To Olivia and her family with affection.


Chapter 1

When she was small, Olivia had a secret wish. But as we all know, the problem with a secret wish is that it cannot be shared, which means that nobody can help make it come true. All Olivia could do, whenever it came to birthdays or Christmases or visits from distant relatives, was to give out the biggest clues she could think of.

And so it was, about a week before her ninth birthday, when her mum closed her big catalogue listing all the toys in the world and said with a sigh, “I don’t know, Olivia, everything in here is either too expensive, not suitable, or else something you have already,” Olivia immediately said in her quiet but confident way,

I would like to have a pet.”

What!?” cried her father, looking up from his newspaper for the first time all evening, “A pet!? Oh dear no, no, oh no.”

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