Kevin loves sharing the stories his grandmother used to tell him about trolls and witches with his school friends. His favorite tale is about a scary spook named the Erl King who rides on a black horse at night. But when a new student, Nora Scull, arrives at Kimballs Green elementary school, Kevin begins to wonder if maybe the stories are true. Skinny as a broom and with dark, stringy hair, Nora never laughs, but she’s always watching and listening. She also steals and makes Kevin do all sorts of bad things. Who is Nora, and what will Kevin have to do to save himself—and his school?
This ebook features illustrations by Paul Warren and a personal history of Joan Aiken including rare images from the author’s estate.
|Publisher:||Open Road Media|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||7 MB|
|Age Range:||4 - 7 Years|
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The Erl King's Daughter
By Joan Aiken, Paul Warren
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1988 Elizabeth Delano Charlaff for the Joan Aiken Estate
All rights reserved.
These things happened to my younger brother Kevin when I had my broken leg. If I hadn't been in the hospital, maybe I could have helped him.
While I was away from home, Aunt Ada came to look after Kev — and Aunt Ada's about as useful as last week's newspaper. She's thin, and forgets everything you tell her; she has a whiny voice and a runny nose. And does embroidery.
Well. Just after I broke my leg, a new girl, Nora Scull, turned up in Kev's class at our school, that's Green Elementary School. Kev told me about her.
Kev's good at telling stories. He got the knack from our Gran. Gran came from Europe when she was little, with her Gran, who knew endless tales about trolls and gnomes and witches. Our Gran passed them on to Kev, and he told them to the kids at school.
Kev is little and pale and scrawny. He can't run fast, for he gets breathless, so he does more watching and thinking than other people. He knows lots of words. He reads all the labels on boxes, and tells stories better than I can; I always seem to get the end part at the beginning, or forget the middle.
When he came to see me at Squires Park Hospital, Kev told me about this Nora. She was in his class, though she was older, because she never had much schooling; her Dad was always moving. She was skinny as a broom, Kev said, with eyes black as lumps of soot, and a sharp nose. Her hair was dark and thick and so bushy that she always seemed to be hidden behind it, in a dark corner of her own. She never laughed, never smiled. Just watched all the time. Like Kev, in a way.
Right from the start, Nora took a fancy to Kev. He couldn't say why. She was older and bigger; you'd think she'd want to be with kids her own age. But no. Maybe it was because of Kev's tales. Though, he said, if he did tell one, she'd sneer at it, and say it was a silly baby story.
She really liked only one. That was the tale of the Erl King. It was one our Gran told, about the land her Gran came from, where there's miles of forest. In those big woods there lives a spook; his name's the Erl King. He rides at night, on his black horse that's fast as the wind, but quiet.
And there was a farmer who had to go through the woods one night, taking his sick kid to the doctor.
The man carries the kid on his back, and it keeps crying, saying, "Daddy, Daddy, the Erl King's after us, he's grabbing at me with his cold hands."
Well, the father runs faster and faster, but it's no use. When he gets to the doctor's house, the little kid is stone cold dead.
The Erl King had gotten him.
When Kev told the story to kids at school, he changed it. Instead of those foreign woods, he had the father running along the old overgrown railroad tracks between Turnpike Woods and Squires Park Hospital. There's a patch of woods there that runs down to the railroad tracks. After Kev told the story, some kids wouldn't go near those woods, or the railroad tracks. They said the Erl King would get them.
Nora really liked that story, Kev said. After she'd made him tell it once or twice, she got to telling it, and made it more scary each time, putting in awful things.
"Do you like Nora?" I asked Kev, when he came to see me in the hospital.
"No," he said. "No, I don't like her."
I found out later he'd stopped telling stories himself. As if they'd begun to frighten him.
When Aunt Ada brought him to visit me, I could see there was something wrong, for he had gotten so thin and waxy-pale, with eyes as big as olives and dark hollows under them. But then I thought it was from grieving for our Gran, who'd died not long before. Kev and Gran were very close. Besides telling him tales, she'd let him help her around the house before he started school. They'd chatter to each other all day, about anything from people to potatoes. So it was to be expected that he'd miss her badly.
Gran was a great cook. Not fancy — she had no time or money for that — but things you don't get in other kids' homes: onion and raw-potato pancakes, gingerbread, cheesecake, home-baked beans.
Excerpted from The Erl King's Daughter by Joan Aiken, Paul Warren. Copyright © 1988 Elizabeth Delano Charlaff for the Joan Aiken Estate. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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