The Boat in the Tree – a summer’s tale

The Boat in the Tree – a summer’s tale

Jutta Richter

Spend the whole of the holidays out in the back of beyond at Betenbüttel? God, no! But it ends up being the best summer ever…
Going somewhere wonderful and exotic for the long vacation is not an option if the money isn’t there. As city kids born and bred, Ole and Hannah (9 and 11) can handle that; anyway, they can play all the latest online computer games instead. But this year everything goes wrong. Their mother has to spend the summer in a sanatorium, so she sends Ole and Hannah to Aunt Pauline and Uncle Fiete who live in the outskirts of a godforsaken little town called Betenbüttel, away on the edge of the world in East Frisia. Aunt Pauline is a sprightly woman in her mid-eighties, and Uncle Fiete, who’s experiencing a few problems with his short-term memory, is getting on for ninety. There’s absolutely nothing out here in Nowheresville; no mobile phone network coverage, no broadband – no internet at all! – no satellite dish, not even a television – their idea of cutting-edge technology is an old bakelite telephone.
The kids are desperate. How are they supposed to fill all these empty hours for the whole of the summer? »Hunt for mice in the attic«, mutters Uncle Fiete. »Build yourself a playhouse!« Aunt Pauline suggests. No sooner said than done – their hut grows taller and more intricate by the day, and Uncle Fiete pops by and tells them the most wonderful stories about his time as a sailor. Stories of life and survival, stories from distant lands and far-flung, unfamiliar worlds in days gone by – he only has gaps in his short-term memory, after all! So despite their initial pessimism, Ole and Hannah wind up having the holiday of a lifetime.

The Boat in the Tree – a summer’s tale

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