We are delighted to share our bilingual student's brilliantly creative and imaginative story with you. Quentin Rattanavan-Tsai participated in the 2021 Young Author's Fiction Festival organised by the American Library in Paris and came fourth under the category sixth grade.
Every summer, Bob goes to his uncle’s barn in the countryside. He is a ten-year-old boy who has a passion for animals. He spends all his time talking and playing with them. He has a special bond with each animal in the barn and likes each of them for a different reason. The pig, nicknamed the nerd, is terribly clever and eagerly seeking knowledge. He hangs around the house to keep abreast of world affairs. Thanks to him, Bob has learnt a lot about animals but also about humans! The old cow always wears a great smile. She is thoughtful and contented. Bob loves lying down with her in the meadows, gazing at the sky. It is so peaceful. As for the sheep, he is near-sighted, thus he keeps busy with his fleece, its thickness, its color …
One night, around 10 p.m., the pig rushed into the barn and cried, “Wake up, everybody! Great news: Perseverance has just landed on Mars!”
“Fall down seven times and get up eight!” the cow said, rubbing her eyes.
“Indeed, success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. Look at my fleece, it’s pure perseverance!” boasted the sheep triumphantly.
“Enormous misunderstanding! Perseverance is the name of the rover sent by NASA to explore Mars and to seek signs of ancient life. The key objectives of the mission are to explore the geology of Mars, to assess ancient habitability…” explained the nerd. Before the pig could finish his sentence, all were asleep.
The next day, as Bob and his companions were playing tag, a gigantic shadow darkened the sky, covering the barn.
“Oh my, oh dear, could it be a giant ball or dish?” wondered the cow with a worried look.
“Nonsense! My admirers have come to see my beauty!” scorned the sheep, who was vain.
Suddenly, a rope flew down …
“ALIENS!!!” they roared in fear.
“Salutations! Welcome!” Bob greeted them as politely and as calmly as possible.
“Give us an AZUKO!” chorused the aliens.
“Ah! If only I had worked harder at science, I should no doubt know about Mars and Martians’ habits!” sighed Bob in a melancholic voice.
“AZUKO! AZUKO!” shouted the aliens.
Bob and the animals stood still for a moment trying to figure out what “Azuko” meant. Then the pig dared to ask, “Why do you want an Azuko?”
“It’s for our King Mars I. Actually, Mars Bug forgot the Azukos on the last planet we went on,” the alien chief answered grumpily.
“What does your king need an Azuko for?” Bob added inquisitively.
“To enjoy the flavor of Earth … your AZUKO or your life!” the alien chief cried fiercely.
No answer came back.
“What does an Azuko look like?” inquired Bob.
“WHAT?! SCANDALOUS! You don’t know what an AZUKO is?!?” the alien chief shrieked angrily.
“But you see, we’ll try to find out!” Bob replied quietly, avoiding feuding with the aliens.
“Pig, any idea?” Bob asked shakily.
“Obviously, aliens look for alien things, I mean things that are beyond our Earthling expectations,” concluded the pig.
“Could they be fans looking for my exquisite fleece?” ventured the sheep.
“Be very quiet,” whispered the cow, “or you’ll end up as cheese or roasted mutton.”
“Would you please have some delicate plastic toys? Try a unique handmade wood chair! What about a stainless steel saucepan made in China?” suggested Bob relentlessly, while the animals rushed back and forth bringing whatever they found in the house.
“Your AZUKO or your LIFE!” the aliens yelled, losing their temper.
Bob and his companions kept trying in vain but...then Bob’s stomach rumbled, and he stared at his watch: 8.30 p.m. Suddenly a familiar, pleasant and relieving smell came to his nostrils: PIZZA delivery! He picked up the pizza, cut slices for everyone and exclaimed, “Dinner is ready! Help yourselves!”
“What have we here? AZUKO!” cheered the alien chief.
The pizza was eaten in no time and off they flew, satisfied with a slice of Azuko for Mars I in their spaceship.
“Beware: a hungry alien is an angry alien!”