Scarlett loved to sing.

She drove her family crazy.


“You’re a starling, darling,” twittered Mum,

“not a nightingale.”

“I’m a star,” sang Scarlett, preening herself.

“I can feel it in my feathers.”


“You’re a tweetie, sweetie,” Dad explained,

“and starlings chatter or cheep.

We do impressions

of cats and dogs,

or mobile phones

and sheep.

Listen to your brothers and sisters:”


“tweet meow!”

“tweet woof!”

“tweet beep-beep …”



But Scarlett ignored them and puffed out her feathers.

She sang at the top of her voice,

until her Mum and her Dad

and her brothers and sisters,

the cats and the dogs

and the sheep

all yelled:

Would you please please please



Scarlett’s beak began to tremble

and her eyes turned red with rage.

“I’m off,” she announced,

“to find a new family –

one that likes my singing.”


Then she flew, up and away,

towards the setting sun.


Dad flew after her, calling her back.

“The big wide world is scary,” he warned.

It’s full of vultures and owls …”


La la la” trilled Scarlett, loudly,

“not la-la listening.”


“… Snakes and sharks

and bird-eating spiders,

all waiting to gobble you up.”


“Goodbye!” snapped Scarlett,

“Tra-la la laa!

I’m off to tour the world.”


She hitched a ride on a hot air balloon

and floated to Africa,

where she sang to the lions,

crooned to the crocs,

and hit high notes for the giraffes.


Then she soared over the Sahara Desert

and diverted a train of camels.


She skimmed the surface of stormy seas

to serenade a school of whales.


She was whisked by the wind to the freezing North Pole,

where she warbled to polar bears.


She sang in a punk band in Brazil

with a monkey, a parrot and a frog.


She bounced with wallabies in Australia

and yodelled to American skunks.


She sang lullabies in the Indian jungle

to hammocks of sleepy sloths.


But Scarlett found that wherever she went,

no family was quite right for her.


They were all too grumpy,

too snappy

or snooty,

too hot,

too wet,

too cool,

too loud,

too bumpy,

too stinky




And none of them liked Scarlett’s singing.

They preferred to sing songs of their own.


“I am a star,” chirped Scarlett to herself.

“I can feel it in my feathers.

Maybe I belong up in the sky

with the other glittering stars.”


So she took a trip on a rocket ship

and left the world behind.


It was magical up in the Milky Way,

and Scarlett loved the view.

She saw Orion and the Great Bear,

and made up a new constellation.


But when she opened her beak to sing,

a funny little noise came out.

In the peace and quiet of Outer Space,

she sounded sad

and cold

and lonely.


And horribly out of tune.


Then Scarlett heard voices that warmed her heart,

wafting up from the world below:


Chatter, tweet!


tweet meow!

tweet woof!

tweet beep-beep!



“It’s them!” she chirped,

“it’s my family,

and they’re trying to sing to me.”


Scarlett’s beak began to tremble

and her eyes filled up with tears.

“I’ve missed you all so much,” she sobbed,

“but now I’m coming home.”


So she hopped on board a shooting star

and blazed back down to earth.


Mum and Dad

and her brothers and sisters

and thousands more twittering starlings

were gathered in the sunset skies –

a party to welcome her home.


My fans! Hello!I love you all!”

Scarlett was ecstatic.


Then she led them all in a dizzying dance –

swirling and swaying,

dodging and weaving

whooshing and

exploding –



Now Scarlett understood

what starlings really did best –

sky dancing,

not singing.

She could feel it in her feathers.


“My voice is tired,” she told everyone.

So I’ve decided to give it a rest …”




they cheered.


“…while I practice

my new dance moves.”


And Scarlett lit up the sky.



© Nick Walker 2017