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Authors: Anne Fine

Tags: #Ages 7 & Up

Bill's New Frock

BOOK: Bill's New Frock
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Also by Anne Fine
The Chicken Gave it to Me
How to Write Really Badly
Saving Miss Mirabelle
Anneli the Art Hater
The Angel of Nitshill Road
Ivan the Terrible
Genie, Genie, Genie
Press Play
Illustrated by Philippe Dupasquier
You can visit Anne Fine’s website
www.annefine.co.uk
and download free bookplates from
www.myhomelibrary.org
First published in Great Britain 1989
by Methuen Children’s Books
This edition published 2010
by Egmont UK Limited
239 Kensington High Street
London W8 6SA
Text copyright © Anne Fine 1989
Illustrations copyright © Philippe Dupasquier 1989
The moral rights of the author and illustrator have been asserted
ISBN 978 1 4052 3318 7
eBook ISBN 978 1 7803 1160 9
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library
Printed and bound in Great Britain by the CPI Group
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher and copyright owner.
Contents

1   A really awful start

2   The wumpy choo

3   Pink, pink, nothing but pink

4   No pockets

5   The big fight

6   Letting Paul win

7   Happy ending

1
A really awful start

When Bill Simpson woke up on Monday morning, he found he was a girl.

He was still standing staring at himself in the mirror, quite baffled, when his mother swept in.

‘Why don’t you wear this pretty pink dress?’ she said.

‘I
never
wear dresses,’ Bill burst out.

‘I know,’ his mother said. ‘It’s such a pity.’

And, to his astonishment, before he could even begin to argue, she had dropped the dress over his head and zipped up the back.

‘I’ll leave you to do up the shell buttons,’ she said. ‘They’re a bit fiddly and I’m late for work.’

And she swept out, leaving him staring in dismay at the mirror. In it, a girl with his curly red hair and wearing a pretty pink frock with fiddly shell buttons was staring back at him in equal dismay.

‘This can’t be true,’ Bill Simpson said to himself. ‘This cannot be true!’

He stepped out of his bedroom just as his father was rushing past. He, too, was late in getting off to work.

Mr Simpson leaned over and planted a kiss on Bill’s cheek.

‘Bye, Poppet,’ he said, ruffling Bill’s curls. ‘You look very sweet today. It’s not
often we see you in a frock, is it?’

He ran down the stairs and out of the house so quickly he didn’t see Bill’s scowl, or hear what he muttered savagely under his breath.

Bella the cat didn’t seem to notice any difference. She purred and rubbed her soft furry body around his ankles in exactly the same way as she always did.

And Bill found himself spooning up his cornflakes as usual. It was as if he couldn’t help it. He left the house at the usual time, too. He didn’t seem to have any choice. Things, though odd, were just going on in their own way, as in a dream.

Or it could be a nightmare! For hanging about on the corner was the gang of boys from the other school. Bill recognised the one they called Mean Malcolm in his purple studded jacket.

I think I’ll go round the long way
instead, Bill thought to himself. I don’t want to be tripped up in one of their nasty scuffles, like last week, when all the scabs were kicked off my ankle.

Then Bill heard the most piercing whistle. He looked around to see where the noise was coming from, then realised Mean Malcolm was whistling at him!

Bill Simpson blushed so pink that all his freckles disappeared. He felt so foolish he forgot to turn off at the next corner to go round the long way. He ended up walking right past the gang.

Mean Malcolm just sprawled against the railings, whistling at Bill as he went by wearing his pretty pink frock with shell buttons.

Bill Simpson thought to himself: I’d rather have the scabs kicked off my ankle!

When he reached the main road, there was an elderly woman with curly grey hair
already standing at the kerb. To feel safe from the gang, he stood at her side.

‘Give me your hand, little girl,’ she said. ‘I’ll see us both safely across the road.’

‘No, really,’ insisted Bill. ‘I’m fine, honestly. I cross here every day by myself.’

The woman simply didn’t listen. She just reached down and grasped his wrist, hauling him after her across the road.

On the far side, she looked down approvingly as she released him.

‘That’s such a pretty frock!’ she said. ‘You mind you keep it nice and clean.’

Rather than say something disagreeable, Bill ran off quickly.

The headteacher was standing at the school gates, holding his watch in the palm of his hand, watching the last few stragglers arrive.

‘Get your skates on, Stephen Irwin!’ he yelled. And: ‘
Move
, Tom Warren!’

Another boy charged round the corner and cut in front of Bill.

‘Late, Andrew!’ the headteacher called out fiercely. ‘Late, late, late!’

Then it was Bill’s turn to go past.

‘That’s right,’ the headteacher called out encouragingly. ‘Hurry along, dear. We don’t want to miss assembly, do we?’

And he followed Bill up the path to the school.

Assembly always took place in the main hall. After the hymn, everyone was told to sit on the floor, as usual. Desperately, Bill tried to tuck the pretty pink dress in tightly around his bare legs.

Mrs Collins leaned forward on her canvas chair.

‘Stop fidgeting with your frock, dear,’ she told him. ‘You’re getting nasty grubby fingerprints all round the hem.’

Bill glowered all through the rest of
assembly. At the end, everybody stood up as usual.

‘Now I need four strong volunteers to carry a table across to the nursery,’ announced the headteacher. ‘Who wants to go?’

Practically everybody in the hall raised a hand. Everyone liked a trip over the playground. In the nursery they had music and water and sloshy paints and tricycles and bright plastic building blocks. And if you kept your head down and didn’t talk too much or too loudly, it might be a good few minutes before anyone realised you were really from one of the other classrooms, and shooed you back.

So the hall was a mass of waving hands.

The headteacher gazed around him.

Then he picked four boys.

On the way out of the hall, Bill Simpson heard Astrid complaining to Mrs Collins:

‘It isn’t fair! He
always
picks the boys to carry things.’

‘Perhaps the table’s quite heavy,’ soothed Mrs Collins.

‘None of the tables in this school are heavy,’ said Astrid. ‘And I know for a fact that I am stronger than at least two of the boys he picked.’

‘It’s true,’ Bill said. ‘Whenever we have a tug of war, everyone wants to have Astrid on their team.’

‘Oh, well,’ said Mrs Collins. ‘It doesn’t matter. No need to make such a fuss over nothing. It’s only a silly old table.’

BOOK: Bill's New Frock
6.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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