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Cheryl Milligan Author of "The Adventures of Sparkles"

Cheryl Milligan is an English Language teacher based in Northern Ireland and a writer of children’s fiction. She has written, illustrated, and published the first three in a series of quirky children’s animal action and adventure books that are sure to delight your kids!


This book is a quirky tale of magical adventure, courage, power, love, and silliness! Suitable for both boys and girls aged 7-11 who like funny, action, and adventure stories.


Even though Sparkles is tiny, she is fierce and courageous and is able to defend her friendships. She is loyal, mischievous, and adorable, but always good and will fight against all odds to help those she loves.




I know that it put a smile on my boys’ faces and took them away from cancer, which is all around us and never stops. My drawings and paintings have been a therapeutic way for me to deal with Steve’s diagnosis, and I encourage Art Therapy for kids to express themselves and their emotions through this. -Cheryl Milligan

Synopsis:


Meet Sparkles, the craziest but cutest kitty, who causes chaos wherever she goes. When Sam wants a kitten for his 11th birthday, no one knows what is in store for them! Sparkles develops magical powers through mischief and ventures into unknown worlds where she must face the ultimate challenge in the Cat Kingdom and save her friends.


Along the way, she meets Hungry Eyes, Belle and King Felix, and develops firm friendships that she must defend. Big Steve, Big Mummy, Sam, and Bobby are never the same again! Sparkles continues her adventures in the second book, Sparkles and Friends, where she must show her strength and bravery once again in the ultimate challenge.



You Won't Want To Put It Down


Parents love the fact that these stories are inspired by the real-life Sparkles and the antics she gets up to! Animal lovers also enjoy the relationship between Sparkles and Belle, the retriever, who has no choice but to put up with Sparkles’ craziness.


Zombie lovers love the chapter where Sparkles gets herself tangled up in TV wires and turns ‘big Steve’ bad, and the rest is history! With more than a sprinkle of imagination added in, the stories just get madder and more compelling.


Cheryl Milligan says that her mischievous feline inspired her stories. "Those of you who have ever had a kitten will sympathize with the ridiculous situations they get themselves into! And, with a bit of fantasy, it goes much farther than that! It was just too hilarious NOT to put down on paper!"


However, the road to a published book was not easy. Cheryl explained, "The hardest part was the fact that I wrote this as a dedication to my lovely husband, Steve, who is battling terminal bowel and liver cancer. He always wanted to write a book, and when our son, Sam, asked for a kitten for his 11th birthday, that started the ball rolling."


"So, in a way, the hardest part was the inspiration too," Cheryl continued. "Me, Sam, and Bobby all started writing animal stories, and I used them for bedtime reading for my boys and my friends’ girls. They kept giving me more ideas for more chapters, and so it was a team effort. I would write the stories, and they would tell me if they were good or not. They were, in effect, my beta readers!"


Learn More About Cheryl Milligan



Inside Sneak Peak Into Book 1


Chapter 1: Sparkles and her BFF




A few weeks after Sparkles returned from the great cat kingdom, everything seemed to be returning back to normal - whatever normal was. Big Steve was glued to the chess screen as usual and oblivious to the chaos around him. Big Mummy - AKA Cheryl - was running around like a headless chicken trying to do many things at once, and sighing a lot. Sam and Bobby were their usual energetic selves.


Sparkles and Belle had developed a mutual love/tolerance relationship, which entailed Belle putting up with whatever Sparkles threw her way. She especially had to withstand the onslaught when she was snoring away in snoozy land. Piggy backs, merry-go-round rides on Belle’s tail, playing fast and loose with her tonsils were to name but a few tricks the mischievous kitty had up her sleeve.



In particular, Sparkles had muscled in on the food opportunities and had become the ultimate scrounger. Every time there was a whiff of food, she was there faster than the rustling sound of a packet being opened. Belle was used to being the number one scrounger, lying patiently at Bobby’s feet and biding her time until a few tit bits came her way. But now there was a new queen in town, who had the expert talent of being able to instantly devour whatever yummy grub was on offer.

Sweetcorn was brilliant, because it flew off the table and she could fly after it, catching it in mid-air. Slam dunk - in the back of the throat.


Of course, she hadn’t forgotten the previous near-death-sweetcorn incident, which resulted in Belle sucking out the contents of her throat in a successful life-saving attempt. But that was then, and this was now. Any good opportunity for a chase and catch game was always on the cards.


Leftover cereal was also pretty good, but there was competition with Belle for that one. She got it scooped up into her bowl and guarded it with her big body so that Sparkles was out on the cold front. Sparkles’ greatest love of all, apart from a million other things that took her fancy at a fleeting glance, was ham. Yes, HAM.


She remembered being lured out by temptation of that most delicious meat to be unzombified back from her kitty-zombie state. Her desire was so great that her whole body shook and vibrated so madly that the weirdest noise emanated out of her. “GRRRRrrrrrrrrr,” she went. Cheryl (big Mummy) noticed it one day. “Listen Steve! She’s growling! How bizarre!!” Sure enough, she was growling like a dog.


Belle looked confused for a moment at this kitty-come-canine. Wasn’t she the one who was supposed to make that noise? Shouldn’t cats make annoying ‘meowing’ noises which meant they should be chased?? Bobby’s face creased into a fit of giggles. “Hahahahahah! She thinks she’s a dog!” Sam peered over the kitty’s body, which had become statue-like. “What’s she doing?” he asked. “She’s not even eating the ham - she’s just looking at it and growling!” Mummy answered. “Kitty must be copying Belle. I suppose she only has her to go by and Belle growls when she guards her food.” Little did she know that wasn’t all Sparkles was capable of.


Poor Belle even got pushed aside from her own bowl when milk was being poured over her breakfast. Belle resigned herself to letting cute-bully-kitty go first and get the leftover scraps. The sofa, which had previously been occupied by Belle for snoozy time, was suddenly usurped by the demon kitty. Sparkles slept on top of, under or beside Belle, whichever was the closest and most annoying for her BFF.



She even tried to slip down Belle’s jaws when she was snoring, but that attempt failed when the giant mouth clasped shut mid-snore. Narrow escape! Belle was too worn out by the kitty antics to complain and just put up with it. Wherever Belle went, Sparkles followed.


“Och, isn’t it lovely they’ve become great friends? It’s almost like they are sisters, isn’t it?” Cheryl remarked one day.


Belle looked up at her in disagreement with big sad eyes, sighed a long doggie hurrumph, and flumped her head down again. Meanwhile, Sparkles was busy pulling Belle’s tail, biting her ears, and using her as a fluffy trampoline. Great fun! Belle stretched out in protest but Sparkles mirrored her in delight. Her own personal white fluffy toy, which moved and groaned - what could be better than that?? She’d got the growling down to a fine art too, and she was extremely proud of her mimicking skills.

One fine dozy morning, when the pair were entwined in their kitty-doggy zone, a noise awoke them. It was Sam munching on his breakfast. Belle looked up in annoyance. Sparkles looked up and yawned making moo-like whining noises.


Mmmmmmoooooooooooooohrumph!


“That’s strange,” thought Sam, who was eating his coco pops. “Sparkles has just made the yawny-cow noises that Belle usually makes.” He thought nothing more about it and went back to eating his cereal. Just then, Belle got up in an agile manner (she usually took about ten minutes to get her lazy behind moving), and stretched her legs out further than she’d ever done before. She proceeded to leap on top of the sofa, springboarded onto the table, and slid the whole way across towards Sam, who could see the giant lump careering her way into his bowl.


“Belle, what are you doing??” shouted Sam. “Mummy, Belle’s jumped from the sofa onto the table!” Mummy turned round from the sink (she spent a lot of time there) and saw the big white monster gobble up Sam’s cereal in one gulp. Ha! Down the hatch! What else could she consume?? Sam looked at Mummy in amazement. Mummy looked back at Sam. “What the…?!” they both exclaimed. Belle took a giant leap onto the top of the fridge, catapulted onto the back of the other sofa, and landed neatly at Sparkles’ bowl. “GRrrrrrrrrr” went the crazed animal and her body stiffened into a statue. Meanwhile, Sparkles, who had seemed to age years and had taken forever to get her small being off the sofa, looked on in panic. “Woof!” went the cat. “Oh my word,” said Sam. “Mummy, they’ve swapped! Sparkles is in Belle’s body!” The penny dropped. “Are you serious, Sam?”


Just then, Belle meowed and Sparkles barked at the same time.


Belle sped across the room and up the curtains, trapeezed from one to another and crashed into the fire (which wasn’t lit luckily). Embers poofed up into the room and Belle rose with them, riding on the cloud of grey smoke.


The smokey cloud whizzed round the room in a spiral twist with Belle’s giant body hanging off but clinging on with cat-like claws. Belle’s tail trailed down as the demented cloud whished this way and that. “Whheeeeeeee!!” meowed Belle. The best ride of her life - even better than running the gauntlet in cat kingdom (if that was possible).


“Belle, stop NOW!” warned Mummy in a low voice. But Belle-Sparkles didn’t respond. It was Sparkles-Belle who did, and padded up to mummy, wagging her tail. Sparkles-Belle looked very apologetic and lay down in a “bad dog” manner. Mummy looked bewildered at the two animals. They’d somehow managed to metamorphosize into each other. How on earth could that have happened?? And, more importantly, how could it be reversed??


Chapter 7: Sparkles the zombie



Sparkles was advancing slowly towards the boys making that strange zombie cat noise. They backed away towards the TV. By this stage, big Steve had torn himself away from the most mesmerizing game of chess. “Drat!” he said, “I almost got him. Just one blunder and I would’ve done it! Sam, are you listening to me? Didn’t you hear what I said?” He stopped short of what he was saying. “What the…??!! What on earth’s going on? Honey, have you seen this?”


Big Mummy, who was just in the process of finishing cleaning all the fragments of kitty off the floors and walls, said, “Steve, can’t you see I’ve been a bit busy cleaning Sparkles away?” She sniffed away one last remaining piece of kitty fluff that had settled on her nose. “What is it?” she said impatiently. Then she saw what was unfolding in front of her.


Sparkles, or rather ‘Zombie Sparkles’, was honing in on the boys, who were cowering in the corner behind the TV. “Mummy, help us!” they whispered. Mummy tiptoed towards the creature and outstretched her hand. “Here kitty kitty,” she beckoned. “Mummy’s got ham for you.” Sparkles, who’d only ever had cat food before, caught a whiff of that smell and about turned, directing her attention to the ham. Slowly she moved, slowly big Mummy backed away until Zombie Sparkles was a safe enough distance away from the boys.


“Get out now boys!” she hissed at them. “I’ve got her.” The boys disentangled themselves from the wires behind the TV, noticing something rather strange about the wires as they did, but not thinking anything more than how to escape this kitty-turned-zombie. They fled to the other corner of the room and watched how Sparkles wolfed down the ham making the same spine-tingling noise she had done before.


Big Steve had turned his attention back to the screen, satisfied the boys were safe, and started playing another game of chess. “Daddy, look out!” the boys yelled. Sparkles was now advancing towards big Steve, who was staring at the screen, unaware of what was about to take place. “Steve!” shouted big Mummy. “The cat’s gone mad! Get away quick!” But big Steve was still glued to the screen. “YES!” he exclaimed. “I’ve just got his queen! Take that sucker! Ha!” Big Steve’s glee turned to fear when he realised that he was going to be the target of Zombie Sparkles’ evil desire. His face turned green, his hair stood on end as Sparkles crawled her way towards Steve with claws outstretched and fangs dripping with hungry saliva. Almost in slow motion, they watched as the cat advanced upon big Steve. He started shaking and sparking, just the way Sparkles had done previously. The sparks turned into fire and suddenly - BOOM! Big Steve seemed to vanish in thin air. “Steve!” screamed big Mummy. “DADDY!” shrieked the boys. Then, almost as soon as he’d disappeared, he reappeared back on the sofa. “Oh my word!” said Sam, who rushed over to big Steve. “Daddy, are you okay?”


Big Steve looked at Sam. “Why yes, of course I am. I feel great, in fact I’ve never felt like this before,” he said in a strange kinda manner. Bobby noticed that Daddy’s finger tips had turned green. “Mummy,” he said, “look at Daddy’s fingers!” Mummy took a closer look. Yes, they were turning greener by the minute. “Boys, he’s turning, just like the cat. Move away NOW!”








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