Illustration: Maya E Shakur for FREDERICK & SOPHIE
Location: The Toy Room
Frederick and Sophie’s playroom was a world of opposites. Neatly organized book cabinets and a shiny piano in one place, a bombsite of dolls, blocks, pencils, dinosaur puzzles, and whatchamacallits in others. To Lila Boubou, it was home. Every morning, the fuzzy pink monster jumped off his shelf to wake up his best monster friend, Choukette. And every morning, Choukette would shout something like, “Mind the bucket and thanks for your help!” or “Ecuador!” It never made any sense to Lila, but it made a lot of sense to Choukette who was still dreaming. This morning, Choukette screamed, “Go! Go! Go!” right before he opened his eyes and said, “Good morning, Lila.”
As the two friends scurried over to the Bird’s Nest Café to get their morning monster-ccino, Lila asked, “Choukette, what did you dream about?”
“It was the most amazing dream!” Choukette answered. I was a race car driver, and right before you woke me up, I was on my way to the finish line.” .”
“Did you say, race car?” Mrs. Fairy appeared out of nowhere which is what fairies do. “I would love to drive a race car!” she shouted while clapping her wings and sprinkling fairy sparkles everywhere.
Lucas, the sailor-barista, said, “I raced in a boat once. It was lots of fun!”
Bear Gaston looked up from his book about trees and said, “A race is the BEARY best!”
“Maybe we can hold a real race, Choukette!” Lila said. “You and I can ride together.”
Choukette had a sixth-and-a-half sense for trouble, and right now it was tingling his fur and telling him that this could be the worst-worst idea in the history of very bad ideas. “Absolutely not,” Choukette said, but Lila didn’t listen. He gulped down his drink and ran out of the café.
“Oh, my GOO,” Choukette mumbled to himself. Lila was terribly good in getting himself in trouble. Last week, Lila had locked himself in the fridge right in the middle of making himself a double peanutbutter-marshmallow-strawberry-icecream-donut. The week before that, he had gotten stuck in the grand piano during a game of hide-and-seek. And yesterday, there was the incident with Piggybank during ballet class. Lila loved to dance. Madame Mousette had asked them to do a pirouette, and Piggybank had hurt her ankle. Lila had offered to wrap bandages around Piggybank’s ankle, but he hadn’t stopped there. He had also wrapped bandages around Piggybank’s head. And her belly. And her ears. And even around Madame Mousette. Choukette wondered what a race with Lila would look like.
The little blue monster didn’t have to wait long to find out. Before he could take his last sip, there was a BANG, a POOF and a ROAARRR! Lila sat on top of a pink race car and raced right through the toy room’s doors. “Choukette!” he yelled, “This is Pinkie and that’s her brother Ace. I also found Mr. Bentley and Monsieur Peugeot. They’re all race cars looking for a race!”
Choukette looked at all the cars, and the cars looked at him. The pirates peeked out from behind their pirate ship. Toutou, the pull along dog, rolled a bit closer. Cerise dropped her cupcake. Lucas stopped making coffees.:
“A race it is,” Choukette sighed. All the race cars cheered. Bear Gaston jumped up and shouted, “Ready, Teddy, Go!”
Pull along Donkey and Peekaboo Monkey used the flower crayons to draw a starting line. Cerise jumped onto Mr. Bentley, Mrs. Fairy jumped onto Ace. Bear Gaston sat on Monsieur Peugeot, and Lila and Choukette sat right behind each other on Pinkie. Toutou barked twice and off they went.
They raced from the teepee to the dollhouse, and from the wooden toy kitchen to the toy box. From the window to the door, and down the hallway.
“Lila, I think it’s too fast!” Choukette whimpered. A sock blew in his face as they passed the dolls’ wardrobe.
“Exactly! Let’s speed things up!” Lila shouted.
Blocks flew through the air – dash-smash, wooden tools crashed out of their toolbox – crish-crash, paint fell on the floor – split-splat. Toys were flying everywhere.
Lucas got hit in the head by a little wooden train, the pirates crashed into Sophie la girafe talking to Puppy in a Trunk, Peekaboo Penguin was covered in blue paint, Sherman the shark towel got himself all tangled up in Kai the koala blanket, and Mr. and Mrs. Gingerbread lost all their decorations.
Then the wooden play kitchen started steaming and the wooden phone started ringing, Lila shouted, “Go! Go! Go!” and Toutou barked twice. The race was over. Cérise and Mr. Bentley had won! Peekaboo Monkey gave them both a purple medal and a chocolate-chip cookie. Every toy cheered.
Choukette fell off Pinkie. He laid on the ground and stared up at the ceiling. A wooden pirate ship and a jump rope hung in the chandelier. This was not at all what his race dream had been like. But then, his dream didn’t have a Lila Boubou.
Lila laid down next to Choukette and said, “It was the most awesome super-cool race in the whole wide world!”
Choukette smiled. He could use a warm bath and a goodnight sleep, the toy room was a big fat mess, and he couldn’t feel his fur. But he hadn’t dreamed any of it. He had been part of a real race. “Yes, it was, Lila,” Choukette said. “It was the best race because you were in it.”