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Something very peculiar happened to a girl called Isis. Her nose ran away. And then all sorts of things started to happen at her school when the other children caught sight of it.

It’s all very strange indeed. But perhaps it’s not quite so extraordinary when you know that Isis went to the same school as Katie.

If you like this story, you might like to trace its origins back to a Russian tale called   The Nose

by Nicholai Gogol.

Story by Bertie.

Read by Natasha. Pictures by Cai Jia Eng. Duration 20 minutes.

Proofread by Jana Elizabeth.

Loads of people are always saying that Isis is an exceptionally pretty little girl. They say things like: “What lovely blonde hair she has!” and “What wonderful blue eyes!” and “Such a sweet nose!” and “What a darling little mouth!”

And Isis likes it when people say such things about her. And there’s something else that makes her happy – it’s that everyone at school wants to be friends with her. In fact, she’s so popular that every girl in her class is simply dying to go to her birthday party.

But Isis couldn’t invite just anyone to her party. And especially, she couldn’t invite Katie.

You see, Katie was a bit strange. And not very pretty. Well at least Isis thought so. And she didn’t like the way she did her hair. And her shoes weren’t very nice.

And Isis couldn’t possibly invite a girl who wasn’t pretty to her party. So she didn’t.

But Katie has a secret that Isis didn’t know. Only very few people, like Wendy and Alisa, know Katie’s secret – but I’ll let you in on it. Katie is a witch, and can do all sorts of magic spells. She tries not to do them too often – or else everyone will soon know her secret.

One day, Isis came to school with invitations for all the girls in her class to come to her party. All except for Katie.

And Katie felt a bit sad about that. Because although she wasn’t best friends with Isis, she felt, well, rather left out. It made her feel like there might be something wrong with her.

The next day, some of the girls were talking about Isis’s party. Samantha said: “I’m not sure what colour dress to wear, but I think I might go in pink.”

“Yes,” said Trudy. “Pink suits you so well.”

When Katie walked past, Julia said: “I expect that Isis didn’t invite Katie because she’s got a nose like a pug.”

Katie heard this and she spun round: “I do not have a nose like a pug!” she said. “And even if I did, Isis has a nose that points upward – and that means that she’s a snooty-nose.”

But the girls just laughed at Katie and they all chanted:

“You’re nose is flat.
And your bum is fat.”

Later,  when Isis heard that Katie had called her a snooty nose, she was cross. In fact, she was really, really, really cross, because she knew that there was a little grain of truth in it – and a true insult hurts more than an untruth. Her nose did point up just a bit – but even so, she still thought it was the prettiest nose in the class.

When she saw Katie she said:

“How dare you call me a snooty-nose? You just said that because I didn’t invite you to my party. Well I’ll tell you Katie why I didn’t invite you. I didn’t want you there because my mum says that your mum is weird and that your whole family is ugly, especially you!”

“I’m glad that you didn’t invite me,” said Katie. “Because I wouldn’t have come anyway. And besides, your nose does point up and that’s because you and your whole family are snooty. Your family is so snooty that they named you after an Egyptian Goddess – and if you look at a picture of the real Isis you’ll see that she had a pointy-up nose too.”

“Isis is a very pretty name,” said Isis. “At least it’s not a common name like Katie. You’re more common than a tin of baked beans. In fact, there’s nothing pretty or clever about you. You’re not even funny. You’re just dumpy, flat-nosed Katie, with stringy black hair, bandy legs, and wonky teeth. And besides, nobody likes you because there is nothing special about you at all. Not one thing – apart from the fact that you smell.”

And Katie was so cross that she started to mutter a magic spell to turn Isis into a snail – but then she thought that she had better not, in case she got into trouble.

So that night, before she went to sleep, Katie sat up in bed reading her magic books. She was looking for a very special spell to get her revenge on Isis. And at last, just before her mum came in to kiss her goodnight, she found the perfect spell for the job.

In the morning, Isis got out of bed and went to look at her face in the mirror. She was just a bit worried because she thought she might be getting a spot on her nose – and that wouldn’t do at all. In fact, she had decided that if her nose got a pimple, she wouldn’t go to school until it went away.

But when she looked in the mirror, what she saw was not at all what she had been fearing. It was much, much worse.

It was her nose.

Or rather, it wasn’t her nose. Because it wasn’t there any more.

Isis had no nose. Her face was just flat where her pretty little snooter should have been. She let out a scream! And then another scream. And then another. Her mother came rushing up the stairs. And then she screamed too.

When they both stopped screaming, they looked under the pillow and in the folds of the duvet. Then they looked under the bed and in the cupboard. But nowhere, could they find her nose.

Then her mum wrapped a scarf around her daughter’s face and took her to the doctor’s. The doctor said not to worry. Isis wouldn’t die because she could still breathe through her mouth. But he said it was strange, very strange indeed. He had never seen anything like it. He gave her a bottle of pink medicine just in case it might help, but on balance he thought it probably wouldn’t.

And then Isis cried. And she cried. And she cried some more. Because she couldn’t possibly go to school without her nose. And she would have to cancel her party. And so long as she was noseless, she wouldn’t be popular.

Because nobody would want to know a girl with no nose.

In class, the teacher said that Isis had had an accident and wouldn’t be coming to school until she was better. When Katie heard this, she knew that her spell had worked, but of course she didn’t tell a soul about it. After school, Julia and Annabelle went round to Isis’s house to see if she was ok. Nobody answered the door, so they went around the back to see if she was playing outside on the lawn. They saw her sitting on a garden chair. And they both saw her face. But of course, what they didn’t see was her nose.

After that, the news about Isis losing her nose spread fast around the school. Everybody was talking about it. And then some very strange things started to happen. Really strange things indeed.

When the art teacher, Miss Jenkins, opened her desk, she found inside it – a nose. It was a pretty little nose but slightly pointed up at the end – just like Isis’s. She thought it was a joke-nose that somebody had made out of play-dough. And that made her very cross.

“It really isn’t very nice at all,” she said. “In fact, who ever did this has an extremely nasty little mind. It’s ever so cruel to make fun of somebody who’s had an accident!”

Everyone wondered who had made the joke nose. But in fact nobody had. Because it really was Isis’s nose. And when Miss Jenkins wasn’t looking, the nose climbed out of her desk, hopped onto her chair, and jumped down onto the floor. You see, it had grown two little legs and it could run. Toby spotted it – and he yelled out:

“Look Miss, Look! Look! There it goes. The nose is escaping! It’s running away.”

But Miss Jenkins didn’t look. She didn’t even believe him. She just went over to Toby and told him that he was a very naughty little boy and that he was in big trouble. In fact, she was going to ring his mother and tell her just what a mean and horrid thing he had done.

Nobody else saw the nose escaping – except for Katie – and she kept quiet. She felt a bit sorry for Toby, but not too much, because she knew that very soon more people would see some strange things. And they did.

When Samantha opened her locker, she screamed so loud that the whole school heard her – because Isis’s nose had been asleep on top of her fleece, and when she opened the door it sprang up and jumped out of the locker.

And when Annabel looked in the mirror, she saw that her face had two noses – her own and Isis’s – and they seemed to be having a conversation with each other. Annabel didn’t even scream – she just fainted. When she came round, Isis’s nose had scarpered – and none of the teachers believed what she told them. They just said that she must have imagined it.

And Toby found the runaway nose once again. This time, it was taking a nap in his lunch box. He was so frightened that he would get into even more trouble than before, that he didn’t tell anyone. He just grabbed the nose and let it loose in the playground where it ran off, no doubt to make more trouble elsewhere.

At the next staff meeting, Mrs Hepworth, the headmistress, was in one of her flurries.

“What on earth are we going to do about all this nose business? The whole school has been traumatized by Isis’s terrible accident. All the children are imagining things. It’s a mass hysteria.”

A mass hysteria is when lots of people see the same thing which isn’t really true. Like the Indian rope trick, when a man appears to climb up a rope that isn’t attached to anything.

By now Katie had enough revenge. Perhaps too much. And she truly wished that she could send the naughty nose back to Isis’s face. But the trouble was, she couldn’t find out how to reverse the spell. She had found it in a very old book of magic, and some of the pages were missing – including the one with the reverse nose spell on it.

A few days later she saw Isis in the supermarket – well she didn’t actually see her face because Isis had wrapped a scarf around it. In fact, she looked like she was going out in a snow blizzard. Isis saw Katie – but she pretended not to. She felt ashamed that her nose had run away. And Katie felt, well, rather sorry for her, and just a bit guilty.

So that evening she asked her mum if she knew where the missing pages from the old spell book were.

“Oh yes, those. They’re in my desk,” said Mum. “But there’s nothing very useful in them – unless you want to charm a runaway nose back to its owner. I had to learn that spell for the Witch Masters Course at University. The professor said it had only been used once, and that was 150 years ago in the city of St. Petersburg when it was still the capital of Russia.”

But Katie said that she liked reading old spells, and besides, you never knew when they might come back into fashion.

And that night, she learnt two sets of magic words. Both were very complicated. One for catching the runaway nose. And the other was for sticking it back onto its owner’s face.

The nose didn’t want to be caught, but Katie found it living in the school kitchen where it could sample plenty of nice food smells. She said the magic words that she had learned off by heart, and it hopped into her hand. She wrapped it in a handkerchief.

And then she went round to Isis’s house. Isis’s mum answered the door and said that her daughter didn’t want to see anyone. But Katie told her that she had important news about the whereabouts of the runaway nose, and eventually she was allowed up to Isis’s room.

Isis hadn’t seen any friends for three whole weeks. In fact, she was actually quite pleased that someone had come to see her – although she hid her face behind a pillow so that her visitor couldn’t see her face.

“It’s very nice of you to come round,” she said from behind the pillow. “None of my friends want to see me anymore – not even my nose wants to see me. It ran off, you know. At least you are no longer the most unpopular girl in school. I am, and I suppose that serves me right for being so mean to you.”

And Katie said:

“You were mean to me. But I was meaner to you. You see, it was me who told your nose to run away.”

“You?” said Isis.

“Yes me. But now I’ve brought it back to you.”

And Katie took out a handkerchief, unfolded it, and put the nose on the bed.”

Isis had to see this, so she stuck her head out from behind the pillow and said:

“Oh gosh, golly golly gosh. It is my nose. Oh pretty little nose, why did you run away from me?”

And the nose said:

“I ran away from you because you were boring.”

“Me, boring? But, but … I was the prettiest, most popular girl in school.”

“And didn’t you go on about it? In fact, you went on, and on, and on, about how wonderful you were. So I got bored and ran away.”

“Oh! It was was ever so mean of you to run away,” said Isis. “I had to cancel my own birthday party.”

But Katie was getting fed up with all the talk. She put her foot down and said:

“It’s high time for you two to get back together. And no arguments.”

And with that she picked up the nose, said a magic spell, and she stuck it back on Isis’s face.

Katie looked at Isis and checked that she had put her nose back on straight. She had. Then she noticed that while it had been away, the nose had grown a bright red pimple because it hadn’t been eating all its vitamins.

Isis looked in the mirror and saw the pimple. But do you know what? She didn’t even care because she was so glad to have her nose back. The next day she went to school. Everyone crowded round to welcome her back. And nobody minded that she had a pimple on her nose. In fact, Samantha said that nobody would have minded even if she had no nose at all – because there was more to life than to have a perfect face. In fact, being true friends was much more important than how anyone looked.

And Isis said:

“I want you all to come to my party next week. Especially Katie because now she’s my best friend.”

Text Copyright Hugh Fraser 2008.

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