well as disgusting?”
“But, but there’s a monster in the closet,” Ulrich stammered.
“What! There is no such thing as monsters,” she bellowed. She stomped over to the closet and flung open the door.
Ulrich pointed in terror at the back. A large, black eye blinked, looking up at Mrs. Lipstick in surprise. The monster was just sitting there, sniffing poor Ulrich’s socks.
“See!” Mrs. Lipstick screamed, not even bothering to look in the closet.
“But, but, but…” Ulrich spluttered, furiously pointing.
Mrs. Lipstick slammed the door shut and grabbed Ulrich by his aeroplane pyjamas, pulling him close to her putrid mouth. Ulrich was looking straight at her bright red lips and yellow teeth as she spoke in a hiss. “If you disturb me just one more time, I will throw you out the window. Then I will no longer have to put up with your stench.” She pushed him back onto the bed, turned, and stormed out, slamming the door shut.
Poor, poor Ulrich. He was trying to stay positive, but this was getting to be too much.
Ulrich stood in the corner furthest from the closet. The sniffing had stopped, but Ulrich felt as if he was being watched. He was scared, lonely, and cold, but he needed to do something. He decided that he could stay in the attic no longer; he would sneak back to his bedroom on the floor below. If he was very quiet, Mrs. Lipstick would not even know he was there, and in the morning he could sneak back to the attic before she got up.
Sneaking around quietly is not that easy when you have no knees, but Ulrich had to do something, so he eased open the attic door. As it creaked, he held his breath. He looked down the dark stairwell, listening for any sign of Mrs. Lipstick, but all was quiet. Ulrich held the banisters on each side of the stairwell and swung both legs to the step below. He stopped and listened, but there was only silence. Ulrich’s heart was racing. If Mrs. Lipstick caught him, he would be done for. Ulrich shuffled his hands forward, then swung his legs to the next step.
He continued down the dark stairwell slowly and quietly. On the last step he stopped before he swung out into the hallway and listened. All remained deadly quiet. He could only hear his own breathing and his heart pounding in his ears. He swung out into the hallway.
“What do you think you are playing at, mister?” Mrs. Lipstick’s voice tore through Ulrich’s head like a bullet. He froze and squeezed his eyes shut, fully expecting to get thrown out of the nearest window. But Mrs. Lipstick kept talking, lower this time so that Ulrich couldn’t quite make out what she was saying. He opened his eyes and turned around. Mrs. Lipstick was not there. Light was shining through a crack in the door from his parents’ bedroom, and her voice was coming from inside. She wasn’t talking to him at all but to someone on the telephone.
Relieved, Ulrich shuffled over to the door to listen better. Through the crack he could see Mrs. Lipstick pacing backwards and forwards, cigarette in one hand, the telephone receiver in the other. “Let me get this right, Mr. Snodgrass”—Ulrich’s hopes rose at the sound of his family lawyer’s name—”if young master Von Strudel was to, say… have an accident, everything would go to me? The estate, the money, everything? And what is in it for you, Snodgrass?” Mrs. Lipstick stopped pacing, sniffed the air and looked directly at where Ulrich was peeking.
His heart missed a beat, and he gulped. She could smell him, he realised in terror.
Mrs. Lipstick took a puff on her cigarette and turned around. “That sounds acceptable, and you will smooth it over with the authorities?” she continued. “Okay, then I will arrange it. It was only a matter of time before young Ulrich had an accident anyway with those ridiculous legs.”
Ulrich pulled away from the door, shocked at what he had heard. He headed back to the attic, thinking that he would rather take his chances with the monster in the closet than the monster downstairs. On the way he grabbed a pen and paper off the bureau in the hall, then he quietly, with a lot of effort, made his way back to the attic. He tried to stay positive. After all, things couldn’t possibly get any worse…could they?