Lula and the Rainbow Rocket

Book Excerpt

I expect, by now, you are imagining Lula's knees buckling under the weight of her big head. Well, surprisingly, they weren't. Lula Lampet wasn't a big head. True, she longed to be brilliant at everything she did and she often thought there was nothing she couldn't do brilliantly, but she kept that to herself. Lula's personality was mostly sunny and upbeat and she was kind to everyone. Nor did she swear very often. At least, not awful words. Once, when she was ill with chickenpox, her mother had smothered her spots in calamine lotion, and told her to stay in bed and not scratch, and that had made Lula swear terribly, but perhaps that was understandable. Lula hated being away from school, and Sunday school, and the sports' field. She had to be where things were happening — and preferably where a ball needed bouncing.

However, there was one very serious downside to this whizz-kid's sporting successes. Unfortunately, this enthusiastic young athlete, being so absorbed in whatever game she was playing, would totally overlook her own safety. Lula's mother was forever having to stock the medicine cupboard with bottles of iodine, plasters, bandages and slings of every kind and, after a particularly boisterous game, her gym teacher and sports club coach could often be seen rummaging through their first-aid kits for something to wrap round wounded parts of Lula's anatomy. Lula was often hurt; a slightly bent nose and a sewn-up chin were permanent reminders of her first attempt at boxing. But despite her wounds, this feisty young athlete would always show up (except when she had chicken pox), sometimes hobbling but always eager, at the next sports event a day or two later.

“Nothing's going to floor me!” she always said.

Travel was another of Lula's interests. She was riveted by everything to do with it. And she loved animals and plants. Secretly, she longed to tread in the footsteps of Dr David Livingstone and other intrepid explorers, slicing her way through lush, dripping jungles and trudging across golden, sun-baked plains. Sometimes she daydreamed about sailing the seven seas as cabin girl on board a magnificent Spanish galleon. She would close her eyes and prick her globe with a pin. Then she would study the country or sea she had landed on, gleaning as much information as she could from the internet and library books.

That afternoon, her imagination had yet again been aroused, this time by a programme on TV about mountaineering, boggling her young and active mind with wonderful thoughts. Picturing herself as a brilliant mountain climber, Lula knew she needed to have a go at it, and as soon as possible!

After gobbling down her dinner (deaf to her mother's cries of ‘chew between mouthfuls!’), Lula dashed to her computer and began searching the internet for everything to do with mountaineering. After scribbling some notes, she realised that having an instruction manual would be helpful. Undoubtedly, the public library would have one, but (rats!) it was closed for the day — she'd have to wait until tomorrow.

That night, as the full moon glowed eerily over her house, Lula dreamed about cheerful climbers in anoraks and bobble hats, igloo tents on snow-capped peaks, and her being the youngest-ever climber to stick her country's flag on some newly discovered summit. Thoughts of receiving a medal from the Queen and having tea at the Palace made her chuckle as she fell into a deep sleep.