Have you ever wanted to tell a story and didn’t think you were good enough? Going through storylines in your head, constantly changing them? Well meet eleven year old Jess! She gets it. She’s been given a parting gift from her departed father who’s tasked her with finishing one of his comics. But her confidence lets her down time and again as she tries to come up with a storyline that humourously changes with each indecision. To top it off, she’s sad when she asks out loud if her Dad can help her from wherever he is, and nothing happens.

Instead her imagination runs wild with her best friend; a dog called Maxx. Days are spent on make-believe adventures with her patient and beloved pet, her young happy go lucky sister Rosa and two of her misfit friends, Denny and Natalie.

When Maxx becomes ill, Jess refuses to accept it. Off they go to a forest where they decide to give Maxx an adventure he won’t forget! But first… they need a story. Jess reluctantly uses the comic for inspiration and tells her friends they need to find the land of Mythra, where a magical elephant cures animals with a kiss from her trunk. Each of them need to find a magic jewel by completing a challenge, which will open the land. Awesome! Except Jess’s lack of confidence in her storytelling means the tasks they’re imagining, are weird… very weird.  As they go through the forest, following clues from the comic, with imaginations that gradually seems to make things real; Jess unwittingly writes a story that brings out the best of each of them, including Maxx, who loyally helps any way he can. She also unleashes a creature who’s on the hunt for Maxx. Because every story needs a baddie.

Each challenge helps the children get their jewel - from the Cave of Crystal Reflection where Denny must face his true fears of being bullied; to the Mushroom Jellyfish Tree where Natalie uses her wit only to fail at the mention of a riddle to do with her neglectful parents; to Rosa's challenge of trying to use real things and not her wacky imagination to find a jewel. Jess is constantly making things very difficult for them and they soon realise she doesn't really want the story to end, because she can't accept Maxx will be gone too when it does.

 

Soon, Maxx is on the verge of death – and they're fighting the monster that has come to life after they become absorbed in their imaginations.  Yet, they still need to get a jewel and find the land. It’s the logical Natalie who tells them to keep believing the story they were playing out, because they've proved that the mind can make things real! Jess and the kids hold hands, just as the beast is about to take Maxx, and using the power of their minds, they bring the land of Mythra into reality and find another jewel.  Jess throws the jewel at the creature, destroying it once and for all.

Finally the Mythra the Elephant appears to them. Maxx is cured by a kiss from her trunk. Yet Jess knows he can't really go back with them to their reality. When they use their imaginations to come out of the land, Maxx is dead by their feet.

Jess spends the next day completing the story in her father’s comic and drawing up the adventure they just had; sketching out the last panel with Maxx being buried in the yard. She still can’t think of a happy ending she wants and still can’t get a sign from her Dad that he's with her. Suddenly – the comic flips open and shows her things she hasn’t drawn; of what she’s doing now and what’s about to come. There’s an inscription from her Dad telling her how proud he is and that it doesn’t have to end!! Jess is flabbergasted. Just then, puppies rush into the garden with their mamma… and they all look like Maxx!

The kids bound into the new day. New adventures with the little dogs! And somewhere in the Land of Mythra, Maxx and Jess’s Dad watch over them – proud of Jess, who now knows her strengths, and... that she hasn’t truly lost anyone.

Elephant Kiss