children's books
     A Very Modern Matilda
                by Hilary Williamson

(Updated version of Hilaire Belloc's hilarious poem about 
Matilda Who Told Lies, And Was Burned to Death ),
dedicated to all the brave men and women who fight fires.

There was a little girl
(No, she didn't have a curl
Right in the middle of her forehead)
When she was good she was very, very good
But when she told lies it was horrid
  She lied to her mother
And her sister and her brother
No matter what they asked her
Even in her crib, she just loved to tell a fib
Can't you see that she was heading for disaster?
It soon became a habit
That Matilda couldn't quit
For it made everything so very easy
And though at the start it didn't seem so smart
Soon she didn't even feel the least bit queasy
  The white lies started growing
Without her really knowing
They had a life all of their very own
Till at last there came the day when Matilda called
The fire department on the telephone

She screamed 'My house is burning'
And very soon was learning
That the firemen didn't like her playing games
For they took her in the fire truck on their next call
And that's when she truly saw a house in flames

  Then Matilda, 'little liar',
Yelled out 'Get that hose up higher'
While she watched, her chest just kept on getting tighter
Till she had a revelation back at the fire station
That she'd grow up and become a fire-fighter!


(Matilda became a fireman. She still told a white lie once in a while
but, though she risked her life often, she never did burn to death)