The Opposite of Popular

The online home of alleged author Victoria Leybourne

Things I Wrote When I Was a Kid: Patti’s Gang


Part of an occasional series: Things I Wrote When I Was A Kid

Guys. I am excited. I am excited because I finally got my hands on something I have been waiting to share with you ever since I started posting the weird and wonderful things I wrote when I was a child.

First, some context. Let me introduce you to a couple of my childhood friends.

bongo and patti

You’ve met Bongo before. He’s the monkey. The lovely purple platypus on his right is his wife, Patti. They were the beginning of what became a fairly extensive collection of Beanie Buddies (those are bigger, fluffier versions of Beanie Babies, for those of you who were not toy collectors and/or children in the 90s). Bongo was my favourite toy and I was the oldest sibling so, naturally, he was in charge of all the other toys. I remember him at the height of his power as a fair and just leader, always ready to arbitrate disputes over imaginary items and co-ordinate efforts to rescue stuffed animals who had fallen out of bed-shaped pirate ships.

He was also a good dad to his children, the Beanie Baby versions of him and Patti – also called Bongo and Patti. I didn’t stray far from the names on the tags.

If you think Patti was content to live in her husband’s shadow, though, you are mistaken. Patti was going where no platypus had gone before: a magenta monotreme in the magazine market.

Welcome to Patti’s Gang.

the cover of

Hello and welcome to the first issue of Patti's Gang - the magazine for those who want to join the gang or just have something good to read. If you like news, action, competitions, then this is the magazine for you. Throughout the magazine you will find all these things and more so happy reading!

I think this was created in 2001, which would make me (Patti’s editorial assistant) 10 years old. Here is a picture of me at that age so you know what we’re dealing with here.

me aged 10, sticking my tongue out at the camera

I know, I’m scared too.

I remember making this quite vividly, actually. It took quite a bit of effort – I mean, just look at that cover art – and I sacrificed a lot of computer time that I would otherwise have spent playing The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis or Catz 3. But I love that optimism: “Issue 1, Volume 1”. How many did I think there would be?!

Let’s dive in.

Bongo’s light reading page! Looking for something good to read over the holidays? If so, then look no further than this page where we have listed top reads - hot off the press! Quest of the banana tree by Chimp Anzee The banana tree which a tribe of monkeys live on has been stolen and it’s up to the two youngest members of the tribe to get it back. Life is a tree by Lee Moore The forest which the monkeys live in and the lake that a platypus tribe lives in are being destroyed. Will they save it in time? The rushing lake by Platt. E. Puss The only lake in a vast desert is drying up. How will the platypuses survive?

I could be wrong, but I think that’s a photo of my Bongo and that I’ve gone to the trouble of carefully erasing the background in Paint. I told you this was hard work.

I don’t want to get your hopes up: these stories aren’t actually in here. But I’m thinking of publishing a writing guide called “Plot Like a Ten Year Old”:

Step 1: Choose an animal.

Step 2: Guess where that animal lives. That habitat is now endangered somehow.

Step 3: Choose a hilarious pun as your pen name. It’s okay if it is neither hilarious, nor a pun.

Step 4: ????

Step 5: Profit!

Bananas’ Pen pal Page Looking for a pen pal? Look no further! In this section you can find the perfect pal. If you want to appear on this page simply write your details along with your name and address and leave it out side Tory’s bedroom. If you want to reply to any of the animals on this page write your name and address and the name of the animal you want to write to and leave it in the same place and they will write to you. Tango is a three year old monkey who loves reading, television and eating bananas. He hopes you will write to him soon! Scorch is a one year old dragon who loves everything that’s hot! He really, really wants a pen pal who is about the same age. Sahara is a lively, friendly lion who loves doing anything that involves bouncing around. He would like a pen pal who will keep writing for a long time. Whiskers is a beautiful black and white shorthair cat who enjoys reading and writing letters. Happy writing!

Sahara is a lively, friendly lion who loves doing anything that involves bouncing around. He would like a pen pal who will keep writing for a long time. Whiskers is a beautiful black and white shorthair cat who enjoys reading and writing letters. Happy writing!

I suppose the target readership for this magazine was my sister’s collection of stuffed animals, because all of these were mine. (And also that postal service that collected from outside my room wasn’t all that reliable over long distances.) In fact, look what was also on the disc of old files my mum sent me!


Yes, they did all live on the bed. No, I don’t know where I used to sleep.

That’s Bongo in the middle. The monkey that looks exactly like Bongo (except not at all, if you really know them) is Tango, Bongo’s brother, because I liked Bongo so much that my parents bought me another one. Bananas is the purple orangutan. Scorch is being squashed under that elephant, because just about everything gets squashed if you put it under an elephant. Sahara is the lion at the front. And Whiskers is under Bananas. Whiskers was my favourite toy before I got Bongo and she and Bongo used to date before she met Patti. Complain if you want to but I think we both know that this blog is destined to be at least 50% uninteresting details about my childhood.

Do kids’ magazines still have pen pal sections? I used to have a few pen pals when I was a kid, before I started making friends on Neopets instead. I guess it sounds kind of counterintuitive now, encouraging kids to write to strangers.

Join the gang! So, we’re agreed that Patti’s Gang is the best magazine in the world but what if you miss one issue and end up with a hole in your collection. Here is an answer – join Patti’s Gang! Patti’s Gang will make sure you never miss a single issue. Simply follow the instructions on Bananas’ Pen Pal page for getting on to the pen pal page. Au revoir!

What if you miss one, you guys? There would be a hole in your collection! A hole!!

So, there you have it. What amuses me the most about this is that I remember regarding this as a finished project, when actually it’s pretty much half “welcome to this amazing magazine!” and half “wasn’t that an amazing magazine?” I was hyping something that didn’t exist. Much like someone who posts regularly to their author blog instead of finishing their damn novel.

No examples spring immediately to mind.


5 thoughts on “Things I Wrote When I Was a Kid: Patti’s Gang

  1. I’m so delighted, I don’t even know where to begin with this.

    A.) You were a ridiculously adorable child.
    B.) You were a ridiculously inventive and precocious child.
    C.) Did Scorch, Tango, Whiskers and Sahara ever get any pen pals?
    D.) Now…make yourself some tea, and work on the next chapter. 🙂


    • A) If you say so!
      B) Thank you!
      C) I showed this blog post to my sister and she thinks she remembers some of her diminutive cuddly friends leaving letters outside my room so yes, I think they did!
      D) Yessir. But only because you mentioned tea.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was the kid who played with all of her stuffed animals equally (even the ones I didn’t really cares for as much) because I didn’t want them to have hurt feelings. So my inner nine-year-old is quite pleased that your animals got letters. 😀

        And good job getting to work!


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