Tongue-Tied (short story collection)

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Tongue-Tied is the tenth in a series of collections of short stories by Australian author Paul Jennings. It was released in 2002.

The stories[edit]


A boy tries to get a rare fish for a girl in his school, believing that doing so will make her want to kiss him.

Lennie Lighthouse[edit]

A boy has teeth that glow in the dark. He has never lived with his mother. But one day, when he finds a letter mentioning where his mother might be, his friend tries to help him meet her for the first time.


A sequel to the Unmentionable story Ex Poser. Boffin has now invented a smell detector, which he hopes will help him find out who has been flatulating every day in class.

The Hat[edit]

A boy moves from Melbourne to the Queensland rainforest to live with his father (because his mother, who had divorced, has died). The last thing the boy has to remind him of his mother is a hat, which he always tries to retrieve every time he loses it (even if it means risking his life), but his abilities are pushed to the limit when he loses it while being ordered to stand guard over the last known individual of a species of bilby.

Spot the Dog[edit]

While sick in bed, a boy is asked to play a game of Spot the Dog by his mother, whose pictures of landmarks in their home town are very detailed, but lack people. While looking over the picture, the boy seems to end up sucked into the game, because 1) he ends up looking for dogs around town personally; 2) the town seems to be deserted during his search, just like it is in his mother's pictures; and 3) whenever he finds the dogs, they run away faster than normal to their new location. The last page of the story contains a distorted picture of the town, and a chance for the reader to play Spot the Dog.

Hailstone Bugs[edit]

As punishment for allowing his mouse to breed, a boy has his head-lopper confiscated, which upsets him because he was planning to use it in an upcoming act. But he later discovers a strange species of insect that appear to be born from hailstones and have an unusual mating dance.


Two twin brothers find a box while digging in the vegetable patch; they fight over who should own it, despite the fact that they are so close to each other that they rarely fight. But when one of them to stop arguing the remaining one refuses his brother then has an accident and dies. The remaining brother then feels guilty about his decision, and wants nothing but to shake his brother's hand, even though he knows it's never going to happen. But one day, he discovers what is in the box: an enchanted pair of glasses. When he wears them, he finds himself in a parallel world where spirits of dead people live. The spirits do not know that they had previously died, they have no memories of their past life, they don't believe in people, they are unable to see or hear visitors to their world, and they are "born" by appearing out of nowhere, already fully-grown. The boy hopes that he can somehow use the glasses' power to shake his brother's hand.

Popping Off[edit]

A boy is at risk of getting kicked out of his flat, because he has a dog that flatulates because it can't bark.

External links[edit]