Illustration: Maya E Shakur for FREDERICK & SOPHIE
George is the one who made the tree fly up. He pointed his i-Wand 340 at Sophie’s sock drawer and said, “Soccumoculus!” That’s when absolutely nothing happened with Sophie’s socks, and the tree hit the ceiling. It’s still up there. George thinks that the spell will last until midnight. Or until a Whangdoodle appears.
George is Sophie’s fairy-manny. He’s an Exceptionally Responsible Manny (because that’s what his business card says), but he’s not terribly good at magic. Yesterday, he made it rain chocolate syrup in the bathroom. Lila Boubou was just brushing his teeth. Everybody knows how difficult it is to get chocolate syrup out of monster fur. It took Sophie three hours, three jars of mayonnaise, an umbrella, and a skateboard to clean him up!
And this morning, George burned almost all the gingerbread cookies. When the fire alarm went off, he swooshed his i-Wand 340 and snapped his fingers. There was a blue flash, and one of the gingerbread men stood up, and stretched himself.
“Whoopsiedaisies,” George said.
“Catch me if you can!” the gingerbread man said. And poof, off he went.
“We can’t let that giant gingerbread cookie escape!” George shouted to Frederick and Sophie. “If it crumbles, people might have to snickersnee themselves out of trees!”
Frederick and Sophie had been playing in the toy room and looked up. “Where did he go?” they asked George.
“Why, he’s off to Treatville, of course!” George replied as he gave chase. Frederick and Sophie ran after him.
“Where is Treatville?” they asked.
“Just follow the smell of baked apple pie,” George answered. As soon as he had said it, the sweet smell of fresh apples and thick crunchy pie crusts filled the air.
“Look! Pink clouds,” Sophie shouted. George stopped running and took a bite from what seemed to be a floating cloud made of pink sticky fluff. The living room was filled with it.
“Oh, that’s no cloud,” George said. “It’s fairy floss. That means the candy cane gate to Treatville is near!” He was right. Where once was a fireplace, a chocolate bridge appeared. And at the end of it, they could see a gate made of red, white, and green candy canes.
Frederick, Sophie, and George ran through the gate and almost crashed into a gingerbread tree. “Watch it, you half-baked snickerdoodles!” the gingerbread tree grumbled.
“Terribly sorry, Mr. Gingerbread Tree,” Frederick said. “You weren’t there a second ago!”
The tree stared at Frederick and squinted its eyes. “Nonsense. I’ve been standing here since the last 250 eggnog dippings!”
George pulled Frederick away from the tree. “Sorry, Murray,” he said. “You look great. Would love to chittery-chat over a cup of cocoa, but I’m afraid we’re in a bit of a hurry. Have you maybe seen a rather tough cookie passing by?”
Murray pointed one of his branches at a humongous gingerbread castle on top of a small hill. “I might have seen a gingerbread cookie running to the castle, this morning. He seemed angry. And stiff.”
“No time to lose, then.” George took his i-Wand 340 and added the coordinates of the gingerbread castle to his Fairy GPS app. “Better close your eyes, you two,” he added.
Before Fredrick and Sophie could ask why, they felt a whirl of icy-cold snowflakes. There was the sound of a train whistle and a loud crash. When they opened their eyes, an angry gingerbread man stared directly at them. “You made me taste terrible!” he shouted at George. “Nobody wants to catch me, because I smell like cough syrup!”
“Yes, well, that’s what happens when you run off!” George yelled back. “I mixed up the ingredients for gingerbread cookies with the ingredients for clay! You’re made of salt and glue!”
And that’s when the gingerbread cookie crumbled and cried, “I’m not sweet, I’m disgusting!”
“Don’t you dare crumble any further,” George commanded. He looked worried because nothing good comes out of the way the cookie crumbles.
“Don’t be sad, Mr. Cookie,” Sophie said.
The gingerbread man wiped away two big salty tears and sniffed, “There’s no place for me in Treatville. Even my tears are yucky. ”
“I know a perfect place for a tough cookie like you.” Sophie put her arm around the crying Gingerbread man. She looked at George and pointed at his i-Wand 340, “Please take us straight to the toy room, thank you very much!”
George did as he was asked because that’s what an Exceptionally Responsible Fairy Manny does. The toy room looked different. Sweeter, perhaps? There were lollipops, cupcakes, and croissants hanging in not one but two large trees!
Wally wore a little hat that looked like a cup with hot cocoa with a cherry on top. There were popcorn strings and bowls with gummy reindeers. A large nutcracker with a cupcake hat held a vanilla-strawberry-chocolate cake.
“Look at that,” George said. “The tree came down!”
“And there’s another one!” Frederick said as he took a lollipop out of the second tree.
“Huh,” George said. “What are the odds! Well, it definitely explains the banana peels in the chandelier.” (Here’s the thing about George’s magic. It’s not always explainable).
Sophie walked to the tree in the corner. She took a red ribbon from its branches and pulled it through the tiny hole in the head of the gingerbread man.
“So that’s what that’s for,” the gingerbread man sighed. “And now what?”
“Now, you’ll be the most amazing ornament in the toy room trees!” Sophie answered. She found a great spot for the gingerbread man who smiled brightly. He was one tough cookie, and he couldn’t be any happier.