Tom was nearly seven, such a happy little boy. Like all children of his age, he loved to play, go to school and just do all the things little boys do. The one thing about Tom, he was a trier. No matter what he was asked to do, he would always do his best. He wasn’t very good at schoolwork but he always tried very hard. His mummy and daddy didn’t mind that he wasn’t very good at anything. As long as he did his best, that was good enough.
One thing Tom did enjoy was painting. His grandmother had given him a painting set for Christmas. Painting became his favourite hobby. He would paint anything, a tree, a cloud, his cat. Anything that took his fancy, he would paint. Can you imagine how excited he was when his teacher told the class that the whole school was invited to paint a picture for the upcoming open day? His teacher, Miss Shaw said that anyone who wanted to join in could. All they had to do was paint a picture. It could be about anything they liked.
They would have one week to finish their pictures. When all the pictures were in, the headmaster and form teachers would pick the twenty best ones and put them up in the main hall. On opening night, all the parents could have a look at them and say which one they liked best. The winner would receive a school medal and a brand new painting set. Tom had never won anything before. He did try to win things; he just wasn’t very good at anything. This would be his big chance, he was so excited.
After school, he dashed home, got his painting set out, and started to think about what to paint. He had so many ideas. A boat on the high seas, perhaps a magic castle in the clouds, he had so many ideas, but which one to choose. After much thought, he decided to paint a scene of flowers in the woods. He had recently been for a walk in the nearby woods with his mummy and daddy. He saw lots of beautiful flowers hiding between the trees. It was quite magical and would make a good picture. And so he started. Every day after school he would paint another piece of the picture.
First, he painted the sky and clouds, next it was the ground and trees. Finally, he would paint in all the flowers. After a week it was finished. It was the best picture he had ever painted. Now he was ready to show it to his mummy and daddy. Mummy and daddy were in the kitchen when Tom ran in, all excited. “I’ve finished, I’ve finished,” he said. Mummy and daddy were delighted with his picture; it truly was the best one he had ever painted. Daddy asked Tom to hold it up so he could take a picture of it on his phone.
The very next day, Tom took his picture to school. Miss Shaw said it was a very nice picture and would put it with all the others. Later that day, they could all go and have a look in the main hall to see which twenty pictures were chosen for the final. Tom was getting more and more excited as the day went on. Surely, he thought, this was his big chance to win something at school. All through his lessons, he was watching the clock. He couldn’t wait to see his picture up on the wall. Finally, the time came.
Like all the children in the school, Tom ran into the main hall. On the wall were twenty pictures. There were boats, planes, and even a cat that looked like Tom’s. He looked and looked but his picture was nowhere to be seen. He asked Miss Shaw where his painting was. Miss Shaw told Tom that she loved his picture; in fact, she thought it was the best picture there. Unfortunately, the headmaster and other teachers didn’t agree with her. With that, she went over to the table where all the losing pictures were piled, found Tom’s, and returned it to him. Miss Shaw told Tom that she thought it was a very fine picture indeed, he should be very proud of himself for painting such a fine picture.
Tom was of course very disappointed that the other teachers did not like his painting enough to put it on the wall. He did, however, feel a little happy that at least Miss Shaw liked it. Later that afternoon, Tom did something really silly. He didn’t want to take his painting home so he threw it in the school bin. When his mummy came to collect him at the school gates she asked him how he got on. With a sad face, he told his mummy that he didn’t get to see his picture up on the wall. Never mind, she told him, we will get a frame and put it up on the wall in the lounge. Then he told her what he had done with the picture.
Oh, dear, said his mummy, we’ll just have to go and get it out of the bin. But when they got to the bin it was empty. The rubbish had been collected that very afternoon, it was now lost forever. You would think that this would be the end of the story, but it’s not. Something magical was about to happen. Tom’s picture had indeed been collected. The bin he had put it in was the last one to be loaded on the lorry. Tom’s painting was right at the top of the rubbish pile as the truck drove along. As it was driving down the High Street, a gust of wind took Tom’s painting up into the sky.
It floated along on the wind until it reached the town’s art gallery. The wind then blew it through an upstairs window where it landed gently on the gallery owner’s desk. In the morning, Mr Roberts, the gallery owner, sat at his desk. He looked down at Tom’s painting, just sitting there. He looked and he looked. The more he looked, the more he fell in love with Tom’s painting. “Who put this marvellous painting on my desk?” He called out to the gallery staff, but nobody knew where the picture came from, or how it got there. It was a complete mystery.
Mr Roberts put the painting in a large frame and hung it in the middle of the gallery. Customers would admire the beautiful picture. Several even asked if they could buy it. Mr Roberts had to tell them that he could not sell the painting until he could find the artist. He told them the story of how it just appeared on his desk, as if by magic. More and more people came to see this magical picture. A reporter from the local newspaper came along to write a story about it. This was indeed a mystery that needed to be solved.
It was a Saturday morning; Tom was sitting having his breakfast. Daddy was reading the paper. “Oh my gosh,” he called out, “Tom, come and have a look, your painting is in the newspaper.” Tom was confused, how could his painting be in the newspaper if it was thrown in the bin and lost? He looked, and there it was, it was his picture. Tom’s daddy told him to get dressed; he and mummy were going to take him downtown to visit the art gallery.
When they arrived, Tom ran in. He stood there, looking up at his painting on the wall. His eyes were open as wide as they could ever be. Tom’s daddy asked to speak to the owner, Mr Roberts. He told Mr Roberts that he knew the artist who had painted the magical picture; in fact, he had a picture on his phone of the artist holding that very painting. Mr Roberts was excited to finally discover the identity of the mystery artist. As all the staff gathered round, Tom’s daddy showed them the picture on his phone, they were all shocked.
Mr Roberts walked over to Tom, knelt down, shook his hand, and said, “You young man, you are a very talented artist. I would love to see more of your work.” Tom was so pleased. At last, he found something he was good at. The painting that never quite made it into the top twenty at his school was hanging there, in pride of place on the wall of a famous art gallery. It wasn’t long until Tom’s story made it on to national television. Even the queen wrote Tom a letter, asking him if he would paint something for her.
Back at Tom’s school, he was awarded the school’s medal of honour. All the teachers and children stood and clapped as a copy of Tom’s magical painting was unveiled. It would hang on the wall in the school hall forever. Tom went on to become a famous artist. His painting, Flowers in the Woods was eventually chosen to be featured on a postage stamp. It was one of a series of famous British painters. Of all the painters and pictures they could have chosen, they chose Tom’s.