Poetry Centre

Louise Bunce and Deborah Fielding

  • Dr Louise Bunceis Lecturer in Psychology in the Department of Psychology at London Metropolitan University, and looks at children’s cognitive development and their awareness of what is real versus what is pretend or fantastical. Her recent projects include lookingat the ability of very young preschoolers to make distinctions between reality and fantasy to determine whether they base their judgments on perception or conceptual understanding. Her work at Brookes involved her working closely with BrookesBabylab. More details of her work can be found onher webpage, and you can see her talking about her research in child development here.

    Writer and sometime illustrator, Deborah Fielding specialises in short stories and flash fiction. She has had several stories published in the writing magazine, Vintage Script, and London's Litro Magazine. More recently, having completed a series of hand-bound single-story chapbooks (or pamphlets), Deborah has written for .Cent Magazine. She regularly reads at events across the country. You can find out more about Deborah’s work from her website, and you can follow her on Twitter here.

  • Is it real?

      Are mice real?


       Are dragons real? Joe wriggles his feet under the duvet.

       No. Dragons are just in stories.

       Are dinosaurs real? Joe lifts his head and squints at his mum from suspicious eyes.

       Yes, they were real, but they’re all dead now.

       How do you know?

       They all died thousands of years ago, we don’t know how, but they did and now all that’s left are bones.

       Dead bones?


       Joe rests his head down on the pillow.

       There is silence for a few moments before Tina, Joe’s mum, smoothes Joe’s duvet on top of him and goes to sit in the chair. Can I start the story now?


       Tina opens the book.

       Are lobsters real? Joe has lifted his head again.

       Tina sighs, Yes.

       Like Larry the Lobster? He’s real, yeah?



       He’s just in a story. Tina closes the book, places it on her lap and shoves her hands into her hair.

       But lobsters are real? But not Larry?

       Yes. He is just a made up lobster – real lobsters can’t talk.


       After they’ve finished the story, Tina gets up to go downstairs.

       Monsters aren’t real, are they, Mummy? Joe directs wide eyes towards her.

       No, darling, that was just a dream. Sometimes we dream about things that aren’t real.

       Not always though, I dreamed about the park, and that’s definitely real. Joe is sitting up in bed now.

       Joseph you have to go to sleep, it’s getting late.

       I know, but what would happen if it was real?


       The monster. Joe is holding tight to the edge of his duvet.

       It is not real, Joe. Monsters do not exist. They aren’t real.

       Okay. But what if it was?

       Tina goes to the bed and covers him up again. She doesn’t turn off the bedside lamp. She smoothes his hair. What would you say to the monster?

       Go away, monster, you’re not real!

       And what would he say?

       Nothing, because he’s not real. Joe turns onto his side and closes his eyes. Right, he says.

       Right, says Tina. I’m going downstairs now, but I’ll leave the light on, okay?




       Did you close the back gate? says Tina to her husband Chris, when they go to bed later.

       I think so, he says. I haven’t been out there since I got home from work.

       Okay. Tina turns onto her back. Because I saw that thing on the news about people breaking into people’s gardens.

       Chris yawns. Don’t worry.

       Tina lies still and looks up at the ceiling.

       I can’t remember if Joe’s window’s shut. He was asking me about monsters.

       Chris pulls the covers up over his shoulders. Monsters aren’t real.

    Deborah Fielding  
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