Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Stars of Tomorrow by Alan McClean

 Chapter 1
A Friend for Ellen

Ellen Morrissey is walking in the Malvern Hills in England. She is with girls from her new school. They are here with their teachers for four days of walking. They walk in the day and at night they sleep in a hóstel.

The Malvern Hills are beautiful, but Ellen is sad. She is thinking about the hills of Ireland. Ellen is from Ireland, but now she lives in England with her mother. Ellen loves Ireland. Her father lives there. Her mother never speaks about him.

Where is he? Ellen thinks. What is he doing now? Then she thinks, Here in England I have no friends.

It is past ten o'clock at night. In the hostel, the girls are sleeping. But Ellen is in the sitting room. She is alone with her guitar. Ellen likes playing her guitar. She writes songs.

My guitar is my friend, she thinks.

She starts to play her guitar and starts to sing a song. It's Ellen's song.

Green hills of Ireland
Green hills of home
Here I can't see you
Here I'm alone...

'That's a beautiful song.'

Ellen looks around. A girl is standing behind her. She is from the school, but Ellen doesn't know her.

'Do you like it?' Ellen asks her.

'Yes, I do,' says the girl. 'It's beautiful. But it's sad. Are you sad?'
'I'm sad tonight,' says Ellen. 'I'm thinking about my father. He's in Ireland.'

'Are you Irish?'

'Yes. My name's Ellen.'

'I'm Holly,' says the girl. 'You play the guitar well.'

'I'm not bad,' says Ellen.

'No, you're good,' says Holly, and she sits beside Ellen.

'Can you play the guitar?' asks Ellen.

'No, I can't,' says Holly. 'But I'm a good singer. I like singing, but I don't know that song. Can you teach it to me?'

That's my song, Ellen thinks. It's only for me. I don't want you to sing it. But she doesn't say that. She smiles and says, 'Yes, I can teach it to you. It's called Green Hills of Home. Listen.'

Ellen starts to play the guitar and sing. Holly listens and then she starts to sing too. She has a beautiful voice.

I can't sing like that, Ellen thinks. I don't have a voice like that.

'Is that your song?' asks Holly.

'Yes, it is,' says Ellen.

'It's beautiful,' says Holly.

The two girls sing Green Hills of Home again. Their voices are very good together. Ellen and Holly sing other songs. Soon other girls come into the sitting room and listen to them.

'You're good, you two,' they say. 'Sing us another song.'

So Ellen and Holly sing another song. The other girls clap.

Then the door opens. It is Miss Colvin, one of the teachers. She is angry.

'What are you girls doing?' she asks. 'It's eleven o'clock. This isn't Spain. In England we go to bed very early. Go to bed…now!'

The other girls leave the room and go to bed. Ellen and Holly start to leave, too, but Miss Colvin stops them. Now she isn't angry. She smiles at the two girls.

'Your name is Holly, I think,' she says.

'Yes, Miss Colvin,' says Holly. 'I'm Holly Tyler.'

'And you're a new girl,' Miss Colvin says to Ellen. 'What's your name?'

'Ellen Morrissey, Miss.'

'Well, Holly and Ellen, you sing well,' says Miss Colvin. 'Sing another song for me.'

And Ellen and Holly sing Green Hills of Home for Miss Colvin. She smiles again.

'That's a beautiful song,' she says. 'I don't know it. Is it an Irish song?'

Ellen wants to say, “It's my song,” but she doesn't.

Holly looks at Ellen and starts to speak. 'Miss Colvin, that song is…'

'Yes, it's Irish, Miss Colvin,' Ellen says.

'Well, it's beautiful,' Miss Colvin says. 'And you girls sing well together. I want to listen to you again but not now. Go to bed, both of you!'

And Ellen and Holly leave the room and go to bed.

Ellen isn't sad now. She smiles. Now I've got a friend, she thinks.

Chapter 2
Stars of Tomorrow

Now Ellen and Holly are back at school. Ellen sees her new friend every day. Every Saturday they play and sing together.

One Saturday Ellen gets a text from Holly: Hi, Ellen. Come to my house. I've got news for you!

So Ellen goes to Holly's house. Holly is sitting at her computer.

'What is it, Holly?' says Ellen.

'Look at this,' says Holly, and she points at the computer screen.

Ellen reads:
Are you under 16? Can you sing?Then you can be in STARS OF TOMORROW. Enter now!

'What's Stars of Tomorrow?' asks Ellen.

'It's a TV show. Don't you watch it? It's a singing competition. The winner of the competition gets 10,000€.’

'Wow!' says Ellen.

'We can enter,' says Holly. 'We sing well together. Do you want to enter?'

'What do we have to do?' asks Ellen.

'We have to make a recording of a song and send it to the show,' says Holly. 'We can make a recording here, on my computer. You can play the guitar and we can sing together. What do you think?'

'Well...I don't know this show,' says Ellen. 'What's it like?'

'It's on TV every Saturday at half past six (six thirty 6:30).'

'Then we can watch it tonight!'
So at half past six they watch Stars of Tomorrow. A man on the TV screen is smiling and talking.

'That's Mike Fernie,' says Holly. 'I like him.'

Mike Fernie says, 'And now, from Leeds, here's Angie Dixon.'

A girl comes on stage and starts to sing.

'She's not a very good singer,' says Holly.

'She's not bad,' says Ellen.

Angie Dixon sings her song and Mike says, 'Thank you, Angie. Now, what are our judges going to say?'

There are three judges. Two of the judges, Marty and Julia, are nice. They say nice things to Angie. But one judge is not nice. His name is Paul.

'Angie, that's terrible,' says Paul. 'You can't sing. Go home, Angie!'

Angie starts to cry.

'I don't like that man,' says Ellen. 'He's horrible.'

'Yes, I know. Paul is always like that with bad singers. But it's going to be okay. He's nice to good singers — to singers like us.'

'But I'm not a good singer,' says Ellen. 'I can play the guitar but I'm not a good singer like you. I'm frightened of Paul.'

'Don't be afraid, Ellen. You are good,' says Holly.

'And don't think about Paul. He's not going to be horrible to you. We have to enter, Ellen.'

'I don't know.'

'Miss Colvin likes our singing. We can talk to her about this.'

On Monday the two girls go and talk to Miss Colvin.

'I've got an idea,' Miss Colvin says. 'Make two recordings - one with Ellen singing and one with Holly singing. Then you can both enter the competition.'

Chapter 3
On the Show

'Welcome to Stars of Tomorrow! I'm Mike Fernie. We have some great singers for you tonight...'

It's Ellen and Holly's night on the show. They are waiting to go on stage. Holly is smiling.

Holly's happy, Ellen thinks. She loves this. But I'm nervous. I'm worried about Paul. I don't want to go on stage tonight. I like writing songs, but I don't like singing in front of people.

'How do you feel, Ellen?' asks Holly.

'Not good. I'm nervous.'

'Don't worry. It's going to be OK.'

Ellen and Holly watch the show.
Mike Fernie says, 'Tonight we're going to start with Errol Blake from Bristol. Is he going to be one of our Stars of Tomorrow? Good luck, Errol.'

The people clap. Girls shout, 'Errol! Errol!'

Errol smiles. The music starts and he sings. The people clap and shout again.

'He's good,' says Ellen.

'Not bad,' says Holly. 'What are the judges going to say?'

The judges are talking. Paul is writing.

'So,' says Mike, 'what do our judges think?'

'Very good, Errol,' says Marty. 'You sing well.'

Julia says, 'Errol, you have a beautiful voice.'

Paul laughs. But it's not a nice laugh. 'Errol, I'm sorry, but you don't have a beautiful voice. You sing like a dog. Woof! Woof!'

Errol isn't happy. He doesn't smile. The people aren't happy. They don't like Paul.

But Mike smiles and says, 'Thank you, Errol. And now we have a girl from Preston, Georgia Parker. Good luck, Georgia.'

Georgia Parker sings, and then another girl and another boy sing.

Then Mike says, And now, from London, here's Holly Tyler. Good luck, Holly.'

Ellen says, 'Yes, good luck. Holly.'

Holly walks onto the stage. The music starts and she starts to sing.

She has a beautiful voice, thinks Ellen. I can't sing like that.

The people listen, and then they clap. People shout Holly's name.

'Wow!' says Mike. 'Thank you, Holly. Now, what do our judges think?'

'Holly, I like your voice,' says Marty. 'You sing very well.'

'Beautiful, Holly,' says Julia. 'Thank you.'

‘What's Paul going to say to Holly?’ thinks Ellen.

Paul doesn't speak. He looks at Holly. Then he says, 'Holly, you have a great voice. I love your singing. You are going to be a star.'

The people clap again. Holly is happy.

Ellen hugs her friend. 'Paul really likes your singing!'

'Yes, it's great,' says Holly. 'Paul is nice.'

‘But is he going to be nice to me?’ thinks Ellen. Now she has to sing, but she's nervous.

And now we have Ellen Morrissey from Ireland,' says Mike. 'Good luck, Ellen.'

Ellen is very nervous. The music starts and then she starts to sing. She sings well, but then she stops. She can't remember the words of the song. The music starts again and Ellen sings, but it's no good. She stops again.

Mike comes and stands beside her. 'It's okay, Ellen,' he says. 'It isn't easy to sing on Stars of Tomorrow.'

'Mike's right,' says Julia. 'It isn't easy.'

'Don't worry, Ellen,' says Marty. 'You have a nice voice.'

Then Paul says, 'Ellen, you're not going to be a star, not a star of today, not a star of tomorrow. You can't sing. Goodbye, Ellen.'

The people clap and Ellen walks off the stage. She is sad, but she thinks, I'm not going to cry.

Holly hugs her and says, 'I'm sorry, Ellen. Don't listen to Paul.'

'No, Paul's right,' says Ellen. 'I can't sing. But you're going to win, Holly. I know it. Listen.'

Mike Fernie is talking. 'The winner tonight is going to be in the final of Stars of Tomorrow. And tonight's winner is... Holly Tyler!'

The people clap and shout. Ellen hugs her friend.

'I can't believe it!' says Holly.

'Now you're in the final,' says Ellen. 'And you're going to win!'

Chapter 4
The Man in the Café

After school on Monday the two girls are sitting in a cafe.

'I can't believe it,' says Holly. 'I'm in the final.'

'Yes, you are,' says Ellen. 'It's great.'

'But how do you feel, Ellen? Aren't you sad?'

'Yes, I am sad. But I'm happy for you.'

'You can help me in the final, Ellen,' says Holly.

'Can I?'

'Yes, you can. In the final I have to have a new song. I can't write songs, but you can. You write great songs. Can you write a song for me, Ellen?'

'Yes, of course I can,' says Ellen. 'Do you want a happy song or a sad song?'

But Holly doesn't answer. She is looking across the room.

Ellen says, 'Holly? What is it?'

Holly says, 'There's a man over there and he's looking at you. Do you know him?'
Ellen looks at the man. Her mouth opens.

'Who is he?' asks Holly.

'That's my father,' says Ellen.

Ellen's father comes over to her table. He's smiling. Ellen stands up and hugs him.

'Hello, Ellen,' says her father.

'What are you doing here, Dad?' says Ellen. 'You're not in Ireland?'

'No, Ellen,' her father says. 'I'm here now. Your mother and I are talking... and we're going to get together again.'
'Oh, Dad, that's great news!' says Ellen.

Holly is watching Ellen and her father. She is smiling.

'Oh, sorry,' says Ellen. 'Dad, this is my friend, Holly.'

'Hello, Holly,' says Ellen's father. 'I know you. You're in the final of Stars of Tomorrow. You're a very good singer.'

'Thank you, Mr Morrissey.'

'I'm going to write a song for Holly,' says Ellen. 'She's going to sing it in the final.'

'That's great,' says Ellen's father. 'You write very good songs, Ellen.'

Ellen is very happy. She goes home with her father.

Ellen's mother is waiting for them. She is happy too. Ellen's father tells them about his life in Ireland.

'Now I'm going to work in England,' he says. 'I'm going to live here with you. We're going to be a family again.'

One afternoon, the girls are at Ellen's house. Holly is going to sing in the final of Stars of Tomorrow at the end of the week.

'Is my song ready yet?' she asks. 'I have to give it to the people on the show. And I have to learn the words. There isn't much time.'

'Yes, it's ready,' says Ellen. 'Are you nervous?'

Holly laughs. 'Yes, I am,' she says. 'Now I'm like you. I'm frightened of Paul.'

'But Paul likes you. You know that.'

'I know, but I'm nervous.'

'Don't be nervous,' says Ellen. 'You're going to be great.'

'I want to hear your song, Ellen. Is it a sad song?' asks Holly.

'No,' says Ellen. 'It isn't sad - it's a happy song.'
'What's it about?'

'It's about a man,' says Ellen. 'He lives in another country. It's not his country and he is sad there. His family lives far away.'

'That's sad,' says Holly.

'Yes, it is,' says Ellen, 'but listen. The man comes home. He sees his family again. They all live together and they are happy.'

'So it's a happy song in the end?'

'Yes, it is.'

Holly looks at her friend. 'Does the man have a daughter?' she asks.

'Yes, he does,' says Ellen.

Holly and Ellen smile.

'That's a song about your father,' says Holly.

'Yes, it is,' says Ellen. 'Listen.'

She picks up her guitar and sings.

The sky is dark and grey
And sad rain falls on me
It isn't easy living far
From friends and family...

Ellen's song tells the story of the man. He comes home to his family.

... The sun is shining down
It's shining down on me
There's sunshine all around me now
Everywhere I see.

"What do you think?' asks Ellen.

'I love it,' says Holly. 'Can you play it again?'
'Yes, then you can start to learn it.'

The two girls sing together and Holly learns the song.

'Do you want to sing it in the final?' asks Ellen.

'Yes, I do, but...'

'But what?'

'But am I going to sing it well?' asks Holly.

Chapter 5
The Final

It is the night of the final. There are three boys and three girls in the competition now.

Ellen talks to Holly before it starts. 'Now remember, you are a great singer. You're going to win.'

'Yes,' says Holly. 'But I…'

'Say it for me,' says Ellen.

'I'm going to win,' says Holly, and she smiles.

'Good luck, Holly,' says Ellen. She hugs her friend, and then she goes to sit with her mother and father.

Mike Fernie comes onto the stage and the people clap.

'Welcome to the final of Stars of Tomorrow,' says Mike. 'Tonight three boys and three girls are going to sing for us. But only one of them is going to be our Star of Tomorrow. Who is it going to be? Now, tonight the boys and girls are going to sing new songs - their songs. Okay, are you ready for some great music?'

All the people shout, 'Yes!'

'We're going to start with Judy Foster from York. Good luck, Judy.'

Judy Foster comes onto the stage and starts to sing.

'She's good,' says Ellen's mother.

'Yes, she is,' says Ellen's father. 'But she's not like Holly. Holly's a great singer.'

Julia and Marty like Judy's voice.

Paul likes Judy's voice, but he doesn't like her song.

'You've got a good voice, Judy. I like it. But I don't like your song. It's terrible.'

Four other boys and girls sing. They're all good, but Paul doesn't like their songs. Now Holly has to sing.

'And so we come to singer number six,' says Mike. 'Give a big welcome to Holly Tyler from London. Good luck, Holly.'

The music starts and Holly starts to sing Ellen's song.

'You see?' says Ellen's father. 'Holly has got a beautiful voice.'

'And Ellen's song is beautiful too,' says her mother. She smiles and hugs her daughter.

At the end of the song, the people clap and shout.

'Holly is great,' says Ellen's father.

'But what are the judges going to say?' asks Ellen's mother.

'What is Paul going to say?' asks Ellen.

Julia and Marty love Holly's song. But now Paul has to speak. What is he going to say?
Paul doesn't speak. He has his hand over his eyes. The people wait.

'Well, Paul?' says Mike. 'What do you think?'

'He's crying,' says Ellen's mother.

'Paul Rogers? Crying? I don't think so!' says Ellen's father.

A boy in the audience laughs at Paul. 'Ha ha,' he laughs. His name is Nelson. 'Look at Paul cry. He's a little baby, a little cry baby!'

But Paul is crying. He looks at Holly and then he speaks. 'Holly, you have a great voice. I love it. But your song…it's sad and it's happy. It's a beautiful, beautiful song. I can't say anything.'

'Paul, you don't have to say anything,' says Mike. 'I'm going to say it for you. Holly Tyler, you are the winner. You are our Star of Tomorrow!'

All the people clap and shout. They stand up. Holly is smiling. Ellen and her father and mother are clapping.

'Congratulations, Holly!' they shout.

'Congratulations, Holly,' says Mike. 'You're the winner. How do you feel?'

'I feel great,' says Holly. 'Thank you. Thank you. But I want to say something about my song. It's not my song. It's by my friend Ellen. Do you remember Ellen Morrissey from Ireland? I'm the winner of Stars of Tomorrow, but Ellen's a winner too. It's her song.'

'Is Ellen here tonight?' asks Mike.

'Yes, she is,' says Holly.

'Come out here, Ellen Morrissey,' says Mike.

Ellen goes onto the stage. Holly hugs her. Ellen and Holly smile, and the people clap and shout again.
'Ladies and gentlemen,' says Mike. 'Tonight we have two winners! Ellen Morrissey and Holly Tyler, you are our Stars of Tomorrow!'

After the show Mike Fernie gives Holly 10,000€. Holly talks to Ellen.

‘Ellen, you wrote the song. I have 10,000€ from the show. I want to give you some of the money. Here, I will give you 10€. Thank you, Ellen.’

‘Thanks for nothing,’ Ellen answers. ‘The next time you can write your own song.’

The End