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Kate's Writing Blog

The Enchanted Pen, Doctor Yewubdar and Fish

For several years I have been working my way through The Enchanted Pen writing for children course by Nina Milton. I completed the course’s Notepad 1 in 2012 and it has taken me two years to plod my way through Notepad 2. (It's difficult for me to squeeze in time for reading and writing because of the demands of family life and Empress Mentewab School.)

Notepad 2 looks at books for ‘pre-literate’ children. That is to say, young readers aged 6 to 8 from when they begin to read until they are almost fluent. Pre-literate children spell out unfamiliar words and this stumbling can cause them to lose the meaning of the narrative. The language therefore needs to be fairly simple, yet some less common words should challenge them so that they make use of built skills and improve their vocabulary. A story for pre-literate readers should be upbeat in tone, have plenty of dialogue, and raise issues and emotions within young children’s world view. An excellent example of this type of story is Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox.

At the end of Notepad 2, I have to submit work to Nina. For my submission, I wrote a story called Doctor Yewubdar. That’s pronounced Ye-wub-dar.

Synopsis: After being kidnapped and sold, Doctor Yewubdar finds herself on a remote farm in the Ethiopian Highlands, far from her comfortable townhouse. She is caught up in solving the problems on the farm, particularly those requiring veterinary expertise. Which is surprising... because Doctor Yewubdar is a hen.

Opening: In the Simien Mountains lived an old farmer who stood as straight and stiff as a sugar cane. He was named Biscuit because his skin was the same colour as a plain biscuit. Farmer Biscuit lived with his wife, Lemlem, in a round thatched hut on their farm. All their ten children had long since grown up and left home to find work in towns and cities across the Ethiopian Highlands.

Read Feed: "There were three hens left. Farmer Biscuit looked at them. The black hen was a frail old biddy, no good for anything. The red one had a mean eye and must be feather-brained because she’d managed to get a washer stuck on her beak, daft bird. But the brown hen… now she looked very fine."

After reading an excerpt of Doctor Yewubdar on a writers’ website where I had placed it for review in mid-April, a fellow writer contacted me and very generously gave me a present of the Fish Flash Fiction course worth 245 euros!

So now I am working on both The Enchanted Pen and the Fish Flash Fiction courses - quite a challenge, but great for developing my skill in writing!

In Doctor Yewubdar, the heroine is sold in Debark market. Here are some photos I took of the market, just before I wrote my first draft of Doctor Yewubdar.

Debark market
Debark market


parked pack animals
parked pack animals


parked horses, mules and donkeys
parked horses, mules and donkeys


chicken seller
chicken seller


chickens for sale
chickens for sale


hen for sale
hen for sale