Children's/YA Short Story competition - Runner Up

Tara Girvan

Runner Up
It's Not Fair
Children's/YA Short Story competition


Tara Girvan lives in Leicestershire and particularly enjoys writing for children. She has two daughters who are her number one fans and she is currently working on several stories for younger readers. After being shortlisted in the WM Writing For Children Competition last year she is delighted with achieving second place this year. When not writing, Tara enjoys taking long country walks, martial arts training and occasionally rekindling her love of playing the piano.

It's Not Fair By Tara Girvan

Sausage and Burt were the best of doggy friends. They loved to play ball in the park, go for long walks, eat doggy donuts and snuggle up together for nap time. The were an odd pair because they looked like little and large or maybe it should be tiny and huge!
Sausage was a friendly sort and not only was he called Sausage but he looked like an actual sausage! He was the smallest small with the longest body and tiniest legs you could possibly imagine.
Burt on the other hand was enormous. He was bigger than the hugest huge. He had gigantic paws and the waggiest tail but best of all he was as fluffy as can be. Burt wasn’t always well behaved and liked getting into mischief, in fact he loved mischief!
One sunny day, Sausage and Burt were in the garden enjoying a nap in the warm sunshine. Across the lawn a delicious smell wafted towards Burt’s nostrils. His nose twitched and he sniffed at the smell. One eye opened and he sniffed again. The other eye opened and he sniffed again.
‘Sausage,’ he whispered. ‘Sausage, can you smell that?’
‘Smell what?’ Sausage replied lazily, stretching out his long body in the hot sun.
‘Doggy donuts!’ said Burt excitedly jumping up on all four paws. ‘I smell our doggy donuts!’
‘Doggy donuts?’ Sausage enquired with growing interest. ‘Where are they?’
‘Over there on the kitchen window. Look! There are lots of delicious, yummy, scrumptious donuts,’ Burt said, his mouth watering and eyes growing wider by the second.
Sausage scrambled frantically to his feet. ‘Wow, they do smell scrummy.’
‘I want one, I want one!’ cried Burt bursting with excitement. ‘Let’s see if we can sneak up and get one before our dinner time.’
‘We shouldn’t really,’ said Sausage worriedly.
Burt put his head to one side. ‘But they smell so good, I’m sure it will be ok just this once.’
Burt and Sausage crouched down so they wouldn’t be seen and crawled along the grass as quietly as they could. Sausage being so small didn’t have to crouch down very far!
When they were underneath the open kitchen window Burt whispered, ‘When I count to three we need to jump up as high as we can and the donuts will be ours!’
‘One, two, three!’ he cried and bounced up with his front paws landing straight on the windowsill.
‘Wait for me!’ Sausage called out eagerly. He braced himself and jumped with all his little might but, despite his effort, he hardly moved off the ground and landed with a THUMP right back where he started.
His tiny legs just couldn’t bounce him high enough. When he looked up, his face fell in dismay, Burt was eating all the donuts!’
Burt looked down at Sausage and laughed. ‘What are you doing down there you silly Sausage?’
‘Did you save me any doggy donuts?’ Sausage asked. ‘My legs are so short that I couldn’t reach the window.’
‘Errm, err, no!’ said Burt looking ever so slightly guilty as he licked the last of the tasty goodness from his lips. ‘They were so delicious I accidentally seem to have eaten them all! Oops!’
‘That’s not fair,’ whimpered Sausage sadly. ‘It’s not my fault I’m so small and now there are no donuts left for me.’
Burt thought about this for a moment.
‘Nevermind,’ he said. ‘I’ll get you some next time.’
Sausage felt sad. It wasn’t fair, Burt was so big and he was so small. He couldn’t do the things that Burt could do.
The next day Sausage and Burt went for a lovely long walk in the park, one of their favourite things to do. They were both tired when they got home and were looking forward to having a long nap.
‘This floor is too hard,’ said Burt rolling around trying to get comfy. ‘I can’t sleep here but that Sofa looks lovely and soft, shall we sleep up there?’
‘But we’re not allowed on the sofa,’ said Sausage worriedly.
‘I’m sure just this once won’t hurt,’ replied Burt mischievously.
Sausage watched Burt climb onto the sofa and make himself at home. It certainly did look lovely and comfortable but it also looked very, very, VERY high indeed. Sausage looked down at his short legs and back at the sofa, he was sure if he ran fast enough he could make it.
‘Wait for me!’ yelled Sausage eagerly.
He took a few doggy steps backwards and as fast as his little legs would carry him he ran towards the sofa. Just before he reached it, he took a flying leap and with all his might he launched himself into the air.
Before he could stop himself he crashed into the bottom of the sofa, bounced off it and landed with a great big THUD on the living room rug!
Burt started to howl with laughter. ‘What are you doing down there you silly Sausage?’
Sausage felt sad and his bottom was very sore from where he had landed on it. ‘It’s not fair,’ he said. ‘My legs are too short, I can’t get onto the sofa like you.’
Burt thought about this for a moment.
‘Nevermind,’ he said sleepily. ‘Maybe you will get up next time.’
Sausage tried to get comfy on the rug. He looked longingly at Burt snoring loudly on the sofa and wished he was a big doggy too.
After his nap Burt asked Sausage if wanted to go and dig a big, huge, gigantic hole in the garden, another one of their most favourite activities.
‘I don’t want to,’ said Sausage sadly.
‘Why not?’ asked Burt, puzzled by Sausage’s answer.
‘Because you are a lot bigger than me and can dig a lot faster than me so it isn’t fair.’
‘How about we play ball then? You love playing ball.’ Burt suggested.
‘No, thank you,’ said Sausage. ‘The ball is too big for me and it always knocks me over.’
‘What about ......,’
‘No, thank you.’ said Sausage without letting Burt finish. ‘I just want to rest here.’
Burt looked at Sausage who looked really, really, REALLY sad. Sadder than he had ever seen him before. He didn’t like his best friend in the whole wide world being sad. He thought about this for a moment. Suddenly he had a brilliant idea and rushed off to the garden shed.
‘Sausage,’ he said racing back in a few minutes later. ‘I’ve found the smallest, tiniest ball ever, we can play with this and it won’t knock you over.’
Sausage liked the sound of this teeny tiny ball. It would be nice to chase a ball around that wasn’t bigger than him, it sounded like fun.
The two friends had a brilliant time together chasing the teeny tiny ball around the garden, barking excitedly and demolishing the flower beds as they went.
A familiar smell began wafting across the garden and interrupted their game. Burt’s nostrils were never mistaken. ‘Doggy donuts!’ he cried excitedly. ‘There’s more doggy donuts!’
He crouched down so that his tummy was flat on the floor.
’Climb onto my back,’ he whispered to Sausage.
Sausage did as he was told and jumped onto Burt’s back.
‘Hold on,’ he cried and he bounded over towards the donut smell. Sausage was at just the right height to jump onto the windowsill and reach the donuts. They both ate hungrily and Sausage smiled, happy to be included in this latest mischief.
‘My tummy is full,’ said Burt. ‘Let’s go and have a nap.’
‘But I don’t want to sleep on the floor while you are on the sofa,’ said Sausage sadly.
Burt thought about this for a moment. ‘Wait there,’ he said excitedly bounding off into the living room.
‘What are you doing, Burt?’
‘You can come in now Sausage, look what I’ve made you!’
Sausage looked in delight. Burt had knocked all the loose cushions off the sofa and turned them into a magnificent staircase. ‘Wow!’ barked Sausage excitedly. My very own staircase! I love it.’
As fast as his little legs would take him, he ran up the cushion staircase and bounced happily onto the comfy sofa.
‘We’re best pals,’ said Burt. ‘Even though you are little and I am large we should be able to do the same things no matter what size we are!
Sausage barked in delight. ‘Thank you, Burt.’
‘You’re welcome, you silly Sausage.’
Together they snuggled up on the comfy sofa as best friends should.

Judges Comments

It's Not Fair, the runner up in our competition for equality-themed stories for children, is a charming tale about two dogs who are best friends. One, Burt, is big, and the other, Sausage, is small. Through simple scenarios aimed at early readers, Tara shows how easy it is for Burt to do things like stealing food and climbing on the sofa that Sausage can't manage because he's only got little legs. It's a comic set-up that is fraught with pathos, and rather than exploit its potential for slapstick Tara does a lovely job of showing how Burt, taking his strength and agility for granted, doesn't realise that Sausage is unhappy. When he does, in this kind story with its gentle message about looking out for your friends, he changes his approach, and goes out of his way to think about how to do things so that Sausage can join in.

Tara hits just the right note in the way she tackles inclusivity in It's Not Fair. Her young readers will warm to her characters and understand Sausage's plight (he's small and so are they, so it's not a great leap of imagination) but they are being told a kind-hearted story with an ending that might inspire them to consider how friends can accommodate each others' differences rather than being preached at. A very nice note is that Burt's life is fuller when he's adapted things so that Sausage can join in, because doing things together makes life better for both of them.

The language the story is told in is clear and simple and it's easy to conjure the images Tara creates: it doesnt take any stretch of the imagination to 'see' how it might be illustrated. Although this particular message is neatly wrapped up in It's Not Fair, it's easy to imagine that Sausage and Burt could be recurring characters in equally visual and endearing stories featuring further adventures of this very appealing pair of friends.