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The Summer of the Unicorn 2

by coffee drinker 

Posted: 07 April 2010
Word Count: 451
Summary: A little more about Polly before we meet Aunt Isabel and Polly's glamorous cousin Sofia.
Related Works: The Summer of the Unicorn • 

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Polly didn’t stay in bed for long. Her tummy was doing the collie wobbles and her brain was whizzing as she thought about Aunt Isabel, Uncle Harry and Sofia, her cousin. She wondered if she would share a room with Sofia or if she would have her own room. She worried about Sparkles her hamster and who would look after him. She thought that she could take him with her and then thought maybe not. She expected Aunt Isabel would be the type to run under the chair if Sparkles got out and hid under the sofa like he had done a few months ago.

Mum said Aunt Isabel was glamorous. She also said she spent a lot of money on shoes and was what Dad called ‘high maintenance’. Polly had only met her a handful of times and she had seen Sofia only once at a New Years Eve party. Polly had thought that Sofia was glamorous too. She had never met anyone quite like Sofia before. She was all shiny and polished and spoke like a newsreader. Polly felt a bit like an old shoe next to a glass slipper.

Polly started to pack her travel case ready for the long journey. She hadn’t a clue what to take. Life would probably be very different in a big old rambling house. She packed some clothes, her toothbrush, her favourite books and games and stuffed her old doll into the front pocket so no one would find it. She didn’t want Sofia to think she was a baby but she wanted to take it none the less.

“Do you need any help packing?” Mum called from the sitting room. “I doubt you will need a lot sweetheart. Aunt Isabel said you can borrow Sofia’s clothes when you get there as she’s about the same size as you.”

Polly thought that Sofia might not like her borrowing her clothes. She began to pack more so that she wouldn’t have to ask. She hated to ask for anything and preferred to be prepared.

Mum walked into Polly’s room holding a scrap piece of paper.

“This is the number at Grandma’s and that’s Dad’s number at work” she said. “Ring me anytime day and night and I will call you. I’m going to miss you lots and lots”

“You too mummy” said Polly flinging her arms round mums neck and holding her tight. “Mummy?” said Polly.

“Yes sweetheart” said mum.

“When will I be back?” said Polly.

“After the summer.” said Polly’s mum. “In time for school in September”.
Polly and her mum spent the rest of the day waiting nervously for Aunt Isabel to arrive as if they were waiting for royalty.

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Comments by other Members

Freebird at 11:01 on 08 April 2010  Report this post
I think perhaps Polly needs some character quirk that really brings her alive to the reader. At the moment she could be any little girl, but she seems a little 'flat'. I'm not sure why this is, but I think it might be because you are telling us all about Polly as the narrator, rather than bringing us in really close and seeing things through her senses.

For example, your first paragraph could be broken up a bit with more of Polly's actual thoughts rather than you reporting them. So, instead of saying, "She thought she could take him with her and then she thought maybe not", you could say something like:

"I'll take him with me!" Polly leapt out of bed and poked her fingers through the bars of Sparkles' cage. "I couldn't leave you behind, now could I?" Sparkles' nose appeared from a pile of sawdust, his whiskers twitching with mischief. "But what if you escape again and hide under the sofa?" Polly sighed. Perhaps she would have to leave him behind after all.

By the way, when you say that Isobel might be likely to run under a chair, do you mean she's likely to stand on a chair?


Issy at 14:27 on 08 April 2010  Report this post
Again this is very nice writing, but I still feel that you will at some stage abandon it in its present form and slot it in to various places when the real story starts ie when Polly gets to Aunt Isobel's.

I very much liked the very strong descriptions/thoughts such as:

She was all shiny and polished and spoke like a newsreader. Polly felt a bit like an old shoe next to a glass slipper.


stuffed her old doll into the front pocket so no one would find it. She didn’t want Sofia to think she was a baby but she wanted to take it none the less.


as if they were waiting for royalty.

(I did think it was a bit mean to send Polly off to somewhere that even her mother is apprehensive about, but these things happen and her mother is worried about her mother. As a parent I would take my daughter with me, no matter how inconvenient. Now I am thinking that perhaps there needs to be a much stronger reason, as Polly's mother is obviously very caring and close to her daughter.)

I am actually very taken with Freebird's suggestions. Very much the professional touch and would give a greater immediacy.

But I am still very much taken with the idea, it is this sort of change that makes story sizzle.

coffee drinker at 23:33 on 09 April 2010  Report this post
Thankyou Freebird and Issy for your comments. I think I have been concentrating too much on the plot (this is my weakest spot amongst others!) and not enough on the characterisation and humour so thanks for being honest.

In terms of Polly's mum sending her away, I agree there is no way I would send my daughters away without good reason, however I think a 7-9 year old reader may accept this plot line more readily than a parent reading it. Also I have racked my brains and cannot think of a good enough reason that would not be too traumatic for this reading age. Also I think there is a certain longing for children to be on their own and away from their parents so they are in control a little more - ie Home Alone was very popular yet totally incomprehensible to any responsible parent! Although my mother in law did once get halfway down the M6 before realising one of her sons was still in Cornwall (my husband is 1 of 9 children so I suppose she could be forgiven up to a point)

Account Closed at 09:32 on 10 April 2010  Report this post
Coffee drinker, is it possible she could have initially wanted to go when she was younger - ie always talked about her glamorous cousin and aunt and begged to see them - but then had second thoughts when it actually came to a visit?

That way her mum could think that she's doing something nice, but by the time Polly voices her doubts it's too late to back out.

Second alternative, maybe her grandmother lives abroad and they can't afford the flights for two?

I agree with Issy that just "it'll be boring" is a bit of a weak reason to pack your reluctant daughter off alone.

Think Freebird's suggestions for getting inside Polly's head are excellent. One thing that often helps for me is doing a short first person diary entry in the voice of the character. I don't use it - but it somehow helps me come up with their style and tone.

coffee drinker at 22:40 on 10 April 2010  Report this post
Thanks Flora Post. I will be changing the way that Polly gets to Aunt Isabel's particularly after two comments along the same line. I like the idea of her originally wanting to go and having second thoughts. The other option I thought of was to have Polly's mum and Grandma go and stay with Aunt Isabel as she has more room. Maybe with the unicorn eventually having some sort of healing power with Polly's Grandma. I'm not sure yet.

SusieL at 19:55 on 14 April 2010  Report this post
Hi Coffee drinker. Having read both this and the previous edit, I think it's coming along well. It's a great idea and you have some wonderful descriptions and phrases that the others have already highlighted.

Re the plot line to separate Polly and her Mum. Could her Dad not be away (out of the country) on business and her Mum be taken ill(requiring an immediate stay in hospital), so that Polly would have to stay with her Aunt Isabel. Although this doesn't involve Grandma, and I don't know how important Grandma is to the plot. Just a suggestion, though. But I liked the idea of Polly as a younger girl desperating wanting to visit her glamorous Aunt and Cousin.

Good luck with this, looking forward to the next posting.


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