Listen to Jane read from Twinkle Toes...
Twinkle Toes was serialised in the Standard's "Goodies" and "Junior Standard" newspapers.
HELLO everybody! My name is Twinkle. Dad calls me Twinkle Toes and he loves me to bits.
Are you reading this at school? If so, lucky you! I have to stay at home while my foot mends. Booh!
I woke up the day after Dad gave me Sukee thinking, wow! Maybe I am the only kid in Hong Kong who has a pony. And that made me feel sooo special.
Ma was mad about Dad buying me a pony. Pau Pau banged bowls and shouted. I shouted back, then felt bad for being rude. That night I had a horrible dream about birds pecking money to bits.
It's time to tell you about my sad sad family. Some things anyway.
‘I wish I were riding,’ said Mrs Potts, her straggly hair screwed into a bun. She had a metal cage strapped to her back and her t-shirt was already soaked in sweat. Someone had called her about a dumped puppy and I was with her to rescue it.
The air smelt fresh and green. We were following a narrow track in the country park. Sukee kept trying to snatch mouthfuls of grass while Mrs Potts told me about a wild deer she had rescued from a catchwater.
Yippee! I can go to school on Lantau after Chinese New Year! Ma and Pau Pau have agreed. They say they might come to live in Mui Wo again. Pau Pau says she misses the sea and growing pineapples. Ma misses Dad a bit, I think. How I hope everyone will be happy again!
Sukee's ears flicked to and fro as if to catch our angry words. 'Twinkle Toes, don't blame yourself,' Dad shouted, as I bumped down the path to escape from him.
I hate my foot, I hate my foot, I muttered, to the rhythm of Sukee's hooves.
When I entered the field, Sukee was still asleep with her neck stretched out. I tiptoed towards her. An ear twitched, but she didn't get up. I lay down beside her, slowly stroking her beancurd muzzle, tickling her nostril with a piece of grass.
Aunty Bei arrived. She was riding 'Caramel'. The ponies sniffed each other to make friends. Soon we were riding cross-country. 'Look how narrow the sea channel is,' Aunty Bei said. 'In the olden days, this is where pirates would lay in wait. For clippers laden with goodies.'
We were at my house drinking Ronny's carrot juice when Tan Tan discovered my English name was Twinkle. 'Let's watch some shooting stars on the beach tonight,' he said.
I showed him where my sixth toe had been, and all the ugly scars criss-crossing my foot. He blinked a bit. I guess he couldn't help it.
As the bus wound up the road, Uncle held Smudge tightly while Tan Tan and I played a guessing game about who else was going to the prison. The guy with ear buds smooching to his iPod was definitely not going, we thought. But then he alighted outside the tall prison gates with us.
'No children allowed,' said a guard gruffly.
Next morning I rushed outside to check if Sukee was okay. It was still raining. Silver River surged along her banks. There were muddy puddles and broken branches everywhere!
Thank my lucky stars Sukee was still in the field! Her coat was soaked and her nose was a bit snotty. She gobbled up the pony nuts I offered then walked back under the rubber tree.
We tried a few names but when I said Sukee, my pony nodded her head (and snatched a sneaky mouthful of grass). Dad told me she had been flown in to carry rods over the mountains but now the cable car was up and running, she'd been sold for a song.
Tan Tan and the man followed us up the beach. 'Can I have a ride?' Tan Tan kept asking.
'Why not?' I said, drying myself on a towel. Sukee shook so hard to dry herself that droplets sprayed like rain!
Lucky me! It's Saturday and Dad, Sukee and I are going on a hunt for pink dolphins. While Dad packed a picnic, I brushed away the caked mud on my pony's coat. I trimmed her mane and tail with scissors. Then, running my hand down the back of her leg, I pulled her fetlock, and - abracadabra! - Sukee lifted her foot and I cleaned out her hoof.
A fishy-smelling hut. A birdcage stuffed with money. Tan Tan and the limping man. Mysterious lovely Lantau! How I love staying here.
Sukee now comes trotting over if I rattle pony nuts. Smudge is growing fast and needed lots of TLC. And Dad lets me explore the island on horseback by myself.
'SEAFOOD SMUGGLING LION!' the newspaper headlines screamed the following day. Everyone was talking about the price of lobsters, crabs and prawns. How expensive they were and how fishermen smuggled them across the sea to mainland China to avoid paying tax.
Animals roamed freely in Aunty Bei's house. A twitchy sheep's nose nudged my elbow asking for noodles and a goat stroked past my leg. There were dogs and cats too, and a fat white rabbit with black bean eyes.
I felt so welcome, I didn't want to leave. But Sukee was pawing the ground outside and I knew Dad would be worrying about me.
Why does food taste better outside? Tan Tan and I were eating yummy char siu at his Aunty's restaurant. Some mainland tourists were photographing Sukee but she kept turning her head to scratch her tummy.
'I want to see the cave,' said Tan Tan. I promised to take him, as well as to introduce him to Aunty Bei. Next week. When I'd be back on lovely Lantau.
'Promise you won't call me two-faced Twinkle at school,' I said to Tan Tan. Aunty Bei had lent him Toby, her black pony, and we were riding to the cave together.
'No way,' said Tan Tan.
A row of Chinese flags fluttered along Five Cent Bridge. A fisherman leaned over the railings and crossed his ankles to stop his trouser legs from flapping in the wind. This winter monsoon was a monster!
'Crazy weather!' called Mrs Potts, hurriedly moving her plant pots from her balcony. Her dogs were barking. Dragonflies were flying low. Cats were licking their fur.
It was a bright sunny day when the doors opened to Aunty Bei's Petting Farm. The first group of visitors marched along the path to meet us. I felt so proud.
A long fenced area contained cows, buffaloes, a pair of goats and some chickens. With the bad weather, it had been a rush to get everything ready in time. Dad and Ronny had only half-built the 'Happy Pigs' hut.