Illustration: Maya E Shakur for FREDERICK & SOPHIE
Location: Easter Island
“Excusez-us, George, but we must absolutely visit Easter Island,” Frederick and Sophie said. It was early morning, but the two best friends in the top apartment of the Residence were already wide awake. Sophie’s Fairy-Manny George wasn’t. He only had one eye open, and he still wore his candy pajamas. They gave him sweet dreams.
“Good morning to you too,” George mumbled. “What is all this kerfuffle about Easter Island?”
“Look!” Sophie said as she held up a yellow piece of paper. “It’s a letter from E.B. That’s the Easter Bunny. He needs our help.”
“I’ve got one too!” Frederick said. “When we woke up this morning, we both saw an envelope in our tents! The address on my envelope says, ‘Sophie’s living room, Frederick’s tent.’ He must have known I was here.”
Frederick’s mom had to go on important fashion magazine business to Paris, and Frederick stayed at Sophie’s apartment for three whole nights. That’s the great part of sharing a rooftop terrace with your best friend. When you completely must have a sleepover, you can just fill a backpack with a bottle of chocolate milk, pajamas, a toothbrush, and a plush monster, open the terrace doors, and walk over. It’s impossible to get lost.
Last night they had set up two large tents in the living room because a camping adventure right here and now was exactly what they needed. They had taken out their binoculars to make sure that there were no angry lions around, and they had had tea with a Yeti who only eats spaghetti.
“That sounds like E.B.,” George said. “He always knows where you happen to be that day. I once received a letter from him while I walked through the Peruvian jungle. It dropped right on my head. Well, what did he write?”
“He ran out of chocolate!” Frederick and Sophie shouted anxiously. “The chocolate machines in the chocolate factory stopped working.”
A shriek came from George’s magic wardrobe, home of Mr. Tubby, George’s woolly mammoth. Mr. Tubby liked to live in a wardrobe because he liked to play dress up. Sometimes he dressed like a pirate. Other times like a ballerina.
“Yes, Mr. Tubby, you’re right. We can’t have Easter without chocolate,” George said. He zigzagged through his room, trying to catch a good thought. As you maybe know, good thoughts are terribly fast and you must zig zag even faster to catch one. It’s a good thing Fairy-Mannies are well-trained in the art of the zig-zag.
“Hmm… E.B’s chocolate factory has been working well for centuries,” George mumbled. “It’s protected by Easter magic. This must have been the work of … Snark.”
Frederick and Sophie gasped. A loud bang came from the wardrobe. Mr. Tubby seemed to have fallen over. “What’s a snark, George?”
“Not a snark… Just..Snark,” George replied. “It’s his name. He is a rather mischievous little fellow. Small, plump, and fluffy. Professional mess maker. Likes to pull pranks on the Legendary Figures.
“Legendary? You mean the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus?” Frederick asked.
“And the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost, Mother Nature, Father Time, Cupid, the Sandman…” George replied. “I remember the time when he tied up the Tooth Fairy’s wings with snark string. It took Toothiana hours to untangle the mess.
“We must do something!” Sophie said.
“Oh, most definitely so! George replied. “If Snark is involved, we have got no time to lose.” George clicked his heels together, and with a poof and a sizzle, his pajamas changed into a purple jacket and orange pants. He looked squeaky clean and smelled like strawberry toothpaste and fresh flowers.
Frederick and Sophie didn’t wear their pajamas anymore either. Sophie’s hair had been tied in a neat long braid. She wore her favorite dress and sneakers. Frederick’s hair looked shiny, and his shirt ironed. “Wow,” they said happily, “magic is much better than brushing your teeth!”
Right then, Wally walked in. Sophie’s Newfoundland dog had just woken up and had followed the smell of a carrot pup-cake. George pulled it out of his pocket and gave it to him. “There you go, Waldorf.” Wally happily gulped up his pup cake. “Splendiferous!” George said. “Now the gang is complete.”
George grabbed his i-Wand 340 from his nightstand. It looked like a game controller with a large screen and an even larger antenna, but it was in fact the latest Fairy-Manny wand complete with spell and potion apps, Fairypedia, and candy dispenser. “Hold on to each other please,” the Fairy-Manny said as he pressed a golden button. A glowing keyboard popped out of the i-Wand. George typed in a spell and pressed a purple button. Frederick and Sophie felled a breeze of cold air, smelled a whiff of chocolate and vanilla, and watched the room turn faster and faster and faster until they had to close their eyes. When they opened their eyes again, they saw what seemed to be hundreds of little yellow chicks staring up at them.
Or actually, they stared at Wally. “Big chick, big chick!” they shouted excitedly.
“They think Wally is a chick like them!” Sophie said.
“He’s certainly just as fluffy.” George said.
“Okay, everyone, back to work, please!” Two long brown ears appeared in the middle of the yellow sea of chicks. At the sound of the voice belonging to the ears, the chicks scattered in all directions. Some started pressing buttons on machines, others pulled levers, or filled baskets with marshmallows and lollipops, plush toys, and picture books.
“This is the Easter Factory!” Frederick shouted. “We’re on Easter Island!” He was right. George had zapped them over to Easter Inc. which as you might know or you might not know, is right inside one of the Easter Island heads. They were surrounded by gum ball machines the size of skyscrapers, cookie jars filled to the top with rainbow cookies, sprinkle dispensers, buckets filled with sugary syrups, and an endless EMPTY chocolate candy belt. There were no chocolate bunnies and no chocolate eggs waiting to be decorated.
“This is a disaster!” The friends could now see that the ears belonged to a flustered E.B. He wore a blue tailcoat and a yellow vest and looked anxiously on his pocket watch.
“He looks exactly like the Easter Bunny,” Frederick whispered quietly
“That’s because I AM the Easter Bunny,” E.B. said. He adjusted his pink bow tie. “The one that ruined Easter!”
“How could you have possibly heard what I whispered?” Frederick said, scratching his head.
I’m all ears. Big ears. They come with best-in-class active listening abilities.” E.B. replied before adding, “unfortunately they don’t make chocolate.”
“Why doesn’t the candy belt move, Mr. B.?” Sophie asked.
“Well, the belt doesn’t move because the machines don’t dispense any new chocolate, and no new chocolate bunnies and eggs are made. Like this, we will not only never be ready in time for Easter, there might not even be Easter!”
E.B. sighed. His ears hung down sadly. “I can’t take it. The stress is giving me the itchies. And I hate the itchies.”
George shushed soothingly. “Now, now E.B., what does Mother Nature always say? All works out in the end. And if it doesn’t work out, it’s just not the end.”
“That’s easy for her to say! She controls nature and life-force! She can create things from nothing!” E.B. pulled his ears over his eyes in distress. “I neeeeeeeeeeed chocolate to create.”
“George thinks it was Snark who made the chocolate disappear,” Sophie said to E.B. “Do you know him?”
E.B. peeked from underneath one of his ears. “Snark? That.. that.. fat little rascal!”
“Who called me fat?” a voice boomed through the factory.
George, Sophie, Frederick, Wally, E.B., and all the chicks looked up. “You’ll never find the chocolate!” the voice shouted. It seemed to come from a large speaker. George, Sophie, Frederick, Wally, and the chicks turned their heads back to E.B. whose ears had started to steam.
“Give me back my chocolate, you big snollygoster!” E.B. shouted.
The speakers replied with laughter.
George squinted his eyes. That’s what he does when he feels a thinking-tingle and has caught a good thought. “E.B. you’re in a pickle, but there’s a spell for every pickle, and there’s a pickle for every spell.” He grabbed in his jacket’s pocket and took out a large umbrella, a green bottle with a pink potion, and a table lamp. “Not exactly what I’m looking for,” George sighed. “I really must clean out my pockets one of these days.” He reached in deeper and finally took out what looked like a giant jar of pickles.
“How did he do that?” Frederick wondered out loud. He checked his own pockets and only pulled out some old cookie crumbs.
Sophie shrugged. “I think magic pockets are simply different.”
Instead of green, the pickles inside the jar were pink and purple and orange and blue. “I think this situation calls for yellow,” George said. “My vocal cords need to be smoothened.” The lid turned itself, jumped open, and out popped a yellow pickle. George ate it in one bite. “Hmmm, honey on fresh toast,” he said. “Most delicious.” The Fairy-Manny clapped his hands, took a deep breath, and… started singing into a sparkling microphone that seemed to have dropped from the sky. “EveryBUNNY dance now! Give me the chocolate! Give me the chocolate!” George sang. “EveryBUNNY dance now!”
All the chicks put up their wings in the air and waved them like they just didn’t care. Frederick and Sophie tapped their feet and twirled around. E.B. moved his ears and hopped from left to right. George sang louder and louder and faster and faster. The walls echoed his song all around the factory.
“Stop it! Please stop! I can’t take it anymore!” The voice from the speakers was back, and it sounded horrified.
George winked at Sophie. “There’s one thing, Snark hates most of all things: happiness. It gives him a rash.”
“I’ll give back the chocolate!” the voice continued. “Just…just stop the singing and the dancing and the laughing and the clapping and the tapping and the twirling!”
And just like that, the machines filled themselves up with chocolate and the assembly line started moving. Splashes of chocolate were poured into large egg shapes and out came the most beautiful eggs. Chicks got up and started decorating the chocolate eggs with sugar flowers and dinosaurs.
“Where did Snark go?” Sophie asked.
“Oh, back to where he came from,” George answered. “Plotting his next prank, I’m afraid.”
“Have you ever met Snark?” Frederick asked George.
“Yes, once in Transylvania and once halfway down Machu Picchu. But he prefers to hide, and that’s a good thing.”
E.B. clapped his paws and smiled brightly. “I haven’t been this hoppy since … I became the Easter Bunny! You must stay for dinner!”
E.B. didn’t have to say that twice. Easter Island dinners are EGGs-quisit. There are omelets filled with meatballs and ham with brown sugar glaze and crispy asparagus and honey-glazed carrots and cinnamon buns and banana cake with sprinkles and Nutella muffins.
When Frederick, Sophie, Wally, and George had to head back home for a good night’s sleep, E.B. gave each of them a basket with marvelous Easter goodies. Wally’s basket had all kinds of pup-cakes and dog toys in it. George’s basket was filled with his favorite vanilla cream and hazelnut chocolate eggs, and Frederick’s and Sophie’s baskets were filled with plush bunnies, dolls, coloring books and pencils, cars, caramel popcorn, lots of colorful chocolate eggs, and a giant chocolate bunny. All the things needed for an EGG-stra HOPPY Easter!