Copyright © Didi Bok 2020 Copyright illustrations © Hein Mevissen / John Doe BV 2020 All rights reserved

NUR 273 / ISBN 978 90 258 6839 0



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Hey guys! “says Olli, and looks up to the sky “WOW, is that a yellow seagull?"
Kor the red Crab looks up and says: "It's Arnold. He’s sitting on a bottle! "
Although Arnold is a fish, he rather lives outside of the water as long as he can hold his breath. He dreams of flying like a bird one day.

Ari, the Pig, helps Arnold to get the bottle ashore. "There’s a message in the bottle!" Kor says.
They are all very excited. Olli opens the bottle
As the message is in illegible handwriting, only Ari is able to read it and says, "Kor, it's for you.
It’s a message from your Uncle Louis.”


John cautiously peeks inside. There’s a large gray object in the barn. Hey, what are Olli and Ari doing here?


“Is this enough?” Olli the elephant asks.

“Sorry about spilling some of it.”


“It took two thousand and three hundred full buckets, which should be enough to travel there and back,” Ari answers.

“But let’s pour this last bit into the tank too.”


“Hey, John, what are you doing here?” Olli asks. “And don’t eat that pudding!”


“It’s delicious!” John says.


“No,” says Olli, “it’s fuel. For Ari’s latest invention: the first pudding-powered rocket!” “We’re going to the moon!” Ari boasts.


“Can I come too?” John asks.


“No,” Ari says sternly, “my rocket ship is full!”


Olli scoops the last of the pudding into the tank. John catches a pink drop dripping from the opening...

“Time to board!” Ari announces.


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!"


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