THE GREAT ESCAPE Help Tracy Beaker break free from the Dumping Ground Click on tunnel to begin
Sunlight streams through the crack in the curtains in the half darkened bedroom, highlighting floating flecks of dust as they dance and shimmer in the air. The alarm clock on the bedside table rudely shatters the hushed calm. Slowly, you stretch out your arm from beneath the brightly coloured Bang on the Door duvet cover and silence the clattering bell of the clock with a thump of your clenched fist. Something important is happening today. Your still befuddled brain tries to register why the alarm clock was set at such an unearthly hour. Suddenly you remember! The latest in a long line of potential foster parents are due to visit the Dumping Ground. Could this be your chance at last to escape this prison they call a children’s home? But you are so sleepy, still. Another half hour in bed wouldn’t hurt, surely? DO YOU Leap out of bed and tidy your bedroom, as Elaine asked you to do last night? Snuggle down under the cosy covers for just a few more minutes sleep? After all, there will be plenty time to tidy up later, won’t there?
The sound of the doorbell ringing finally rouses you from your slumber. You wake with a start: how long have you slept? You stare at the bedside clock and shriek in disbelief. You cant have slept THAT long!! You fling off the duvet cover and grab your jeans and t- shirt from the floor where they were left the night before. Quickly, you begin to stuff other clothes in drawers and discarded books and countless amounts of accumulated junk into cupboards. You scoop up the half finished cup of cola left from the McDonalds takeaway at the weekend and make for the kitchen to dispose of the evidence. But just as you fling open the door, Elaine walks in to the room and, as if in slow motion, you watch in horror as you collide with the care worker and the contents of the juice cup slop all over the front of her very nice, obviously new, jumper. Understandably, Elaine is less than impressed and informs you that as a punishment you won’t be going out on a special trip with Mike today and instead will tidy your room, as you should have done yesterday. START AGAIN
Your time has been well spent. Just as you fold away the last of your clothes and, guiltily, kick some washing under your bed, Elaine walks into your room. You can tell from the approving nod as she looks around the bedroom that you are in her good books. But there is something about the way Elaine avoids your eye as she sits you down to speak that concerns you. “Well done Tracy, your room is the tidiest I have seen it in a long time!” Elaine says. However, she continues: “I am afraid I have got some bad news. The nice couple who were coming to meet you today have phoned to say they cant make it here after all.” You can feel the disappointment rushing up inside you, from the very pit of your stomach as it forces its way out of your mouth in an anguished “NOOOOO!!!!” Elaine starts to open her mouth to explain further but you can feel your cheeks burning red and your hay fever start to kick in as your eyes well up. DO YOU Bite down your anger and allow Elaine to finish? Give rise to the emotions which are welling up inside you and tell Elaine exactly what you think of the stupid couple who couldn’t be bothered to come and see you
As you rush from the room, you hear Elaine shouting after you: “Tracy, wait, let me explain…” But her words are drowned out by your own sobs of anger as you scream your fury at being let down for what feels the billionth time. “NO! I’ve had it with stupid foster parents, stupid care workers and most of all with this stupid Dumping Ground!!” You run into the kitchen, pursued by a concerned Elaine. But her sympathies for you quickly turn to anger as you sweep a coffee cup off the kitchen table and watch it smash on the floor. “Tracy! That’s quite enough!” Elaine’s tone of voice shows she is in no mood for this tantrum But you are beyond caring and you throw a second cup against the wall, the china exploding into dozens of jagged shards. Strangely, your mood fails to evaporate with the cup. But Elaine’s next words quickly deflate your burning fury. “If you had let me finish, I would have told you that Mike had agreed to take you to the funfair where the couple have asked to meet you instead. But I think you’ll agree that WONT be happening now.” Your protests fall on deaf ears as you realise the error of your judgement. START AGAIN
You can hardly believe your ears when Elaine says Mike has arranged a special trip to the funfair to meet your prospective foster parents. You feel on top of the world as the big wheel lifts you to the top of its arc, the music from the ride buzzing in your ears. The people on the ground far below look like scurrying ants, including Mike who is waving wildly to you. Today is turning out to be the best adventure for as long as you can remember. You feel so glad you listened to Elaine before flying into a tantrum. All too soon the ride gradually begins to slow before gently halting, the basket swinging back and fro until its momentum halts. You step back onto solid ground, your legs feeling wobbly but your cheeks glowing with glee. As Mike approaches, your stomach gives a loud rumble of hunger and you spy the refreshment kiosk, the fabulous food smells drifting over from it making your mouth water. Do you rush off to the refreshment kiosk before Mike catches up with you? Wait until Mike arrives and see what he wants to do next?
You really are the little kid with the keys to the sweetie shop – and one who’s eyes are definitely bigger than their stomach! After munching your way through two giant candy floss sticks, a hot dog, a toffee apple and a bucket of popcorn, your rosy cheeks fade away to be replaced by a sickly green colour. Your stomach bulges and feels fit to burst. Mike looks at you with that “I told you so” look in his eyes but you cant focus on him for more than a second as your chest heaves and you are violently sick all over his shoes. Your protests that you will be fine fall on deaf – if angry – ears as Mike props you up and helps you back to his car in the car park. Mike telephones your prospective foster parents and informs them that you appear to have been struck down by a sudden bug and they will have to cancel the planned meeting. You would cry, but you are concentrating too much on not being sick again as the car winds its way back to the Dumping Ground. Start again
“I bet your hungry,” Mike says, “I know I’m starving! But if you can just hang on for a bit, I have a special treat planned for lunch time.” Your stomach starts to growl in protest, but as you open your mouth, Mike quickly adds: “I promise it will be worth the wait!” There is something about the twinkle in his eye and the smiling corners of his mouth that stops your complaints in their tracks. Something tells you this treat will be well worth a little hunger pangs! Mike suggests that you buy some bread from the kiosk and head for the duck pond to feed the flocks of brightly coloured ducks and graceful swans that are swimming lazily across the ripple covered surface. You notice a little girl, only aged about three skipping excitedly towards the pond, arm in arm with her mother. A pang of jealousy strikes you, but you crush it down, only for it to be replaced by a surge of anger. “Feeding the ducks is for babies!” you retort. Mike looks crestfallen for a moment, but quickly recovers and flashes you another smile. “Come on, it will be fun, I promise!” Do you purchase the bread and head for the duck pond with Mike? Do you refuse point blank and shout that you want a ride on the dodgems.
Mike looks disappointed as you stick your heels in and demand that you have a ride on the dodgem cars. “OK, Tracy, we said this was your day and if you are sure that is what you would rather do….” Mike’s voice trails off sadly. At the dodgem ride, you see Bouncer there and your heart leaps as you plot revenge on him for the incident at breakfast yesterday. As the cars surge into life, you quickly manoeuvre yourself behind Bouncer’s Dodgem, planning to give him a “thumping” surprise. But just as you speed towards his car, you are rocked in your seat as another Dodgem appears as if from nowhere and slams into you from the side. Your head crashes against the head rest and tears well up in your eyes. There is no way you can blame that on hay fever! As the ride halts, a huge bump is already growing on your head and Mike is so concerned he hurries you straight to the hospital for a check up. That is the end of your special day and the chance to meet your potential foster parents. START AGAIN
As you watch the bright yellow ducklings paddling towards you, you can’t help but smile. Mike was right: this is fun. You tear off another chunk of bread and toss it into the pond, watching as a little baby duck darts in and pinches the morsel from under the beak of an indignant swan. A smile crosses your lips and for a moment you forget all the ups and downs the day has brought.
All too soon, Mike suggests it is time to head back to the Dumping Ground. “We’ve had a fun day, Tracy, but I am afraid I have a very important person waiting to see me back at the home.” “What, more important than me?” you retort. “And what about these people who are supposed to be fostering me?” You can feel the warm, fuzzy feelings of contentment that surrounded you moments ago slipping away. “Now Tracy, you know that you are the number one girl in my life,” Mike tries to joke off your disappointment. Nevertheless, it is a quiet car journey home. Mike’s attempts at lifting the mood by singing his usual daft songs in funny voices fail to cut any ice with you.
Back at the Dumping Ground, Mike stops the car and looks at you with pleading eyes. “Tracy, I know you have been very patient today and you are disappointed that you never got to meet your prospective foster parents,” he starts. “Too right!” you bite back. “It’s time to be honest with you,” Mike continues. “There was never any couple who wanted to meet you today. We used that as an excuse to get you out of the house.” You have been angry before, very angry, but that was nothing compared to the burning sense of betrayal that you feel now. “You tricked me out of the house with a story like that when you know that what I want more than anything in the world is to be fostered by a wonderful family?! The edge to your softly spoken question makes your fury all the more apparent. Mike is trying to tell you something more, but you feel you have heard enough. You throw open the car door leap out. Do you run into the house and hope that none of the others see the tears in your eyes before you can reach the safety of your bedroom? Or do you run out of the garden and head for the park down the road, where you know you can hide until late. Who cares if they are worried about you after what they have done!
The park is deserted and you are glad. The last thing you want is for anyone to see you crying. You hide out in the park until darkness is just approaching and, more importantly, your rumbling stomach says you cant stay out any longer. You creep back to the Dumping Ground, hoping that no one will be around to say anything to you. Unfortunately Mike and Elaine are waiting for you. But rather than being furious with you, their explanation of why they are so saddened leaves you feeling heartbroken. “Cam was waiting for you this afternoon, Tracy," Elaine explained. “We had planned a surprise going away party for you. Cam had to go to America for a book tour and she wanted you to go with her. If it all worked out well, she was hoping you would agree to be fostered by her.” “But I am afraid she had to go,” Mike adds. “Her flight left hours ago and she won’t be back for a month.” Your heart drops as you realise your chances of a dream holiday with the best foster mum you could wish for are over. START AGAIN
As you throw open the kitchen door there is a tremendous cheer from everyone at the Dumping Ground who has gathered there. The first person you see is Cam, who is grinning at you from ear to ear. “So how do you fancy coming to America with me for a month on a book tour?” she asks. “And if that goes well, I thought you might want to make it a permanent arrangement and perhaps allow me to foster you.” Congratulations, Tracy. You have escaped the Dumping Ground at last!