International Youth Day: “The Children’s Friend”

international youth day

As today is International Youth Day, we thought we’d revisit a story from our famous children’s pages.

Dubbed “The Children’s Friend”, these pages ran for many years, and proved to be very popular. In fact, some of our readers still ask us about them over on Facebook today!

The below story was first published in “The Children’s Friend” in 1955. We thought it was too sweet to keep to ourselves!

Anne’s Fancy Dress Costume

“Stand still, Anne.”

That was what Anne’s mummy said as she tried to plait her small daughter’s hair.

But Anne was too excited to stand still for long. You seem, she was going to her first fancy dress party, and she was so thrilled with her costume.

It was a very unusual one — she was going as a brown paper parcel. A very special parcel though, tied with a large scarlet ribbon.

At last she was ready, and presently she was walking along the lane which led to the village. The party was being held in the Village Hall and there were to be prizes for the best costumes.

At the end of the lane there was a clump of trees, and as Anne passed these she heard a frantic cheeping noise coming from the foot of one of the trees.

She went over to investigate.

There, lying in some long grass at the foot of a tree, was a tiny baby sparrow.

“Oh, you poor little thing”

Anne gasped.

“Oh, you poor little thing,” she said. “You must have fallen from your nest.”

And, carefully picking him up, she cradled him in the palm of her hand.

The little sparrow had fallen from his nest, but luckily he didn’t appear to be hurt. When Anne spied the nest up above her, she decided to climb up and put him back.

Carefully she moved from branch to branch until she came to the nest. Gently she put the baby sparrow back beside his brothers and sisters. Then she climbed down again.

But as she was nearing the bottom, the branch she was standing on gave way, and Anne fell, luckily only a little way to the ground.

She picked herself up, glad to find that she wasn’t hurt. Then, to her dismay, she noticed that she’d torn her costume in several places.

She wondered what to do

She wondered what to do.

It was too late to go home and change, and besides she hadn’t got another fancy dress costume.

She knew Mummy would be disappointed if she didn’t go to the party, so she made up her mind to go anyway.

international youth day

The story in its original format. Image courtesy of DC Thomson Ltd.

The Village Hall looked very gay with its coloured papers streamers and clusters of bright balloons, and the children had on all kinds of costumes, from Little Miss Muffet to Humpty Dumpty.

Anne joined in all the games and had a grand time. For supper there were exciting trifles, ices, cakes and tiny sandwiches.

She was eager to tell Mummy all about what had happened

Then came the parade.

Anne sat down in a corner as the rest of the children lined up on the floor, but her Sunday School teacher noticed her and said that of course she must join in too.

The parade over, the games began again, and the children were all sorry when the end of the party came.

But, of course, there were prizes to be given out.

Imagine Anne’s surprise when she heard her own name called.

“Anne Green wins a prize as an Autumn Leaf — a very good costume indeed!”

Shyly she accepted her prize, a lovely doll’s teaset with painted roses on the tiny cups and saucers.

Then it was time to go home, but Anne didn’t mind now, as she was eager to tell Mummy all about what had happened, and the funny mistake the judges had made.

Mummy was amazed, and now, whenever Anne plays with her teaset, she and Mummy have a good laugh at the costume which was meant to be a brown paper parcel, but which won a prize as an Autumn Leaf!

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Iain McDonald

Iain is Digital Content Editor at the "Friend", making him responsible for managing flow of interesting and entertaining content on the magazine's website and social media channels.