Operation Ivory Tickle
Win Partridge called out the notes of the song as he played them slowly on the piano. He was supposed to practise for fifteen minutes each day. But his dad wouldn’t be home for another two hours, so Win thought maybe he could stop now and do the rest later. He wasn’t good at reading music yet and he was even worse at finding the notes on the keyboard.
“That’s why I don’t enjoy practising,” Win told his dad yesterday.
“Well,” said his dad with a grin, “I know how to solve that: by practising.”
Win knew his dad was right. The only way to get better was to practise. But as he sat at the piano, he fingered the acorn-shaped locket hanging from a shoelace necklace. He thought again about the dream he had yesterday afternoon.
In his dream, the old oak tree in the garden talked to him. The tree then gave him special powers and he flew all over London rescuing secret papers belonging to the Queen.
Win decided it must have been a dream because...well, how else could he explain what had happened? But just to make sure it was a dream, Win stepped away from the piano and went to the old oak tree in the garden.
He felt silly standing in front of the tree. But finally he said to it, “Hi, tree! Uh, so...you didn’t happen to send me on a mission yesterday, did you?”
Win listened for an answer. But the tree was as quiet as...well, as a tree. So he shrugged and turned to head back to the house. That’s when he heard a voice.
“Are you talking to me?” the voice said.
Win’s heart leapt. But then he realised it was just Ms Haskett, their next-door neighbour.
“Afternoon, Ms Haskett!”
“I can’t see you, boy. That tree’s in my way!”
Ms Haskett was always finding something about their oak tree to complain about:
“It blocks the sun!”
“It drops too many acorns on my property!”
“It lures my cats into its high branches where they can’t get down!”
But Win stepped out from behind the tree anyway and gave her a friendly wave hello.
Ms Haskett harrumphed and went back into her house. Win was about to do the same. But then he heard the voice of a kind and wise woman.
“If Ms Haskett had her way, she would turn me into firewood by the end of the week.”
Win gasped. It was the tree speaking!
“So flying around London with dragonfly wings wasn’t a dream?!” Win asked.
“Of course it wasn’t a dream,” said the oak. “But that was yesterday. Today we need you to decode a secret message and find out where C.R.A.B. hid something very valuable.”
“The Company of Really Awful Baddies. Now then...”
Win felt an acorn fall on his head.
“That’s your power for today,” said the tree. “And remember, the power doesn’t last long. So step inside my trunk, quickly!”
Win picked up the glowing acorn from the ground and placed it inside his locket. He felt it vibrating gently against his chest.
“What’s it gonna do to me?” he asked a bit nervously. “And what kind of valuable thing am I looking for?”
But the tree was silent again. Win noticed that his neighbour had come back outside to tend to her flowers. He guessed that the tree wouldn’t talk while Ms Haskett was nearby. So he found the gap in the trunk just wide enough to squeeze through. Instantly, everything went dark.
When Win stepped outside again, he emerged from a tree across the street from the Royal Albert Concert Hall. Limousines and taxis were dropping off people wearing tuxedos and fancy gowns.
Two well-dressed people even stepped out of a horse-drawn carriage parked out front.
Win approached the horse. As the horse munched from its feedbag, Win gave it a pat on its muzzle.
“I suppose my mission is here,” Win said to the horse. Then he went through the front doors of the concert hall.
Inside, he heard several people mutter, “von Plop! von Plop!” Win saw a large poster of a serious-looking, curly-haired boy. Win read the poster which said tonight’s concert would be performed by “the famous eight-year-old sensation, Pierre von Plop!”
People began to crowd around Win. They looked at him strangely. Feeling uncomfortable, Win squeezed through the crowd and dashed to the back of the building to look for another entrance.
“It sure doesn’t feel like I have a special power yet,” Win said to himself.
Just then, the back door of the concert hall flew open. A woman exclaimed, “Ah! Right on time! Come to your dressing room. You must get ready!”
Before Win could protest, she ushered him into a small room with a big mirror.
“I’ll leave you alone to prepare,” the woman said before shutting the door behind her.
Win caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. Where was his red hair? Now it was dark and curly. In fact, where was his face? The face he saw in the mirror was...Pierre von Plop’s!
“That woman must have thought I was him!” Win said to himself.
Then Win noticed a stack of sheet music on the counter and picked one up. Win used to think sheet music was almost impossible to read. But now he looked at the notes on the page and could instantly hear the music in his head! He felt like it would be easy to sit down and play all of it on a piano.
“In fact,” Win realised, “that’s exactly what I’m supposed to do! That’s my power – to be von Plop! Maybe somewhere in this music is the secret message revealing where the valuable thing is hidden!”
The dressing room door suddenly opened. A boy with dark, curly hair stood in the doorway. The two identical-looking boys stared at each other
“You’re...you’re von Plop!” said Win.
“And you’re an imposter!” said von Plop.
Pierre Von Plop scowled at the acorn locket around Win’s neck. Win gasped as he saw the locket von Plop was wearing. It was in the shape of a crab!
“You work for C.R.A.B.?!” Win gulped.
Without answering, von Plop lunged for the sheet music in Win’s hands. Win dodged von Plop, then dashed out the door and down the hall. Von Plop ran after him in hot pursuit.
“Come back here!” he shouted at Win.
Win turned left, then right, then left again, trying to get von Plop off his trail. But Win had no idea where he was going and after turning right again he found himself...on stage!
A thousand people applauded wildly because they thought he was von Plop.
Win swallowed nervously, took a bow, then walked with trembling legs over to the grand piano. He placed the sheet music in front of him, cleared his throat...then played.
His fingers flew over the keys. It felt wonderful to be able to play music. It was so easy! After all, there are only seven musical notes one has to know. The notes are named for the first seven letters of the alphabet, A through to G.
“Why did I ever think that was hard?” Win thought to himself as he played a series of notes over and over. The notes were F-E-E-D-B-A-G.
Win gasped. The notes were spelling a word!
“‘Feedbag’!” Win whispered to himself. “That’s the secret message in the music! That horse parked in front of the concert hall...the valuable must be hidden in its feedbag!”
Just then, Win caught sight of von Plop at the side of the stage. Win’s fingers began hitting wrong notes.
*BLOMP! PLONK! PLOONK!*
It sounded awful! Win’s powers were fading fast. People in the audience began to boo. They sounded angry. Win had to get out of there! So, he did the only thing he could think of. He played the very end of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” as well as he could.
*Duh duh, duh duh, DUH DUH DUH!*
He bowed quickly, then ran down the aisle of the concert hall and out the front door.
Out on the street, Win ran up to the horse and carriage.
“Excuse me, Mr Horse,” he said as he reached into the feedbag. Buried in the oats he felt...a small pouch! Reaching into the pouch, he pulled out...a pepper shaker?
“That’s the valuable?” Win thought, confused.
But he had no time to stop and wonder. Win saw von Plop running after him. He placed the shaker back into the pouch, then dashed across the street to the tree he emerged from earlier. Win squeezed inside its trunk.
An instant later, he found himself back in his garden. Two squirrels gently removed the pouch from his grasp and scurried off with it.
“Don’t worry,” said the oak tree. “They’ll take it where it needs to go. That’s no ordinary pepper shaker.”
Win was full of questions. But instead of asking them, he let out a sigh of relief.
“At least I did what I was supposed to do,” he said. “I practised the piano!”
Benefits of reading Go Nuts - Operation Ivory Tickle
This short story covers the quest theme. Operation Ivory Tickle is written and narrated in the third person. This story portrays a father-son relationship. We recommend children with a reading age of 3 - 7 years old for this story.
Who are the main characters in Go Nuts - Operation Ivory Tickle?
The main character in the Go Nuts series is seven-year-old Win Partridge. This is a fantasy story set in London. In episode 2 characters include a musician, neighbour, talking tree, horse and a squirrel.