Read an exclusive excerpt of Nathan bryon’s ‘carnival’

To celebrate its 80th birthday children’s publisher Puffin has released The Puffin Book of Big Dreams.

The book features a collection of extracts from classic family favourites and new stories about big dreams from Puffin’s best-loved and exciting new authors and illustrators. The book also features quotes and motivational pieces from brilliant inspiring leaders, scientists, and actors on their own BIG dream.

One of the stories includes Carnival by actor, writer and author Nathan Bryon which TBB has an exclusive sneak peek of

Carnival – written by Nathan Bryon & Illustrated by Selom Sunu

Image from 'Carnival' by Nathan Bryon | Illustration by Selom Sensu
Image from ‘Carnival‘ by Nathan Bryon | Illustration by Selom Sensu

Today is the day I’ve been waiting for ALL YEAR! It’s Notting Hill Carnivaaaaaaaaaaal! I’ve been practising my dance moves whenever I can. My mum’s from Jamaica, and she has told me and my twin brother Devon ALL about it. Mum said 2.5 million people attend Notting Hill Carnival – that’s way more people than in my whole school! Mum said people who dress up at Carnival are part of mas, and that stands for masquerade. The different Carnival bands all wear different mas, and when they dance through the streets it’s called playing mas!
Sounds fun!

Mum said Carnival originated in Trinidad and Tobago, and a Trinidadian activist called Claudia Jones helped organize the first one in London in 1959. Devon is thirty seconds older than me. He says that makes him thirty seconds smarter than me, thirty seconds cooler than me and thirty seconds stronger than me. But I think I have a BIGGER afro than him. We are twins but also best friends! This is our first Carnival, and we have made a costume that we can wear together: a HUGE dragon! It is gold and proper shiny! But this morning Devon got out of bed on the wrong side – that’s what Mum said. He says he doesn’t want to come to Carnival with me. He wants to go with his friend Tom.
‘Devon, you promised,’ I say. ‘I thought we were best friends.’
Devon says, ‘We are, but Tom says wearing costumes is for babies and I’m NOT a baby.’
I don’t need Devon to have fun.

Mum drops him off at Tom’s house before she goes round to spend the day with Grandad (he says he’s too old to go to Carnival these days!).
Dad takes me to CARNIVAL!
The music is LOUD, and it is coming from every direction. There are speakers everywhere, even on trucks! The sun is blazing so I put on my super-cool sunglasses.
The food smells great. I can’t see the food stalls as there are so many people in the way, so my dad says, ‘Just follow your nose . . .’
We are sniffing . . . all the way to the most delicious stall. Dad buys us jerk chicken with rice and peas, my favourite! YUM! We are following the floats and lots of people are in mas. I think they look amazing! Everyone is smiling! I try to put on the dragon costume, but it doesn’t work with just one person, it just drags along the ground. Loads of people stand on it. Dad tries to put on Devon’s part of the costume, but he’s just too big. I take it off. Maybe wearing costumes is for babies.
Maybe Tom’s right.

Image from ‘Carnival‘ by Nathan Bryon | Illustration by Selom Sensu

WOWWWWWWW! Carnival is a rainbow of colour!
People are partying on their balconies, waving at everyone passing by. Tom and I give a BIG wave back! I do miss Eli, but I’m sure he’s having fun with Dad. Plus I haven’t seen Tom all summer holiday. Lots of people are waving different flags. Mum gave me and Eli a Jamaican flag each. I grab one corner of mine and Tom grabs another, and we start waving it around. We pass a man doing face painting, and he offers to paint my face for FREE because we have the same flag.
Eli and I love getting our faces painted, but before I can say YES PLEASE, Tom pulls my arm. ‘That’s for babies.’
The music is too loud,’ Tom says.

I think the music is great. Every street corner is playing a different song. Our bellies are rumbling, and our noses are guiding us towards the food stalls. YUM! BUT Tom’s mum has forgotten her wallet so we can’t get any jerk chicken with rice and peas. We see loads of people dressed in mas and they look like superheroes. Tom says only babies dress up, but that can’t be true because they’re all adults! I’m starting to wish I’d come with Eli. Eli always has fun wherever he is. Suddenly Tom says he wants to go home – he doesn’t like Carnival! I want to stay, but I can’t. I want to watch the floats with the steel-pan bands, but I can’t! I want to dance in the sun, but I can’t.
We turn a corner and I see a group of policemen trying to dance . . . but they look funny. When they move apart . . . I see . . . Eli getting his face painted as a dragon! He doesn’t look babyish at all!

I run over and give Eli a big hug! ‘BRO, you look SO COOL!
I say. ‘I’m sorry for not coming to Carnival with you, bro. I have the most fun when I’m with YOU!
We say bye to Tom and his mum. Dad pulls out our dragon costume . . . ‘I want to be a dragon with you,’ I tell Eli.
Eli may be thirty seconds younger than me, but sometimes he is thirty seconds cooler than me without even trying. We put on the dragon costume. And we start dancing in the sun. People are taking photos of us. We look so GOOD! We follow the steel-pan floats as the sun starts to set. We dance with everyone, and it feels like one big family! Mum was right: Carnival really is the best day EVER!

The Puffin Book of Big Dreams featuring Nathan Bryon’s story Carnival is available to buy now. Find out more here.

Read our TBB Talks with Nathan Bryon here.


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