Once upon a time there was a little boy called Ashi Mashi. He was on the way to see his godmother Carla Rabbit, when he decided to take a short cut through forbidden forest.
It wasn’t long before Ashi got lost. He looked around, but all he could see were trees. Nervously, he felt into his bag for his favourite toy, Mr.Teddy, but Mr.Teddy was nowhere to be found! Ashi began to panic. He felt sure he had packed Mr.Teddy. To make matters worse, he was starting to feel hungry.
Unexpectedly, he saw a cruel monkey dressed in a purple t-shirt disappearing into the trees.
“How odd!” thought Ashi.
For the want of anything better to do, he decided to follow the peculiarly dressed monkey. Perhaps it could tell him the way out of the forest.
Eventually, Ashi reached a clearing. In the clearing were two houses, one made from broccoli florets and one made from humbugs.
Ashi could feel his tummy rumbling. Looking at the houses did nothing to ease his hunger.
“Hello!” he called. “Is anybody there?”
Ashi looked at the roof on the closest house and wondered if it would be rude to eat somebody else’s chimney. Obviously it would be impolite to eat a whole house, but perhaps it would be considered acceptable to nibble the odd fixture or lick the odd fitting, in a time of need.
A cackle broke through the air, giving Ashi a fright. A witch jumped into the space in front of the houses. She was carrying a cage. In that cage was Mr.Teddy!
“Mr.Teddy!” shouted Ashi. He turned to the witch. “That’s my toy!”
The witch just shrugged.
“Give Mr.Teddy back!” cried Ashi.
“Not on your nelly!” said the witch.
“At least let Mr.Teddy out of that cage!”
Before she could reply, the cruel monkey in the purple t-shirt rushed in from a footpath on the other side of the cleaning.
“Hello Big Monkey,” said the witch.
“Good morning.” The monkey noticed Mr.Teddy. “Who is this?”
“That’s Mr.Teddy,” explained the witch.
“Ooh! Mr.Teddy would look lovely in my house. Give it to me!” demanded the monkey.
The witch shook her head. “Mr.Teddy is staying with me.”
“Um… Excuse me…” Ashi interrupted. “Mr.Teddy lives with me! And not in a cage!”
Big Monkey ignored him. “Is there nothing you’ll trade?” he asked the witch.
The witch thought for a moment, then said, “I do like to be entertained. I’ll release him to anybody who can eat a whole front door.”
Big Monkey looked at the house made from humbugs and said, “No problem, I could eat an entire house made from humbugs if I wanted to.”
“There’s no need to show off,” said the witch. Just eat one front door and I’ll let you have Mr.Teddy.”
Ashi watched, feeling very worried. He didn’t want the witch to give Mr.Teddy to Big Monkey. He didn’t think Mr.Teddy would like living with a cruel monkey, away from his house and all his other toys.
Big Monkey put on his bib and withdraw a knife and fork from his pocket.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Big Monkey. “Just you watch!”
Big Monkey pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from humbugs. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.
Eventually, Big Monkey started to get bigger – just a little bit bigger at first. But after a few more fork-fulls of humbugs, he grew to the size of a large snowball – and he was every bit as round.
“Erm… I don’t feel too good,” said Big Monkey.
Suddenly, he started to roll. He’d grown so round that he could no longer balance!
“Help!” he cried, as he rolled off down a slope into the forest.
Big Monkey never finished eating the front door made from humbugs and Mr.Teddy remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
“That’s it,” said the witch. “I win. I get to keep Mr.Teddy.”
“Not so fast,” said Ashi. “There is still one front door to go. The front door of the house made from broccoli florets. And I haven’t had a turn yet.
“I don’t have to give you a turn!” laughed the witch. “My game. My rules.”
The woodcutter’s voice carried through the forest. “I think you should give him a chance. It’s only fair.”
“Fine,” said the witch. “But you saw what happened to the monkey. He won’t last long.”
“I’ll be right back,” said Ashi.
“What?” said the witch. “Where’s your sense of impatience? I thought you wanted Mr.Teddy back.”
Ashi ignored the witch and gathered a hefty pile of sticks. He came back to the clearing and started a small camp fire. Carefully, he broke off a piece of the door of the house made from broccoli florets and toasted it over the fire. Once it had cooked and cooled just a little, he took a bite. He quickly devoured the whole piece.
Ashi sat down on a nearby log.
“You fail!” cackled the witch. “You were supposed to eat the whole door.”
“I haven’t finished,” explained Ashi. “I am just waiting for my food to go down.”
When Ashi’s food had digested, he broke off another piece of the door made from broccoli florets. Once more, he toasted his food over the fire and waited for it to cool just a little. He ate it at a leisurely pace then waited for it to digest.
Eventually, after several sittings, Ashi was down to the final piece of the door made from broccoli florets. Carefully, he toasted it and allowed it to cool just a little. He finished his final course. Ashi had eaten the entire front door of the house made from broccoli florets.
The witch stamped her foot angrily. “You must have tricked me!” she said. “I don’t reward cheating!”
“I don’t think so!” said a voice. It was the woodcutter. He walked back into the clearing, carrying his axe. “This little boy won fair and square. Now hand over Mr.Teddy or I will chop your broomstick in half.”
The witch looked horrified. She grabbed her broomstick and placed it behind her. Then, huffing, she opened the door of the cage.
Ashi hurried over and grabbed Mr.Teddy, checking that his favourite toy was all right. Fortunately, Mr.Teddy was unharmed.
Ashi thanked the woodcutter, grabbed a quick souvenir, and hurried on to meet Carla. It was starting to get dark.
When Ashi got to Carla’s house, his godmother threw her arms around him.
“I was so worried!” cried Carla. “You are very late.”
As Ashi described his day, he could tell that Carla didn’t believe him. So he grabbed a napkin from his pocket.
“What’s that?” asked Carla.
Ashi unwrapped a doorknob made from humbugs. “Pudding!” he said.
Carla almost fell off her chair.