Old Granny Bear was losing it.

She’d been looking after the Bear family for as long as anyone could remember, but all those years of making beds and setting out bowls must have made her a little ga-ga.

It was the little things we noticed at first. Sometimes the porridge wasn’t too hot or too cold, but it wasn’t just right either. She’d accidentally put berries and bacon into the porridge when for my whole two years of life I’ve liked it with bananas. Or else you’d find her insisting that we not go for our usual walk, and wanting us to sit on the chairs she had arranged very comfortably by the fire.

“You surely don’t want to walk on a day like today?” Old Granny Bear would say, patting the cushions invitingly on each of our chairs. “You’re looking so… thin.”

“It’s not a bad thing to be healthy,” Papa Bear would say. “Walking’s quite good for you.”

But Old Granny Bear would tut-tut over her spectacles and shake her head.

“Eat up,” she’d say, spooning chocolate sauce onto everybody’s porridge, whether they liked it or not.

Papa Bear and Mama Bear didn’t seem as worried about Old Granny Bear as I was. I distinctly noticed that she was beginning to sprout some unsightly hairs from her earholes and nostrils, and a clump under her chin. I didn’t remember her ever having such long protruding hairs, although Mama wasn’t worried about that.

“You get hairier as you get older,” she sighed, examining her own face in the mirror.

“Maybe she just needs a break,” said Papa Bear.

“Goodness knows, she should have some interests of her own,” said Mama Bear. “At her age, the least she could do would be to sit back with a nice cup of tea in the garden.”

And we had agreed with that, and we tried to show her macrame and stamp collecting, but somehow Granny Bear just didn’t want to do all that; she only wanted to feed us up and make us sit in the kitchen.

Then one Halloween, there was a knock at the door, and who should be standing at the door but Goldilocks, the little girl down the road, dressed head to toe as Little Red Riding Hood.

‘Trick or Treat!” she cried, and waggled her basket at us.

Granny Bear looked over my shoulder from where she was folding tea-towels, and beckoned Goldilocks in with her large grey paw.

‘I haven’t any sweets,” she said regretfully. “But you can have some porridge I’ve just put on the stove.”

That sounded good to Goldilocks, who had been smelling our porridge from well down the laneway, and who was in the mood for some food.

Goldilocks sat happily at the table and didn’t mind a bit when Old Granny Bear slopped enough porridge for two football teams into her bowl – she was a greedy girl, was Goldilocks. She was lovely and plump, with two rosy pink cheeks that showed a good constitution, and Old Granny Bear kept remarking on the charming colour of her complexion, and the heartiness of her appetite, and the two of them seemed on their way to becoming great friends.

But then all that food got to Goldilocks, and she yawned, and Old Granny Bear saw it.

“Oh you poor darling. How about you have a nap upstairs?” she said to the little girl, despite my protest.

“Whose bed will she sleep in?” I said in a high voice, knowing well she’d best fit in mine.

“Oh never mind dear, I’ll tuck her up in my own sweet bed,” said Old Granny Bear. Her voice sounded a little husky. She coughed, and cleared her throat. “Come on Dear,” she said. “Come up to Granny’s bed.”

As I watched the two of them retreating up the stairs, something seemed a little off. But Old Granny Bear seemed happy to have a visitor, and Goldilocks seemed delighted to have a lovely warm bed on offer to snooze in, and so I supposed it was all alright.

A few minutes later, Old Granny Bear came back down again, looking quite fluffy and satisfied.

“She’s a funny girl,” she said indulgently. “She decided she didn’t want to have a sleep after all.”

“Where is she now?” I asked.

“Oh love, she’s gone home.”

“Gone home? How? I didn’t see her come down the stairs…”

“She… slid out from the window.”

“From the upstairs window?”

“Yes. Slid right out. Down a tree and onto the path. Ran like anything. I suppose she had other houses to Trick or Treat.”

I wandered to the window and looked casually outside. There wasn’t a tree near to our window that Goldilocks might have jumped out of. And now that I looked at it, Old Granny Bear wasn’t really looking fluffy. More – fat. And as I looked at her, her stomach made a kind of jiggling movement, and I heard something that might have been a shout, or might have been a stomach rumble, I couldn’t really be sure.

“Granny,” I said carefully. “What a great, big belly you have.”

“Oh love,” she said. “Never say that to an old lady. It’s terribly rude.”

Then she remembered she’d forgotten something upstairs, so she went back upstairs to fetch it. And as she went up the stairs, I noticed Old Granny Bear’s skirt sway a little to the side as she passed the balustrade at the top of the stairs.

That’s when I noticed it – the great big grey-orange tail.

The great big grey-orange wolfish tail that had peeked from beneath her day dress; a tail that was distinctly not the kind a bear ever had, because it was the kind that Wolves had.

Wolves who dress as Grannies, specifically.

“Granny BEAR!” I gasped.

I had learned the Heimlich Manoeuvre, and I was ready to use it. I leapt up the stairs two at a time and found her in her bedroom, gazing at me, astonished.

“Baby Bear?” she inquired sweetly. But I ignored her. I ran into the room and gave her the biggest BEAR HUG I’d ever given in my life. One, two, three. Out popped Goldilocks, and after her, out popped my real Granny Bear, the one who knew how to make healthy porridge that wasn’t covered in chocolate sauce, because she wasn’t trying to fatten you up to eat you.

“Oh my!” said Old Granny Bear-Wolf. And she didn’t stop to look at the mess she’d made, which is how I absolutely knew she was nobody’s Granny. No, she ran out of our house as fast as her four legs would take her.

At right about this moment, Mama Bear and Papa Bear got back from their walk and noticed the chaos that the Old Granny Bear-Wolf had left in her wake. I saw them getting ready to get cranky at me, because they figured it was always the Baby Bear making a mess.

But my Old Granny Bear, the real Old Gran Bear, stepped between us and put a protective paw on my shoulder.

“We’ve had such a time,” said Old Granny Bear. “Let’s go downstairs and have a cup of tea.”

Everyone thought that would be a very good idea.

We’d just sat down in the garden with a steaming pot of tea when we heard the doorbell ring. Goldilocks jumped up to see who it was, and then jumped back, with a squeal, from the door.

“It’s a WOLF!” she cried.

Old Granny Bear ambled up to the door and peered out. Her eyes weren’t that good, but she could see through her spectacles that it was just Little Boy Blue down the road, dressed up in a very simple kind of Wolf suit; not one that would fool anybody who had really met one.

“What do you think of my costume?” said Little Boy Blue as she gave him some sweets she’d had hidden in a special place in the kitchen.

My Old Granny Bear paused.

“It’s not exactly – my cup of tea.”

We did laugh, that Halloween !

Halloween bedtime story for kids written by Jade Maitre

© Storyberries 2018

Let’s Chat About The Stories ~ Ideas for Talking With Kids

Independent Thinking

1. What clues did you see in the story that might have suggested Granny Bear was not really Granny Bear?

Illustration of child reading book