18 Mulberry Road
Mr and Mrs Twitcherly are sparrows: common everyday sparrows who live in an excavated nest hole in an ancient but statuesque oak tree in the garden of 18 Mulberry Road. Their twin sons, Furtive and Fearless, were named by David, the five year old who lived at number 18, according to their observed characteristics. Their neighbour in the oak is an absent-minded but kindly spotted woodpecker called Lemuel.
Their Great Uncle Ebeneezer invites them to stay with him for a holiday in his great elm, which is several miles from their home. Furtive and Fearless have many adventures whilst there, including an encounter with a Shrinker. He takes large swathes of the countryside, along with its wildlife, shrinks them, and puts them into his collection in a hidden and long-forgotten mansion deep in the forest.
Out on a jaunt one day, Furtive saves the life of and rescues a young female sparrow called Patience, who has been caught by a cat. She is the daughter of Old Benjamin, who is very similar to magical Great Uncle Ebeneezer (or are they one and the same?). During one of his visits to see Patience, Furtive is "drawn" into an exploration of the Shrinker's mansion. He becomes ensnared by the Shrinker's magic, and finds himself in one of his collection pieces. There, he meets an iridescent parrot called Archie, with whom he has a scary adventure or two.
David and his family move away from number 18 eventually, and the house is bought by the Carfax family, who, having no affinity at all with wildlife, cut down the oak to create more garden space. They have twin sons called Ballantyne and Barrington: naughty boys who enjoy tormenting the local wildlife. Eventually, they get their comeuppance, but not without upset for the Twitcherlies, who have to find a new home.
I feel sure that you will be able to guess from whom they receive help, after which they all ...
Well, I am really sorry, but I have been sworn to absolute secrecy about the ending. Mr Twitcherly assures me that, if you read the book, you will enjoy their adventures and be happy with the outcome. And yet, what seems to be the conclusion to this story, doesn't necessarily have to be an end altogether.
Happy reading (and writing) ...
This is a story for younger children which I wrote in the early 1980s to amuse my son, David, who was then around five years old. He loved the antics of the sparrows in our suburban garden, and, although it was much too small to sustain a fully grown oak tree, there was a large enough cypress hedge for them to have fun in. We did have an oldish cat as visitor in the garden who seemed only to be interested in the scraps David put out for the birds, and never in the birds themselves. He was a scraggy old tom who looked to have had many a scrap with others in the area. David felt it would have been nice if cat and birds had been friends rather than diner and dinner.
The cat often sat at the less spiky heart of a low-growing juniper bush, hence the name in the story. The sparrows also seemed to fall into either of two distinct groups - those that spent their time fearlessly in the open, eating as much as they could whilst the food was available, and those who scuffed about almost furtively, in the dead leaves under the huge hedge. You could imagine them often looking over their shoulder to check danger wasn't lurking close by.
ISBN hardback 9781908098139
ISBN paperback 9781910077795
RRP £8.99 ($12.00 USD)
Illustrations 18 pages in full colour.
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"18 Mulberry Road" is proving to be so popular that the first edition has only a few copies left. To avoid disappointment, please order your copy from this website now!
Those of you who have their copies secure will note that the story ends with a "The End", which denotes an air of finality.
You will be pleased to know that I have been persuaded by the many children who have read the story, not to finish the story here.