Authors: Anna Kemp
First published in Great Britain in 2013 by Simon and Schuster UK Ltd
A CBS COMPANY
Copyright © Anna Kemp 2013
Illustration copyright © Teresa Murfin
This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
All rights reserved.
The right of Anna Kemp and Teresa Murfin to be identified as the author and illustrator of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
222 Gray’s Inn Road
Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney
Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
eBook ISBN 978-1-47111-797-8
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY
my brainy and beloved husband Jim
What is the best question ever? Answer: What do you want for your birthday? Well now, let me see. I would like a train-set, and a mermaid outfit, and one of those time-machines
that sends you back to the days when there was no school and people had dinosaurs for pets – pleeeeeease!
I love presents. I bet you do too. Problem is, you don’t always get what you asked for. And that’s because some things are just ‘too many pennies’, as my
nan used to say. Frankie Blewitt did not have many pennies, so he did not have many toys. But, all the same, there was one toy that Frankie really, really wanted. One toy that would make all his
dreams come true. It was the toy of toys. The toy to end all toys. The Greatest Toy of All. It was, of course, a
What do you mean, ‘What’s a
?’? Wake up! Pay attention! For those of you who have been living on the moon, Mechanimals are the most wanted toys on the planet Earth: Gadget the Rabbit! Sparky the
Squirrel! Gigawatt the Gila Monster! In shiny blue, or sparkly pink, or glow-in-the-dark green. And Gadget the Rabbit was right at the top of Frankie’s birthday wishlist – double
underlined and surrounded by stick-on stars. But Frankie knew he was never going to get one. So as soon as he had finished his list, he tore it up and threw it in the bin.
Not having a Mechanimal was a big problem for Frankie. Not because he was a greedy little so-and-so, but because he was the only kid in school who didn’t have one. Every lunchtime
Frankie’s classmates would grab their Mechanimals from their rucksacks, run to the playground and play Mechanimal Farm or Battle Mechanimal. But Frankie just had to watch. None of this would
have been so bad if Frankie’s friends had been around, but his best friend Neet was off school with chickenpox, and his pal Wes had moved away. So every lunchtime, Frankie sat on a bench at
the edge of the playground, stared at his trainers, and waited for Mrs Pinkerton to blow the whistle – which wasn’t much fun at all.
But Frankie’s problems didn’t end there. They were made a whole lot worse by a new arrival: Timothy Snodgrass. Little Timmy Snodgrass was one of those children who got everything on
his wishlist and some extras besides. All he had to do was blink his big blue eyes and say, ‘But Mummy, Mummy! A Mechanimal spaceship is the only thing I have ever really wanted!’ and,
before you knew it, he not only had a spaceship but a funhouse, farm and fairground too. As you can imagine, having all those toys made Timmy an instant hit with his classmates. When the schoolbell
rang at the end of the day, everyone would race over to Timmy’s to play in his spectacular playroom – everyone, that is, except Frankie. No Mechanimal meant no invitation to
Timmy’s. So Frankie would pack up his schoolbag and set off home alone. It was the worst feeling ever. Or so Frankie thought. Then, one drizzly September afternoon, things got even worse.
It was the end of the school day and everyone was whispering excitedly about Timmy’s new Mechanimal racetrack. Frankie didn’t expect to be invited, so he collected his things and
tried to slink away before anybody noticed. But it was too late. As he headed for the door, a pair of smart new trainers stepped into his path.
‘Aren’t you coming round to play?’
Frankie looked up in surprise. Timmy was standing in front of him smiling. The sort of smile you’d see on a venomous snake.
‘Oh, sorry,’ Timmy smirked. ‘I forgot. You don’t have a Mechanimal, do you? What dreadful luck. Oh well, I guess you’ll just have to go home and play with the
beetles under your bed.’
The whole class went silent. Frankie could feel their eyes on his skin and his face began to prickle. He moved to walk out of the door but Timmy blocked him again.
‘I bet they all have names, don’t they? Your beetle friends.’
The class giggled nervously. They didn’t want to annoy Timmy. He had a Mechanimal racetrack after all. Frankie felt a tightening in his throat. He tried to think of something clever to say
but his mind was buzzing like a TV screen when it goes all black and white and blizzardy. He screwed up his eyes to try and shut the buzzing out but it just grew louder and louder until suddenly he
‘SHUT UP, Timmy! I actually HAVE a Mechanimal! I just don’t want to play with YOU, because you’re a—’ Then Frankie said a very rude word that I mustn’t
Timmy’s face went pink and his eyes turned into thin little slots, making his head look rather like a piggy bank. ‘Oh, really,’ he snorted. ‘Well we’ll see about
that.’ Timmy lunged forward, seized Frankie’s rucksack and tipped it upside-down. Books, pencils and bits of old sandwich went tumbling onto the mucky floor of the cloakroom along with
a two-pound coin that started rolling quickly away.
‘Hmmm . . . I don’t see any Mechanimals here,’ Timmy scoffed. The class was in fits of giggles, but Frankie wasn’t listening. He had dived to the floor to stop the coin
from rolling under the lockers. He had been given it to buy some bread for dinner and couldn’t afford to lose it. Frankie’s knees skidded across the rough carpet then
he collided heavily with a locker-door, knocking a deep dent in its side. The class howled with laughter.
‘What’s all this fuss?! Shhh! Quiet children!’ Mrs Pinkerton came bustling through the crowd like a pink rhinoceros and stopped in front of Frankie, her hands planted squarely
on her enormous hips. ‘Frankie Blewitt!’ she honked. ‘What on earth are you doing? Look at your knees! What a mess!’
‘Frankie slipped over,’ said the treacherous Timmy, blinking his big, blue eyes. ‘It wasn’t his fault, Miss.’
‘Well it is very noble of you to stand up for your friend, Timmy,’ cooed Mrs Pinkerton, patting his curly head, ‘but I know trouble when I see it. Now pick up your things,
Frankie, and go home!’
Frankie couldn’t believe the total unfairness of it all. It was SO unfair – even more unfair than the time he had got blamed for teaching the class budgie to say ‘Mrs
erton’ – which he hadn’t! (Though right now he sort of wished he had.) Frankie looked around at the faces staring down at him. Timmy was standing behind the teacher
mouthing something silently:
Frankie – no – friends.
Frankie felt his ears burn with embarrassment, but before he had the chance to say anything, the whole class snatched up
their coats and, without a glance in his direction, hurtled off to Timmy’s house, sprinting and jumping and shrieking like fireworks.
Frankie felt like a punctured balloon. He picked himself up and slowly dragged himself home. His knees were raw in the chilly September air and his cheeks stung with tears as he tried to rub
them away with the itchy cuff of his school jumper.
‘Urrrrgh . . . stupid . . . Timmy . . .’ he muttered angrily. ‘Stupid . . . stupid . . . urrrrrgh!’ Frankie didn’t want anyone at home to see his red eyes, so he
took the long route to let them cool off a bit. He always took the long route when he’d had a bad day. That was because it took him past the doors of the most marvellous, the most
extraordinary, the most spectacular toyshop in the world: Marvella Brand’s Happyland.