Benson at the Library

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a nice wombat hole with his mother, and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson and his mother went to the library to borrow some books. They returned the books they had borrowed last time, and then they went to look for some new books.

“I want a book about pirates,” Benson said.

His mother said, “Why do you want a book about pirates?”

Benson said, “I think they’re interesting and fun and they have adventures.”

They went to the children’s section and looked for pirate books.

“Here’s one,” Benson’s mother said. “It’s called ‘Pirate Patsy and the Fairy Castle’.” She showed it to Benson.

Benson opened it up and looked at the pictures. “It has a lot of fairies, and the pirates don’t look like real pirates. They all look like gorillas in stripy shirts. I don’t want this one.”

Benson’s mother said, “Well what about this one: ‘Real-life Pirates in Real-life History’. This one has real pirates.”

Benson had a look. “Where are the treasure maps? Real pirates have maps and parrots and big black ships. Don’t they know anything about pirates?”

His mother found another one. “This one’s got a treasure map on the front cover. It’s called ‘Redbeard Blackpatch, the Cruellest Pirate in the World’. Hmm, I don’t know if it’s really suitable for children.”

Benson took a look inside. “These pictures are horrible, like big black lines with paint splashes on top of them. I don’t want to read this.”

They both kept looking. There was a pirate alphabet book and a pirate counting book, and a book with pirate poems. Benson didn’t want to read them either.

“What about this one?” his mother said. “It’s called ‘Alien Space Pirates and the Time-Travel Spaceship.’ It’s the last one on the shelf.”

Benson said, “That’s not the kind of book I wanted. I want to read a proper story about pirates doing pirate things. You know, walking the plank and digging for buried treasure and having sword fights.”

“I don’t think they’ve got any books like that here today. Maybe all the other children have already borrowed them. You could choose a different book not about pirates, or we could come back another day.”

Benson thought for a minute, and then he went back to the shelves. He looked along all the books, and finally he found one that he wanted. He took it over to his mother.

“Is this the one you want to borrow?” she asked. “We’ve read this one before, you know.”

Benson nodded. “It’s got nice pictures, and I like the story and the adventures. I like it when you read it to me.”

So they borrowed the book and took it home. Benson’s mother sat in her favourite reading chair and Benson climbed onto her lap.

She read, “’Once there was a young wombat named Benson, and he lived in a very nice wombat hole with his mother…’”

Benson smiled and snuggled down to listen.

Benson Gets in Trouble

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a nice little wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One day Benson did a Very Bad Thing.

His mother was very angry with him and very upset. “I can’t believe you would do something like that!” she said.

Benson looked down at the ground and felt terrible.

Aunt Lillibet said, “I’m surprised at you, Benson. What a dreadful thing to do!”

Aunt Moss just looked at him very sadly and said, “Oh, Benson!”

Benson felt so bad he wanted to sink to the bottom of the deepest wombat hole and stay there forever.

He said, “I’m sorry,” in a very quiet voice.

His mother put her arms around him and said, “That’s all right, Benson, I forgive you.”

“I forgive you too,” said Aunt Moss, and patted Benson’s head.

Benson burst into tears.

His mother and Aunt Moss hugged him tight. “It’s all right, now, Benson,” they both said.

Benson stopped crying and felt a lot better.

“Now to make up for what you did, I want you to go and dig over Aunt Moss’s turnip garden and get out all the weeds and put them in the compost heap,” his mother said.

“All right,” Benson said. He felt much happier. “I really am sorry, you know.”

“I know,” his mother said.

Aunt Lillibet said, “It was a dreadful thing to do, Benson. You should never do anything like that again!”

Benson’s mother said sharply, “That will do, Lillibet. It’s over now and forgotten. Please don’t mention it ever again.”

Benson went out and dug Aunt Moss’s garden very happily, and he did an excellent job.

Benson and the Very Deep Hole

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a nice wombat hole with his mother, and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson wanted to dig a hole. He wanted to dig a really big hole, the biggest hole anyone had ever dug. He picked a good spot and started digging.

He dug down and down. He loved digging, and it was the best fun in the world, digging up the soft dark earth and tossing it up out of his hole. He was so happy he started to sing.

One of his friends, whose name was Mick, came by, and heard him singing.

“Hey, Benson, what are you doing?”

“Digging. I’m digging the biggest hole anyone ever dug.”

Mick said, “That sounds cool. Can I help?”

Benson said, “It’s already pretty deep. It’s so deep, I can’t throw the dirt out the top any more. If you got a bucket, and tied it to a string, I could put the dirt in the bucket and you could pull it up.”

“Okay,” Mick said. He got a bucket and tied a good long string to its handle and lowered it down to Benson. Benson filled it up with dirt; Mick pulled it up and emptied it on a pile next to the hole. Benson dug some more dirt and filled the bucket up again.

They kept going for ages, and the hole got deeper and deeper. The pile of dirt got so high it was like a mountain.

Then Mick remembered it was time for lunch. “Hey, Benson, I’ve got to go home for lunch. I’ll come back and do some more later, okay?”

Benson said, “Okay, thanks for helping.” He dug for a while longer and then he thought he should have some lunch too. Digging made him really hungry.

Then he found he had a problem. The hole was so deep he couldn’t get out.

He tried climbing up the side but he kept falling back down. He tried digging a tunnel out one side, but there was nowhere to put the dirt. He started to feel really hungry, and a bit frightened.

He yelled as loud as he could.

His mother heard him and came out, with Aunt Moss. “Benson, where are you?” they called.

“I’m here, in this hole!”

His mother and Aunt Moss looked down at him, at the bottom of a very deep hole.

“That’s a very deep hole,” his mother said. “How did you manage to dig such a deep hole?”

“Mick was here helping me, with a bucket. Now I can’t get out. Can you pull me out?”

They tried reaching over the side to him, but he was way too far down for them to reach. They tried lowering the bucket to pull him up, but the string broke straight away.

“You need to stand on something so we can reach you,” Benson’s mother said.

“I know,” said Aunt Moss. “There are some old bricks at the back of the garden he could stand on.” She got the bricks and got ready to throw them down.

“Moss!” Benson’s mother shrieked. “You’re not going to throw bricks down on Benson!”

“Oh,” said Aunt Moss. “Maybe that’s not such a good idea. Then how are we ever going to get him out?”

Benson’s mother started to look worried.

Then Aunt Lillibet came out. “Why is everyone looking down a hole in the middle of the backyard?” she said.

Aunt Moss explained. “Benson has dug himself a hole so deep he can’t climb out of it, and we’re afraid he’ll starve to death before he can get himself out.”

“Moss!” said Benson’s mother. “He won’t starve to death. We can dig him out, but it will take a long time.”

Aunt Lillibet looked at the mountain of dirt next the hole. She looked down the hole at Benson, sitting sadly at the bottom.

“We can get him out faster than that. We just have to fill up the hole again.”

Benson’s mother said, “We can’t fill the hole up. Benson is at the bottom of it.”

“Watch this,” Lillibet said. She called down into the hole. “Benson, move right over to the side.” She dug some of the dirt out of the dirt mountain and threw it down into the hole. “Now, Benson, jump on that dirt, and make it hard and solid.”

Benson spread out the dirt that Lillibet threw in and jumped on it to make it solid. He was just a bit higher. Lillibet threw some more dirt in. He jumped on that and it made him a little bit higher still.

Lillibet and Aunt Moss took turns tossing dirt into Benson’s hole. A lot of dirt got all over him, but the floor of the hole got higher and higher and Benson got closer and closer to the top.

When it was high enough, his mother and Aunt Lillibet and Aunt Moss helped pull him out.

“Thankyou,” said Benson.

“Time for lunch,” his mother said.

Benson looked at his hole, not so deep any more. “It was a pretty deep hole,” he said. “It was probably the deepest hole anyone has ever dug.”

“It’s probably the deepest hole you’ll ever dig,” said Aunt Lillibet.

Whistling

Once there was a young wombat whose name was Benson, who lived in a nice little wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson couldn’t whistle. Aunt Moss could whistle, and Aunt Lillibet could whistle. Even the postman could whistle, but Benson didn’t know how.

He said to Aunt Moss, “Can you show me how to whistle?”

Aunt Moss said, “Whistling’s easy. Just put your lips like this, and blow.” She pushed her lips out in a kissing shape and started to whistle.

Benson pushed his lips out like Aunt Moss’s and blew. A whistle didn’t come out, just ‘Whoof, whoof, whoof.’

Aunt Moss said, “It takes a bit of practice, but you’ll get there. Keep trying.” She whistled some more. Benson whoofed some more.

Aunt Lillibet came along. “What are you doing?” she said.

“Benson is learning to whistle,” said Aunt Moss.

“You’re doing it all wrong,” said Aunt Lillibet. “Don’t push your lips out so far. Put your tongue out more. Now blow.”

Benson pulled in his lips and pushed out his tongue and blew. ‘Blppp, blppp.’ Spit went all over Aunt Lillibet.

“No, no, that’s not right!” said Aunt Lillibet. “Pull your tongue in and make it curve around, like this. Blow! Blow harder!”

Benson blew as hard as he could, but whistling didn’t come out, just raspberries. Aunt Moss laughed. Aunt Lillibet sent Benson outside.

The postman was just putting the mail in the letterbox. Benson went up and asked him, “Can you whistle?”

“I can’t exactly whistle,” said the postman. “I’ve got this.” The postman took out a shiny metal whistle and blew it. “Whiiit! Whiiiit!” It was so loud it made Benson’s ears stand up.

Benson felt sad. He didn’t have a whistle like the postman’s. He wanted to be able to whistle by himself. His mother came out, and got the mail out of the letterbox.

“Oh, is that the postman?” she said. “He’s given us the wrong letters.” She put two fingers in her mouth and gave the loudest whistle Benson had ever heard. “THWEEEEWIIP!” Benson fell over backwards.

The postman turned around and came back. Benson’s mother gave him back the letters. “These are for the wombats two streets over,” she said.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” said the postman. “I’ll take them around there instead.” He went off on his bicycle.

Benson said to his mother, “Can you show me how to whistle?”

“I can’t really whistle,” said his mother. “You should ask Lillibet or Moss.”

“You’re a much better whistler than them,” said Benson.

“I just put two fingers in my mouth and blow,” she said. “Like this.”

“Like this?” Benson put two fingers in his mouth and blew. A small whistle came out: “Whepp, whepp.”

“Just like that,” said his mother. They both whistled together. Benson’s whistle got louder and stronger, whhheeeee, wheeeeeee. They both went inside whistling. Benson was smiling so much he could hardly whistle. THWEEEE, wheep, wheep, wheep, THWEEE, wheep, wheeeeeee.

Benson and the Tulips

Once there was a young wombat whose name was Benson. He lived in a wombat hole in the ground with his mother, and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson knew his mother loved tulips, so he thought it would be a good idea to get her some for her birthday, but he didn’t know what tulips looked like.

He asked his Aunt Moss what they looked like.

“They’re beautiful,”Aunt Moss said. “They’re red and and yellow and white, and pink, and a lovely orangey-gold, and they have long green stems and leaves.”

Benson went to the flower-shop. There were red and yellow and white and pink flowers everywhere, all different shapes and sizes, and they all had green stems and green leaves. He had no idea which ones were tulips.

He went home again. This time he asked Aunt Lillibet. “Do you know what tulips look like?”

“No,” she said. “The man at the garden shop will know. Come along.”

She took him to the garden shop, and she asked the man, “Do you have any tulips?”

“Yes, we do,” he said. He reached into a box and brought out a lumpy brown thing like an onion.

Benson said, “No, we want tulips.”

“These are tulips,” the man said. “How many do you want?”

Aunt Lillibet said, “Don’t argue, Benson. We’ll have three, please.”

The man put three of the brown lumpy things in a bag and Aunt Lillibet paid for them.

Benson thought they must both be crazy or else they were deaf. They went home. Benson felt terrible. He wanted to give his mother beautiful flowers for her birthday and all he had was three brown lumps.

They all sang ‘Happy Birthday’, and then Aunt Lillibet said, “Benson, aren’t you going to give your mother her present?”

Benson gave his mother the bag and said, “Happy birthday,” sadly.

His mother opened the bag, and smiled happily. “Tulip bulbs!” she said. “Thankyou, Benson, they’re perfect. I can plant them in my garden and grow my own tulips. Then I can have tulips every year. What a beautiful present!” She gave Benson a hug.

Benson felt very happy. He gave his mother a hug, and then he gave Aunt Lillibet a hug too. “Thankyou, Aunt Lillibet,” he said.

The Earthquake

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, and he lived in a nice, tidy wombat hole with his mother, and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One day Benson was shopping with his mother when Aunt Moss came hurrying up. “There’s going to be an earthquake! We have to go home at once!”

Benson’s mother said, “How do you know there’s going to be an earthquake?”

Benson said, “What’s an earthquake?”

“It’s a disturbance in the seismic forces of the universe,” said Aunt Moss.

“Sometimes the ground under our feet shakes,” said Benson’s mother. “Sometimes it shakes a little bit, and sometimes it shakes a lot.”

Aunt Lillibet came running up. “I can feel it!” she exclaimed. “I can feel the ground shaking. Can’t you feel it?”

Benson’s mother said, “I think we need to go home, now.” She took Benson’s hand and they hurried home as fast as they could.

When they got home, there was a giant yellow digger and a great big hole where their wombat hole used to be.

“But that’s where we live!” said Benson. “That’s our home!”

“It’s a disgrace! It’s a tragedy! It’s a disaster!” said Lillibet.

“What about my books?” said Benson.

“We can always get more books,” said his mother. “There’s the library for that.”

“What about my clothes?” he said.

“Never mind about your clothes, I’m just grateful we weren’t home when it happened,” his mother said.

“Where are we going to live?” said Benson.

“Benson, I’m surprised at you,” his mother said. “We’re wombats. We’ll dig.”

Moss suddenly started to cry. “The turtles!” she sobbed.

“What about the turtles?” Benson’s mother said.

“They were in the bath! I know you told me not to leave them in the bathtub, but I thought they would like a little treat.” She sobbed and sobbed.

Benson’s mother looked out over the enormous hole. “The bathroom would have been right over the other end,” she said. “Maybe it’s not too late. Come on, Benson.”

Benson followed his mother over to the far side of the hole. It was bigger than a swimming pool, bigger than the river.

“Here,” his mother said. “Now dig!” They dug as hard as they could, fast and strong as wombats can. In a minute, Benson’s mother said, “I can feel something.” They dug around carefully, and there was the bath. Buried in the dirt in the bath were three turtles. They waved their little feet and shook the dirt out of their faces.

“Oh, my dears!” Aunt Moss said. She gathered them up in her apron and carried them off safely to wash them in the creek.

Aunt Lillibet said, “Well, that’s one good thing.”

Benson’s mother said, “No, it’s a very good thing!” She smiled at Benson and she gave him a big hug. “That was some excellent digging, my son. Come on, let’s go and look for a place to dig our new home.”

Benson at the Playground

Once there was a young wombat whose name was Benson, who lived in a nice hole in the ground with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson’s favourite thing at the playground was the swing. It went up very high and came down very low. One day when he got to the playground, there was a monkey on the swing.

Benson said, ‘It’s my turn, get off the swing!’

The monkey said, ‘I only just got on,’ and kept on swinging.

Benson tried to think of a way to get the monkey off the swing.

“Hey, monkey,”he called, “do you want a banana?”

The monkey looked down at Benson. He could see he didn’t have any bananas. He kept on swinging.

Benson got annoyed. “Get off the swing, or I’ll push you off!” he said.

The monkey said, “No, it’s still my turn.” He swung higher and higher and faster and faster, so Benson couldn’t get near him.

Benson thought of another idea. “Hey, monkey,” he said, “there’s a great big snake coming to get you! He’s going to climb up the swing and eat you!”

The monkey was really scared of snakes. He grabbed on tight to the swing with his arms and his legs, and started to cry.

Benson was sorry then. “There isn’t really a snake, I made it up,” he said. He tried to think of something to make the monkey feel better. “Do you want to come and play in the sandpit?”

The monkey stopped crying. “Really?” he said.

He got off the swing and they both went over to the sandpit. They played cars, and Jump-on-the-Castle and Buried Treasure until their mothers came to get them, and they had so much fun they forgot all about the swing.

Benson’s mother said, “Did you make a new friend today?”

Benson said, “Yes, we both like swinging and he doesn’t like snakes.”

“I don’t like snakes either,” Benson’s mother said. “Was there a snake?”

“Nearly,” Benson said. “But I didn’t let there be.”

Moss’s Birthday

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a nice wombat hole in the ground with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

When it was Aunt Moss’s birthday, she wanted to have a party with all her friends, so they did.

The turtles were fine because Moss put them in the bath with lots of chopped up lettuce and they were perfectly happy. But the ducks were awful. One of them kept trying to eat the mice so Aunt Moss had to put them in her pocket, and the other one kept jumping up and down on the lounge and quacking extremely loudly, and then he tried to eat a cushion.

Aunt Moss suggested Benson should play ‘Happy Birthday to You’ on the piano, but that was much worse. The ducks quacked louder than ever, louder than the piano and everyone singing put together. The octopus put his tentacles in his ears and the baby mice hid under the carpet.

Benson’s mother said they should have the rest of the party outside. Benson said, “But it’s raining.”

Benson’s mother said, “I know. Put your gumboots on and bring your umbrella.”

It was definitely raining. They sat under their umbrellas in the back yard and everyone was much happier. The eel wriggled away and disappeared, the mice nibbled happily, and the ducks stopped quacking and stamped in the puddles, burbling to each other.

The cake was a bit damp, and the candles wouldn’t stay alight, but Aunt Moss didn’t mind. “Lillibet’s cakes are always too dry,” she said. They ate cake and sang “Happy Birthday”and the baby mice stuffed themselves full of cake crumbs so their mothers had to carry them home and Aunt Moss had a wonderful time. Benson had a good time too.

Everyone forgot about the turtles until Benson went to have his bath. They had eaten all the lettuce and gone to sleep. It was pretty smelly in the bathroom. Benson would have liked to have his bath with the turtles, but his mother wouldn’t let him get in until Aunt Moss had taken the turtles out and she had given it a good scrub.

“Thank you for a wonderful party, everyone,” Aunt Moss said.

Aunt Moss’s Toothache

Once there was a young wombat called Benson, who lived in a nice hole in the ground with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Aunt Moss had a toothache. She went to the dentist, and when she came home her mouth was sore and she couldn’t eat properly. “Poor dear,” said Benson’s mother. “I’ll make you a nice cup of tea.”

Moss tried drinking the tea. “Ow, too hot!” she said. She couldn’t really talk properly either.

“What about some ice-cream?” Benson’s mother said.

Benson stopped what he was doing and came over to the table.

The ice-cream was too cold. “Ow, too cold!” Aunt Moss said. She pushed the bowl away. Benson quietly got a spoon.

“If Aunt Moss doesn’t want it, maybe I should eat it,” he said.

His mother said, “Of course, dear. What about a nice soft banana, Moss?”

The banana wasn’t soft enough. “Ow, too hard,” said Moss. She gave the banana to Benson.

“I’ve got some lovely pumpkin soup on the stove,” said Benson’s mother. “Try some.”

The soup was still too hot. “Hot, hot!” said Aunt Moss. It wasn’t too hot for Benson, it was just right.

“I know, what about a strawberry smoothie?” said Benson’s mother. “You love strawberry smoothies.”

Aunt Moss nodded. But as soon as she tried some of the smoothie, she complained again, “Too cold! Ow!”

Benson loved strawberry smoothies too. It was perfect.

“I don’t know what else to give you,” said Benson’s mother. “Hot chocolate would be too hot, and iced chocolate would be too cold.”

“What about a piece of chocolate?” Benson asked.

“Too hard,” Aunt Moss and his mother said together. Benson was disappointed. Then he had an idea.

“What about some nice warm custard? Not too hot, not too cold, not too hard.”

His mother smiled. Aunt Moss smiled. “What a good idea!” Benson’s mother said. She made some custard and let it cool a little, so it was just warm. Aunt Moss tried it.

“Perfect,” she said. She ate some of it, then she stopped. “What I really want is a nice cup of tea.” The tea in her cup had been there so long it had just about gone cold. Aunt Moss tried a sip. “Ah, perfect!” she said.

“Can I have the rest of your custard?” Benson said.

“Of course, dear,” Aunt Moss said. Benson ate the custard, while Aunt Moss drank her tea. Benson’s mother had the rest of the strawberry smoothie. “Mmm, perfect,” she said, and Benson and Aunt Moss agreed.

A Big Red Blanket

Once there was a young wombat named Benson,who lived in nice little wombat hole in the ground, with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One day Benson said to his mother, “I had a dream last night that I was a red blanket.”

“You were a red blanket?” said his mother.

Benson nodded. “And you were cold, so I wrapped you up and warmed you up.”

His mother smiled. “That’s nice,” she said.

The next day Benson’s mother was sick. Aunt Lillibet felt her forehead and made her go to bed, but in the afternoon she was feeling much worse. Benson wanted to show her something he had made, but Aunt Lillibet said she needed to sleep. Aunt Moss fluttered and said, “Oh dear,” a lot. Aunt Lillibet shooed them both away.

The next morning, Lillibet was worried. “She’s not getting any better. I think she needs to go to the hospital.”

That made Benson feel worried, but his mother was too sick for him to talk to her. He had to stay at home while they took her to the hospital. When he went to bed that night, he thought about her empty room and he thought about the hospital and he worried instead of sleeping.

Aunt Moss looked in on her way to bed. She came and gave him a hug. “I’m worried too, dear, but it’s the best thing for her. I’m sure the doctors and nurses will look after her very well.” She stayed with Benson until he went to sleep.

The next day and the next day Benson’s mother was still in the hospital. She was too sick even for him to visit. Benson started to be very frightened. Aunt Moss was so worried she came and slept in Benson’s room.

The day after that, Aunt Lillibet went to the hospital and brought Benson’s mother home. She was very pale and she looked much thinner, and she was weak and wobbly, and she had to hold on to Aunt Lillibet’s arm to walk along. Benson didn’t care. He was so happy she was home again.

Aunt Lillibet said, “Now don’t climb all over her and wear her out. She’s still very weak. She should have stayed in the hospital longer, but she wanted to come home.”

Benson’s mother sat down and felt better. She said, “Don’t fuss, Lillibet.” She pulled Benson onto her lap and said to him, “I’m not completely better yet, but I’m getting better, so don’t worry any more.”

Benson felt shaky and happy and worried and relieved all at the same time. His mother said, “The doctor was very nice and the nurses were very kind, but there was one thing I needed that they didn’t have.”

“What?” said Benson.

“A big red blanket,” said his mother. Benson threw his arms around her and they hugged and hugged and hugged.

Benson and the Very Deep Hole

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a nice wombat hole with his mother, and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson wanted to dig a hole. He wanted to dig a really big hole, the biggest hole anyone had ever dug. He picked a good spot and started digging.

He dug down and down. He loved digging, and it was the best fun in the world, digging up the soft dark earth and tossing it up out of his hole. He was so happy he started to sing.

One of his friends, whose name was Mick, came by, and heard him singing.

“Hey, Benson, what are you doing?”

“Digging. I’m digging the biggest hole anyone ever dug.”

Mick said, “That sounds cool. Can I help?”

Benson said, “It’s already pretty deep. It’s so deep, I can’t throw the dirt out the top any more. If you got a bucket, and tied it to a string, I could put the dirt in the bucket and you could pull it up.”

“Okay,” Mick said. He got a bucket and tied a good long string to its handle and lowered it down to Benson. Benson filled it up with dirt; Mick pulled it up and emptied it on a pile next to the hole. Benson dug some more dirt and filled the bucket up again.

They kept going for ages, and the hole got deeper and deeper. The pile of dirt got so high it was like a mountain.

Then Mick remembered it was time for lunch. “Hey, Benson, I’ve got to go home for lunch. I’ll come back and do some more later, okay?”

Benson said, “Okay, thanks for helping.” He dug for a while longer and then he thought he should have some lunch too. Digging made him really hungry.

Then he found he had a problem. The hole was so deep he couldn’t get out.

He tried climbing up the side but he kept falling back down. He tried digging a tunnel out one side, but there was nowhere to put the dirt. He started to feel really hungry, and a bit frightened.

He yelled as loud as he could.

His mother heard him and came out, with Aunt Moss. “Benson, where are you?” they called.

“I’m here, in this hole!”

His mother and Aunt Moss looked down at him, at the bottom of a very deep hole.

“That’s a very deep hole,” his mother said. “How did you manage to dig such a deep hole?”

“Mick was here helping me, with a bucket. Now I can’t get out. Can you pull me out?”

They tried reaching over the side to him, but he was way too far down for them to reach. They tried lowering the bucket to pull him up, but the string broke straight away.

“You need to stand on something so we can reach you,” Benson’s mother said.

“I know,” said Aunt Moss. “There are some old bricks at the back of the garden he could stand on.” She got the bricks and got ready to throw them down.

“Moss!” Benson’s mother shrieked. “You’re not going to throw bricks down on Benson!”

“Oh,” said Aunt Moss. “Maybe that’s not such a good idea. Then how are we ever going to get him out?”

Benson’s mother started to look worried.

Then Aunt Lillibet came out. “Why is everyone looking down a hole in the middle of the backyard?” she said.

Aunt Moss explained. “Benson has dug himself a hole so deep he can’t climb out of it, and we’re afraid he’ll starve to death before he can get himself out.”

“Moss!” said Benson’s mother. “He won’t starve to death. We can dig him out, but it will take a long time.”

Aunt Lillibet looked at the mountain of dirt next the hole. She looked down the hole at Benson, sitting sadly at the bottom.

“We can get him out faster than that. We just have to fill up the hole again.”

Benson’s mother said, “We can’t fill the hole up. Benson is at the bottom of it.”

“Watch me,” Lillibet said. She called down into the hole. “Benson, move right over to the side.” She dug some of the dirt out of the dirt mountain and threw it down into the hole. “Now, Benson, jump on that dirt, and make it hard and solid.”

Benson spread out the dirt that Lillibet threw in and jumped on it to make it solid. He was just a bit higher. Lillibet threw some more dirt in. He jumped on that and it made him a little bit higher still.

Lillibet and Aunt Moss took turns tossing dirt into Benson’s hole. A lot of dirt got all over him, but the floor of the hole got higher and higher and Benson got closer and closer to the top.

When it was high enough, his mother and Aunt Lillibet and Aunt Moss helped pull him out.

“Thankyou,” said Benson.

“Time for lunch,” his mother said.

Benson looked at his hole, not so deep any more. “It was a pretty deep hole,” he said. “It was probably the deepest hole anyone has ever dug.”

“It’s probably the deepest hole you’ll ever dig,” said Aunt Lillibet.

Santo

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a comfortable wombat hole in the ground, with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson loved to dig. He loved reading, and cooking and playing with his friends, and visiting his grandmother, but most of all he loved to dig. One morning it was a spectacularly good day for digging, so he decided to dig a really really big tunnel, all the way to the creek. He chose a good spot in the back yard and started digging.

It was the greatest fun. The dirt was just right, soft and damp, with some hard spots here and there. Sometimes there was a rock or maybe a big root from a gum tree but he just went around them, or under them. He dug for hours, and then he decided it was time to stop for lunch.

When he came up out of the tunnel, the back yard looked different. The compost heap had somehow spread itself around so it was all over the yard. Aunt Lillibet’s vegetable garden was a mess, with young carrots lying on top of the dirt instead of under it, and leeks and kale squashed flat. Benson wondered if there had been a big wind while he was in his tunnel, or maybe an earthquake.

He went inside and Aunt Lillibet said, “So there you are! That was very naughty of you, Benson!”

Benson blinked. “What?” he asked. “I was only digging a tunnel.”

Aunt Moss looked at him sadly. “You made a terrible mess of the compost heap, Benson, but don’t worry, Lillibet, I’m sure he’s going to tidy it all up again.”

“I didn’t do anything!” Benson said. “I was just digging a tunnel.”

“And those carrots,” Aunt Lillibet said. “And my strawberries! Every single one with a hole in it! Really, Benson, I’m very unhappy with you.”

“It wasn’t me!” Benson said. “I didn’t do anything! It was the wind or something.”

Aunt Moss looked sad, and said, “Don’t argue with your Aunt Lillibet, Benson. We know there was no wind. I think you should just go and fix everything up, before you have any lunch. Off you go now.”

They both pushed him outside, and shut the door.

Benson was really upset. No-one would listen to him. He went over to the compost heap and started piling up the vegetable scraps, all the time talking to himself about how unfair it was, and how hungry he was. Then a banana skin flew over his head.

“Hey!” Benson turned around. There was a small animal on top of the compost heap, kicking bits everywhere. “Hey, stop that!” Benson said.

The animal was small and furry with a pointy nose like a rat, and a long tail, and red and brown stripes on its body. He smiled a sneaky smile at Benson and kept on kicking. Mango skins and avocado seeds flew into the air. Benson went to grab him, but he ran off as fast as a rat.

Benson gathered up all the compost and heaped it up tidily again. Then he heard a scritching sound from the vegetable garden. He turned around and saw the small stripy animal scratching up the parsley.

“Leave that alone,” he shouted. The animal grinned at him, and ran over to the strawberry patch. A long, sticky tongue shot out of his mouth and poked a hole in one of the strawberries. “Don’t!” Benson yelled. The speedy tongue shot out again. Zap, another strawberry. Zap, zap, two more strawberries. Benson picked up a long stick and went after him. The animal grinned at him again and ran away into the bush, as quick and quiet as a snake.

Exactly at that moment, Benson’s mother came home, and saw him holding a pointy stick right next to a whole lot of strawberries with holes in them. “Benson! What are you doing!” she said. “Go inside right now and stay in your room until I call you!”

Benson couldn’t make anyone listen to him. It didn’t matter what he said, no-one would believe him. He had to go to his room and stay there, hungry and angry and smelling of compost.

After a long time, his mother opened his door and said, “Come out now, Benson, and behave yourself, please. Mrs Carlos is here, and she’s brought a friend who is visiting from another part of the country.”

Benson went out to the kitchen with her. Mrs Carlos was there, and a small furry animal with a pointy face like a rat and red and brown stripes. He grinned at Benson.

“This is Santo,” Benson’s mother said. “He’s just about your age. I’m sure you’re going to be great friends.”

Benson opened his mouth to say all the things that were piled up inside of him, but Aunt Moss was patting Santo’s soft fur and Aunt Lillibet was saying how neat his little stripes were, and his mother was chatting with Mrs Carlos. He shut his mouth again. No-one would believe him before, why would they believe him now?

He went over to the fruit bowl and got a big, red, juicy strawberry. He held it out, and said, “Here, Santo, would you like a strawberry?”

Zap, zap-zap, zap.

Benson and the Light Bulb

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a comfortable hole in the ground with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson loved to dig. Sometimes early in the morning before anyone else was up, he would go out in to the garden and just dig. One morning it was very early, hardly light at all. Benson got up quietly and went out and dug a hole just his size and sat in it. He looked around at the small creatures waking up, the beetles and the lizards, and the bugs and the ants.

After a while he got really hungry, so he got out of the hole and filled it up again and patted it nice and flat. He went back inside, but it was much darker in the kitchen. He turned on the light but nothing happened. “The bulb must be broken,” he thought.

He got a chair and climbed up and unscrewed the bulb. He shook it gently and heard it tinkling. Broken. He took the chair into the bathroom and climbed up and unscrewed the bulb from the bathroom light. He took it into the kitchen, got the chair, and screwed the bulb into the kitchen light. The light came on and he could see everything.

He could see that his hands and his pyjamas were covered in dirt. He couldn’t have breakfast like that. He went into the bathroom to wash his hands. The light didn’t work. He took the chair and went into the hall and unscrewed the light bulb from the hall light. He took it back into the bathroom and screwed it in. The light came on. He put his pyjamas into the laundry basket and washed his hands. When he dried his hands on the towel, it got very dirty. He put it in the laundry basket and went to get a clean one from the cupboard in the hall.

He switched on the hall light, but there was no bulb in it. He took his chair into his bedroom and got the light bulb from his light and took it back out into the hall. He switched the hall light on and got a clean towel. He went into his bedroom to put some clothes on, but the light didn’t work.

Benson sighed. He took his chair into the kitchen and unscrewed the light bulb, and put it in the light in his bedroom. He found some clothes and put them on. He went to the kitchen to get some breakfast.

It was dark in the kitchen and the light didn’t work. Benson sighed. He got an apple from the fruit bowl and went back to his room and ate it. He turned the light off and lay down on his bed. Time for a nap, he thought.

The Three Turtles

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a nice wombat hole in the ground, with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One morning Benson and his mother were in the kitchen making strawberry jam. They chopped up lots of strawberries, and put them in a pan with sugar and water and lemon juice. Benson’s mother was stirring it very carefully because it was very very hot, when she noticed something odd near the doorway.

“Benson, there are three turtles trying to get into the kitchen. Can you take them outside, please?” she said.

Benson picked up one of the turtles. Its little legs waved in the air. He carried it outside and put it down near the garden. He went back inside and picked up another turtle. It was quite heavy, for a small turtle. He carried it with two hands, and took it outside.

He went back in and picked up the third turtle. By now, the first turtle was coming in again and climbing up the curtains. Benson hurried up and took the third turtle outside. The second turtle was coming in again too, biting the table-cloth. Benson grabbed the first turtle away from the curtains and ran outside with it. The third turtle was already inside again, walking up the kitchen table legs.

Benson picked up the third turtle and put it on top of the second turtle but they were too heavy to carry both together. The first turtle came waddling back in and started nibbling on Benson’s mother’s toes.

“Benson,” said his mother, “get a box.”

Benson ran to his room and got a box. He put the first turtle in the box. He put the second turtle in the box. He picked up the third turtle. The other two turtles were already climbing over the side of the box. He put the third turtle into the box and grabbed the second turtle. The first turtle was in the saucepan cupboard, looking around. Benson put the second turtle in the box, and started chasing the first turtle.

“Benson, get the broom,” said his mother.

Benson ran and got the wide, soft broom. He got the first turtle out of the cupboard and carefully pushed it towards the other two with the broom. He pushed the three of them along gently, past the box and towards the door. The first turtle slid around the end of the broom and started to eat the carpet. Benson ran after it, and the other two turtles starting toddling away towards the bathroom. Benson sat down and put his head between his hands.

Just then Aunt Moss came along. “Oh, look at those turtles!” she said. “Come along, little fellows, come on.” The three turtles came up to Aunt Moss, and followed her in a straight line down the hall.

Benson looked at his mother. He felt exhausted. “I think this jam is ready,” she said. “I think we deserve a sandwich.”

Benson and the Caterpillar Socks

Once there was a young wombat called Benson, who lived in a wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson was in the kitchen doing some painting. He started painting a caterpillar, but it didn’t come out right. The paintbrush made it too smooth and he wanted it to be hairy. He went into the bedroom and got some socks. He put one sock over his hand and dipped it in the green paint, then he dabbed the paper in big blobs. It looked exactly like a big green hairy caterpillar.

The sock was big, though, so the caterpillar overflowed the paper and went on along the top of the table. Benson got rid of the paper and made a lovely long green caterpillar on the table. Then he got another sock and dipped it in the brown paint, and made a beautiful brown caterpillar curving around the other end of the table.

He still had another sock, so he dabbed it in the red paint and painted a cheerful red caterpillar winding around the other two. They were very good caterpillars.

Aunt Lillibet came in and gave a scream. “Benson, what have you done to the table?”

Benson suddenly felt a bad feeling in his stomach. He had painted caterpillars all over the table.

Aunt Moss came in, singing times tables in her head, and saw what they were doing. “Oh, I love those caterpillars!” she said.

“He’s put paint all over the table!” Aunt Lillibet said. She picked up a wet cloth. “Benson, clean it up at once.”

“Oh, no, not those beautiful caterpillars,” Aunt Moss said. She grabbed the wet cloth away from Aunt Lillibet. “You’re not just going to wipe them away!”

“Give me the cloth!” shouted Aunt Lillibet.

“No!” shouted Aunt Moss. They started fighting over the cloth, trying to get it away from each other. Benson stood there, with a red sock on his hand, feeling terrible.

His mother came in. “Girls, that’s enough,” she said. She took the cloth away from them and gave it to Benson. Benson wiped all the paint off the table.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“The table is fine,” said his mother, “but I don’t think we’ll ever get the paint out of those socks.”

They never did get the paint out of them, so Benson wore them like that, sometimes one red and one brown, sometimes one brown and one green. He didn’t mind at all.

Autumn Leaves

Once there was a young wombat called Benson, who lived in a comfortable hole in the ground with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

In the autumn Benson liked to pile the brown and yellow leaves up in big piles and jump on the them and roll in them. Once he made a pile so big that it was taller than he was. He had to climb onto a chair to jump into it. He decided to gather all the leaves up and make lots of enormous piles like a mountain range of leaves in the backyard. He was in the middle of building the most enormous pile he had ever seen when his mother called him in for lunch.

It was pea and pumpkin soup, orange with green dots. He picked up his spoon and Aunt Lillibet picked up hers and Benson’s mother said, “Where’s Moss?”

Aunt Lillibet said, “Did you call her and tell her lunch was ready?”

“I called her, but she didn’t answer,” Benson’s mother said. “Was she outside with you, Benson?”

Benson said, “I was busy with my leaves. I didn’t see her anywhere.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “Maybe she’s been taken by wolves. Wolves get very hungry in cold weather. Maybe they sneaked up and caught her in their mouths and took her away to eat her.”

Benson’s eyes grew round. Benson’s mother said, “There are no wolves around here, Lillibet.”

“Maybe she fell down through a time vortex and is swirling around and around in all those yesterdays and she’ll never be in today again,” said Aunt Lillibet.

“Don’t be silly, Lillibet,” said Benson’s mother. “There’s no such thing as a time vortex.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “There is such a thing as quicksand. Maybe she was sucked into quicksand and we’ll never see her again. Poor Moss.”

“We don’t have any quicksand,” Benson’s mother said. “We should go and look for her.”

Benson said, “Maybe she fell down and hit her head. Maybe she went for a walk and got lost. Maybe there was a snake!”

“Benson,” his mother said, “we’re going to stop maybe-ing and go and look for her. Lillibet, would you go and look in Moss’s room, please? Benson, could you go and look outside?”

Benson went outside. He felt worried and shaky in his stomach. He went over to his leaf mountains. In the middle of one mountain, there was a rustling noise like a snake. Benson shouted for his mother in a squeaky kind of voice.

His mother came out at once. “Have you found her?” she said.

“I think there’s something in the leaf pile,” Benson said. He took his mother’s hand. There was a bigger rustling in the leaf pile.

Benson’s mother went over to the pile and poked it. Aunt Moss sat up from the middle of the leaf pile.

She yawned. “I’ve been having the loveliest sleep,” she said. “The leaves looked so soft, so I sat down, and it was so comfortable and warm, I just went off to sleep. Is it lunchtime yet?”

“Yes, it’s lunchtime,” Benson’s mother said. “It’s pumpkin and pea soup.”

“My favourite!” said Aunt Moss.

Benson’s mother pulled some leaves out of Aunt Moss’s hair and they all went inside and had their soup.

The Meeting

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a nice little hole in the ground with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson’s mother was going to a council meeting.

“What’s a council meeting?” asked Benson.

“It’s when a lot of wombats go to a meeting and argue a lot and then they go home,” said his mother.

“Can I come?” Benson asked.

His mother thought about it. “You aren’t old enough to be able to vote, but you can come and watch if you like.”

They both walked to the meeting together. Benson’s mother sat at the top of a table and looked very stern. She said, “Let’s begin the meeting. We need to decide whether we should plant more trees.”

Everyone started to argue and talk at the same time.

Benson said, “Excuse me.”

“Yes, Benson?” said his mother.

“I’m thirsty. May I please have a glass of water?”

“Of course,” said his mother. “What beautiful manners.” She gave him a glass of water.

Everyone else stopped talking and looked at Benson. They looked at his mother. Then a fat wombat in the front row put his hand up.

“Yes, Malcolm?” said Benson’s mother.

“I think we should plant more trees,” the wombat said.

“Thank you, Malcolm. Who else thinks we should plant more trees?”

Everyone raised their hands. “Good,” said Benson’s mother. “We’ll plant more trees, then. Now we need to decide who is going to help keep the waterhole clean.”

Everyone started to talk at once.

Benson put his hand up. Everyone else stopped talking and looked at Benson.

Benson said, “This is very good water. I would like to help keep the waterhole clean, if I can.”

“Of course you can. Thank you, Benson.”

Everyone else put their hands up. “Do you all want to help clean up the waterhole?” Benson’s mother asked.

Everyone nodded their heads.

“Good. Everyone will help. Now we’ve finished the meeting.”

Benson and his mother walked home together. “That was a good meeting,” Benson said.

“Thank you, Benson,” said his mother.

The Spider

Once there was a young wombat called Benson who lived in a hole in the ground with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One morning Aunt Moss was peeling apples at the kitchen bench. Benson was at the table, colouring dragons. All of a sudden Aunt Moss gave a kind of scream and jumped back, with the peeler still in her hand.

“Benson!” she said. “Look!”

She pointed with the peeler. On the bench there was an apple, and around the apple was a brown hairy spider.

Benson jumped up and went over. “It’s all right, Aunt Moss. He won’t hurt you. He’s got a friendly face.”

Aunt Moss didn’t move. She was afraid of spiders. She wasn’t afraid of snakes, and she wasn’t afraid of the dark and she wasn’t afraid of burglars, but she was afraid of spiders.

Benson said, “I’ll take it outside, don’t worry.” He carefully lifted the apple up by its stem, and took it outside. He carried it over to the fence where the long grass was and put it down. Then he saw a long green snake in the grass.

“Help!” he shouted. “Help! There’s a snake!”

Aunt Moss ran out. She picked up Benson in her arms and held him tight. “Shoo,“ she shouted at the snake. She stamped on the ground with both feet and shouted. The snake slithered away, under the fence and into the bushes way on the other side of the paddock.

“It’s all right, Benson, it’s gone now,” she said. Benson opened his eyes again.

“It was a snake,” he said.

“I know,” Aunt Moss said. They gave each other a big hug.

Sticky Tape

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a very nice hole in the ground with his mother, and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One day Benson got some sticky tape stuck in his hair.

‘Oh dear,’ said Aunt Moss, ‘you’ll have to soak your head in eucalyptus oil to get it out.’

‘Just when I needed some sticky tape to wrap a parcel!’ said Aunt Lillibet.

Benson’s mother said, ‘Stand still, Benson, and I’ll pull it out. One sharp pull and it will all be over.’

Benson didn’t want a sharp pull, and he didn’t want to smell like a koala. He jumped onto his bike and rode away.

A long way down the road, he stopped and got off his bike. He tried pulling the sticky tape out slowly, bit by bit, but it hurt every time he pulled it.

Then he thought he would push his head into a bush, and the branches would scrape the sticky tape out. He found a sharp, scratchy bush, and put his head into it, but the prickles and leaves and bits of stick all stuck to the sticky tape too, and he had a big, prickly lump of sticky stuff on his head.

‘Maybe it will wash out,’ he thought to himself. He found a cool, green pond on the side of the road, and he put his head down into the water. He waited for a long while, but the sticky tape didn’t wash off. Instead, bits of weed and mud and dragonfly wings and old paper boats stuck to the sticky tape. The big, prickly lump turned into an enormous lumpy sticky clump of mucky mess.

Benson sat down and thought, until he knew what to do. He got on his bike and rode back home.

Aunt Lillibet said, ‘Benson, is that you? What have you done to yourself?’

Aunt Moss fainted.

Benson said to his mother, ‘Do you think one sharp pull will still do it?’

Benson’s mother nodded. She took hold of the lump of sticky stuff. ‘One, two, three,’ she said, and gave a short, sharp pull.

‘Ow,’ said Benson. The sticky tape and all the mucky, messy stuff came out of his hair. It hurt for a minute and then it stopped.

‘That’s better,’ said Benson.

Benson Goes Fishing

Once there was a young wombat whose name was Benson, who lived in a fairly nice hole in the ground with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One day Benson decided to go fishing. He took his dark green fishing rod, and a bucket of worms and went down to the river.

He got his fishing rod ready, and he picked up the first worm to put on the hook. The worm wriggled on his hand and surprised him, and he dropped it on the ground. It wormed away.

He took out the second worm. This one wriggled along the palm of his hand and curled itself around his finger. He put it down on the ground and watched it squirm away into the dirt.

He got another worm out of the bucket and held it in his hand. It was kind of pink and brown, and very shiny. He watched it stretch out and scrunch up. After a while he put it back in the bucket. He lay down on his tummy beside the river and watched the fish dart in little sharp moves, under and over each other, and sometimes into each other.

After a long while, he picked up his fishing rod and the bucket of worms and walked home again. His aunt Moss was in the garden digging. “Oh, Benson,” she said, “you’ve got a whole bucket of worms! How lovely! I was just thinking how the soil here could do with some good, healthy worms.”

They tipped the bucket out onto the bare dirt, and watched the worms set to work.

Aunt Moss said, “It must be lunchtime. Are you hungry?”

Benson was hungry, and so was Aunt Moss. They picked some carrots out of the garden and took them inside. Aunt Moss gave them a wash, and Benson chopped the tops off for the compost.

Benson’s mother came into the kitchen. “Carrots for lunch?” she said. “Lovely!”

Benson and the Saxophone Lesson

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in quite a nice hole in the ground with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet, and Moss.

One day he was just finishing his lunch – cutworms and spaghetti, when his Aunt Lillibet said, ‘Time for you to do the washing-up, Benson.’

She filled up the sink with nice hot water. ‘First the plates.’ Benson washed the plates.

‘Now the glasses, and the knives and forks.’

Benson washed the glasses and the knives and forks.

‘Now the pots and pans. Mind you scrub right into the corners.’ The pots and pans were dirty and greasy. Benson washed very slowly.

‘Now the table-cloth,’ said Aunt Lillibet.

‘The table-cloth?’

‘Yes, the table-cloth. Look at it! It’s covered in spots. It needs a good wash.’

‘Yes, Aunt Lillibet,’ said Benson. She stuffed the table-cloth into the sink. It was way too big. Suds went everywhere.

‘When you’ve finished that, you can do the curtains. It’s ages since they had a good wash.’

Aunt Lillibet pulled the curtains down and piled them next to the sink. Benson couldn’t see over them.

‘The table and chairs could do with a good scrub, too,’ she said. She pushed the table over to the sink and stacked the chairs on top of it.

‘When you finish those, there’s the stove,’ she said. The stove was very heavy, but Lillibet was very strong-minded. Once she had an idea in her head, you couldn’t talk her out of it. She dragged the stove across to the sink and heaved it on top of the stack of chairs.

The chairs started to wobble. Benson got ready to run.

‘And the fridge!’ Aunt Lillibet said. ‘Anyone can see that the fridge needs a wash.’

She pushed and dragged and shoved the fridge over to the sink. She wrapped her arms around it and got ready to lift. The stove on top of the chairs on top of the table on top of the curtains next to the sink started to sway.

Benson held his breath.

Benson’s mother walked into the kitchen. ‘It’s time for your saxophone lesson, Benson,’ she said. ‘Aunt Lillibet can finish the dishes for you.’

‘Okay,’ said Benson, and they scampered off together.

Flower Seeds

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a nice little hole in the ground with his mother, and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One morning Aunt Lillibet said, “Benson, I don’t like the look of your fingernails. I don’t think they’re up to any serious digging.”

Benson had spent the morning digging an extension for his bedroom to put his books and his microscope in. He didn’t say anything.

Aunt Lillibet said, “After breakfast we’ll go down to the garden shop and get you something you can dig with properly.”

After breakfast they went to the garden shop. Aunt Moss needed some flower seeds so she came too.

Aunt Lillibet found a very pretty trowel, with purple and pink flowers painted on it. “This is just the thing,” she said. Benson’s heart sank.

Aunt Moss said, “It is very nice, but do you think it will be big enough, Lillibet?”

“You may be right, Moss.” Aunt Lillibet picked up a handy little spade. “This is better.”

Aunt Moss said, “Yes, much better, but is it big enough for really serious digging?”
Aunt Lillibet picked up a shovel that was three times as big as she was. She could hardly lift it. “This is more like it!” she said.

Aunt Moss said, “Perfect. But if there are any rocks in the soil, will it be big enough?”

“Definitely not,” said Aunt Lillibet. “Come with me.” Outside there was a row of shiny new bobcats. Benson started to get excited. “Climb aboard, Benson,” she said.

Benson scrambled up into the driver’s seat. He pushed the levers and turned the wheel, and made digging noises.

“It’s lovely,” said Aunt Moss, “for the smaller rocks, of course. If you don’t want a really big hole.”

Aunt Lillibet wrinkled up her forehead. She called the salesman. “Do you have anything bigger than this?”

The salesman went away and came back driving a huge, shiny yellow excavator. It was a big as a house. Benson was so excited he was jumping up and down. He imagined scooping up giant rocks and buckets full of dirt.

Aunt Lillibet said to the salesman, “That’s more like it. How much is this one?”

The salesman showed her the price-tag. Aunt Lillibet went purple. She huffed, “Come along, Benson, come along, Moss. We’re going home. Those nails of your look perfectly all right to me.”

“I always say there’s nothing like a hole dug by hand,” said Aunt Moss. “Now, what about my flower seeds?”

Down to the River to Swim

Once there was a young wombat whose name was Benson, and he lived in a nice hole in the ground with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One day Aunt Lillibet said, “Benson, I’m going to take you down to the river, and you can practise your swimming.”

Benson put on his swimmers and his swimming t-shirt. He got his goggles and his flippers and his face-mask and his snorkel. He put his sun-screen on.

“Ready?” said Aunt Lillibet.

Benson thought for a minute, then he went back inside for his hat, and a sandwich. “I’m ready,” he said.

They went down to the river. It took a long time. Flippers are slow to walk in.

When they got to the river, Benson stopped. It was a dry riverbed. There was no water at all in the river, only sand, and some small rocks.

“Off you go,” said Aunt Lillibet. She sat under a tree and read a book.

Benson stomped into the river and sat down in the sand. He dug a hole with his flippers and then he used them to smooth the sand out and make giant frog footprints. He put his face-mask on and peered at the ants and the beetles and the bugs that were busy catching things and eating things in the river bed. He dug a long tunnel and pretended he was in a submarine, with his snorkel for a periscope.

Aunt Lillibet said, “It’s nearly time to go, Benson.”

Benson said, “I haven’t had my sandwich yet.” He climbed along a dead tree and ate his sandwich at the very top. Then he lay down in the river bed and made sand-angels with his arms. He collected pebbles and filled up his goggles with them.

Aunt Lillibet said, “Time to go home.”

“Already?” said Benson. He picked up his flippers and his face-mask and his snorkel and his goggles and his pebbles and they went home.

Benson Plays the Piano

Once there was a young wombat whose name was Benson. He lived in a nice little hole with his mother, and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One day Benson sat down at the piano. Aunt Lillibet came along. ‘You can’t play the piano,’ she said.

‘Sure I can,’ said Benson.

‘You’ve never played the piano in your life,’ said Aunt Lillibet.

‘That won’t stop me,’ said Benson.

Aunt Lillibet called Benson’s mother. ‘Benson says he’s going to play the piano.’

‘Lovely,’ said Benson’s mother. She sat down to listen.

‘He’s never had a piano lesson. He doesn’t know the first thing about playing the piano,’ said Aunt Lillibet.

‘It doesn’t look hard,’ said Benson.

Aunt Lillibet called Aunt Moss. ‘Benson is trying to play the piano and he doesn’t know how. He’s going to make a mess of it,’ she said.

Moss said, ‘Why don’t you show him how?’

‘Me?’ said Lillibet. ‘It’s years since I played the piano.’

‘You can play the piano?’ said Benson. ‘Would you like to go first, Aunt Lillibet?’

‘I’ve forgotten all my music. My fingers are too stiff. I’m out of practice,’ Lillibet said.

‘Okay, me first, then’ said Benson. He raised his hands over the keys.

‘Stop! You CAN’T play the piano. It takes years of practice and hundreds of lessons. Don’t touch that piano!’

Benson brought his hands down on the keys. He played a chord. He played some of the notes of Twinkle Twinkle and some of the notes of Happy Birthday. He played loud and he played soft. He ran his fingers up and down the keys and played rivers of sound. He played some high notes and some low notes and a whole bunch of notes in between. When he finished, he lifted his hands off the keys and smiled.

‘Lovely,’ said his mother, smiling. Aunt Moss clapped. Benson bowed.

‘That’s not playing the piano,’ Aunt Lillibet said.

‘Sure it is,’ said Benson.

Benson Gets his Hair Cut

Once there was a young wombat whose name was Benson, who lived in a very nice wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One morning Aunt Lillibet said, “Benson, you need a haircut.”

When Benson was happy, his hair stood up on end all over.

“Moss, you’d better come with us. I need a new hat, and you can help me pick one out,“ Aunt Lillibet said. Benson’s hair lay down all over. Buying hats with Aunt Lillibet was worse than having bull-ants in your socks.

Aunt Moss got her boots and her umbrella and they set off.

At the hairdresser’s, Aunt Lillibet said, “This is Benson. He needs a haircut. I’m just going over to the hat shop but I’ll be back in ten minutes.”

“Are you going to get something new and different, Lillibet?” said Aunt Moss.

“Oh, yes,” said Aunt Lillibet. “My old hat is too low on the top, and much too wide. I want something that stands up higher on the top, and comes in more at the sides.”

“Oh, higher on the top, then, and shorter at the sides,” said Aunt Moss.

“High on the top and short at the sides,” said the hairdresser.

“With some trailing bits down the back, I think,” said Aunt Lillibet.

“Oh, yes, trailing bits down the back would be lovely!” said Aunt Moss.

“Trailing bits down the back,” said the hairdresser.

“What colour are you thinking of?” asked Aunt Moss.

“A nice red, or bright maroon,” said Aunt Lillibet.

“Red or maroon,” said the hairdresser.

“I’ll be back shortly,” said Aunt Lillibet.

She and Aunt Moss went to the hat shop. They were there for a long time. They looked at hats, they tried on hats, lots of different colours, lots of different shapes. Aunt Lillibet bought a hat that was shaped like a letter box. It was blue, with black spots on it that looked like squashed mice.

They finally came back to the hairdresser’s to get Benson. His hair was very short at the sides, and very high on the top, with some trailing bits down the back. It was a nice maroon-y shade of red.

Aunt Lillibet couldn’t say a word. Aunt Moss said, “I wonder what your mother will say.” Benson was so happy that his hair stood up all over.

About the Benson stories

Telling stories to children is a way of connecting your world to theirs, opening up the space between you to new possibilities and different ways of looking at the world. Writing down the stories you tell means that the ephemeral becomes something you can go back to and remember all over again – but the live story, the story that changes every time you tell it, is still out there, still living. Never stop telling stories, the old ones and new ones all the time.