Authors: Malorie Blackman
“Elizabeth Ruby Biggalow, I . . . I . . .” For once Gran’ma Liz was lost for words!
It’s Betsey’s birthday! But where are all her cards and presents? And where is that cake?
! Has everyone forgotten? Betsey decides to make a birthday treat for herself but she’s in for a surprise . . .
Four sunny Caribbean tales, perfect for building reading confidence.
Betsey Biggalow Is Here!
Betsey Biggalow the Detective
For Neil and Lizzy,
with love as always.
“Oink! Oink! Oink! Oink!”
Betsey snuffled into the kitchen where the whole family were sitting down to breakfast. She snuffled along the ground and oinked again!
“Betsey child, what’re you doing?” Gran’ma Liz frowned.
“I’m a pig!” Betsey announced.
“Tell us something we don’t already know!” laughed Sherena, Betsey’s bigger sister. “You eat like a pig and thanks to you, our room looks like a pigsty!”
“No, you don’t understand. I’m going to spend this weekend being all kinds of different animals,” Betsey explained.
“Uh-oh!” said Desmond, Betsey’s bigger brother.
“I don’t like the sound of that,” said Sherena.
“Sounds like another of Betsey’s ideas,” Mum sighed and poured herself another cup of coffee.
Gran’ma Liz just shook her head.
“I know I’m going to be sorry I asked this, but why d’you want to be all kinds of different animals?” asked Sherena.
“So I can see what it’s like, of course,” Betsey replied. “Then I can compare it to being a girl. Mrs Rhodes, my teacher, said that we have to think about which animal we’d most like to be and then say why in class. Well, I can’t decide until I’ve tried to be some of them, can I?”
“Betsey, I’ll say one thing for you – you’re different!” said Sherena.
“No, I’m not. I’m a pig!” said Betsey. “Oink! Oink!”
“Betsey, you’re getting in everyone’s way. Sit down and eat your breakfast,” said Gran’ma Liz.
“Couldn’t you put it on the floor for me?” asked Betsey. “Pigs don’t eat at a table with a knife and fork.”
“Elizabeth Ruby Biggalow, you will sit at the table and eat with this family or go without,” said Gran’ma firmly.
Uh-oh! There it was again. Whenever Gran’ma Liz used Betsey’s whole, full name, Betsey knew she’d better pay close attention! She stood up at once. Botheration! Being a pig didn’t last very long – and she was just getting into it as well! Betsey sat at the table and had a long, hard think.
What animal can I be now? she wondered. Then she had a wonderful idea.
“Sherena, can I borrow your saucer?” Betsey asked.
Puzzled, Sherena lifted up her cup of coffee and handed over the saucer underneath it. Betsey poured some orange juice out of her glass and into the saucer.
“Betsey, what—” But before Sherena could say another word, Betsey bent her head and started lapping at the orange juice.
“Betsey, stop that! It’s going all over the table,” said Gran’ma Liz.
“Miaow!” said Betsey. And she carried on lapping at her orange juice.
“Elizabeth Ruby Biggalow . . .” said Gran’ma Liz ominously.
Betsey stopped lapping at once. Gran’ma Liz had used her whole, full name
in less than five minutes!
“But Gran’ma, this is how cats drink,” Betsey protested.
“Cats don’t drink orange juice,” Desmond pointed out. “They drink milk.”
“Yeuk!” Betsey’s face scrunched up at the thought of it.
“Find some other animal to be,” Gran’ma Liz ordered. “As a pig you’re in the way and as a cat you’re too messy.”
And with that Gran’ma Liz scooped up the saucer and placed it in the sink – so that was the end of that! Betsey sighed and straightened up. It wasn’t easy being any kind of animal with Gran’ma Liz around!
“Betsey, no more animals at the breakfast table, if you don’t mind,” said Gran’ma Liz.
Betsey picked up her glass of orange juice and began to drink. Drinking as a cat was much more fun!
After breakfast, when all the dishes had been washed and dried and put away, Betsey had another think about what else she could be. She had to become an animal that wasn’t in the way and wasn’t messy . . .
“Got it!” Betsey said happily.
She went out into the living room and lay down on the floor. She put her hands at her sides and her feet together and started slithering and wriggling.
“Betsey, have you seen my glasses?” Gran’ma Liz walked into the living room.
“Gran’ma Liz, don’t step on me,” Betsey said quickly.
And only just in time too. One more step and Gran’ma Liz would’ve stepped on Betsey for sure.
Betsey carried on slithering and wriggling.
“What on earth are you doing, child?” Gran’ma Liz asked.
“I’m a worm,” Betsey replied. “But I’m not making much progress. I’ve only moved a few centimetres. It must be hard work being a worm. And you almost stepped on me. So it must be quite dangerous being a worm too.”
“It’s harder work being your grandmother,” said Gran’ma Liz. “Betsey, get up off the floor. You’ll ruin your clothes.”
“But Gran’ma . . .”
“But nothing. Up. NOW!”
With a deep, deep sigh, Betsey stood up. Botheration plus one hundred!
“You’re in the way as a pig, you’re messy as a cat and you’re underfoot as a worm!’ said Gran’ma Liz. “I think that’s enough animals for one day.”
And that was that! Botheration plus one million!!
All day long, Betsey racked her brains. What animal could she be that
upset Gran’ma? Maybe she could be a chirp-chirping bird? No. Gran’ma would say she was too noisy! Maybe she could be a flying fish – splish-splashing in the bath tub. No. Gran’ma Liz would say she was too wet!
Later that night, as Betsey put on her pyjamas to go to bed, she said to her dog, “Oh Prince! This is a lot harder than I thought it would be.”
“Woof!” Prince agreed.
As Betsey climbed into bed, she still hadn’t decided on which animal she could be.
“I’ll think about it in my sleep,” Betsey yawned. “Then I’m bound to get an answer.”
And with that Betsey pulled the bed clothes up around her neck, closed her eyes and was asleep in less than a minute.
Betsey opened her eyes and was instantly awake. It was the middle of the night. Silvery moonlight streamed in through the window. Betsey sat up and took a look around. Something had woken her up but Betsey wasn’t sure what it was. Creak! Creeeee-eeeak! There it was again. Someone was creeping through the house . . .