Copyright © Didi Bok 2020 Copyright illustrations © Hein Mevissen / John Doe BV 2020 All rights reserved
NUR 273 / ISBN 978 90 258 6839 0
OLLI AND THE OLD FOREST
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Olli wakes in the early morning before the rooster crows. Perched high up on his favorite branch, he greets the brand-new day. He listens to the sounds of peaceful slumber around him and watches the world that stretches out as far as the eye can see.
Olli spends hours on his lofty perch high up in the tree, gazing at everything that passes by. There’s always something to see.
From a rising to a setting sun, from a full moon to a crescent, from a rainbow to meteoric showers; Olli watches, gazes, peers, and
observes the world around him. Sometimes he uses his binoculars, looking high and low, far and wide. At night, Olli enjoys picking his favorite star out of the thousands blazing in the night sky. There’s one thing that Olli always looks for on the horizon, and that’s Ari, his very Best Friend from Beyond the Horizon. Each time he sees him, Olli waves excitedly with his big ears and Ari waves back or blinks back a greeting with his large flashing lights. Olli and Ari have been Best Friends from Beyond the Horizon for years.
They’re separated from each other by an old majestic forest,
an endless road and a vast stretch of no man’s land. One of Olli’s greatest wish is to someday be able to meet Ari in person.
Every day, Olli searches across the horizon hoping to see his friend. For as long as they’ve known each other, Ari has lived and worked in a remote and undesirable place beyond the horizon. Today, though, there’s no sign of him. He looks right, left, and then right again. Nowhere! High, low and even higher. “Ari could be anywhere, but he’s usually somewhere up in the air.”
Ari’s a very special pig. He’s a genius who can do absolutely
anything. Ari can be here and there, earlier or later, and everything at once. He’s an inventor, architect, physicist, and a cartographer. He didn’t inherit his passion for mechanical and electrical devices from his parents.
They’re both just regular pigs. Ari’s been piecing
together old discarded devices with spare parts and building his inventions since he was just a
little piglet. Ari’s a self-made inventor, which is very rare. Ari has learned all he knows
without ever having been taught. He’s what you would call a real self-made pig, just like the other famous self-made inventor,
Leonardo Da Vinci. Ari’s his biggest fan. He dreams to become just as great an inventor as Leonardo.
His workplaces, home, shed and garage bulge with his
home-made flying machines, space boats, a treasure map machine, a hard-rock machine, and an underwater
heater. His latest invention is a three-part treasure seeker.
Ari’s the only pig to travel beyond the distant horizon in his flying machine, off to explore the endless universe. He dives to the deepest depths of the ocean in his underwater
device, and he zips through arid deserts in his car-rocket and swings through the dense jungle like Tarzan.
He has traveled to many different,
distant parts of the world and remote, strange, undiscovered areas like the deep seas, the earth’s burning core, and even to the moon!
Olli admires Ari’s adventurous spirit and cherishes their long-distance friendship from Beyond the Horizon.
Olli studies the horizon, hoping to catch a glimpse of Ari passing by in his flying machine, but there’s no sign of him.
“That’s strange,” sighs Olli.
He climbs up onto a higher branch to get a better view. He searches the sky like a radar; from east to west and back again.
Nothing! Not a hint, a whiff, or pig print in sight!
“He could be anywhere. Underground, underwater, hidden
behind the stars or simply in his shed,’ says Olli.
There hasn’t been a sign of Ari on or from beyond the horizon in seven days.
Olli wonders where he could be. He misses him a lot and worries that something may have happened to him. If he could, he would go to him. “Why not?”, He suddenly thinks to himself. He has four stable, healthy legs to carry him. All he has to do is take the first step, and he’ll be on his way. It’s an extremely long walk through. Ari is very, very far away. He’ll have to travel through the old majestic forest, along the endless road and across the vast stretch of no man’s land. He’s never been that far before.
Olli loves adventure, so what’s to stop him from going? Worrying about what might go wrong scares him. What if he gets lost? He doesn’t
Ari reads out loud:
Dear grandnephew Kor,
My castle is finally finished. It’s pretty awesome big. So many stairs I lost count. Too many to be honest… When I walk up the stairs I have to catch my breath several times. I am getting old.
I want to invite you to my castle before I’m getting too old to show you around.
You are welcome anytime just be here before next week.
See you soon.
Your beloved Uncle Louis.
P.s. Hereby the directions to my castle. When you enter the desert, keep going straight, then make a right turn.
Kor’s face is red and his cheeks look like they’re on fire. A bright red blush unmasks all the turbulence inside his head because of this unexpected message from his uncle.
"Uncle Louis..." says Kor.
"Wow, it’s been ages, I haven't seen him in a very long time. He lives in the desert for as long as I can remember and his castle is gigantic! It’s the largest sand castle in the whole world. But it’s far away and afraid I will get lost.
“Let’s go together to see you uncle” Olli says.
“Yeahhhh”, they all cheer.
Olli, Ari and Arnold jump up and are ready to go “
"I love castles," says Olli "My favorites are air castles, but sand castles are my second favorite. Let’s go.”
Arnold murmurs sadly: “I can’t join you guys… I still can’t fly, I can’t walk, I can’t hold my breath that long and I can only float around like a stupid fish. I wish I was born with wings”
Ari is the brightest and always full of ideas and solutions for any problem.
“Just a minute. Grab that” He points to an old glass bowl that washed up on the coast.
" No worries, Arnold, we got your back.” Ari smiles.
Together the friends set off their journey to the desert.
Kor leads the way.
Arnold swims in the slightly cramped found glass bowl on Olli's back and Ari closes the row.
After a while they only see sand… More sand…. And more sand….endless sand ...
"I have never seen such a large sandbox!" Olli shouts.
”This is the desert!" Kor laughs.
"Oh, right… what do we need to do now?” Olli asks while sliding down a sand hill.
“As Uncle said just go straight on and then to the right?" shouts Kor
"Do you see a sign yet, Arnold? " asks Olli, while speeding, sliding through the sand.
They all enjoy rolling through the sand. It’s the best amusement park they ever went to.
They jump from one sand hill to another, fall into large and small sand pits and play hide and seek.
Suddenly Olli can’t see anything anymore. There is sand everywhere.
"Where are you guys?" Olli yells
“Straight ahead!” Kor says.
"I don't see anything ... not even my own trunk!" Olli shouts.
"Straight ... on," Kor coughs.
Ari wails, "I’ve got sand in my eyes! I can’t see”
"And now to the right!" Kor orders.
"What is right? Olli asks. “I can't see anything with my eyes closed and I have sand in my trunk."
" RIGHT! "Shouts Kor.
Suddenly the sand storm stops abruptly, and Ari yells to the others, “Look!”
In front of them is a gigantic sand castle. The humongous castle rises high into the sky almost reaching the sun. Olli lays flat at the bottom of the stairs with Arnold on top of him.
Someone at the top of the stairs yells, "Who's there?"
Olli still has sand in his eyes and everything is blurry. He answers, "I am Olli."
“No solicitors accepted here”.
"I don't know any Olli..." the voice says.
Kor recognizes the voice; he jumps over Olli and shouts cheerfully, "Uncle Louis!" He runs up the stairs.
"Kor? Is that you?" Calls Uncle Louis. “Its good to see you, you haven't changed a bit, boy."
"These are my friends Olli, Ari and Arnold," says Kor.
“Welcome! Let me show you around, "says Uncle Louis. "My castle has a rich history. Twenty-three years ago I started construction. There are forty-four rooms, a large and a small dining room, a library, twelve towers and a watchtower, the tallest in the world”.
Olli looks at the horizon and says, "I don't see any neighbors!"
"From the tallest tower we can see much further," says Uncle Louis. “Follow me”.
Kor runs ahead.
Olli, Ari and Arnold can’t keep up with him. And Uncle Louis is an old fragile crab and has difficulty walking.
"Three thousand six hundred and thirty eight steps! My knees are no longer my friends. They are old and tired of all the steps” he apologizes.
"instead of new knees I got a new friend, my carrier crab. He is strong and brings me everywhere.”
“What’s his name?” Olli asks.
“Carrier Crab” answered Louis
Olli, Ari and Arnold can’t believe their eyes. Everything is made of sand... It’s beautiful.
Uncle Louis shows them all the rooms. "How many grains of sand were needed to build this castle?" Asks Ari.
"Oh, I lost count, a million… No wait… A trillion..." Uncle Louis laughs.
Olli feels exhausted while climbing the stairs, but keeps going. He’s like everyone else very curious.
Kor is already on top of the watchtower.
He sees someone far away at the horizon walking towards the castle and yells: "Hey Uncle Louis, you’re getting more visitors."
Uncle Louis doesn’t have nearly as good eyes as Kor. He takes out his binoculars. "Oh dear, that's the sand manager,” he says.
“I built my castle in the wrong place, it should move to the right according desert planning. To be precise: three feet and 10 inches. I’ve already got a warning. And he claims neighbors complained about the size of my castle ... "
"But you don’t have any neighbors! "Olli says.
"That’s ridiculous, you can’t just take the whole castle down for just 3 feet and 10 inches," Ari calls.
"Ari, think of something!" Olli says. "We need your creative brain!"
Ari mumbles, "You can't just move a million… Trillion grains of sand...”
Kor shouts, "We have to scare the sand manager so he wil never return!”
Ari looks around and whispers, “I’ve got an idea, maybe it will work… let’s see.”
He measures Olli’s body and takes down all the flag line and the tower flag.
He calculated everything and made a plan.
"The sand manager is almost here, now what?" shouts Uncle Louis in panic. "My castle, my beautiful castle!"
"Guys!" yells Ari.
“Hurry up, let’s do this.”
Ari runs around. He doesn’t have time to explain his idea. He tells everyone what position they have to take.
“Everyone stand up at my signal!”
The sand manager jumps up into the air in shock.
“A DRAGON!” He screams
And without a word he turns around and runs away as fast as he can.
"Hurray, bravo!" applauds Uncle Louis.
Olli flaps his ears happily. Ari, Kor and Arnold shout, "He'll never come back!"
“Why was he so scared?” Olli asks Ari.
“The way you were blocking the sun light it made your shadows look like a giant dragon” Ari explains.
“You are superheroes," praises Uncle Louis. "How can I thank you?"
"Well ..." says Kor. "I'm quite hungry."
“Let’s celebrate, my treat, I make you my favorite food,” says uncle Louis.
That night it is full moon.
Uncle Louis makes the best campfire and they all eat roast marshmallows in the campfire.
Uncle Louis makes a toast: “Cheers! You saved my castle, my life.”
Olli looks proudly at his friends an honors them:
"Long live the desert dragon!"