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I was trying to recall the first equine TF story I ever read. I was about six or seven at the time, and still on primary reader books (I was a slow start, but I like to think I've made up for lost time since then!). I think the book was Rainbow Reader Silver (you progressed through the colours of the rainbow and silver and gold were the last two). I came across the story of "Bill and the Magic Button". My obsession with equine TF predated this by several years so obviously this caught my attention. Chances of ever finding this book again are minimal - I'm not sure of the title and I certainly don't know the authors or publisher. and this was three -ouch, nearly four- decades ago. This then, is an attempt to recreate the story. I've tried to create it exactly as it was. In case you find the ending suspicious, I've not changed it at all!

AMENDMENT: Amazingly, my excellent friend Bob Stein actually managed to locate the original story! I was slightly out, but not much: it was from
Rainbow's End, Silver Book One, by E. S. Bradburne and illustrated by Pamela Smethurst. How wonderful is that? Here is a scan of it. Thanks, Bob!

Once upon a time, a boy named Bill was playing in his garden. "Bill!" called his mum. "Come and help with the washing up!"

Bill hated washing up. "I'll hide on the path beside the garden," he thought. He climbed over the fence and crouched down behind it. On the ground, he found a large, colourful button that someone must have dropped. He picked it up to look at it.

Just then, his mother came out into the garden to look for him, and walked toward the fence where he was hiding. "Oh no," groaned Bill. "She'll see me for sure! If only I could turn into something - a rabbit perhaps - she wouldn't know it was me."

The button in his hand glowed, and suddenly, Bill was a large white rabbit! The button fell from his paw and landed on the ground again. Bill's mother looked over the fence, but all she saw was a white rabbit hopping around. Not finding Bill outside, she went back into the house.

Bill hopped to the button and put his paw on it, and suddenly he was a boy again! "Gosh!" exclaimed Bill. "A magic button!" And he began to think of all the fun he could have with it.

The next morning, he had to go to school. He always hated the long walk and had often wished he could be some sort of bird and fly instead. He held the magic button and said, "Make me an eagle!" and suddenly, he was an eagle! He picked the button up in his beak, then up he flew, above the town. His sharp eyes saw people in the town staring up at him and pointing. Oh, this was great!

He landed just outside the school gates and turned back into a boy. All the children were playing in the playground, waiting for school to start. Bill smiled and looked at the button. "Make me a lion," he said, and instantly he was a huge, tawny lion. He strolled in through the school gates and roared. All the other children were very frightened. They all ran into the buildings screaming, "Miss! Miss! There's a lion in the playground!" But when the teacher came out to see what was going on, there was only Bill, casually walking through the gates. "A lion!" his teacher snorted. "A likely story!"

The first lesson was Maths. Bill hated Maths. His desk was at the back of the classroom, so behind all the other children, he pulled out the magic button and whispered, "Make me a monkey!" and he turned into a small brown monkey.

At once he began to make mischief, jumping from desk to desk and spilling pens and papers. The other children though he was very funny, but the teacher was very upset. She tried to catch him but Bill was too quick. He jumped under the desks at the front of the class, then while the teacher looked for him there, ran under the desks to the back of the classroom and became himself again before anyone could notice him missing.

After Maths was History. Bill hated History. He pulled out the magic button and whispered, "Make me a snake!" and at once he was a long stripey snake with a forked tongue. He slithered under the desks to the front of the class and then up onto the teacher's table. His poor teacher screamed and ran out of the room. Bill quickly slithered back to his desk and changed back to a boy, just as the Head Master burst into the room with his teacher. Search as they might, they couldn't find the snake.

"Lions! Monkeys! Snakes!" the Head Master said. "I don't know who is playing tricks, but they had better stop them right now!"

Bill smiled behind his hands. They would never suspect him!

After lunch came Sports. Bill hated Sports. The whole class went out onto the sports field, and Bill hung behind at the back. He pulled out the magic button, and said, "Make me a horse!" and suddenly, Bill was a big brown horse. But as his hands turned into hooves, he dropped the button in the long grass. "Oh no!" he thought. "Without the button, I can't change back!" He looked for the button, but he couldn't see it. Then the other children saw him and shouted, "Miss! Miss! There's a horse on the sports field!"

"A horse?" the teacher cried. "However did he get here? Quick, children, chase him out before his hooves ruin our sports field!" and they began to chase Bill. Round and round the field they went, with Bill desperately trying to find the button, but it was no use. The button was lost for good, and the children chased Bill out of the field.

"Whatever will I do now?" he wondered. "I can't stay a horse forever!" He began to gallop down the road. People saw him and a few tried to catch him. Some of them said, "What a beautiful horse!" but Bill didn't think it was funny now.

He reached his house and tried to open the door, but he couldn't work the door handle with hooves instead of hands. His mother came out to see what the noise was. She had been sweeping the floor and she was holding a broom.

"Mum, it's me!" Bill tried to tell her, but his mum cried, "A horse! What's a horse doing here? Shoo! Shoo!" And she drove him away with the broom.

Bill ran away, with great big tears falling out of his big horsey eyes. "If only I'd just gone in to do the washing up, he thought. But it was too late now.

So if one day you meet a horse and he tells you not to play with magic buttons, you'll know that his name is Bill.

Don't you just love a happy ending?

The End