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Whirl of the Wheel
Three children whirl back in time through an enchanted potter’s wheel into the reality of evacuation in 1940s Britain. Only two return.
A whispering house, blue and gold spotted china cats that come to life, an enigmatic guardian of the potter’s wheel who is all-things purple, and the recurrence of a Lysander aircraft and its crew . . .
Whirl of the Wheel pulls feisty Connie, her brother Charlie-Mouse, and school pest Malcolm into dangers on the homefront and towards a military secret that will save their home. The children hit trouble when Malcolm fails to return to the present day.
Adventure for the 9+ age group.
The Wendlewitch gave the potter’s wheel a helpful and determined spin using the tips of her ring-clad fingers. ‘Ready?’ she asked.
Connie nodded. Throwing down her clay, she dipped her fingers into the water bowl. But as she drew them back to the wheel, a rush of air swirled out from its centre and around her body. She forced her eyes from the mesmerising spin to fix upon the mystical outline of the Wendlewitch’s face. Scattered particles of light teased the air about her into a haze.
In an instant of purple confusion, the Wendlewitch whirled out of view and her pottery workshop went with her.
A new atmosphere pervaded.
The musty smell of wood and chalk dust hit Connie’s nostrils. She fell forward onto a sloped wooden desk, knocking hard into her funny bone.
‘What on earth . . .’ exclaimed Charlie-Mouse, his voice echoing around the empty room. He slid off the back wall and into a seat behind her, scraping hard at her combats. But she didn’t move a muscle. She couldn’t – even though her elbow ached madly and she wanted to shake away the pain ricocheting through her body. Neither could she make a sound – her mouth was sealed tight and her tongue glued to the back of her teeth. She moved only her eyes. Hanging portraits of kings, queens and prime ministers glowered back. The background scream of the overhead gas lighting, the whipping of the wind and the shrieks from outside added their challenges to her senses.
Stay calm, breathe, and relax. Everything’s fine.
Someone came into the room. Startled, she nodded and smiled politely, clicking her heels in perfect time across the polished floor. The outside noise built to crescendo as the lady opened the door and blew sharply on her whistle. At once the shrieks fell and the playing children – with small boxes dutifully strung across their bodies – hurried into line. ‘Be quick about it,’ the lady instructed.
The room filled. They moved along the lines of desks – shoes plain and practical, laced and buttoned, and polished in black or brown. Two to a bench seat – their backs a combination of coloured cardigans, pinafores, pullovers, shirts and tanktops.
‘Settle down please.’ The lady cleaned the blackboard with a damp cloth and swung it over to the dry side. She took up a chalk and headed, Monday, 18th September, 1939.
A half-breath warmed at Connie’s neck as Charlie-Mouse stifled another gasp. He clenched his grip on her hair.
‘Be calm and considered in your writing – your parents will expect it.’
The children dipped their inkpens. As they drew the pens across the page, the background hiss of silence changed its tone and the invasive sound of a low-altitude propeller aircraft took hold. A girl with bobbed auburn hair looked up with apprehension, only to be waved down by the lady with the chalk. ‘One of ours,’ the teacher said.
‘Do something!’ hissed Charlie-Mouse.
‘I can’t.’ Now Connie wanted to cry, or to laugh. Charlie-Mouse pulled harder at her hair. Her head was spinning . . . then she heard a clash of teacups.
Connie found herself back in the pottery, at the potter’s wheel, and with her brother by her side.
Nothing had changed from the moment they had left, except that three steaming cups of strong smelling tea enticed her from the trolley and, strangely, she could still hear the sound of the propeller aircraft. It had followed them into the present day, its sound gradually melding with the quiet whirr and the click from the wheel as it slowed to a stop.
‘Sssshhh,’ breathed the Wendlewitch, with one artistic finger placed to her lips. ‘I have something to confess.’
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